“He won more games than all but a handful of coaches, he resuscitated programs in places where the sport had no reason to matter.”

— Dave Fairbank, Hampton Roads Daily Press


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The Programs Driesell Built



After graduating from Duke University in 1954, Driesell took an office job which paid a $6,200 salary ($54,632 adjusted for inflation), but soon quit to return to Granby High School as its junior varsity basketball coach for $3,200 per year ($28,197 adjusted for inflation). Driesell was promoted to varsity coach the following year. In 1957, he became the head coach at Newport News High School, where he compiled a 57-game winning streak, including a perfect 25-0 season and state championship.


Before Driesell there were no 20-win seasons in the history of the school. In the ten years before Driesell arrived, the Wildcats averaged 7 wins per season. They had never won either a regular season or tournament conference championship and had never received an NCAA bid. During Driesell’s tenure the Wildcats achieved four Final Top 10 rankings and two Final Top 18 rankings. The Wildcats won 5 SoCon regular season championships and 3 SoCon conference tournament championships. Twice they advanced as far as the Elite Eight in NCAA tournament play.



In the eight years prior to Driesell’s arrival at College Park, the Terps had endured six losing seasons, averaging only 10 wins a season. There had only been two 20-win seasons in the history of the school, prior to Driesell adding ten 20-win seasons (and three 19-win seasons). When Driesell arrived in 1969, Maryland had only one nationally ranked team in the school’s history. Under Lefty’s leadership, the Basketball program achieved Five Top 10 rankings, two Final Top 11, two Final 18 rankings and made two Elite Eight appearances in NCAA tournament play.


The five years prior to Driesell, JMU was averaging 12 wins per season. Driesell led the Dukes to five consecutive regular season conference championships and five consecutive years of post season play. In 1994, JMU lost by 2 points in the NCAA tournament to Florida, who advanced to the Final Four.



The Panthers only had three winning seasons in the history of the school prior to Driesell’s arrival in Atlanta. It had taken the program 274 games to accumulate 50 wins. Driesell reached his 50th win after coaching just 87 games at GSU. Driesell averaged 20 wins per season, leading the Panthers to two post-season bids. In 2001, GSU advanced to the second round of NCAA tournament play, beating Wisconsin (Final Four Contenders in 2000) and losing to Maryland, who advanced to the Final Four.