Undoubtedly one of the highlights of Hall of Fame Coach Lefty Driesell’s stellar career was the Terps’ March 11, 1984, ACC Tournament championship victory over arch-rival Duke, 74-62.
The Terps were led by their star Len Bias, who scored 26 points. Bias, named the tournament’s most outstanding player, had come to Greensboro, NC, with a bit of chip on his shoulder. According to the Washington Post, he felt he had something to prove.
“I didn’t get named to any of the all-ACC teams, first- or second-team,’ Bias said. “I wanted people to know I could play and that I could do it in the big games.”
Duke opened up a 16-8 lead early in the game, behind 10 points from Blue Devils’ star Johnny Dawkins. The Terps shot 44 percent in the first half, trailing by three, 30-27, at the break, and Bias had six turnovers.
He righted his game in the second half, opening with a dunk to bring the Terps within one of the Blue Devils and pouring in 10 points during a 24-3 Maryland run. His sharp shooting, plus Maryland’s move to zone defense and physical play, shut down Duke. With five minutes left in the game, the Terps were ahead 58-47, and Bias still had two monster dunks left in his arsenal. The first came on a Maryland breakaway in transition when Adrian Branch hit a trailing Bias with an over-the-shoulder pass, which ended with one dribble and a spectacular reverse dunk. Moments later, Keith Gatlin, trapped in a triple-team, hit Bias on the baseline with a pass, which resulted in a magnificent windmill throwdown.
Bias’ heroics led a terrific team effort. Center Ben Coleman finished with 14 points and 9 rebounds. Guard Adrian Branch chipped in 12 points, 4 assists and 2 steals, and his backcourt mate Keith Gatlin recorded 10 assists, 3 steals, and only 1 turnover in 30 minutes of play. Herman Veal drew 2 key charging fouls when the score was close, rattling the Blue Devils, and led a tough zone defense that shut Duke down in the second half.
After the final horn sounded, the Terps and their supporters mobbed the floor, and the players attempted to carry Coach Driesell off the floor on their shoulders, celebrating the victory that had eluded Lefty for 15 years at Maryland. Driesell commented “I guess the good Lord just wanted us to win this time. But all of our players played well today, and yes, it is very special to me to have won this thing.”
You can re-live this landmark victory and watch footage of the game at http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/40063 and http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/43122,which has been digitized as part of the UMD Archives’ project to Help Preserve Maryland Basketball History.
This is the seventh in a series of blog posts the University Archives will be featuring as part of the celebration of the 100th season of Maryland men’s basketball, 2018-2019, with our colleagues in Intercollegiate Athletics. Visit the #Terps100 website for more information about and to participate in the celebration.
Follow Terrapin Tales throughout the season for additional features on landmark days in Maryland men’s basketball history. Our final post will highlight the Terps’ dramatic national championship win on April 1, 2002.