College hoops analyst Fran Fraschilla

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After more than two decades as a college basketball coach, Fran Fraschilla  is sharing his wealth of expertise as an analyst for ESPN.

Growing up the oldest of seven children in Brooklyn, New York, Fran Fraschilla was hooked on basketball at an early age, like most of his peers.

What Fraschilla, now 62, didn’t envision as a youngster was that his glory days wouldn’t come on the basketball court, but as a college coach and later as a TV analyst.

“I like to talk. I like to entertain. I love to explain basketball to fans on TV,” says Fraschilla, who has relished working for ESPN since 2003. “I have been lucky. All I do is talk basketball.”

Primarily a college basketball analyst, Fraschilla has also worked NBA games, international basketball tournaments, World Cup soccer games and the 2016 Summer Olympics. He did the latter for NBC, and he’ll do so again for the postponed 2020 Olympics.

Fraschilla, whose grandparents immigrated from Sicily, was the first in his family to graduate from college. He started as an assistant coach and worked for five teams before being hired as head coach at Manhattan College in 1992.

A highlight of his coaching career was when the Manhattan Jaspers became the first team from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament in 1995, where they beat fourth-seeded Oklahoma in an exhilarating first-round contest. They lost in the second round but the feat earned them a key to the city from then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Fraschilla joined St. John’s University in 1996 and two years later led the team to the NCAA tournament for the first time in five years. His tenure, however, ended in dismissal after a dispute with administration. After three more years coaching at the University of New Mexico, he joined ESPN.

Coaching can be a stressful, demanding profession, and working as a broadcaster gives him more time with his wife, Meg, and two sons. “If you watched me coach, you could guess that I probably was Italian based on my emotion,” he says. “I pretty much had enough of it after 23 years.”

The family lived in Dallas before recently moving to Colorado. His sons have followed in his footsteps: James Fraschilla works as a video associate for the NBA’s Orlando Magic, and Matthew Fraschilla is a video coordinator for basketball at Villanova University.

Fraschilla’s busiest stretch with ESPN runs from November to April every season, when he takes 50-75 flights to attend games. During the past year, because of the pandemic, he’s done much of his broadcasting from a studio set up in his home office.

Fraschilla estimates he has analyzed more than 1,000 games. “I am trying to explain basketball in a way that the average sports fan says, ‘That’s pretty interesting.’ I try to do it with humor and insight,’” he says.

He really enjoyed covering future NBA star Kevin Durant as a freshman at the University of Texas, and he’ll never forget covering the Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York City. He watched the Knicks play at the Garden as a kid and coached home games there when he worked for St. John’s.

Luckily, he hasn’t had any “hot mic” moments, he says. “I have been on my best behavior for over 19 years.”

Throughout his career, Fraschilla has done charity work, including for the American Cancer Society and Special Olympics. He’s coached clinics around the country and as far away as Italy, Iceland, France, Spain, Germany, Kuwait and Iraq. He also coached from 2004-16 at the Reebok/Adidas EuroCamp in Treviso, Italy, the international version of the NBA Draft Combine.

These days, he’s involved in the “Be Ready” initiative, which helps basketball coaches hone their craft. He especially enjoys mentoring young minority coaches.

Whatever his involvement, he doesn’t consider basketball actual work. “I’ve never, to me, worked a day in my life,” he says. “I have been around something I love doing, which is the game of basketball, and I am very fortunate.”

 

The above appears in the July 2021 issue of the print version of Fra Noi. Our gorgeous, monthly magazine contains a veritable feast of news and views, profiles and features, entertainment and culture. To subscribe, click here.

 

About Elena Ferrarin

Elena Ferrarin is a native of Rome who has worked as a journalist in the United States since 2002. She has been a correspondent for Fra Noi for more than a decade. She previously worked as a reporter for The Daily Herald in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, The Regional News in Palos Heights and as a reporter/assistant editor for Reflejos, a Spanish-English newspaper in Arlington Heights. She has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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