2010 ACC Men's Basketball Legends: Terry Driscoll, Boston College
Feb. 18, 2010
The 2010 ACC Basketball Legends class is a group of 12 former standout players - one from each ACC school - who will be honored during the 2010 ACC Men's Basketball Tournament. TheACC.com will feature two members of the ACC Legends Class each week during the six weeks prior to the tournament.
The annual ACC Legends Brunch will be held on Saturday, March 13 beginning at 10 a.m. Hosted by television personalities Tim Brant and Mike Hogewood, the ACC Men's Basketball Legends Brunch will be held in the in the Guilford Ballroom of the Sheraton Four Seasons Hotel.
Former Boston College men’s basketball legend Terry Driscoll was one of the most dominant big men to ever put on an Eagle’s uniform. Now that he’s an athletic director at William and Mary, he hopes his student-athletes get the same opportunities that he got, both on and off the court.
Raised in the Boston area, Driscoll didn’t even start playing organized basketball until his sophomore year of high school. He grew up playing mostly ice hockey, baseball and football, but when he was trying to decide between hockey or basketball, the decision became easy when he couldn’t find skates that fit him, so he went out for the junior varsity basketball team his sophomore year.
That turned out to be a great decision for Driscoll and Boston College.
Watching the Celtics throughout his childhood, Driscoll loved their fast-break style of play. He got his chance to shine in BC’s up-tempo offense when he went to college and had the opportunity to play for one of his childhood heroes – former Celtic great and Boston College coach Bob Cousy.
“A lot of what I grew up watching, and liking, I got a chance to play,” Driscoll said. “He [Cousy] was a good coach when he came in, but hadn’t coached at the college level. He got better every year.”
Driscoll’s three years at Boston College turned out to be Cousy’s last as head coach, but during that span the two worked great together and the Eagles went 64-15 while going to the NCAA tournament in Driscoll’s sophomore and junior seasons. Boston College declined an invitation in 1969, Driscoll’s senior year, to play in the NIT where they made it to the championship game.
“At that point we were having quite a bit of success and it was a tribute to him [Cousy] for not only the way he coached on the floor but his recruiting and other things,” Driscoll said. “It was a lot of fun to play for him. He really taught the game and how to play it well.”
Coming out of high school Driscoll wasn’t heavily recruited. At the time, the Boston area wasn’t a basketball hot spot. He visited some local colleges in the area but interest really picked up after he shined in a high school tournament. By that time though, Cousy had already made an impact on Driscoll and his family. Between Cousy, and Driscoll’s visit to the Boston College campus, he made up his mind to go to BC.
Majoring in biology at Boston College, Driscoll admits that he was a good student but in hindsight knows that it was probably the wrong major to take. His solid upbringing taught him good values, and his strong work was reinforced throughout high school and college by the people he was associated with, both in and out of basketball.
“I just worked hard and did the best I could to make the most out of my ability. That was one of the things I was always challenged to do,” Driscoll said. “Every time, no matter what, I tried to make the most of what I had. Sometimes it’s going to be better, sometimes it’s going to be a little worse. But, as long as you give it your effort and really make a commitment to it, the outcome is going to be what it’s going to be. That has been a fundamental aspect in everything I’ve done.”
His hard work and commitment paid off.
In three seasons at Boston College (1966-69), Driscoll set the individual career record in rebounding average (13.9), while he sits in second place in total rebounds (1,071), sixth in scoring average (18.5) and 16th in total scoring (1,426).
Driscoll was unstoppable on both ends of the court his senior season (1968-69), setting the individual single season record for rebounding (498), and ranks fifth on the list in rebounding average (12.9). His 653 points that same year place him eighth all-time, and his scoring average (23.3) is good for sixth place. His dominance didn’t go unnoticed, and he was named a third-team All-America by the NABC.
In 1974, Driscoll was inducted into the Boston College Varsity Club Hall of Fame and was honored at the 1999 retirement ceremony along with two other Boston College legends, Michael Adams, and John Silk.
Drafted by the Detroit Pistons with the fourth pick of the 1969 NBA draft – the same draft as Kareem Abdul Jabar – Driscoll chose to play overseas instead. At the time he hadn’t planned on being picked that high and was already in contact with a team in Italy. Originally he planned to play basketball for only one year then go to medical school. He ended up playing in Italy for that year, but then headed back to the United States where he played in the NBA for five seasons and the ABA for one with the Pistons, Baltimore Bullets, Milwaukee Bucks and Spirits of St. Louis. Not satisfied with his role on those teams, Driscoll decided to return to Italy to get more playing time.
“I wanted to play and didn’t want to be sitting on the bench any longer,” Driscoll said. “My wife was willing to take the chance.”
He went on to play for three more years in Italy before developing a disc problem in his back. After that he went on to coach for two years. In his three years playing he won the championship once and finished second twice. As a coach he guided the team to two championships. Following his second championship as a coach, Driscoll made the decision to come back home to the U.S. where he got involved in the sporting goods industry. After wearing a number of hats in the business world he transitioned into athletic administration around 14 years ago when he was named Athletic Director at William and Mary.
“I always thought that two great jobs would be general manager of an NBA team or an Athletic Director at a Division I institution, but I didn’t really know how I was going to get into it,” Driscoll said.
After working in the sporting goods industry, Driscoll acquired a number of different skills and replied to an ad in the NCAA news for an opening at William and Mary. He sent in a letter to inquire about the position and was asked to come in for an interview.
“I basically sent in a letter saying that I was a non-traditional candidate but that I had transferable skills and that luckily got me into the interview pool,” Driscoll said.
His first interview was in January of 1996 and by April of that same year he was the new Athletic Director at William and Mary. Driscoll says that what he enjoys most about his job is the ability to help student-athletes get as much from the collegiate experience as he got.
“It’s an opportunity to create an environment where our student-athletes might have similar experiences where they can get as much out of it for themselves athletically while they’re at school, but also for the rest of their lives,” Driscoll said.