Sunday, January 29, 2012

Catching up with Washington Post articles: Maryland's Honor Violation; Navy Steps in the Wrong Direction

Here are two of my latest from The Washington Post --------

When the Maryland basketball team won the national championship in 2002, Gary Williams received hundreds, if not thousands, of letters congratulating him on taking the Terrapins to a place few dreamed they could ever go.

Williams read almost all the letters. Some meant more than others, coming from old friends and coaching colleagues. One stood out. It came from a former Maryland coach.

“Congratulations,” it read in part. “You have now made Maryland the UCLA of the East.”
The note came from Lefty Driesell.

It was Driesell who made the term “UCLA of the East” famous when he came to Maryland in 1969 and boldly predicted he would build a program somehow comparable to college basketball’s most incomparable program.

Driesell came up 10 national championships short of John Wooden but he did put Maryland basketball on the national map, taking the Terrapins to eight NCAA tournaments in 17 seasons, twice reaching the Elite Eight. He left in 1986 in the aftermath of the Len Bias tragedy.

It was Williams, after the disastrous three-year tenure of Bob Wade, who picked up the pieces of a shattered program and made Maryland matter again. Ultimately, he did what Driesell could not do, taking Maryland to back-to-back Final Fours and the national title that brought the kind of joy to the Maryland campus that for years seemed impossible in the wake of Bias’s death.

Click here for the rest of the column: Maryland's Honor Violation


In November 1995, I was standing on the sidelines at Michie Stadium on a frigid afternoon watching the Army football team practice. Al Vanderbush, then Army’s athletic director, was watching with me. In the midst of small talk about plans for Thanksgiving, Vanderbush suddenly said, “Mind if I ask your opinion on something?”

Flattered, I said, sure.

“What would you think about us joining Conference USA?” Vanderbush said.

My answer was instinctive rather than thought-out: “You’re kidding, right?”

Sadly, Vanderbush wasn’t kidding, nor was anyone else at West Point. They thought that being part of Conference USA’s TV package would give them more exposure and more revenue and being part of a league would help in recruiting.

Put simply, the end result was a disaster, culminating in an 0-13 season in 2003. To be fair, Todd Berry, who was hired in 2000 to replace Bob Sutton as coach, and Rick Greenspan, the athletic director who hired him, had as much to do with that record as playing in Conference USA did. But the decision to join C-USA in 1998 led to Sutton’s firing and a fall from football grace so precipitous that, all these years later, Army is still recovering.

Click here for the rest of the column: Navy Steps in the Wrong Direction

My newest book is now available at your local bookstore, or you can order on-line here: One on One-- Behind the Scenes with the Greats in the Game 


John from Indiana said...

That whole naming thing is a slippery slope to head down. Everyone wants to recognize success and commitment, but what do you do if it leads to GREATER success? Do we have to name the baskets? The free throw lines? Maybe the half court line or the baselines? Imagine the radio play by play of a Tarheel game in ten years..... "Welcome fans to the Dean Smith Center for tonight's game. We're poised for the start of tonight's contest as the teams take the floor on the Roy Williams Court. The two centers are stepping into the James Worthy Center circle for the tip. The tip is controlled by the Heels and Smith crosses the Phil Ford centerline. The Heels swing it around the Michael Jordon three point line and send it down low to the Mitch Kupchek baseline. Jones throws up a hook shot and scores on the Sam Perkins basket. Duke rushes it upcourt and throws it into the Bob McAdoo lane, but it is tipped out by the defense to the Kenny Smith three point line. The ball is retreived in the Vince Carter corner and is driven down the Sean May baseline for a revearse layup in the Charlie Scott basket" You get the picture. I like the statue idea outside of the stadium as it also provides convenient places to meet your friends before or after the game.

Anonymous said...

How about the Islanders? Think they can make run at the playoffs?