Right At Home

Chuck Driesell (right) is welcomed as The Citadel men's basketball coach by alums David Walters Jr. (left) and his father, David Walters.

Chuck Driesell didn't play four years and work another nine for his father, famously temperamental basketball coach Lefty Driesell, without learning a few tricks of the trade.

"I can tell you right now, none of the sisters in the family could have worked for our dad," said Pam Driesell, Chuck's older sister. "We used to ask Chuck, 'how do you do that?' And Chuck said, 'I've figured it out. I keep a candy bar in my pocket. He only gets grumpy when he's hungry.' "

The 46-year-old Chuck Driesell brings a lifetime steeped in basketball with him to The Citadel, where he was named the military school's 28th head coach at a news conference Tuesday at McAlister Field House.

Chuck Driesell toddled to practice when Lefty coached at Davidson, served as a ballboy and played for his dad at Maryland, and coached under him for nine years at James Madison. Today, the elder Driesell is 78 years old with 10 grandchildren, retired in Virginia Beach, Va., with 786 career victories in

32 seasons, and immensely proud to see his only son get his first Division I head-coaching job.

"My dad has been calling me all day," said Pam, who is a Presbyterian minister in Watkinsville, Ga. "He's so excited, and he would have loved to have been here, but they just couldn't get down here. But he's thrilled, and I'm sure he's already giving Chuck advice on how to coach, how to recruit. It's a dream for Chuck to be a head coach at a place like The Citadel, a dream come true for Chuck and his dad."

Chuck Driesell, who worked the last four years as an assistant at Maryland, invoked his dad's slogan -- "The harder you work, the luckier you get" -- in describing how he will approach his job at The Citadel.

"We're gonna work hard," Chuck Driesell said. "There is no substitute … What I've learned from my dad is to give it everything you've got. To love your guys, to work them, and don't let them settle for anything short of winning. He taught me that winning is very important, because it teaches young men and teaches people that what you are doing is right, that it works."

Citadel athletic Larry Leckonby said Driesell will receive a five-year contract, but declined to reveal the new coach's base salary, saying The Post and Courier would have to go through the Freedom of Information process to find out terms of the contract. Leckonby did say the salary is in line with recent new hires in the Southern Conference; new Appalachian State coach Jason Capel received a four-year deal with a base salary of $150,000 per year.

Before his introductory news conference, Driesell sat down with The Post and Courier to discuss his new job:

--On getting his first Division I head-coaching job after 25 years in the business: "There are not a lot of these jobs out there, and a lot of quality coaches are looking for them. So I feel very fortunate to have gotten a job that is as unique and as special as The Citadel is. And any time you set a goal for yourself and reach it, it feels good. It tells you that your hard work is paying off."

--On recruiting to a military school: "It's a military institution with similarities to what I was used to at the Naval Academy and the Naval Academy Prep School. And I've always had a fondness for that type of environment. People say it's a tough place to recruit, but I like to turn that into a positive, in that it takes a unique person to come here. Coaches always talk about the unique players they get to coach. Well, I'll get to coach all unique guys, because it takes a unique person to come here, get a degree, play basketball and do what they do to get their leadership degree in the military."

--How close did you come to playing basketball at The Citadel? "Very close, very close," he said. "It was down to Maryland and The Citadel. I'd always had my heart set on Maryland, but (coach) Les Robinson did a very nice job of coming in and talking to me about the opportunity to play here. But the lure of playing for my dad and in the ACC at Maryland was what I wanted."

--Has the Driesell name been a burden or a blessing, or both? "I wouldn't trade it for anything, even with the burdens and the blessings, the good and the bad. My dad had a tremendous career and effect on the game of basketball, and I wouldn't be here today without him."

--What are your core philosophies on how you want your team to play? "I believe a player should play a certain way, hard and tough," he said. "And offensively, I want to get up and down the floor, and give those young men an opportunity to get down there and score. You reward them when they get those defensive stops by getting out and running, and I think players like to do that. And I think it can be effective if it's done correctly.

"But I'm a defensive guy. Defense wins championships, and I learned that a long time ago. The championships I've been associated with have been with teams that play great defense, so we will spend a lot of time working on defense and taking pride in it. Man-to-man, that's what I've been raised on and what I've used where I've been. I think you have to have a strong man-to-man defense, be it fullcourt, halfcourt, there's a toughness about playing defense. And it comes from playing man-to-man defense. I feel comfortable coaching man-to-man defense."

--You have a core group of seniors that has won 36 games the last two seasons. What's your approach with them? "I want to win, and I know they want to win. And we'll get together, and my No. 1 priority is to get to know them, and for them to get to know me. If we're all on the same page, and it's my job to get us on the same page, this could be a very, very good team. I like what I see on paper. From everything I look at, see and hear, this team could be very special."