ESPN hosted a media conference call Monday with Jay Bilas to discuss multiple college basketball topics, and several of the questions involved the Kentucky Wildcats.
Bilas spoke about the team’s outlook this upcoming season and the Asbury blowout.
Bilas first spoke about Kentucky’s depth and talent at the guard position.
“Yeah, Kentucky is deeper and their guards are a little bit more explosive,” Bilas said. “Early on in the season last year, I thought that Kentucky was going to be able to really attack the basket, and it turned out that they were not as capable of doing that.
“In one measure because they weren’t a great shooting team – obviously Jamal Murray could shoot it and Tyler Ulis could make an open shot – Isaiah Briscoe, you could lay off of him. You’re not going to be able to lay off of this year’s team quite as much. I think they’re going to be really explosive in transition.
“But a much deeper team and I think they will be better defensively.”
Bilas didn’t just talk about the backcourt, but also the dominance of this year’s frontcourt.
“It’ll be different from last year in that I think they have more guys that are sort of alpha-dog types. I mean, Bam Adebayo is one of the hardest playing big guys you’re going to see. He’s a beast as far as going after the ball, his work on the backboards and all that.
“Outside of that, they’ve got guys that are kind of unproven. Wenyen Gabriel is a really good play. He’s not the same type of player that they’ve had in the past that can block three, four shots a game, stuff like that. Then they’ve got guys back kind of like Humphries and Wynyard.
“They have to protect the rim, in other words. I don’t know what kind of shot blocking they’re having every day in practice, but it’s not the same type of team they had two years ago where playing against Kentucky in 2015 was like trying throw a Frisbee through the forest.
“It was going to get batted down. I don’t know that they have that this year, but they’re so talented and they have so many pieces that as long as everybody stays healthy they’re going to be able to throw a lot of bodies at you and ultimately wear you down.”
Bilas then spoke on Kentucky’s exhibition against Asbury, which he essentially said was a waste of time.
“They get nothing out of it. It’s kind of a useless exercise, honestly. It’s like saying, ‘What does a player get out of playing pick-up games with the regular students?’ And the answer is nothing. You get an opportunity to get hurt. That’s pretty much it.”
Bilas said everyone complains that little guys don’t get a shot, but then this happens. He’d rather see other Division I schools get a shot to play UK, but the NCAA doesn’t allow that, which forces schools like Asbury, Clarion, and Transylvania to play schools like UK.
“I would advocate that let the teams play real games, but you have to play a mid-major school within 100 miles of your school,” Bilas said.
Bilas seems very high on the team this year, although he would rather not they play teams that they can beat by nearly 100 points.