Former Maryland men’s basketball coach Lefty Driesell, who led the Terrapins from 1969-1986, was named a finalist for the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame on Friday.
Driesell amassed 348 wins during his tenure at Maryland, and 786 wins during his head coaching career, spanning four different schools. At Maryland, Driesell won regular season titles in 1975 and 1980. Riding an MVP performance by Len Bias,Driesell finally captured an ACC tournament title in 1984. His reaction to winning the tournament in the heart of Tobacco Road was outstanding. From an LA Times article about Driesell:
After finally winning an ACC championship in 1985, Driesell was asked how he would celebrate.
"Well, Ah thought Ah'd bolt the trophy to the hood of mah car and drive around North Carolina for the weekend," he said in his hush puppies-and-grits Southern drawl. "Nah, Ah'm too tired. Ah'm just gonna go home."
Driesell is also credited with starting what has become the official tipoff to college basketball season, Midnight Madness.
Lefty also famously stated that he wanted to turn Maryland into the "UCLA of the East" during his introductory press conference in 1969. While the Terps didn't win a national title during his tenure, let alone 10 in 12 years like UCLA did, his Maryland teams did capture an NIT title in 1972 and also made eight NCAA Tournament appearances.
Driesell's tenure at Maryland came to a somewhat abrupt halt following the tragic death of Maryland star Len Bias. Questions regarding player academics under Driesell's watch, as well as Bias' death via cocaine overdose, resulted in Driesell resigning as head coach in October of 1986. Lefty continued coaching for 15 more years after he left Maryland, retiring in 2003.
Other finalists joining Driesell include coaches Eddie Sutton, Bo Ryan, and Tom Izzo, as well as Shaquille O'Neal and Allen Iverson. In order to be inducted, a finalist must receive at least 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee. The 2016 class will be announced at this year's Final Four in Houston.