When it was over, Lefty Driesell had only one regret. "I can't believe we got this many people out here," he said. "We should have charged admission."
At least 5,000 basketball zealots turned out at Cole Field House yesterday to watch a three-point shootout between Driesell, Maryland's 51-year-old basketball coach, and Billy Packer, 42-year-old basketball analyst for CBS-TV.
Packer, taking the contest somewhat seriously, made 15 of 20 three-pointers to beat Driesell, who, in addition to being a complete showman, made 10 of 20 shots.
Packer may have won the contest, but Driesell won his point. "If two guys over 40 can make at least 50 percent, then you know this three-point shot is too close. It's ridiculous, just like I've been saying all season," Driesell said.
CBS had two camera crews on hand and the contest will be shown at halftime of whatever game is shown at 2 p.m. Sunday on WDVM-TV-9 and WBAL-TV-11.
The idea of a shootout between the two friends was born two weeks ago when Driesell, during a taped interview shown at halftime of the Virginia-Missouri game, spoke out against the 19-foot three-point arc the Atlantic Coast Conference has employed this season. To emphasize his point, Driesell said even he could make a three-point hook shot, which he proceeded to do on his first try.
Following the showing of the tape, Packer remarked that it must have been trick photography because Driesell was such a poor shooter as a player at Duke. Having heard that, Driesell called Packer and made the challenge.
Maryland officials expected about 1,000 people or so, but the student section of Cole was nearly full 10 minutes before the contest was scheduled to start.
At noon, they began waving red-and-white pom-pons and chanting, "Lefty . . . Lefty . . . Lefty . . . "
Packer, an all-ACC guard at Wake Forest in the early 1960s, made five straight set shots to begin the contest. Driesell made only two of five.
In in the next round, Packer made two of five, while Driesell missed all five. After the fourth miss, students began chanting, "Time out, Lefty . . . Time out, Lefty . . . "
Packer took a big lead in the jump-shooting segment by making seven of 10 from just inside the top of the key. But Driesell countered by making eight of 10. On the last one, before the ball went through the net, Driesell faked as if he had been fouled and fell backward, sliding across the floor to an ovation and more chanting.
The Terrapins leave for Atlanta and the ACC tournament today and Driesell said the team is as relaxed as can be expected. "We're going down there real loose, wearing our khaki pants, our baseball hats, our hog T-shirts," said Driesell, "and see if we can't whip up on some people and win this darn thing." Maryland plays Friday night at 7 (WJLA-TV-7) against Georgia Tech.
Driesell was asked about the progress of sophomore guard Jeff Adkins, who started the year timid and tentative, but has improved to become a three-point threat in the last two months. "I told him, 'Jeff, son, I can't play you out there and get four and five points a game from you. You gotta score 12 or 15 points if you want to start out there.' He responded and scored 15 or 18, then gained confidence."
The coach said he favors making freshmen ineligible for the varsity. "Not from a coaching standpoint, but from an academic and social standpoint. I think it would be less pressure on the kid during the recruiting period, too. Right now, it's a big deal with kids--'Can I come in and start or get a lot of playing time as a freshman?' I think it would also allow kids to make normal progress toward a degree."