- The Washington Times - Friday, May 3, 2002

More than 15 years since he coached the last of his school-record 507 games at Maryland, legendary Terps coach Lefty Driesell finally will get his due in College Park tonight. That's when Driesell will be inducted into the university's Athletic Hall of Fame along with five other former Maryland standouts.

The 70-year-old Driesell, as has become his style about his Maryland days, doesn't publicly wonder why it took so long for him to be recognized, just as he didn't complain about not being invited to the ceremonies for the final game at Cole Field House on March3.

"I never worry about stuff like that," said Driesell, who's also a finalist for the Basketball Hall of Fame next month largely because of the school-record 348 victories and eight NCAA teams he produced during his 17 years in College Park. "I'm too busy working. Besides, coaches get too much credit. I never scored any points or got any rebounds for Maryland. This is really a tribute to all my players and all the people who were part of our program. It's an honor and it will be nice to go back to Maryland. I haven't been there for a couple of years. If I have a chance, I'll go to Cole and take a look around."

Terps Hall of Famer Jack Flynn, the chairman of the 13-member committee which selected tonight's honorees, denied that Driesell's forced resignation in the wake of star Len Bias' cocaine-induced death in 1986 prevented the coach from being recognized earlier.

"Lefty's certainly qualified," Flynn said. "He really brought bigtime basketball to Maryland. The Bias thing was inflated out of proportion [Bias had exhausted his college eligibility and already had been drafted by the Boston Celtics]. Lefty has handled himself very well since he left Maryland. I've never heard him say anything negative about the university. But when the Hall of Fame started in 1982, the idea was to go back to the beginning and select members by decades. We had a lot of catching up to do. When that policy was changed [in 1995], there were still plenty of worthy candidates to consider, but people can certainly raise the question of why Lefty hasn't gotten in before now."

Indeed, Driesell's former stars Tom McMillen, Len Elmore, John Lucas and Buck Williams are already enshrined along with coaching contemporaries Jerry Claiborne, Frank Costello and Sue Tyler, current coach Gary Williams and 13 others who were on campus during or after the Driesell era. Another Driesell player, Albert King, will be saluted tonight along with recently retired lacrosse coach Dick Edell, All-American lineman Ed Modzelewski, women's basketball All-American Jasmina Perazic-Gipe and slugger Gene Hiser.

"One or two other years that Lefty was considered, he was going into the Virginia State Sports Hall of Fame and the Duke Hall of Fame [Driesell is a Duke graduate] and some people thought it was best to let them recognize him in a separate year from us," said committee member Jim Kehoe, the Hall of Famer/athletic director who hired Driesell and who'll be one of his guests at tonight's banquet. "I can't really come up with another reason for why Lefty hasn't gotten in before, but I can assure you that it has nothing to do with any negative reason. Lefty made a profound contribution to Maryland basketball. You can't think of Cole Field House without Lefty. But sometimes the wheels grind slowly."

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