Two weeks ago, in the wake of former Maryland coach Gary Williams' abrupt retirement in College Park, Md., I wrote this praise-filled piece that espoused the importance of Williams to Maryland fans (and, in more personal ways, his importance to college hoops fans in general).
Most of you seemed to like that blog post, but some of you took some umbrage at my omission of former Maryland coach Lefty Driesell from the "greatest Maryland coach of all-time" conversation. As commenter "Non-Larry" put it, "How can you write something like that without at least mentioning Lefty Driesell? [...] It makes it sound as if there was no basketball history at Maryland before [Williams] got there. Not true. I'm not saying Driesell was better, but he's at least in the discussion."
Non-Larry might have missed the point just a little bit, and other commenters soon had my back. (You guys are the best!) But I see where Non-Larry is coming from: Williams is a towering figure in Maryland hoops history, but Lefty Driesell isn't far behind.
In other words, Maryland fans were probably curious what their old ball coach thinks of athletic director Kevin Anderson's newest hire, former Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon. Did Turgeon get the Lefty stamp of approval?
Speaking to Baltimore-area radio's "The Norris and Davis Show," Driesell described his long-ago days as one of Turgeon's Ohio Valley Conference coaching rivals, praising Turgeon for his acumen, pedigree and accomplishments. In other words, Lefty likes the hire:
“I think he’s super,” Driesell said Thursday. “We only played him for two years when I was at Georgia State … but he did a great job. Have you ever been to [Jacksonville]? It’s out in the country, man. I don’t know how you could ever get anybody to go to school there.” [...] 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."
“Everybody will like him. He’s a super guy. So I think they made a great choice. Look at his pedigree, who he has coached under and what he’s done,” Driesell said.
It's typical Driesell stuff: Blunt honesty mixed with endearing charm. Driesell may not have the kingmaking cachet of some legendary coaches at their specific programs -- this isn't exactly like landing Jerry Tarkanian's endorsement at UNLV, for example -- but if comments like Non-Larry's are any indication, he remains a highly popular figure among Terrapins fans. His stamp of approval can't hurt.
Plus, the man created Midnight Madness. As college hoops fans who just want to see our favorite coaches dress in costume and do "The Dougie," we are forever in Lefty's debt.