Four-Fathers of Cougar Basketball: George Raveling

Jan. 17, 2006

Editor's Note: This is the first of a four-part series featuring the 'Four-Fathers of Cougar Basketball': Jack Friel, Marv Harshman, Jud Heathcote and George Raveling.

The quartet will be honored prior to Saturday's (Jan. 21) men's basketball game versus Oregon State at Beasley Coliseum. For tickets call 800-GO-COUGS or go to the Tickets link at

Today's feature: George Raveling. Check back to Wednesday for part two of the Four-Fathers series.

By Russell Houghtaling
WSU Sports Information

One of the most colorful coaches in Washington State history will be honored for his contributions to Cougar Basketball, Saturday, Jan. 21 before Washington State men's basketball hosts Oregon State.

George Raveling, known as the most charismatic of WSU's 15 basketball coaches, will join Jack Friel (represented by his son Wally Friel), Marv Harshman and Jud Heathcote in being honored as one of the four-fathers of Cougar Basketball by Washington State Men's Basketball, the WSU Athletics Foundation and the Gray 'W' Varsity Club.

During his 11-year tenure in Pullman from 1972-83, Raveling compiled a record of 167-136, coached Cougar greats Don Collins, Steve Puidokas, James Donaldson and Craig Ehlo, and even wrote a weekly syndicated column.He came to Pullman with a well-earned reputation as a recruiter.

'He was one that could really paint the picture of what life in far away Pullman would be like,' former Cougar basketball player James Donaldson said. 'There wasn't a parent out there who wasn't at ease with George Raveling.'

Donaldson, who played at WSU from 1975-79 and had a 15-year NBA career, attributes Raveling alone for bringing him to Pullman.

'(He) was the sole reason I came to WSU from Sacramento,' Donaldson said. 'He immediately became a father figure to me.'

Raveling added to his reputation as a great recruiter by earning Pacific-10 Coach of the Year honors twice (1976, 1983) and taking the Cougars to the NCAA Tournament in 1980 and 1983.

'I think he grew into one of the best coaches in the country through hard work and effort,' said Sam Jankovich, WSU Athletic Director from 1974-1983.

Donaldson also hails Raveling as a great coach, and carries a phrase posted on his former coach's wall with him today.

'`If it's to be, it's up to me,'' Donaldson recalled. 'Those words just ingrained in my brain and my thought process.'

While Raveling is among the most successful coaches in WSU history, people recount his unique personality as much as they note his on-court accomplishments.

'George is a charismatic, colorful guy,' Jankovich said, 'and probably one of the nicest human beings you'll ever meet in your life.'

Donaldson remembers Raveling as 'high energy,' 'overly excited,' and also emphasized the loving side of the coach.

'He cared about us as people, he cared about us as young men, he cared about us as students, and he cared about us being the best team we could be,' Donaldson said.

Raveling was the first to coach in Beasley Coliseum, and there could not have been a better pick to fill the new arena. He coached an up-tempo game, and his interactions with officials could have sold tickets on their own. The 13 best-attended games in Beasley's history came during the Raveling era.

'If you take a lot of the people that go to Gonzaga games now, they're the people who were coming to Beasley in busloads,' Jankovich said.

And Raveling could bring the masses to their feet with one gesture.

'When he wanted the crowd to go crazy, he'd stand up and put those big arms in the air and the crowd and students would go crazy,' Jankovich remembered.

One of Raveling's most famous incidents involved controlling the crowd in a different way. During the March 1, 1980 game against Arizona, the student section began throwing things onto the court after a questionable call, delaying the game. It seemed as though the barrage would never end when Raveling took the public address microphone and chastised the crowd.

'If we win, we'll win with class. If we lose, we'll lose with class,' he said. The projectiles stopped flying, and the Cougars rallied to win the game 74-71.

Raveling left WSU after the 1983 season for the University of Iowa, where he coached from 1983-86 and led the Hawkeyes to consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament in 1985 and 1986.

'You'd be hard pressed to find anything negative about George Raveling in his three years at Iowa,' said University of Iowa Sports Information Director Phil Haddy. 'In the coaching profession, you don't find many that are nicer and better to work with than George.'

Raveling then coached at the University of Southern California from 1986-94, guiding the Trojans to the Big Dance in 1991 and 1992.

An avid reader and writer, Raveling has authored two books on rebounding: 'War on the Boards,' and 'A Rebounder's Workshop.' He's also worked as a color commentator for FOX Sports Net, and currently works for Nike.

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