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With New Book, Don Markus Sheds Light On Little-Known Maryland Basketball History

January 16, 2017
Baltimore Sun sportswriter Don Markus has compiled an in-depth history of the Maryland men's basketball program in his book, "100 Things Maryland Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die."

Markus moved to Baltimore to work for The Sun in 1985 after growing up and spending 10 years covering college basketball in New York. During the more than 30 years that have followed, Markus has served two stints on the men's basketball beat that span the coaching tenures of Lefty Driesell, Gary Williams and the team's trip to the Sweet Sixteen under Mark Turgeon during the 2015-16 season.

The process of writing the book began for Markus in September 2015 and came to a conclusion shortly after the end of the Maryland basketball season in May 2016. To get started on compiling stories for his 100-chapter book, Markus turned to the two men who oversaw nearly 40 years of Maryland basketball: head coaches Driesell (1969–1986) and Williams (1989–2011).

"The one thing that helped me was I probably did about five hours, or maybe more, of phone interviews with Lefty Driesell, and he filled in a lot of chapters and a lot of stories that I used for other chapters," Markus said. "If not for Lefty, and also for Gary, I don't know if I could have completed the book, because they were really great resources." 

To fill in the gaps in his own knowledge of the program, Markus relied on interviews with dozens of current and past Terps players and staff members. Some of the stories he discovered surprised even the 30-year veteran of the team. 

"There were people I really wanted to write about, who I had covered," Markus said. "Then there were other people who I hadn't covered that I found out a lot about, and there were other people who I had never even heard of or knew very little about that became chapters in themselves and great stories. That was probably the most fun -- doing chapters about people that I either hadn't written about or really hadn't even heard of because that was the most original reporting I did."

Guard Gene Shue joined the Terps in 1950 and became one of the most prolific scorers in team history. After three varsity seasons at Maryland, Shue graduated with a then-school record 1,384 points and the team's single-game scoring record -- 41 points against Washington & Lee. 

"I knew he was a really good player from Baltimore, and I knew he played in the NBA. By the time I started my career, he was coaching," Markus said. "I didn't realize what a great player he was [at Maryland]. I had a great interview with him. He's very vibrant, and he lives out in San Diego. ... He was just a pleasure to talk to and deal with, and he had great stories, very sharp memories of everything that had gone on during his time at Maryland."

Before Ernie Graham set the Terps' single-game scoring record of 44 points that still stands today, Al Bunge held that record for 18 years after scoring 43 points against Yale in 1960. Bunge was a member of Maryland's first ACC Tournament Champion team in 1958, and he earned All-ACC honors his senior year, but Markus uncovered another interesting story about Bunge that even head coach Turgeon didn't know.

"[Bunge] happened to mention to me that his daughter went to college with Mark Turgeon at Kansas and they were friends but had lost touch," Markus said. "He told me to tell Coach Turgeon to say hello from Tracy Bunge's dad, so I saw Mark a few days later and told him that Tracy Bunge's dad says hello. He asked me why I would be talking to him, and I said that he held the single-game scoring record [at Maryland] for 18 years. He said he had no idea."

Those new to Maryland basketball and lifelong fans alike will find many of the 100 stories in the book provide interesting perspectives from the players and coaches who were there. The book serves as a historical fans' guide to Maryland basketball. 

"I think that a lot of younger fans who really don't know about the history of the program will enjoy the book," Markus said. "… Last year, when the team was playing North Carolina, I asked [then-junior forward] Robert Carter Jr. about the 1986 game with Len Bias, and he had no clue what I was talking about, and so a lot of even current Maryland players don't know the history of the program." 

"100 Things Maryland Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" was published by Triumph Books in November 2016 and is available online at triumphbooks.com. 

Issue 229: January 2017