Mark Turgeon says Lefty Driesell made Maryland ‘a great place’

February 22, 2013

Legendary Maryland coach Lefty Driesell will be honored during halftime of Saturday’s basketball game against Clemson, just months before the Terps will unveil a bronze relief statue at Comcast Center.

Coach Mark Turgeon was asked about Driesell, and was nothing but celebratory. Sounds like there’s a deeper connection there than many realize.

Obviously I was a little late to meet Bud Millikan but I reached out to Coach [Bob] Wade and Coach Driesell and of course Gary [Williams] and I talked quite a bit. I’ve always admired Lefty. I coached against him. He was a real competitor. Didn’t really like him when I coached against him. I told you that.

And I’ll never forget, I take the job at Wichita State. I see him on the road recruiting. He puts his arm around me, and says: ‘Son, if you can recruit at Jacksonville State, you can recruit anywhere. You’re going to win big.’ And I’ll never forget that.

So I’ve always liked him. I’ve always respected him. He won a lot of games in this profession. Then when I got here, did some homework, what it was like before he got here. He said you could have a conversation with someone across the court because there were no one in the stands.

And he came in. He loves Maryland. When I called him, the way he talked about Maryland, he loves it. Last year was Gary’s year. I want this year to be about Lefty. So we’ll honor him at the game tomorrow then do something after the season in April for him.

It’s well deserved. I told our kids yesterday,a round the circle. I said we’re going to honor a guy this weekend. This building wouldn’t be here if it weren’t  for what he did. Of course Gary did a lot. I don’t want to take anything away from Gary. But I said look up there. He recruited that guy, Tom McMillen. John Lucas. Lenny Bias. He came here when Maryland basketball wasn’t really thought of, but he thought it was great, and he made it a great place.

I think he deserves to be honored. I know there were a lot of old-school people who got here when he first got here who really respect him and feel like he deserves to be honored. I’m really happy that Maryland’s doing it. Of course, I was pushing it pretty hard. I’m glad they’re doing it. We’ll do something at halftime. To me, he’s really the one who got it rolling. Of course, Gary took it to another level, winning the national championship.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · February 22, 2013