Bill Raftery

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Bill Raftery
Bill Raftery in 2009.jpg
Raftery at the 2009 NCAA tournament.
Personal information
Born (1943-04-19) April 19, 1943 (age 79)
Orange, New Jersey, U.S.
Career information
High schoolSaint Cecilia (Kearny, New Jersey)
CollegeLa Salle (1960–1963)
NBA draft1963 / Round: 14 / Pick: 82nd overall
Selected by the New York Knicks
Coaching career1963–1981
Career history
As coach:
1963–1968Fairleigh Dickinson–Madison
1970–1981Seton Hall
Career highlights and awards

William Joseph Raftery (born April 19, 1943) is an American basketball analyst and former college basketball coach.

High school and college years[edit]

Raftery attended Saint Cecilia High School in Kearny, New Jersey, where he starred in basketball and became the all-time leading scorer in state history with 2,192 points,[1] a record finally surpassed after 35 years. He earned all-state honors in basketball and led his team to the state championship in his senior season. He was also named all-state in baseball and soccer.[2] He has been named, retroactively, Mr. Basketball USA for 1959.[3]

Raftery played at La Salle University under coach Donald "Dudey" Moore. During his freshman year he scored a freshman record 370 points, followed by a team leading 17.8 points per game in his sophomore year. As a senior, he co-captained the Explorers to the National Invitation Tournament. [1]

Following his senior year at La Salle, Raftery was selected in the 14th round (82nd overall) of the 1963 NBA draft by the New York Knicks but never played in the NBA.[4][5]

Coaching career[edit]

Raftery began his coaching career at Fairleigh Dickinson University at Madison (now in Florham Park, New Jersey) where he was the head basketball coach from 1963 to 1968.[4] Also, Raftery coached golf and served as associate athletic director.

From 1970 to 1981, he was the head coach of Seton Hall University, where he posted a 154–141 record and led the Pirates to four ECAC post-season tournaments and two National Invitational Tournament appearances. In 1979, he was named Coach of the Year by the New Jersey Sports Writers Association.[6] His 154 wins as a coach places him fifth on the all-time list at Seton Hall behind Honey Russell, P.J. Carlesimo, Frank Hill, and Kevin Willard.

Head coaching record[edit]

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Fairleigh Dickinson–Madison Devils[7] (NCAA College Division independent) (1963–1968)
1963–64 Fairleigh Dickinson–Madison 8–10
1964–65 Fairleigh Dickinson–Madison 10–12
1965–66 Fairleigh Dickinson–Madison 12–10
1966–67 Fairleigh Dickinson–Madison 15–9
1967–68 Fairleigh Dickinson–Madison 18–6
Fairleigh Dickinson–Madison: 63–47
Seton Hall Pirates[8] (NCAA University Division/Division I independent) (1970–1979)
1970–71 Seton Hall 11–15
1971–72 Seton Hall 10–16
1972–73 Seton Hall 8–17
1973–74 Seton Hall 16–11 NIT First Round
1974–75 Seton Hall 16–11
1975–76 Seton Hall 18–9
1976–77 Seton Hall 18–11 3–1 T–1st NIT First Round
1977–78 Seton Hall 16–11 1–5 6th
1978–79 Seton Hall 16–11 5–1 2nd
Seton Hall Pirates (Big East Conference) (1979–1981)
1979–80 Seton Hall 14–13 1–5 6th
1980–81 Seton Hall 11–16 4–10 7th
Seton Hall: 154–141 14–22
Total: 217–188

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

Broadcasting career[edit]

Richard Pitino and Raftery (right) in 2011

Raftery has served as an analyst and color commentator for CBS Sports' college basketball coverage since 1983. During CBS' coverage of March Madness, Raftery frequently partnered with Verne Lundquist. Starting with the 2014–15 collegiate basketball season, CBS/Turner Sports partnered Raftery with Jim Nantz and Grant Hill to make up the primary announcing team for the remainder of the regular season, all the way through the NCAA men's basketball tournament and the Final Four.[9]

Raftery was also an analyst with ESPN, primarily partnered with Sean McDonough and Jay Bilas and formerly Mike Gorman for Big East games. He has served as an analyst for CBS Radio/Westwood One's coverage of the NCAA Men's Final Four along with Kevin Kugler and John Thompson.

