So there he was, the Ol' Left-Hander, screaming at the UCLA coaching staff, "Take that, take that, take that." There he was, charging to midcourt, leaping, thrusting his fists up in sheer joy as 14,500 people at Cole Field House screamed.
For Charles G. Driesell, this was collegiate coaching victory No. 441 but none had ever been sweeter. For 13 years Driesell has had to swallow his now-infamous, "UCLA of The East" prediction, made when he first arrived here in 1969. For the last year he has grimaced every time the thought of last year's 90-57 debacle in Pauley Pavilion crossed his mind.
"This is the best," he said after the Terrapins' 80-79 double-overtime masterpiece over the Bruins last night.
Last night, Lefty got even. Ben Coleman, Adrian Branch, Mark Fothergill and Jeff Adkins played wonderfully. But it was Lefty's show.
He had his team ready. From the beginning, he was the Master of Cole, orchestrating the crowd with his fist shaking and foot stomping. And, as he put it later, "My boys were ready."
Defensively, Driesell packed his players in like sardines near the basket and gave the Bruin guards the jump shot. Those guards responded by shooting a combined 12 of 35 from the field, including three for 12 by Michael Holton and zero for six by Ralph Jackson.
Offensively, Driesell made UCLA play his game. He put the ball in the hands of Adkins and Branch to handle UCLA's press, which was dormant most of the night. He ran a two-man offense much of the night, isolating Branch on UCLA's smaller guards and Coleman on slow-footed Stuart Gray. They combined for 53 of the 80 points.
Driesell outcoached Larry Farmer from start to finish, his only flawed moment coming at the end when, in the flush of victory, he yelled some unkind things in the direction of the Bruins.
But, when a man has been written off as many times as Driesell has, vindication, even for one night, is something to shout about. Especially when it comes 48 hours before Christmas, which just happens to be his 51st birthday.
"Anytime you beat a team that's undefeated, it's great," he said, "And when it's UCLA, it's just that much better. I said before the game that they better be ready. I thought offensively we played an almost perfect game and we did a super job defensively."
But no one was better than Lefty.