Maryland men’s basketball coach Mark Turgeon impressed many people -- this sports blogger included -- during Wednesday’s introductory press conference. But he made a strong impression on Lefty Driesell, who coached Maryland from 1969 to 1986, long before Turgeon was picked to replace Gary Williams.
Driesell was the coach at Georgia State when Turgeon coached at conference rival Jacksonville State from 1998 to 2000. Even though Driesell mean-mugged Turgeon before games (as Turgeon pointed out Wednesday), he liked what he saw from the young coach and thinks he was a “great choice” for the Maryland opening.
“I think he’s super,” Driesell told “The Norris & Davis Show” on 105.7 The Fan on Thursday. “We only played him for two years when I was at Georgia State … but he did a great job. Have you ever been to [Jacksonville]? It’s out in the country, man. I don’t know how you could ever get anybody to go to school there.”
Driesell, who told a story about how Turgeon’s team used the pick and roll to overcome a 20-point deficit against his team back in the day, thinks Turgeon can be successful this upcoming season.
“I don’t know if he’s a great coach yet,” he said. “But he’s played under great coaches and played on a national championship team with Larry Brown. And he worked with Roy Williams. He’s a hard worker. I think he’ll be a great recruiter and I know he can coach, so I think Maryland made a great choice.”
He said the key to Maryland remaining competitive in the ACC will be Turgeon’s ability to lure blue-chip recruits to College Park.
“You’ve got to be able to recruit. That’s why North Carolina and Duke win all the time. They get the best players, so he’s got to be a good recruiter,” Driesell said. “Everybody will like him. He’s a super guy. So I think they made a great choice. Look at his pedigree, who he has coached under and what he’s done.”
As for Driesell, 79, he joked that he is ready to return to coaching “if I can get those salaries like these guys are making. Give me one of them $2 million-a-year jobs and I can coach five or six more years.”