Interview Conducted 10/7/2008
The son of legendary Valparaiso Head Coach Homer Drew, Scott Drew is developing his own legend at Baylor University in Waco, Tex.
When he accepted the Baylor Men’s Basketball Head Coaching job in 2003, he inherited one of the largest rebuilding projects in NCAA athletic history. Just five years later, he led the team to the NCAA Tournament.
The sport of basketball runs deep in the Drew family.
Homer Drew has won 593 games in a 31-year coaching career at Bethel College, Indiana University-South Bend, and most notably, Valparaiso.
Both of Drew’s younger siblings were basketball talents. Bryce played six seasons in the NBA and is remembered by basketball fans for his game-winning three pointer for #13 seed Valparaiso in the opening round of the 1998 NCAA Tournament. Drew’s sister Dana was a two-time MAC player of the year for the University of Toledo.
Drew only played basketball through his sophomore year in high school because he chose to focus his efforts on tennis in hopes of receiving a college scholarship, which did not pan out.
He still stayed close to basketball in high school. He worked his father’s basketball camps at Valparaiso. He also coached both Bryce and Dana’s teams in what were called “State Games” in Indiana, a precursor to what AAU basketball is today.
Drew chose to attend Butler University and served as the basketball team’s student manager for three years. After graduation, he accepted his father’s offer to join the Valparaiso staff as an assistant in 1993. The Crusaders went to six NCAA tournaments, making it to the Sweet Sixteen in 1998, while he was an assistant from 1993-2002.
Drew took over Valparaiso’s program for one season in 2002-03, leading the team to a 20-11 record and a bid in the NIT Tournament.
DREW: “My dad was looking to get back into coaching and even talked about maybe the NBA, but he’s definitely a college guy in my opinion because he does so much for young people.”
“The Baylor job came open, and through a third-party, the interest was expressed. My goal was to be in a program in a conference that competed at the highest level.”
In August 2003, Drew accepted Baylor’s offer which enabled his father to come out of retirement and become Valparaiso’s head coach again.
Drew inherited a Baylor basketball program in shambles following Carlton Dotson’s murder of teammate Patrick Dennehy and former head coach Dave Bliss’s subsequent coverup of major NCAA violations.
The NCAA allowed Baylor players to transfer to another program without having to sit out for a year. The team was not allowed to play a non-conference schedule in the 2005-06 season. There were paid scholarship reductions among many other NCAA and school-imposed sanctions.
Drew continued to persevere. Baylor won eight games in his first season, despite only seven scholarship players who remained along with a handful of walk-ons.
The following season, with just one scholarship player returning, Drew won nine games.
He said that he encountered little trepidation from regional recruits and their families despite the scandal under Dave Bliss.
DREW: “For the people who knew about Baylor, there wasn’t as much [concern]. People, especially in Texas, who had sons or daughters go to Baylor knew what a great school it was and knew it was an isolated incident.”
“For people that didn’t know much about Baylor, you had to answer more questions.”
“The further away the people were from Baylor, then the less they knew about us. The international kids after you talked to them would get on the Internet. They saw some of the things that happened and they had some more questions than the people who were familiar with Baylor.”
His recruiting pitch was simple:
DREW: “We are the only private school in the Big Twelve and we’re the largest Baptist school in the nation. If you like academic and spiritual development, the family atmosphere and top notch facilities and [playing in] arguably the best conference in america, then Baylor is definitely a possibility for you.”
Drew and the Baylor Bears have also benefited from Baylor’s “Victory With Integrity” athletic fundraising campaign. The Bears now practice in the $8,000,000 Lt. Whetsel Jr. Basketball Practice Facility which also includes a new strength and conditioning center.
DREW: “The school has done a great job with rebuilding the facilities and really making sure Baylor University has the elite things that our student athletes need to be successful.”
The fruits of Drew’s labor finally paid off in the 2007-08 season. His Bears went 21-11 and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1988.
The #11 seed Bears lost their NCAA First Round matchup with #6 seed Purdue 90-79, in a game not as close as the score indicated.
DREW: “It was a milestone to get to the NCAA tournament if you haven’t been there in a while. No matter what you say to prepare your team, it’s still a new experience. I think the biggest thing for a lot of our guys and our fans was to make it to the NCAA tournament.”
“After being there now, the goal has been raised to wanting to win in the NCAA Tournament. It’s like raising kids – first you crawl, then you walk, and then you run – so that will put that hunger in us to go to the next level.”
Baylor will not be sneaking up on any teams this year. They have five returning seniors along with three underclassmen who received significant playing time.
In the 2008-09 Big 12 Conference Preseason Poll, they are tied for third with defending national champion Kansas. Some college basketball experts have Baylor in their preseason top 25 lists.
DREW: “Obviously, we’re building and heading in the right direction. I think we realize in sports that you’re only as good as your last game. Preseason recognitions are nice but it’s the final poll that matters.”
“The Big 12 we feel is the toughest conference in America. If you don’t bring it every night you’re in trouble. So we’re going to stay hungry, try to improve, get better every day, and hope these seniors will go out on a positive note.”
CBS reveals Baylor as the final selection for the 2008 NCAA
Tournament and shows the team celebrating in Waco.
Scott Drew Links:
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