Coaches are always looking for an edge on the competition but former University of Maryland basketball boss, Charles “Lefty” Driesell may have been the best – or at least the most original. Case and point: October 15, 1971.
In an effort to keep everything fair and just, the NCAA has rules. [Insert your own joke here.] One of those rules concerns when teams are allowed to begin practicing at the start of a season. In 1971, the magic date was October 15 and Driesell wasn’t about to let any time go to waste.
So, at 12:03am – when presumably the competition was sleeping… or doing what college kids do in the wee hours of the morning – he blew the whistle to start his team’s first practice. In doing so, he unknowingly created a fad, which took off – first at Maryland and, soon, at other schools.
The court was closed off to students like it always was after basketball season was over. A sign over the floor read “Keep Off” and there was a still darkness inside of Cole Field House.
Students sat quietly in the top rows of the yellow seats in the arena, thinking, wondering. While some stared down at the court with wide eyes, others leaned back in their seats with their eyes closed.
Raw emotion spread across the arena as they came to remember the Maryland Terrapin legend, Len Bias.
Just a few days before, Bias had been on top of the world, the second pick in the NBA draft by the famed Boston Celtics.