CBS television, promoting its new college basketball package, put together a lunch for a number of coaches, the media and its new star, Billy Packer, yesterday and before it was over, Lefty Driesell had stolen the show.
The Maryland coach, sharing the head table with Virginia's Terry Holland, South Carolina's Bill Foster, West Virginia's Gale Catlett, Old Dominion women's Coach Marianne Stanley, Packer and the NCAA's Dave Cawood, topped them all.
When Cawood stepped to the microphone, Packer, joking, called out, "He's going to announce that Maryland's going on probation."
Without missing a beat, Driesell, mindful of the four players lost from last year's 21-10 team, said, "That's great, I want to be on probation. Please, go ahead, put me on probation."
Earlier, after Catlett mentioned that "I haven't got a Ralph Sampson or a Buck Williams, but I've got a fine guard (Greg Jones)," Driesell said, "I ain't got no Buck Williams, either. And, Gale, if I was you, I wouldn't be talkin' too much about that guard, 'cause if you do, the NBA will come and take him."
When Stanley, talking about her front line, which stands 6 feet 8, 6-5, 6-1, jokingly challenged Driesell to a scrimmage, Driesell said, "Ain't no woman ever beat me at nothing."
And when Foster, who coached at Driesell's alma mater, Duke, for six years, said, "I can't be as funny as Lefty because I haven't learned to say 'ain't,' " Driesell replied, "That's 'cause you didn't go to Duke."
CBS will televise 14 regular-season games and the NCAA tournament this season. Its biggest coup thus far has been convincing Packer to move from NBC, where he, Dick Enberg and Al McGuire, working as a team, became synonymous with the college game in recent years.
Driesell wasn't laughing about the news that Brad Daugherty, 6-10, from Swannanoa, N.C., has decided to attend North Carolina. The Tar Heels are knee deep in big men and the Terrapins desperately need one . . . Wake Forest also has a recruiting jump with a commitment from 6-4 Steve Warden, a guard from Winston-Salem . . . Another North Carolina player who has committed is 6-10 Eric Lewis, who will go to Jacksonville.
Holland also was moaning yesterday. Sampson, he said, has missed the last two weeks of practice with a "hip-flexer" injury and his status is indefinite for the national season opener next Saturday against Brigham Young, in Springfield, Mass. . . . The Cavaliers also have been without Jim Miller, the outstanding 6-9 freshman from Princeton, W.Va., who has been sidelined the last three weeks with mononucleosis. He began swimming yesterday but is doubtful for the opener . . . Word around the Atlantic Coast Conference is that Dean Smith, upon learning that his North Carolina team was to be ranked No. 1 preseason by Sports Illustrated, called a friend at the magazine in a vain attempt to talk him out of it. Smith's suggestion for No. 1: Virginia.