The Best Maryland Basketball Coach Ever

What better debate to have entering the holidays?

I wanted to take an objective approach to determine whether Lefty Driesell or Gary Williams was the best Maryland basketball coach ever. It's easy to say we won a Natty under Gary and crown him the best based solely on that. But had Gary's Natty team played under the same NCAA rules as Lefty's '74 team, we wouldn't have made the NCAA tournament at all in '02.

I stumbled on this website from which the data for my argument were obtained:

Instead of simply counting the number of players each coach had who played in the NBA - doing so would have given Cedric Lewis the same weight as Buck Williams - I decided to evaluate each player based on the number of minutes they played in the NBA.

It's not perfect. There are more NBA teams now than when Lefty coached, giving more players from Gary's era the opportunity to play. Also, Len Bias (arguably the best Terp ever) isn't included at all because he never played in the NBA.

There are five players still active in the NBA who played under GW (Steve Blake, Joe Smith, Greivis Vasquez, Chris Wilcox and Jordan Williams). To projected their impact on the discussion, I calculated the average career length for all players (6), and the average number of minutes per season, which was 1,515. Since Blake, Wilcox and Smith have already played longer than the average player, no additional time was added to their careers. For Vasquez and Jordan Williams, I assumed an average career for both (six NBA seasons) and multiplied by the average number of minutes per player (1,515). Those minutes were added to Gary's total.

Also, Tony Massenburg was recruited under Lefty, suffered through the Bob Wade era, and finished his career under Gary. His minutes were split evenly between the two coaches.

Here's the end result: Lefty's players totaled 145,647.5 minutes. Divide that by his 17 seasons as a coach, and Lefty gets 8,567.5 points. Gary's players (including the Vasquez and J-Will estimates) played 140,334.5 NBA minutes. After dividing by his 22 seasons, he gets 6379.3 points.


Here's wishing everyone a fabulous holiday.

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