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Bill Raftery

Sport: Basketball

Born: April 19, 1943

Town: Orange, New Jersey

William J. Raftery was born April 19, 1943 in Orange. He grew up in Kearny, where soccer was the most popular sport. Bill ended up playing soccer, basketball and baseball for St. Cecilia High School and was named All-State in each sport. It was in basketball, however, that Bill truly shone. He set a new all-time prep scoring record for Hudson County that stood until 1999.

In 1959, Bill—who had sprouted to 6’ 4”—was hands-down the top player in the state, and possibly in the country. He and Jersey City point guard Vinnie Ernst planned to attend the same college, but Ernst wanted to spread his wings a bit (he ended up at Providence) while Bill preferred to stay closer to home.

A devout Catholic who parents emigrated from Ireland and whose sister was a nun, Bill was recruited by several Catholic universities. He chose La Salle in Philadelphia. Freshmen were not permitted to play varsity ball at the time. He set a record for the Explorers by scoring 370 points in 1959–60. A year later, he led Dudley Moore’s varsity in scoring, averaging under 18 points a game and the Explorers went 15–7.

In 1961–62, Bill teamed with senior Bob McAteer to lead La Salle to a 16-win season. In 1962–63, Bill and fellow guard Tony Abbott co-captained a squad that included Frank Corace and George Sutor. They went 16≠8 and earned a bid to the National Invitational Tournament. Unfortunately, their bid for an NIT title ended in a one-point loss to St. Louis in the opening round.

Bill didn’t project as a big star in the pros. He was drafted by the Knicks but did not survive training camp. He set his sights on a coaching career and took a job with Fairleigh Dickinson as associate athletic director, where he coached basketball and golf. In 1970, Richie Regan stepped down as basketball coach at Seton Hall and Bill, just 27, replaced him. After three losing seasons, he reeled off seven winning ones in a row, and took the Pirates to two NITs. During his 11 years at the helm, Seton Hall won 154 games and became a charter member of the Big East.

Bill turned to broadcasting in the 1980s and became one of the leading voices in college basketball. He teamed with Vern Lundquist for CBS and Sean McDonough for ESPN on TV, and has been the radio voice of the NCAA Final Four for many years. \



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