McDonough, Raftery join Crean on radio show

Tom Crean walked into the Crowne Plaza hotel on Monday night, found Sean McDonough at the bar and either bear-hugged him or put him in a choke-hold. I was behind them so I couldn’t tell. Regardless, McDonough and broadcast partner Bill Raftery, who are doing tomorrow’s Maryland-IU game on ESPN2, were in attendance, so Crean and Don Fischer put them to work and brought them on the radio show.

There was, of course, much prasing of Crean’s program and comparison of his situation at Indiana to the one he inherited at Marquette before leading the Golden Eagles to a Final Four appearance.

“He inherited with a program with a great tradition,” Raftery said. “And they were struggling. … I got to know Tom pretty much through Sean, but he was the assistant at Michigan State. Watched his work ethic there for an assistant for many years, and then at Marquette and watched him put together the nucleus of a Final Four team with just sweat and hard work. To me, all of the ingredients to be a very good coach are in place for him. He’s got the tradition of this great university and now he can attract the kids that you’re used to getting. The next step is starting with that for this young group. The difficulty I think that I see, and Sean, is how young they are. At critical times, you don’t have somebody to lean on to get you through the rough moments. I do think the progress is going to be incredible, and I’m looking forward to coming back here in the next few years and seeing them vie not only for a Big Ten championship but an NCAA championship.”

McDonough and Raftery were without Jay Bilas, typically the third member of their broadcast team. Which, of course, left Bilas open to much mockery.

“We’ve both learned a lot about broadcasting from Jay, which he would be the first to admit,” said McDonough, who met Crean though his father Will, a former Boston Globe sportswriter who apparently introduced Crean to Fenway Park. “Jay, when we first started working together told me, ‘The most important thing in broadcasting is sincerity. As soon as you learn how to fake that, you’re on your way.”

They were asked by a member of the crowd how they get their assignments for games.

Said Raftery: “They call Dick Vitale, and he tells everyone where to go.”