There are so many viewpoints worth tapping in preparation of Tuesday’s 1-2 game between UConn and Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Every analyst, every coach, every athlete’s point of view carries validity and substance in some regard.
But this time around, I decided to stroll down a different path and seek the opinion of one the men’s basketball top voices, ESPN’s Jay Bilas.
Why does what Jay thinks have importance? Well, he’s insightful, honest and has respect for the women’s game, which is something I’m not sure all of his frat brothers do.
Plus, he’s a Duke grad and understands what it’s like to play under constant pressure and scrunity.
So I talked to Jay Saturday morning and asked him what he thought of the game, both in terms of its immediate importance to Duke and where it sits along UConn’s timeline.
. “You want to try and be on that level that UConn is on,” Bilas said. “But you do not get to that level, you are not thought of as being an equal, by just beating UConn once. It might be the start of something, but it is not going to indicate equality.
“People do not understand or realize that it is a heck of a lot easier to take a swing at the champ then it is to be the champ and be forced to deal with every single challenger. Do you not think every team UConn plays doesn’t circle it on its schedule? On what schedule would you not see it? There are none.
“UConn needs to match its opponent’s intensity every single game it plays. And it’s not even a question of comparing talent. Remember, every single game UConn plays represents its opponent’s storm-the-court game, a SportsCenter highlight game if [UConn loses].
“That’s a tremendous responsibility for the players and coaches to bear. The pressure is on UConn all the time. That doesn’t mean Duke won’t feel the pressure, but no one is going to roll their eyes in disgust if Duke losses. It’s only a story if UConn loses.”