PAUL OREN: The time is now for Bryce Drew

2011-05-17T22:00:00Z PAUL OREN: The time is now for Bryce DrewBy Paul Oren on the Crusaders nwitimes.com
May 17, 2011 10:00 pm  • 

Much like he did nine years ago for his son Scott, Valparaiso men's basketball coach Homer Drew stepped out of the way on Tuesday morning so son Bryce could have his first taste of being a Division I basketball coach.

Amid the celebration of one man's legacy and another man's launch into the limelight comes the responsibility of asking if Bryce Drew has enough credentials other than being his father's son to earn the promotion.

Bryce Drew was ready for the question on Tuesday and almost seemed excited when it was asked.

"I really believe that my past experiences have prepared me for this position," Bryce Drew said. "I was in the gym at age four recruiting and was in the stands at age seven hearing people complain about my Dad. You have to develop tough skin. I'm not trying to be like my Dad, I'm not trying to be like my brother. They have their own legacies. This is a new generation at Valpo. We're striving for a new mark of excellence."

As Homer Drew was fighting back tears during his emotional goodbye and Bryce Drew was laying out his vision for Valparaiso basketball, Baylor head coach Scott Drew was in the back of the room watching the scene unfold, no doubt thinking back to the day when he took over the Crusaders for one year in 2002.

"The good thing is that Bryce gets advice from our Dad," Scott Drew said. "He has his own vision and he can set his own legacy. He is excited to do so and we're excited for him."

No doubt the people who will knock Bryce Drew's ascension to the big office as just a gift from Daddy were the same people who said the same about Scott Drew in 2002. One needs to look no further than what Baylor has accomplished in the last eight years, from conference doormat to the Elite Eight, to recognize that Scott Drew was ready to be a head coach. Then consider that Bryce is older now than Scott was when he became a head coach.

Homer Drew confidently explained on Tuesday that Scott was ready in 2002 and that Bryce is ready today, if he wasn't already several years ago.

When Scott Drew took over the Crusaders in 2002, he made sweeping statements about leading Valparaiso to the Final Four and other boisterous claims. Bryce Drew made no such proclamations on Tuesday, only pausing to joke that he was glad that the Crusaders didn't win the Horizon League title this year so the team would have a surefire goal to aim for.

Bryce Drew approached his introductory news conference with the same calm and grace that he used when he knocked down the biggest shot in Valparaiso history 13 years ago. He cracked some of his father's jokes and showed some of his brother's energy, but he walked away from the podium his own man.

The more things change, the more they remain the same. If Bryce Drew got the job solely because he is his father's son, is that such a bad thing? Seven NCAA tournaments in the last 15 years, three more postseason appearances and an average of nearly 20 wins a season since 1993, all the while the NCAA hasn't made so much as a phone call to investigate any infractions. The Valparaiso fan base should hope that Bryce Drew is a carbon copy of his father.

That said, Bryce Drew is his own person, just like Scott Drew was his own. The two men just happen to have a father who knew when it was time to step aside and enjoy the ride.

Paul Oren covers Valparaiso University sports for The Times. Reach him at pgmado@gmail.com.

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