ABOUT THE AWARD
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
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
"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