Lefty Driesell among six inducted
CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Lefty Driesell hasn't given up coaching, not even after his induction into the Southern Conference Hall of Fame on Tuesday night.
Driesell says he's continually giving tips to son Chuck, who spent his first year as head coach at The Citadel this past winter.
"But he's like all children, he doesn't listen," Lefty said.
Driesell was among six enshrined in the 90-year-old league's third Hall of Fame class.
Although the group included former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Dexter Coakley, past Wimbledon and U.S. Open singles champion Vic Seixas and Tennessee's cherished former football coach, Gen. Robert Neyland, none was as colorful as college basketball's "Left-hander."
Driesell, 79, earned the honor through nine successful seasons at Davidson from 1960-69. He won five regular-season and three tournament titles and took the Wildcats to the NCAAs in 1966, 1968 and 1969.
Davidson went to the round of 16 in 1966 and played in the NCAA's final eight in 1968 and 1969.
"I'm proud to be in the Hall of Fame in the Southern Conference. You know why? Our first job was in the Southern Conference," Driesell said.
After going 176-65 at Davidson, Driesell went on to lead Maryland, James Madison and Georgia State -- reaching the NCAA tournament at each stop.
"Yeah, some people might say we were lucky," Driesell said. "But I had a philosophy that the harder you worked, the luckier you got."
Driesell was 27 when he was hired to coach the Wildcats and remembered when West Virginia star "Hot" Rod Hundley -- part of last year's SoCon Hall of Fame class -- sat down next to him on the bench during a game and told the young coach, "These guys are terrible. You better get some better players."
Driesell certainly did that everywhere he went.
After his Davidson success, Driesell jumped to Maryland and instantly made his mark in the rugged Atlantic Coast Conference, both with his feisty attitude and tremendous teams, reaching the NCAA tournament eight times.
Driesell's time at Maryland ended in 1986 soon after the death of Terps star Len Bias.
Driesell rebounded with James Madison before finishing his career with Georgia State. He retired in 2003 after 41 seasons with a career mark of 786-394.
Lefty, though, still has a special fondness for Davidson.
"What he did there, and I know I'm his son, I feel that's Hall of Fame-worthy," Chuck Driesell said.
Chuck still breaks down games with his father. His best advice?
"Chuck, recruit daily or perish," his son said.
Chuck took his dad's words to heart with a signing class of eight players.
"I never signed eight players in a year in my life," Lefty said. "We'll see how they do."
Driesell can't stay away from following his son's team.
"Chuck was born at Davidson and he went back there and beat them," said the proud father. "That was a good win."
Also honored were two Tennessee-Chattanooga standouts, women's basketball record holder Regina Kirk and track star Shannon Wommack.
Driesell entertained the crowd during his acceptance speech with tales of his first college head coaching job. He recalled recruiting Davidson standout Don Davidson with the pitch, "If you come here, I'll put your name on the front" of his jersey. It worked.
He said that great North Carolina State coach Everett Case tried to lure Driesell to the Wolfpack as an assistant.
"Coach, I got a better team than you got. Why would I do that?" was the reply.
Driesell keeps up with the game, remarking to College of Charleston coach Bobby Cremins that the NBA runs the same "pick-and-roll" schemes that they saw all the time in the 1960s.
"My wife says I'm single-minded," he said. "She says, 'You don't know anything about politics.' So I do, I sit around and watch basketball. See what I do if I were defending the pick-and-roll."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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