Coaches | Raftery vs Carlesimo | Ep 13

If you derive a headache from constantly smiling widely or laughing uncontrollably, you better have a bottle of aspirin at hand for this matchup of coaches.

Bill Raftery and P.J. Carlesimo have run the gamut of basketball coaching and broadcasting, from college to the NBA, from regional networks to the Final Four.

They were direct coaching rivals from 1976 to 1981 when Carlesimo was the head coach at Wagner College and Raftery was the same at Seton Hall. There were some wild games between the schools, including a New Year’s Eve game that went to double OT, and boy, do these two ever give you some memories about that game.

The Coaches

Raftery coached college ball from 1963 to 1981 and then went on to become one of the most popular TV commentators in a college basketball HOF career covering the last 33 years. His infectious laugh and sense of humor shine through in that job and it shines brightly in this podcast.

P.J. Carlesimo

Carlesimo began his coaching career in 1971, most notably putting Seton Hall on the basketball map between 1982-1994, arriving just one year at the Hall after Raftery left.

P.J. went on to head coach in the NBA with the Trail Blazers, Warriors, and SuperSonics/Thunder.

In between the coaching stints, Carlesimo also joined the ranks of TV analysts with TNT, ESPN, and NBC.

The Rivalry

What was the relationship between these two as they coached against one another? Raftery will kick it off with one big smile, “I never liked P.J.,” and off we go!

There were the weekly press conferences in New York City and New Jersey that turned into Broadway productions with the likes of Jim Valvano, Lou Carnesecca, and Tom Penders.

There were late-night feasts after games the likes of which may not exist today. There were antics and fireworks during the games that both coaches will regale you with.

Did priests really ref games? What about that picture of Raftery flying off the bench in midair parallel to the court? An endless needling by these two of one another continues here.

Joyful, insightful, unabashed, and unique are just some of the adjectives that describe what you will hear from two of basketball’s most delightful and knowledgeable individuals and coaches.

Prepare to smile.

Further Listening:

Be sure to subscribe to the Sports Rivals podcast to listen to this rivalry on your favorite podcast app:

If you loved this episode, check out our others:

UCLA vs Arizona | NCAA Mens’ Basketball | Ep 6

UCLA vs Arizona | NCAA Mens’ Basketball–Rivalries take time to build and this one has had decades.  UCLA and Arizona are two of college basketball’s premier programs.   Over the years the race for Pac-12 titles and the right to move to March madness has created high heat when they meet.

42 of the last 58 Pac-12 titles have gone to one of these teams. The intensity of their battles only increases.

Today we hear the magnitude of that rivalry from two who were in the middle of the spotlight.

Don MacLean played at UCLA from 1988 to 1992.  They won the Pac-12 championship in the ’91-’92 season. He thrived on the rivalry.

Matt Muehlebach played at AZ from 1987 to 1991.  His teams never lost a game at home. Ironically, that streak would be broken by UCLA and MacLean.

MacLean was a pot-stirrer, especially on the court.  Listen to Matt talk about that while Don tells you how that went over with former UCLA coach John Wooden.

Matt speaks to what it was like to be on each of these raucous home courts when the two great basketball programs went head to head.  He’ll tell you about the “offer the hand and take it back move” made by Don to one of Matt’s teammates.  

Enjoy the story of an epic basketball rivalry through the memories of two who helped create it.

Don MacLean with Coach Jim Harrick

Further Listening:

Be sure to subscribe to the Sports Rivals podcast to listen to this rivalry on your favorite podcast app:

If you loved this episode, check out our others: