UA basketball: The Shot owner gets coaching shot

2011-11-07T00:02:00Z 2014-07-24T10:20:21Z UA basketball: The Shot owner gets coaching shotBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
November 07, 2011 12:02 am  • 

Of all the memorable images generated from the NCAA tournament, few stand out like the one where Valparaiso coach Homer Drew - eyes closed, mouth open - is on the court giddily hugging his son, Bryce, with every inch of his arms.

It was The Shot, 1998. Valparaiso inbounded the ball with 2.5 seconds to go, fired it to Bryce Drew, who then sank a three-pointer to put his dad's 13th-seeded team from the small Lutheran school past fourth-seeded Mississippi.

Valparaiso went on to beat Florida State in the second round and reached a Sweet 16 nobody could ever have imagined.

Bryce Drew, simply put, was Cinderella. Because of that lasting image, he may always be remembered for that, even though he went on to play six years in the NBA. He returned to coach under his father at Valparaiso and will now lead the Crusaders for the first time tonight at Arizona in the regular-season opener for both teams.

But he doesn't mind. If that's the image everyone remembers, the younger Drew says, he was just fortunate to be there.

"I definitely never get tired of it," Drew said. "It was such a blessing in our lives."

The Shot has its own Wikipedia entry. It was ranked No. 5 on a list of top NCAA tournament moments of all time. And, even with a first-round NBA draft selection and a six-year career in the league, it ranks No. 1 on Drew's list of accomplishments, too.

"I'm very proud of several things, but probably I'm the most proud of that moment in the NCAA tournament," Drew said, "because my dad was the coach, my brother (Scott) was an assistant, there were six seniors on that team, and it was kind of a breakthrough game for us."

That wasn't all the Valparaiso program accomplished in 23 years under the Drew family. The Crusaders have made postseason appearances in 10 of the past 16 seasons, playing in the mid-major tournament last season, always with the ability to scare a program like Ole Miss or even Arizona, which barely held off Valparaiso in a 74-70 victory in the 2001-02 Fiesta Bowl Classic at McKale Center.

"The whole family is well-respected in that part of the country," said UA assistant coach James Whitford, who has known Bryce Drew for years. "And Bryce is a very humble guy. You would never know he was an NBA player by the way he carries himself."

Homer Drew retired twice at Valparaiso, once in 2002 while Scott Drew took over. He returned a year later when Scott Drew took off for Baylor, then retired again last April, this time probably for good.

"He always evaluated after every season and I think that for some reason, something told him it was time to retire," Bryce Drew said.

The obvious choice to replace him was Bryce, who may keep the family name firmly etched in the program for a while.

"I love it here," Bryce said. "I went to high school here, college here, been here a long time. I feel very comfortable here and would love to stay."

This wasn't exactly Homer's plan at first. Bryce Drew said his father never encouraged his sons to coach, and actually responded to Scott's first expressed interest by saying, "That's great, Scott - after you finish law school."

But Scott Drew never did finish law school and, by the time younger brother Bryce left the NBA in 2004, it was clear that nobody was going to stop him from coaching, either.

"He tried to fight that battle with my brother and it didn't work," Bryce Drew said, laughing.

Bryce Drew worked his way from an assistant into a coach-in-waiting associate head coach role under his father, helping recruit every player on the roster and developing relationships in case he did take over, just as family friend Tony Bennett did under his father, Dick, at Washington State.

The only problem for Bryce was that, well, Homer did time his exit pretty well.

The Crusaders lost 60.5 percent of their scoring from last season, when they finished a game behind Milwaukee, Butler and Cleveland State, which tied for first in the Horizon League.

While Drew has an experienced point guard in Erik Buggs, a shooter in Ryan Broekoff and a capable big man in Kevin Van Wijk, he has only nine available scholarship players, with some of the Crusaders still not cleared to play by the NCAA and others sitting out the required redshirt season of four-year transfers.

"It's a completely new team," Drew said. "We've had several new players trying to blend in, and several of the returning guys have new roles. The guys who have been playing, I'm very proud of."

The good and bad news for Drew is that the Crusaders have no seniors, meaning they're less experienced now but will return in entirety next season.

But, even if things get really difficult, Drew doesn't have to turn far for help. Homer Drew still works in the Valparaiso athletic department.

It's still a family effort at Valpo, as it has been for decades.

"He's on speed dial," Bryce Drew said.

"Whenever I have a problem, I call him."

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Pac-12 basketball standings

  Conference Overall
Arizona 0 0 0 0.000 12 0 0 1.000
Washington 0 0 0 0.000 10 0 0 1.000
California 0 0 0 0.000 10 1 0 0.909
Utah 0 0 0 0.000 8 2 0 0.800
Oregon 0 0 0 0.000 8 3 0 0.727
UCLA 0 0 0 0.000 8 4 0 0.667
Oregon State 0 0 0 0.000 7 3 0 0.700
USC 0 0 0 0.000 7 4 0 0.636
Arizona State 0 0 0 0.000 6 5 0 0.545
Stanford 0 0 0 0.000 6 3 0 0.667
Colorado 0 0 0 0.000 6 3 0 0.667
Washington State 0 0 0 0.000 5 6 0 0.455

AP Top 25

Pac-12 basketball schedule

Teams Date Time
Oregon State at
12/21 52-60
USC at
Boston College
12/21 75-71
San Jose State at
Washington State
12/21 53-82
DePaul at
12/22 2:30 pm
UC-Santa Barbara at
12/22 7:00 pm
Wisconsin at
12/22 7:00 pm
Tulane at
12/22 9:00 pm
Detroit at
Arizona State
12/23 1:00 pm
Stanford at
12/23 5:00 pm
South Dakota State at
12/23 7:00 pm
Arizona at
12/23 8:00 pm
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