Bryce Drew wants to be 1st to take Vanderbilt to Final 4
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Bryce Drew has had a lot of opportunities to leave his alma mater Valparaiso over the past five seasons.
He believes Vanderbilt offers everything he wants out of a program.
The biggest is the chance to win a national championship.
“No Vanderbilt team has ever made it to the Final Four, and we would like to be that first,” Drew said
Vanderbilt introduced Drew as its new men’s basketball coach Wednesday at a news conference on the court at Memorial Gym with his father, former Valparaiso coach Homer Drew, fans and his new players on hand.
Drew just won a school-record 30 games in his fifth season as head coach at Valparaiso, which ended with a loss to George Washington in the NIT championship.
Drew is 124-49 overall with two NCAA Tournament berths in his tenure along with four Horizon League regular-season titles and two league tournament championships.
He takes over a Vanderbilt program that went 19-14 under Kevin Stallings, who left for Pittsburgh on March 27. Stallings was the all-time winningest coach at Vanderbilt going 332-220 yet with only seven NCAA Tournament berths over his 17 seasons at the only private university in the Southeastern Conference.
Drew said Vanderbilt has a rich tradition and believes the SEC is improving greatly despite only three teams advancing to the most recent NCAA Tournament. That’s a number he said will go up.
“We definitely want to be nationally known on a yearly basis on the basketball level,” Drew said.
That’s exactly what athletic director David Williams wanted when he went looking for a new coach to replace Stallings. Williams used former Vanderbilt coach Eddie Fogler as a consultant, and the athletic director said they had five serious interviews before choosing Drew with his mission of making Vanderbilt a regular in the NCAA Tournament.
“You can’t win the national championship if you don’t play in the tournament,” Williams said. “We just saw a great game. North Carolina and Villanova. I want to be North Carolina and Villanova. I want to be Villanova, so that’s the expectations. Our expectations are the same: To win. But do it the right way.”
Williams said Drew understands what Vanderbilt officials want.
“He wants it as bad as we do,” the Vanderbilt athletic director said of his new coach.
Drew met with his new team before being introduced. Either he or his brother Scott, head coach at Baylor, recruited several of the current Commodores, and Drew wants to see which brother reaches a Final Four first.
Baylor is scheduled to visit Vanderbilt next season after the Commodores lost in Texas last December.
It’s a detail Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos said he’s already noted.
“I’m already talking to (ESPN president) John Skipper about that one,” Zeppos said as he looked back at Drew.
Drew’s father knows when he’d prefer to watch his sons coach against each other to limit stress on the family.
“Personally, I would love it in the NCAA Tournament,” Homer Drew said. “I think that would be a great time for brothers.”
The Commodores are poised to return three starters after point guard Wade Baldwin IV announced Tuesday he is passing up his final two seasons for the NBA draft.
Junior center Damian Jones said Wednesday he believes he’s ready for the NBA, but will decide whether he’s entering the draft later this month before the deadline.
“He’s definitely a players’ coach, which is something we all wanted, someone younger to relate to,” sophomore guard Matthew Fisher-Davis said. “I think it’ll be good.”
Not only did Drew coach at his alma mater, the former Indiana Mr. Basketball played at Valparaiso and helped the Crusaders to four Mid-Continent Conference regular-season titles and three NCAA Tournament berths. He hit the shot in 1998 to beat Mississippi in the first round, giving Valparaiso its first NCAA Tournament win in school history on the Crusaders way to the Sweet 16.
Drew was drafted by Houston with the 16th pick overall in 1998 and played in the NBA six seasons with the Rockets, Chicago and the Charlotte and New Orleans Hornets.
AP College Basketball website: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/