For many years, one of college basketball's greatest voices has also lent his his iconic commentary to the Big East Conference throughout its powerful run. Whether it was on ESPN, or now FOX Sports 1, Bill Raftery is one of the sport's greatest color commentators. His signature lines -- "With a little kiss!" and, of course, "Onions!" -- have drawn affection from those who are enamored with the sport. Raftery has a great appreciation for both his job, and the sport, and that's put on display each time he calls a game.
On Saturday evening in Washington, D.C., the Butler Bulldogs and Georgetown Hoyas tangled up at the Verizon Center. Raftery, alongside Tim Brando, were on the call for the game, and I pined for an opportunity to speak with him. It took me a while, because this was my first time seeing him. Raftery sat down and talked to Rich Chvotkin, the voice of the Hoyas for ESPN 980 AM, and then saw many of the Hoya players warming up and addressed them. Raftery and Brando make sure to do this before each game they call, and afterwards, the tandem headed for the media room.
After he finished talking, I requested a one-on-one discussion. And luckily for me, he went ahead and obliged.
Devonte Brooks: What is your overall impression of this Georgetown team?
Bill Raftery: There is a lot of growth potential in this team. The freshman have been involved and understands what they have to do. This league makes you hang tough, so they have to sustain confidence and go on a couple winning streaks coming down the stretch. These young kids are only going to get better and team will be a very tough out. Obviously getting to the tournament, which is there goal and hope.
DB: L.J. Peak has been one of the most impressive freshman in the conference with his aggressiveness to the basket. What is the most impressive thing about him that has caught your eye?
BR: He is not afraid. He is just one of those kids that slashes and attacks. Great mental attitude and great confidence. He is one of the most impressive freshman that I have seen in conference play.
DB: Villanova is the best team in the conference and they come to the Verizon Center on Monday. What is one of the main things that you will be looking at? If Villanova wants to win, what do they need to do? if Georgetown wants to win, what do they need to do?
BR: Villanova, since they score so much, forget about how good defensively that they are. They're going to have to turn it over and speed the game up a little bit because of turnovers and Georgetown, basically, has to use there size, strength and inside game. Villanova is not very deep up front and they have been able to overcome that with a lot of pressure on the outside and harrasing the passer to the post, so these are two solid teams and I am looking forward to it.
DB: St John's is 1-3 in conference play (and now 1-4). What do they need to do to get back on track, because teams cannot afford to fall back in the conference like the Big East?
BR: They lack depth and that has been in a major issue late in games where it's foul trouble, or a couple guys got hurt like they did against Villanova. Not season ending injuries, but it's a slow down injury. Chris Obekpa got hurt and D'Angelo Harrison got hurt on a breakaway. They have veterans on the team, which makes them really tough.
DB: Seton Hall is getting Isaiah Whitehead back, many people say that they are better team without him and some say they are not, but what does he need to do to in order to help the them?
BR: Just blend in and he is learned from that. Make good quick decision and many times when a kid has the talent, they will make the team better.
DB: You are probably one of the best color commentators in the history right now.
BR: Get out of here. That's nice of you.
DB: But one your favorite lines is "and a kiss", Can you say that one time?
BR: With the kiss! When a kid gets into the 10-12 foot area and banks it home. It is something that started years ago and comes out and it is something that people remember. It has been good to sit here court side all these years and watch these kids play.