When you're young and watch your favorite teams on television, you don't think of much other than whether the Cavaliers, Buckeyes or Bearcats won their games over the weekend.
But you get a little older, and suddenly your dad starts talking to you about those who call the games on TV and radio. Then you eventually find yourself talking about those play-by-play guys or their partners as often as you talk about the games themselves.
The broadcast has become as much of a game these days as the buzzer beater, the highlight-reel dunk and the final score.
Consequently, we can't help but develop strong opinions about the talking heads, so I've come up with a Top 10 list of basketball analysts —in no particular order— for you to contemplate:
Clark Kellogg: Was once the best analyst in the game, but seems to rely on the same tricks he used five or 10 years ago.
Doug Gottlieb: Wish he did more games, but he's splendid in the studio. He always has excellent insights on both the game and many of its excellent players.
Bill Raftery: What list would be complete without him? No one can pull off "Send it in, Jerome," "The kiss" or "tootsies" the way Raft can. He's a college basketball staple.
Seth Davis: A lot like Gottlieb. Smart, young, good-looking and always has good stuff to share.
Jay Bilas: Kind of a poor man's Kirk Herbstreit. I'm not crazy about his commercials, but he is smart. ESPN's Big Monday trio of Bilas, Raft and Sean McDonough is always entertaining.
Hubert Davis: I think where many analysts shy away from speaking critically, Davis can be candid. and I applaud him for it.
Steve Lavin: The academic of the bunch. He and Brent Musberger often team up for ESPN's Big Ten tilts. Though he's half Musberger's age, Lav can drop a half-century-old pop culture reference better than anyone his age. Also, he observes the game well and articulates it intelligently.
Jimmy Dykes: Seems like Dykes is the only one who regularly gets his hands dirty in the field before a broadcast. Whatever his angle is, it's always right on.
Just last night, 5-foot-9 South Carolina guard Devan Downey switched from a waist-high dribble to an ankle-high dribble to beat a defender in the Gamecocks' upset of No. 1 Kentucky. Earlier in the day, Dykes and an ESPN camera crew got some alone time with Downey and shot—from interesting angles—the high-scoring guard's very effective high-low dribble.
Stephen Bardo: Doesn't do much glamorous and might not have an authoritative voice, but he's steady, knowledgeable and has made great improvement the last few years.
Len Elmore: Hard not to love watching the Big East Tournament every March with him on the call.
Also receiving consideration: Dick Vitale—I don't hate him as much as many fans do, but he is a little too much of a cheerleader.
In his mind, every coach is among the best in the country. He hasn't said anything critical since the days of Lawrence Funderburke, and that was a hot-mic-during-a-commercial accident. But overall, he is great for the sport.
Would never receive consideration: Digger Phelps has cornered the market on talking and saying nothing. The only thing I hate about the month of March is hearing Digger say, "get it done" at least 400 times.