Posted on: September 13, 2011 2:35 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 2:41 pm
By Gary Parrish
Maryland officials ended a debate Tuesday by announcing that the court at the Comcast Center will be named in honor of Gary Williams as opposed to Lefty Driesell.
"Gary has been a faithful alumnus, a highly successful and iconic figure in men's college basketball across the nation, a fierce competitor, and a tireless fundraiser on behalf of student scholarships," said Maryland president Wallace D. Loh. "He has been the face of Maryland men's basketball for more than 22 years. Gary led the Terps out of historic Cole Field House into the Comcast Center. I can think of no better way to recognize his success and his contributions to the University of Maryland than by naming the floor of the basketball court in Comcast Center in his honor."
Most everyone agreed the court should be named for Williams -- the school's all-time winningest coach with 461 victories and a national title. But some boosters reportedly wanted the honor to go to Lefty Driesell, who won 348 games in 18 seasons before being forced out following the death of Len Bias.
So Maryland had a delicate issue to resolve.
Williams or Driesell?
That was the question being batted around in College Park.
But Maryland officials have now answered it.
The dedication will take place in a formal ceremony on Dec. 9.
"I'm honored and humbled to receive this recognition," said Williams, who retired from coaching in May. "It's important to remember that the success we achieved at Maryland was a team effort and all the coaches, student-athletes and staff who were here are a big part of this. I'm very appreciative of the effort by [athletic director] Kevin Anderson, President Loh, Chancellor Kirwan and everyone else who has been a part of making this happen."
Posted on: May 14, 2011 3:10 pm
Edited on: May 14, 2011 3:15 pm
Posted by Eric Angevine
For those of us who write about college basketball, one of the excellent side effects of the coaching change at Maryland has been the resurgence in interest in Lefty Driesell, the endlessly quotable former coach of the Terps.
Recently, CBS affiliate 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore had Lefty on to talk about his coaching run-ins with Turgeon, which happened when Turgeon was starting his head coaching career at Jacksonville State and Driesell was winding down at Georgia State. Turgeon had admitted in his introductory press conference that he had long felt that Lefty hated him, because he never got more than a scowl and a brief handshake when they coached against one another. Driesell admitted that he never was much for fraternizing with the "enemy" and then launched in to several amusing anecdotes that yielded a record for soundbites per minute.
On Turgeon's first coaching gig: "Have you ever been to.. um.. uh... I don't know where that city is where Jacksonville State is!* It's out in the country, man. I don't know how he could ever get anybody to go to school there."
Recalling Turgeon's tactical aptitude: "I know one game we were down there playin' them and we were up 20 at the half. He ran his pick-and-roll play in the second half and he killed us. I put that play in the next year for us."
His role in Turgeon's hiring: "To tell you the truth, I was calling (Kevin Anderson) up to recommend John Lucas. Then I found out he'd already made a decision, so I just told him he made a great choice."
Listen to the entire chat with Lefty Driesell at the CBS Baltimore home page.
That's Lefty for you: gruff to his opponents, bracingly honest even with his friends, and always, always entertaining. Taken all together, however, Lefty's comments have been very complimentary. That's a pretty good start for Turgeon in College Park.
*By the way, Jacksonville State is in Jacksonville, Alabama, population 8,404 as of the 2000 census. The Gamecocks play in the Ohio Valley Conference. They should not be (but often are) confused with the Jackson State Tigers of the SWAC.
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: May 9, 2011 9:21 am
Edited on: May 9, 2011 9:49 am
Posted by Eric Angevine
Wake up, hoops junkies. It's a long time until our season starts up again, but our fellow basketball fanatics can always be counted on to find interesting ways to keep our thoughts on hoops all summer long.
One such project that just started this May is Halcyon Hoops, the latest brainchild of writer Corey Schmidt. Just three posts into this new joint, Corey has already hit on an interesting question, following on the heels of Gary Williams' retirement at Maryland. To wit, "what does it take for a coach to get a court named after him?"
It varies more than you'd think. Length of tenure would be the first thing most of us would guess, and that holds true for the likes of Jim Phelan, who had the court named for him after a half-century at Mount St. Mary's. The median tenure for a coach with a court named after him is right around 20 years, right where I would have pegged it if I had to guess. But if that's the average, there must be several below that line, right?
Right. Of the 22 coaches Schmidt looked at, 12 fell below the mark. Billy Tubbs had seven years at Lamar, in a most unusual fashion: four years in the 1970s as he began his career, and then three more in the new millennium as he wound it down. The absolute shortest was Lefty Driesell's 5 1/3 seasons at Georgia State, which nevertheless earned him court-naming priveleges.
Here's Corey's full chart, which is a beautiful thing:
(Image courtesy of Halcyon Hoops. Don't credit me, I do not have these skills.)
The main question Halcyon Hoops aims to explore is this: will George Mason University ever name a floor after Jim Larranaga? 14 years falls short of the average, but that's obviously not the crux of the issue. If Larranaga were retiring instead of heading to Miami, he'd pretty much be a lock. Schmidt put it this way:
Indeed. It's actually kind of hard to imagine how this might play out in Larranaga's favor. If time heals all wounds, and a sizable chunk of the school's alumni are behind the honor, it could happen, but that might also depend on what happens to the program now that he's gone. If Paul Hewitt stinks it up and the team falters, does that make Masonites more or less likely to want to pay homage to the man who took them to such heights? What if Hewitt wins a bunch of games? Do his accomplishments overshadow the man who will then look like he left to play in a sandbox in the middle of the team's heyday?
The fact is, Larranaga deserves recognition for making George Mason University a household name amongst the hoops-savvy. Let's be honest. Right now, more people could accurately identify Jim Larranaga and tell you why he's famous than could do the same for the school's namesake, semi-obscure founding father George Mason. Larranaga's legacy may not be an eponymous basketball court. Maybe it will be a scholarship fund or a conference room or something less visible that bears his name. It's worth noting that the only thing named after Joe Paterno at Penn State (so far) is a library. But Larranaga should be honored in some way, and it really should be something visible and meaningful, even if the sting has to fade a bit in the interim.
**Update** @GMUHoops makes a cogent point via Twitter: "A lot of people bring this up each year. Don't know if school would actually do it, they don't even retire player jerseys"
Photo: Halcyon Hoops