College basketball fans instantly recognize Dan Bonner as one of the game’s top television analysts, a staple on ESPN and ACC broadcasts. Less known is that Bonner has deep ties to the University of Virginia.
Bonner played for the Cavaliers from 1971 to 1975, and was named to the Atlantic Coast Conference All-Academic Team in 1975, when he graduated from U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences. He coached U.Va.’s women’s basketball team from 1975 to 1977 (before being succeeded by Hall-of-Famer Debbie Ryan) and married a fellow U.Va. alumna, Terry (Israel) Bonner.
Named in 2012 as one of the top 20 college basketball announcers by Bleacher Report, Bonner is currently preparing to call his 30th NCAA Tournament on CBS and TBS, where he will partner with Kevin Harlan and Reggie Miller. But before the madness really begins, we asked him to analyze things in a way only he can.
Q. What’s your favorite memory from your days on the U.Va. men’s basketball team?
A. My favorite memory was a game in 1975 when we beat North Carolina in University Hall. It was a great atmosphere and a hugely enjoyable game. At least, for us, if not for the Tar Heels.
Q. Other than JPJ, what are the coolest places to call a game?
A. Other than JPJ, the best place for me to call an ACC game is the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville. The fans are knowledgeable and boisterous. The Carrier Dome would rank right behind, and for the same reasons. Nationally, Rupp Arena in Kentucky has an ambience all of its own.
Q. What should U.Va. fans watch for during this year’s tournament?
A. U.Va. fans should watch for the same things as other fans during the tournament: Teams that play defense like Virginia plays defense have a chance to win every game. But in the NCAA Tournament, the teams who make shots are the teams who advance. Watch those shot makers.
Q. What’s your official call? Would you share your bracket?
A. I never do a bracket. My theory is that, once one becomes an expert, he or she should never demonstrate the actual extent of knowledge.
Q. So, boring or not boring?
A. Absolutely not boring. Great team basketball is never boring.
Q. Do we need to ask ’Hoo you’re rooting for?
A. No need to ask.