Driesell becomes 11th in 700 club Ex-Terps coach gains pinnacle in third try

November 22, 1998|By COX NEWS SERVICE

ATLANTA THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTICLE. — ATLANTA -- The exclusive club of NCAA Division I coaches who have won 700 or more games yesterday gained its 11th member.

Almost 38 years after he won his first game as a college coach, Georgia State's Lefty Driesell secured career victory No. 700 at the Sports Arena as his Panthers defeated North Florida, 84-74, before a crowd of 1,108.

It was Driesell's third try at win No. 700, losing to Florida International in the final game of last season and Georgetown in the season opener Wednesday.

"I'm just glad to finally get it over," said Driesell, the former Maryland coach who's in his second year at the Atlanta university. "But as I said before, I've never made a shot or got a rebound. I've been fortunate enough to have some good players, good assistant coaches and some presidents who believed in what we were doing. They deserve the credit. All I've done was lead by shouting and stomping my feet."

Now in his 37th season, Driesell also coached nine years at Davidson, where he was 176-65; 17 seasons at Maryland, where he was 348-159; and nine years at James Madison, where he was 159-111.

Driesell is in his second season at Georgia State after a 16-12 debut.

Driesell was congratulated afterward by Moses Malone, the former NBA star he recruited for Maryland only to see him go directly to the pros from high school.

"I never wanted to make a big deal out of it," Driesell said.

Unlike in his debut in November 1960, when Driesell guided Davidson to a 65-59 win over a Wake Forest team led by basketball analyst Billy Packer, No. 700 came against a Division II opponent of the obscure variety.

But it didn't come easily. Playing without sophomore point guard Kevin Morris, who did not Driesell find out until Friday that he had sustained a fractured left foot in the Georgetown loss two days earlier, Georgia State trailed North Florida 50-38 with 14: 02 left in the game.

In the absence of Morris, who will be sidelined three to five weeks, the Panthers had only eight players dressed. Small forward Chad Searcy was forced to start at the point, where he struggled throughout the first half.

"Kevin is our leader and he runs the offense and plays great defense," said Driesell, 66, who was out of coaching two seasons after leaving Maryland. "With him out, we didn't quite know what to expect."

North Florida (0-2) took a 52-40 lead with 12: 42 to play on a reverse layup by John Brennan.

But Georgia State, which had been having difficulty running its halfcourt offense, tied it 59-59 on a three-pointer by Anton Reese.

The Ospreys' last lead was 64-63 on two free throws by George McCleod at the 7: 17 mark. Over a minute later, McCleod's jumper tied it 67-67, but center Torquin Gresham scored to give Georgia State a 69-67 lead, and the Panthers never again trailed.

Senior forward Maurice Robertson, after watching his team flounder about in the first half, was the force that staved off defeat during the final 20 minutes, when the Tennessee transfer scored 18 of his 22 points.

"We were missing Kevin, but I kept telling the guys that we were going to win if we kept our composure," Robertson said.

It was Henry Nieves, a freshman walk-on from Lawrenceville, Ga., who helped hold the Panthers together down the stretch. Nieves scored only six points, but he ran the offense from the point and added to his effectiveness with six steals.

"He doesn't have a scholarship, but after the way he played, I might have to give him one," Driesell said.

The Panthers were led in scoring by Reese and Gresham, who scored 25 points each. Their sentiments at the end were the same as Robertson's.

"We're just proud to be a part of No. 700," Robertson said. "That's something historic."

Elite company

Men's college basketball coaches with 700 or more victories (minimum five seasons in Division I):

Coach, schools, years ..... ......... ................... Wins

Dean Smith, North Carolina, 1961-97 ..................... 879

Adolph Rupp, Kentucky, 1931-52, '54-72 .................. 876

Jim Phelan, Mount St. Mary's, 1955-(active) ............. 786

Henry Iba, NW Missouri State, Colorado, Okla. State, 1930-70

......... ............ ............. .................... 767

Ed Diddle, Western Kentucky, 1923-64 .................... 759

Phog Allen, Baker, Haskell, C. Mo. State, Kansas, 1906-09, '13-56

............... ............... ............. ........... 746

Ray Meyer, DePaul, 1943-84 ................... .......... 724

Bob Knight, Army, Indiana, 1966-(active) ................ 724

Norm Stewart, N. Iowa, Missouri, 1962-(active) .......... 712

Don Haskins, Texas-El Paso, 1962-(active) ............... 703

Lefty Driesell, Davidson, Md., JMU, Ga. St., 1961-86, '88-(active)

............ ............. ............... .............. 700

Pub Date: 11/22/98

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