Duke Basketball: Why the Blue Devils Need Jay Bilas Back on the Bench

Jimmy KelleyCorrespondent IApril 22, 2012

Jay Bilas played for Duke from 1982-86 and was an assistant from 1990-92.
Jay Bilas played for Duke from 1982-86 and was an assistant from 1990-92.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Jay Bilas is one of the most, if not the most, popular college basketball analysts. Since 1995, Bilas has worked for ESPN and is a member of their popular College GameDay crew. A former Duke forward, Bilas spent three seasons as a graduate assistant under Mike Krzyzewski from 1990-92.

Do those years sound familiar?

They should—the Blue Devils reached the Final Four three times, winning back-to-back championships with Christian Laettner, Bobby Hurley and Grant Hill.

The Blue Devils could use Bilas for one reason: Current big man coach Steve Wojciechowski is 5'11".

In an ESPN special about Tony Parker's inner circle, the Duke target expressed concerns about learning the post from a former guard.

"I really like Duke. I just can't honestly say that I'm 100 percent comfortable with a guard teaching me about the post. Coach [Steve] Wojciechowski is like 5-foot-6."

This is not to say Wojciechowski is a bad coach or not knowledgeable, it is just that when recruits look at the Blue Devils, they see a laundry list of big men who have not lived up to expectations. One could blame this on poor scouting and evaluation, but a similarly rated 18-year-old is certainly not going to blame the scouts.

Bilas would be a valuable addition (or re-addition) to the staff because he would bring instant credibility to the table. Bilas stands 6'8" and averaged 8.4 points and 5.4 rebounds during his four years in Durham.

Since Shelden Williams graduated in 2006, the list of power forwards and centers who have suited up for Duke is not one that inspires a lot of confidence: Lance Thomas, Brian Zoubeck, David McClure, Miles Plumlee and current big man Mason Plumlee.

The last name on that list is one that has inspired much of that concern. Parker mentioned Mason's lack of development as one of his worries.

Mason has seen a steady improvement in his numbers, jumping from 3.7 points and 3.1 rebounds as a freshman, to 7.2 and 8.4 as a sophomore, to 11.1 and 9.2 this past season. Most of this can be attributed to an increase in playing time more than actual improvement, though.

Bilas has worked with post players at the Nike, Amar'e Stoudemire and LeBron James Skills Academies, which also gives him access to younger players whom Duke recruits.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that Bilas would give up his job at ESPN. He is one of the most respected people in the industry, and it would probably take a head coaching job to lure him away.

We can always hope, though.