I write today in praise of the voice of college basketball (not Dick Vitale, not Billy Packer and heaven forbid not Clark Kellogg)–no, today we deify Bill Raftery. Raftery finally gets his due this year, tagged as the color broadcaster for the Final Four. Raftery’s ascendancy was helped along by the aforementioned Clark Kellogg being horrible and Greg Anthony being unable to keep it in his pants. Raised in Kearny, New Jersey, Raftery was all-state in soccer, a 2,100-point scorer in high school hoops, and a former head coach at Seton Hall. Bill Raftery is a legit legend in New Jersey.
So this year the Final Four Saturday and Monday night promises to be even more special than in the past. Gone is the mean-spirited Billy Packer and the confusing Clark Kellogg. Now sitting beside Jim Nance is the affable and knowledgeable Bill Raftery, finally getting the call at age 71. I can’t decide what I like best; is it his “from the streets” shtick or his trigger quick analysis? With Raf you don’t square up to shoot, you “set the puppies,” you don’t drive to the basket, you “take it to the tin,” you don’t dunk, you “send it in big fella,” you never play zone; always “mantoman,” guys faked out by a crossover dribble “leave some lingerie on the deck,” and the guy taking the big shot doesn’t have guts, he has “onions.”