Lefty Driesell should be in the Basketball Hall of Fame
Lefty Driesell won 786 games, which is 23rd all-time. He had a winning percentage of 66.6 while coaching at Davidson, most notably Maryland, James Madison, and Georgia State.
At Davidson and Maryland, he had many nationally ranked teams, but he never reached the Final Four. His 1973-74 Maryland team might be the best team not to make the NCAA Tournament. The Terps lost to North Carolina State, 103-100, in overtime in the ACC tournament final at a time when only one school from each conference made the tournament. North Carolina State went on to win the national championship; Maryland declined an NIT bid and ended its season.
Despite all that, Driesell is not in the Basketball Hall of Fame. All of that is detailed in a superlative story by David Kindred (a sportswriting hall of famer) in a story on The Fieldhouse, the college basketball area of the pay-subscription site The Athletic. Don’t worry, this one is free, so go read it.
Kindred admits that he thought Driesell was already in the Hall of Fame. Driesell says he believes he’s not included because of the death of Len Bias, the Celtics’ draft pick who died of a cocaine overdose the day after the 1986 NBA Draft. Bias played for Driesell at Maryland.
The Globe’s Bob Ryan has been honored with the Curt Gowdy Award by the Hall, so technically he’s a member. He’s part of an exhibit. He also has been a member of the nominating committee and the voting committee. At this time, he’s not involved in either.
“The personality, the image overwhelmed the achievement,’’ said Ryan. “I needed to be reminded what he accomplished not only at Maryland but at Davidson.
“He’s overlooked. There’s an element of buffoonery. People don’t take him seriously; he’s a character.’’
In his voting days, Ryan said, he never encountered anyone citing Bias’s death as a reason to exclude Driesell. It had more to do with his reputation as a recruiter than his work as a coach. Maybe some thought he played fast and loose with the rules, but as Ryan pointed out to me, there are a few coaches in the Hall with similar reputations.
“Len Bias certainly wouldn’t be the reason,’’ said Ryan. “He’s a borderline candidate; I am not going to carry the torch for Lefty, nor would I oppose him.’’
OK, committee. Let’s put him in.
. . .
Meanwhile, here are the games I’d like to see this weekend:
Duquesne vs. Pittsburgh at the New Igloo: This is a rivalry game that Duquesne rarely wins, although the Dukes did win last season to break a 15-year losing streak. Both teams are awful this season, so that gives the Dukes a chance for a winning streak . . . but I doubt it.
Purdue at Maryland: I find this very interesting. Purdue has a chance to be a Big Ten contender but the Boilers lost a pair in the Bahamas. A road win at the Giant Cable Television Giant Fieldhouse would be a good way to start.
North Carolina vs. Davidson at Spectrum Center in Charlotte, N.C.: This is kind of a Davidson home game, but I’m willing to bet there will be more sky blue than scarlet in the arena, which usually houses the NBA Hornets.
Illinois at Northwestern: The Wildcats have been more like Mildcats this season. They were in the preseason Top 25 but are just 4-3. At this early date, it’s critical that they win home games in conference play.
Creighton at Gonzaga: A late start in Spokane (10 p.m. on ESPN2) for an excellent matchup. I see a possible upset for the Bluejays.
Cincinnati at Xavier: This might be the game of the weekend; two nationally ranked teams engaging in a heated rivalry. Cincy is known for being physical and defensive-minded but the Bearcats have shown a lot more offense this season while winning their first seven games impressively. X has the home court and has also played well this season. How about four overtimes with a buzzer-beater to win?
Wichita State at Baylor: Baylor has only one loss (to Xavier in Cincinnati) in what has been a surprising start. Wichita is a Final Four contender playing a challenging road game. I think the Shockers will meet it.
Georgia at Marquette: An unusual matchup (I always like those). UGa is 5-1, Marquette is 5-2, so this will be a key out-of-conference victory for one of them. I think UGa in an upset.
Harvard at Kentucky: Probably won’t watch this because it won’t be pretty, but I wanted to let you know it’s happening.
Dartmouth at Canisius: Why, you ask? Because I’ll be there in person since I’m traveling to Buffalo for the Patriots-Bills game and I can’t resist live action. If the game times had matched up, I would have tried to hit the Saint Bonaventure-Buffalo game, too. The ultimate would have been a Buffalo-Bona/Niagara-Canisius doubleheader at the KeyBank Center. No such luck, but I’ll happily watch the Golden Griffins.
Providence at Rhode Island: This is a great rivalry, but much better when Rhody is good, and the Rams are this season. It can’t really be classified as a must win for Rhody but I think they REALLY HAVE TO WIN THIS ONE.
Villanova at Saint Joseph’s: Nova should win easily, but I put this on the list because, according to espn.com, this is the most expensive ticket of the day on the secondary market (starting at $189). That’s because the game will be played at the Hawks’ 4,200-seat Hagan Arena. It should be played at the Palestra.
Seton Hall of Louisville: I love the Pirates, who are a fun team to watch and the pieces seem to fit together just right. Big man Angel Delgado could be a contender for some All-American teams. The Pirates are capable of an upset at the Pitino Palace; they just need to play their best. Maybe we should change the name of the Cardinals’ venue to Adidas Slush Fund Arena?