Lefty Driesell Death: Remembered as a Pioneering Figure in College Basketball

Lefty Driesell Death
Lefty Driesell Death

Charles Grice “Lefty” Driesell, 92, a Hall of Fame coach, died. The legendary coach, who helped transform the University of Maryland basketball team into a national powerhouse, died Saturday morning, according to the university.

Driesell was a legend in the sport who left an indelible mark on Maryland basketball and the college basketball community as a whole,” the university said in a news release.

Damon Evans, the Barry P. Gossett Director of Athletics at Maryland, hailed Driesell in the release as “a transcendent figure in college basketball and the man who put Maryland basketball on the map” during his term as coach.

Lefty Driesell Death

“A Hall of Famer, Lefty was an innovator, a man who was ahead of his time from his coaching on the court to his marketing off the court,” Evans added.

Driesell, who was born in Norfolk, Virginia, and played basketball at Duke University, went on to have a successful coaching career. According to The Washington Post, he retired having won 786 games and was the first and only coach to lead four different Division I institutions to 100 victories in basketball.

His journey to greatness began in 1960 when he accepted his first coaching position at Davidson College in North Carolina. He attended the school for nine years and led the basketball team to a 176-65 record.

Driesell became the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Maryland in 1969, and over the next decade and a half, he converted the team into a winning one. Prior to his recruiting, the school had only made the NCAA tournament once in 46 years, but he was able to change that.

He led the Maryland Terrapins to eight NCAA tournament appearances, a National Invitation Tournament championship, two Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season titles, and an ACC tournament championship. He also guided the team to a 348-159 record.

Driesell was also credited with originating the tradition of ‘Midnight Madness’, according to The Washington Post, after purportedly forcing his team to run a mile on the track inside the Maryland football stadium just three minutes after the start of NCAA practice.

Below is the Adrian Wojnarowski Twitter post:

He resigned as Maryland’s coach in 1986 after one of his players, Len Bias, died of a drug overdose, according to ESPN. Driesell was exonerated of any misconduct in Bias’ death but was sent to a different position in the athletics department.

Driesell left Maryland in 1988 to coach James Madison, where he led the team to an NCAA berth and five Colonial Athletic Association regular-season championships, according to the publication. He coached for nine seasons, retiring in 1995 with a 159-111 record.

He went on to coach Georgia State for six seasons, finishing 103-59, before resigning in 2003, according to ESPN. Driesell entered the College Basketball Hall of Fame four years later, and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame inducted him in 2018.

“His contributions to the game go way beyond wins and losses, and he won a lot,” former Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said during the induction ceremony, per Deadline. “It’s an honor he’s deserved for a long time.”

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