Close your eyes and try to imagine a 6’ 6” basketball coach walking into his home arena with the sound of “Hail to the Chief” blaring behind him and his hand above his head with a “V” for victory sign. All of the seats in Cole Field House are claimed by devoted Terrapin basketball fans, but of course for the coach that wasn’t enough. This energetic and intense man demanded floor seating for the public to get even closer to the action. Everyone is on their feet for another basketball showdown and he and his players thrive off the excitement they created and use it for one more night to get another win. Now open your eyes. That coach was Lefty Driesell and that level of excitement happened for 17 basketball seasons!
Coach Charles “Lefty” Driesell understood the relationship between Maryland fans and his players and from the photographs found in our archives, his time as a Terp will never be forgotten.
Driesell will finally be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday, September 7th, after a collegiate coaching career of over 40 years for four different programs. He built the University of Maryland basketball program into a national powerhouse between 1969 and 1986. As our head coach, the team had eight NCAA Tournament appearances, two Elite 8 appearances, won or shared five total ACC regular season championships, and won one ACC tournament championship in 1984. He is responsible for recruiting UMD basketball’s biggest names, like Tom McMillen, Len Elmore, John Lucas, Albert King, Buck Williams, and the late Len Bias.
Although his legacy is set in stone on the basketball court, he also made an impact off the court. In 1972, Driesell started “Midnight Madness” which gave UMD fans the earliest opportunity to celebrate the start of the basketball season with the teams. This tradition transformed into what is known now as “Maryland Madness” and has taken shape in other athletic programs across the country. Lefty Driesell was a trendsetter, a competitor, and a mentor for the Maryland Men’s Basketball program and we are truly proud of his selection to receive this prestigious honor.
Congratulations Coach Driesell!