Morning Joe | March 07, 2013
>>> welcome back to " morning joe ." special edition of sports this morning because here with us, espn college basketball analyst jay bilas . he's the author of the new book --
>> how did this happen?
>> on top of everything else, the man can write.
the book is "toughness: developing true strength on and off the court." jay, it's so cool to have you here.
>> great to be here.
>> can we talk a little bit about the college basketball season? we were saying it's not like last year where we had kentucky and we said it's going to take somebody special to prevent them from winning it all. i don't think we've anybody special this year.
>> i agree. we've got a lot of really good ones. and there are teams that are capable of playing great. i think there are a number of teams across the board that can win on any given night and that can win one or two games in the ncaa tournament . i do think the list of teams that can win five games to get to the final and six to win the whole thing is not as long as some people seem to indicate. i think it's more like a dozen. but we've got a bunch -- we don't have any true great teams that we're going to say 20 years from now, remember the teams of 2013 . we'll have a champion that will always be remembered, but i'm not sure that the top teams we're going to be talking about them in 20 years.
>> there's no team in this tournament that can keep up with duke in '86.
>> that's true.
>> yeah, that was special.
>> that was called a doughnut team. hole in the middle.
>> had nothing to do with dawkins. look at this guy. look at the hair.
>> i still have it.
>> we're talking generationally, though, the game is just so different now. not just your team, any team from that era. take those vegas teams. it wouldn't be close if they played the national champion this year. why is that exactly?
>> well, because guys don't stick around as long. i think players today are better than they've ever been. they're more skilled, far more athletic. they've had better backgrounds as far as being raised in the game. they've played all over the country. they've traveled. so they're more prepared to play when they're 18 and get on campus, but they don't stick around. so the teams aren't as mature together. we had mature teams back then. michael jordan left north carolina in 1984 . he was a junior. people were going, he's leaving early!
>> he would never become a junior now. that would never happen. it's changed in that regard. and it's also changed -- scoring's way down this year. you probably heard that. it's historically low this year. so we've got a game where we've had a cumulative effect of early entries affected the game, a game that's probably overcoached a little where it's possession by possession. and then we've got a game where fouls have become accepted as defense. we've got hockey games right now in some of these games instead of basketball.
>> you know, it's hurt the game. i mean, when i grew up, my mom and dad went to the university of kentucky . and we watched every game we could watch. and we were absolute fanatics. and when march came along, it was life or death. and starting a couple of years ago, i just completely fell off. when they started getting really good because i kept hearing oh, they've got this great freshman that's coming in. he's only going to play one year. then he's going to go. why invest in that? and that happened on, like, two kentucky teams in a row. and finally it was like, you know what? i'll just wait for baseball to start up because why follow a team --
>> because they never switch teams.
>> yeah. you go in and you start cheering for a team, you know, that this team you're cheering for is only going to be around one year.
>> that's a great point because you can't fall in love with a team like you used to. when we went to college, guys came in as freshmen and left as seniors. that's rare. you don't have the great players that stick around to be juniors and seniors. you don't have junior and senior lottery picks anymore.
>> you say players are great this year, this era, much better. but talk about toughness. you write a lot about toughness in your book. are they as tough as they once were?
>> i think they are. i wrote an article about three years ago for espn.com about the concept of toughness in college basketball . it's not about being a bully or physically being tough and knocking somebody around and beating your chest after you do something. it's more about the everyday stuff that you're willing to do. are you willing to prepare to put the time in to prepare? do you concentrate? are you hard to play against and easy to play with? the great teammates. those are the tough guys. sort of the everyday guys. and when i wrote the article, i got feedback that i couldn't believe from all over the world. from coaches, players, teachers, people from nasa, soldiers saying, you need to write more about this. i started talking to my friends. i sought out people like mia hamm and guys that i played with and played against, coaches like bill self , tom izzo , coach k., roy williams , the like and really investigated it and came up with this concept in the book. and it really seemed to resonate with people. nobody's tough alone. we're not born tough, but we can all be tougher. you start thinking about the tough people in your life. the first people you go to are probably your parents. that foundation of toughness that you get from them of doing things the right way and having things in the proper perspective and going to work every day and being prepared when you get there.
>> one of the things i love you write in the book is you say you can learn to be tough. i think there's this perception that people are born tough. they're gritty. they're scrappy. you say you can teach yourself to be tough.
>> i don't think there's any question. nobody's born tough. coach k., that's one of the things in the book that he emphasizes. we're not born tough. and toughness is contagious. when you're around people that are willing to do tough things, that will dive on the floor for a loose ball, that will step in front of an offensive player and take a charge, grant hill talked a lot about that. some of the guys that are perceived as being tough in the nba, they're not willing to step in there and take a charge. near not willing to dive on the floor and keep possession of the ball. that's what wins games are extra possessions. i think that kind of thing, guys that are willing to do that, it's done tcontagious. mia hamm and julie foudy , historically great, talked about having their level lifted by their teammates. that they were able to push their limits that they thought they had, and they didn't realize they had another gear.
>> the reason why you got such a great response to your article is because this is contagious not only on the basketball court , but you're an attorney.
>> jonathan is a journalist. if people around you make tough decisions, decide to go after a story that might be unpopular or take a case that nobody else wants to take, that sort of action is contagious.
>> and people who are willing to have conflict, but they understand, we can disagree, but after we disagree and a decision's made, we're going to unite and we're going to move on together. and that's sort of the idea of being a great teammate. who taught you to be a great teammate? there wasn't any class on that. the great teammates are the ones who compete their tails off and practice every day. we may be competing for the same spot. and you're the starter and i'm the reserve. now, do i sit there and hope that you screw up so i get to go in? or do i support you because we're on the same team pushing in the same direction? that's a difficult balance sometimes.
>> what happens when toughness goes too far? who's the person to say, let's say i'm in your estimation too tough? how do you pull that person -- bring that person back down to the level where the toughness is productive again?
>> it's kind of a semantic thing. i would say to that, there's no such thing as too tough. it's gone into an area that isn't toughness. that if you're doing something that's -- say you're knocking somebody around, trying to be a bully. that's not tough. that's being a bully. toughness is these other things. it's a mindset. it's facing adversity and fighting through it. and it's helping -- it's helping a teammate do the same thing or a colleague do the same thing. you know, i've had, in my law practice , joe mentioned it. my first hearing as a lawyer, you prepare for your hearing and you think you've got everything set. i had a colleague that came in a couple years ahead of me. a woman named tamara. she said, are you ready? i think so. i showed her everything i had. she said, do you know where to sit? i had no idea where to sit. and i started thinking about, if i went in -- she walked me through the whole thing about the logistics. this is what's going to happen. this is how you put something in evidence. i would have had no clue. and it would have thrown me off. and it would have been a problem. and she was -- i thought that showed a tremendous amount of toughness, to think outside of herself and just her own job and help a teammate.
>> and toughness is also recognizing when -- recognizing when you need help.
>> exactly. exactly. that's exactly right.
>> all right. thanks so much. willie, this is a great book.
>> before we let him go, predict national title. who do you like?
>> duke looks pretty good. they haven't been beaten when ryan kelly is in there. indiana, kansas, gonzaga.
>> because they've got an nba front line .
>> "toughness: on and off the court." you can read an excerpt on our blog and watch him quoting young jeezy on twitter each and every morning.
>> jay bilas , good to see you.
>>> coming up, is main street keeping up with wall street ? steve rattner has his charts to break down the market surge straight ahead . you're watching " morning joe " brewed by starbucks.