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Jan. 27, 2010

BOSTON (MA) -- CollegeInsider.com will honor former Maryland head coach Lefty Driesell with the creation of Lefty Driesell Award, which will be presented annually to the nation’s top division I defensive player.

“I have always believed that defense wins championships,” says Driesell. “Defense is a team effort, but it’s also an individual effort. I had some great defensive players in my time as a coach so it’s a great honor to have CollegeInsider.com name this award on my behalf.”

In his 41 seasons as a head coach, Driesell amassed 786 wins, which ranked him fifth all-time among division I head coaches when he retired in 2003.

In 2007 Driesell was named to the second class of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame

“Coach Driesell is winner,” says Joe Dwyer, co-founder of CollegeInsider.com. “He’s one of the great coaches of my generation and most certainly deserves to be enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. “

Driesell graduated from Duke with Dean's List honors in 1954. That same year he began his coaching career as a junior varsity coach at Granby High School (Norfolk, VA). Three years later he was named head coach at Newport News High School, where he established a school record 57-game winning streak.

In 1960 Driesell joined the collegiate ranks when he accepted the head coaching position at Davidson College. Driesell posted a 9-14 record in his first season at Davidson. He would have only one more losing season in the 40 years that followed.

In nine seasons at Davidson, Driesell led the Wildcats to three Southern Conference Championships and posted an impressive 176-65 record.

Following a successful tenure at Davidson, Driesell moved on to the University of Maryland where he would spend the next 17 seasons. Driesell built Maryland into a perennial contender in the Atlantic Coast Conference, recruiting such players as Tom McMillen, Len Elmore, John Lucas, Albert King, Buck Williams, and Len Bias.

Under the guidance of Driesell, Maryland won the National Invitational Tournament in 1972 and its’ second-ever ACC Tournament Championship in 1984. He finished his career at Maryland with a 348-159 record.

Following a two-year hiatus from coaching, Driesell returned to the sidelines in 1988, when he was named the head coach at James Madison University. He led the Dukes to five regular season championships in the Colonial Athletic Association and a berth in the 1994 NCAA Tournament.

Six years later he became one of just three coaches to take four different programs to the NCAA Tournament, when he coached Georgia State to the Big Dance following the 2000-01 season. The Panthers, who finished 29-5, upset Wisconsin in the first round of the tournament before falling to the University of Maryland.

Driesell won 103 games in his six seasons at Georgia State making him the only coach in Division I history to win at least 100 games at four different schools.

Driesell, who is credited with starting the tradition of “Midnight Madness,” also saved the lives of at least 10 children from a burning building on July 12, 1973. He and two other men were surf fishing around midnight in Bethany Beach, Delaware when Driesell spotted flames shooting from a townhouse complex behind them. Driesell broke down a door and began getting children out. The fire destroyed four townhouses. For these actions, Driesell was awarded the NCAA Award of Valor.

“Coach Driesell was one of the finest teachers in the game,” says Len Elmore. “During his era he coached some of the outstanding defenders and rebounders in college basketball. Much of what I know about the game of basketball I attribute to him, particularly on the defensive end where I excelled as a player. It’s only fitting that this award bears his name.”

Elmore, who is now a college basketball analyst for ESPN, is one of 21 members of the voting panel, which includes Rod Barnes (Georgia State), Matt Brady (James Madison), Adrian Branch (ESPN), Chuck Driesell (Maryland), Phil Martelli (St. Joseph's), Bob McKillop (Davidson), Kevin O'Neill (USC), Bill Self (Kansas), Blaine Taylor (Old Dominion) and Scott Van Pelt (ESPN).

"From my days of playing basketball, whether in high school or at Oklahoma State, I knew defense and Coach Driesell went hand in hand," says Bill Self. "I hope the recipient of this award will one day understand the true contributions Lefty made to college basketball."







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