Maryland Basketball: Tales from Cole Field House
As the University of Maryland prepares to christen the state of the art Comcast Center, what better time to look back at the Terrapins path from college basketball obscurity to NCAA champions? Maryland Basketball: Tales from Cole Field House is a story 47 years in the making. Native Marylander and former Terp beat writer Paul McMullen recounts the history of the University of Maryland's men's basketball program during the Cole years, from 1955-2002. It is a story of tragedy and triumph, and touches on the lives and times of the men who played and coached at one of college basketball's landmarks.
"Paul McMullen's artful, nostalgic, and sometimes controversial account of Maryland basketball history brings life and clarity to celebrated events and seminal moments of the program, many of which I experienced at first hand. His words are the cord that binds together a story previously known to insiders but largely unknown to those outside the Maryland "family."—Len Elmore, from the Foreword
The Terps went 485-151 at Cole, and compiled just as many amazing stories. Maryland basketball during the Cole era included some incredibly gifted players, colorful and sometimes controversial characters, and was driven by three coaches. Bud Millikan basically built a program from scratch and moved it from tiny Ritchie Coliseum into cavernous Cole. Lefty Driesell never quite made it into "the UCLA of the East," but nonetheless guided it to unprecedented heights; Gary Williams returned to his alma mater in 1989, gradually propped up a team crippled by NCAA probation and had the last team standing at the conclusion of 2001-02 season.
Maryland Basketball: Tales From Cole Field House revisits Terps stars from Gene Shue, who made them a hot ticket in their final seasons at Ritchie, to Juan Dixon, another product of Baltimore's Catholic League who overcame a tumultuous upbringing and made the final three seasons at Cole so memorable. The national championship that he and his teammates brought home from Atlanta last April provided a happy ending to what had been a history of great expectations unfulfilled.
What if Al Bunge had been healthy in 1958, when the Terps made their first appearance in the NCAA tournament? What if that tournament had been open to more than one team per conference in 1974, when Maryland had Len Elmore, John Lucas and Tom McMillen, but North Carolina State and David Thompson were unbeatable? What if Len Bias had not died in 1986 and plunged the Terps into a dark period from which it took years to emerge? What if Lonny Baxter and Terence Morris hadn't gotten into foul trouble at the 2001 Final Four?
Maryland Basketball: Tales from Cole Field House tells the story of Billy Jones, a teammate of Gary Williams who in 1965 broke the color barrier in the Atlantic Coast Conference; the epochal NCAA final between Kentucky and Texas Western that capped that season; hot recruits like McMillen and Albert King, and the ones that got away, like Moses Malone. Driesell, the showman, abandoned his up-tempo ways with a slowdown that beat South Carolina in 1971; 13 years later he finally got an ACC championship behind Bias, whose death led to the coach's exit from College Park.
Gary Williams' rebuilding job was hastened by the loyalty of Walt Williams, the courage of Keith Booth, the precocity of Joe Smith, the sensational acrobatics of Steve Francis, and finally capped by Dixon, the most unlikely Terps' star of all. All of their stories are told in Maryland Basketball: Tales from Cole Field House.