Posts Tagged ‘Terps’

50 for 50 – Len Bias’ Golden Moments #10…Freshman Frustrations

October 9, 2013

Through Nov. 18, Len Bias’ 50th birthday, the Born Ready Blog will provide each day a new item that helped define Len’s legacy, 50 in total.

Freshman Frustrations Force Bias to Think About Transferring

Bias showed flashes of brilliance during his freshman season at Maryland. In one highlight, he hit a 17-foot jump shot with two seconds remaining that helped unranked Maryland upset 15th-ranked Tennessee-Chattanooga by one point in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Bias ended up starting 13 games for Maryland and averaging 7.1 points per game, the best of any Terrapins freshman.

But Bias was far from content with his first year at Maryland. Mentor Johnnie Walker says that after a loss to UCLA in late December, Bias asked him to contact N.C. State coach Jim Valvano about transferring to the school. Bias was unhappy after Driesell subbed him out of the game after he took a shot, and felt that Driesell wanted him to focus more on defense than offense.

Also, Driesell was working to persuade Bias to change his shot by releasing the ball at the height of his jump, to take advantage of his superior leaping ability, and Bias admitted that it took him a while to adjust. It wasn’t until late in his junior year, he told the Washington Post that March, that he finally felt comfortable with his new technique: “Now when I go up to shoot, I don’t expect anybody to block me.”

Walker says Driesell called him shortly after the UCLA game to discuss Bias’s concerns. Walker says he talked bluntly with Driesell, saying Bias didn’t like the fact that he had to focus so much on defense and was clearly unhappy with what he felt were Driesell’s attempts to break him down and control him. He said Bias felt that he wasn’t supposed to take shots. Before the end of the season, Driesell met with Bias and worked out the problems.

“After that, Leonard said everything was OK,” says Driesell.

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

BornReadyLogo_Finalv2b (1)Find out about the Born Ready Hoops Festival  Nov. 22-24, that will honor Len’s legacy as a basketball player.

Staying Home

October 8, 2013

Bias Picks Maryland, but he was close to joining the Wolfpack

If any school stood a good chance of stealing Bias away from the Terps, it was ACC rival N.C. State. At the time, the Wolfpack featured Dereck Whittenburg and Sidney Lowe, teammates at DeMatha High School who were Bias’s good friends, as well as local basketball rivals. “By the end of the visit, I knew I wanted to go to State,” Bias said in a Washington Post  story in 1985. “That’s the last thing I told Coach Valvano when I left.”

Those words from Bias to Valvano as he said goodbye to the coach left Valvano in a dreamy state.  “Are you kidding? I remember him hugging me at the airport and saying he was coming,” Valvano said in the Post  story. “I said, ‘Don’t tell me that. I’ll get too excited.’ If we had gotten that kid …”

It turned out, however, that no college could compete with the passion Bias felt for Maryland combined with the influence James Bias had on his son. The elder Bias liked the fact that it would be easy for Len’s three younger siblings to watch their big brother play so close to home. “He had great respect for his father,” says Johnnie Walker, his mentor. “The fact is, his father wanted him to stay home and go to Maryland. Len didn’t make the decision to go to Maryland.”

Driesell, for one, felt little concern that Bias might attend another school. “He wasn’t like Tom McMillen and had everyone recruiting him,” says Driesell, referring to the former Maryland player, eventual All-America and Rhodes Scholar who was the top high-school recruit in the country in 1970. “I felt good that he liked Maryland. He hung out there all the time.”

To the surprise of few, Bias signed with Maryland in mid-April 1982.

Bias_cover_pngExcerpted from the book, Born Ready: the Mixed Legacy of Len Bias

Learn about the Born Ready Project that teaches life skills, using Len’s legacy as a teaching tool.

BornReadyLogo_Finalv2b (1)