Raftery was also the lead analyst for the New Jersey Nets (prior to the franchise's move to Brooklyn) for over 20 years until 2002[10] and was an on-course commentator for PGA Tour Champions Tour events.[1] Raftery while at CBS also worked as an analyst for select NBA games, paired with Brent Musburger and Dick Stockton.

On June 27, 2013, Raftery signed with Fox Sports to call Big East basketball games on the upstart network Fox Sports 1 with Gus Johnson.[11]

His trademark quotes include: "Onions!" (when a shot is made late in a close game), "Send it in big fella!" (when a post player makes a slam dunk), "With a little kiss!" (when a shot banks in, usually in a nonstandard way),[12] "A little nickel-dimer!" (when a light foul is called), "Get the puppies organized!" (in reference to good footwork), and "A little lingerie on the deck!" (when a player makes a nifty move with the ball and fakes out the defender).[13]

Another phrase Raftery is known for is "Man-to-man!", which he announces very fast and excitedly at the start of most games.[14] He is especially remembered for "Send It In, Jerome!", his call immediately after Jerome Lane of the University of Pittsburgh shattered the backboard with a powerful dunk during a 1988 game.[13]

Awards and honors[edit]

Other ventures[edit]

Aside from his commentating duties, Raftery was also the president of W.J. Raftery Associates, an event/marketing firm.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Born William Joseph Raftery[15] in Orange, New Jersey,[16] Bill Raftery grew up in an Irish Catholic family with Irish immigrant parents. His sister is a nun.[2] Raftery earned a B.A. in history from La Salle University in 1963 and an M.A.E. in education from Seton Hall University in 1966.[6][17] In 2001, he received an honorary doctorate from La Salle.[6][15]

Raftery lives in Florham Park, New Jersey with his wife, Joan, and has four children and five grandchildren.[1] His son, Billy, produced and narrated a documentary about his father's life in basketball entitled With a Kiss. The documentary premiered hours before the longtime broadcaster called his second Final Four as a television analyst for CBS Sports.[18]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Bill Raftery, Analyst, NCAA Tournament". CBS Sports. Archived from the original on 2014-03-29. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
  2. ^ a b Tinley, Scott (March 12, 2010). "Bill Raftery: broadcaster, confidant and everyone's favorite bar buddy". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on March 16, 2010. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  3. ^ Flores, Ronnie (April 21, 2010). "The best of all-time". ESPN. Archived from the original on April 27, 2010. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Bill Raftery Wins 2006 Curt Gowdy Media Award". American Sportscasters Online. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
  5. ^ "1963 NBA Draft". basketball-reference. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "Bill Raftery". Fox Sports. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  7. ^ "Devils Men's Basketball Season-by-Season Results" (PDF). Fairleigh Dickinson University. 2016. Retrieved May 1, 2022.
  8. ^ "Bill Raftery Coaching Record".
  9. ^ Chip Patterson (February 3, 2015). "2015 Final Four: Bill Raftery, Grant Hill picked as game analysts". CBS Sports. Retrieved 2015-03-11.
  10. ^ "Broadcasting Legend Bill Raftery Looks Back on His Nets Days".
  11. ^ Norlander, Matt (June 27, 2013). "Bill Raftery leaving ESPN for Fox Sports 1". CBS Sports. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  12. ^ Eric Single (April 5, 2019). "Ranking Bill Raftery's indelible phrases of March (and April): MANTOMAN! ... Big Fella! ... Onions! (of course) and more". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2020-02-11.
  13. ^ a b Richard Sandomir (March 25, 2009). "Crisp Analysis With a Big Helping of Onions". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
  14. ^ Rolling Stone - April 2, 2015
  15. ^ a b "Day Division: Bachelor of Arts". The Centenary Commencement 1963. La Salle University. 1963. p. 10.
  16. ^ "Bill Raftery". CBS News. February 20, 1999. Retrieved March 26, 2017.
  17. ^ "Alumni news & notes" (PDF), Seton Hall Magazine, p. 40, Winter–Spring 2007
  18. ^ "Documentary on Bill Raftery, narrated by his son, to air on CBS". Retrieved 2016-04-02.

External links[edit]