Baylor coach Scott Drew couldn’t contain his emotions as he watched the Valparaiso-Wright State basketball game from his hotel room at the Kansas City Marriott in March.
He wanted so badly for his younger brother, Bryce Drew, to win the Horizon League tournament championship game and take his Valparaiso team to its first NCAA tournament in nine years.
So he shouted, yelled and pleaded for the Crusaders to win.
“We were pretty loud,” Scott Drew said. “I’m surprised security wasn’t called up.”
After riding the ups and downs of the game, Scott was relieved when Valparaiso finished off a 62-54 win. Mostly, he was happy for Bryce, who took the Crusaders to the NCAA tournament in only his second season as head coach.
“It was extremely exciting because I know the pressure that goes into it when you’re in that situation where only the team that wins gets in the NCAA tournament,” Scott said. “To see him do what he’s done in a short period of time makes me a proud brother. I’m happy for him.”
As one of the few sets of brothers coaching NCAA Division I basketball teams, the Drews are supportive of each other through the good and bad times. They know the pressures of the profession and how hard it is to consistently produce winning teams in such a competitive atmosphere.
They call each other after nearly every game to offer congratulations or encouragement. They watch each other’s games to discuss strategy or make suggestions. Sometimes they just talk about family matters.
But they’re both glad to have each other as a sounding board.
“With me being the younger brother, it’s a great advantage to have an older brother,” Bryce said. “The things I ask Scott have already come up in his career. There’s no question that he has helped me tremendously X’s and O’s-wise. I’ve also talked to him about handling the personalities of players.”
Scott appreciates that Bryce will shoot straight with him when he asks for advice or how to gauge a situation.
“It’s a competitive profession and when you solicit advice you don’t know if it’s always 100 percent true,” Scott said. “With your brother, you know you’re getting the true thoughts and feelings and his reading on everything. Nothing is off limits in asking. It gives you different perspectives and ideas, and you can think outside the box sometimes.”
Though Scott has been a head coach for 11 seasons compared to Bryce’s two, he respects his younger brother’s opinion. Bryce can give Scott a different perspective since he was a star college basketball player at Valparaiso in the late 1990s who went on to a six-year NBA career with the Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls and the Charlotte and New Orleans Hornets.
“When you get into a profession, you can get into intricacies that only a person in that profession would know,” Scott said. “Maybe you left a player that was in a slump in the game to give him confidence. Maybe if your team is in a slump and his team is doing well, you can ask him what he did to get on a streak. We’ll talk about everything from offensive and defensive strategies to off-season and in-season workouts.”
After games, Scott and Bryce often talk well into the next morning to discuss strategy and personnel moves. With so many games being televised on multiple networks, it’s easier to catch each other’s games live.
“Baylor has so many games on TV, so I got to see several of them,” Bryce said. “On several nights, we played at the same time so afterward I asked our media people for their score. But I definitely follow them closely.”
Since both Scott and Bryce learned the coaching ropes from their father, former Valparaiso coach Homer Drew, many of their ideas on coaching fundamentals and handling players are similar.
Scott was an assistant under his father at Valparaiso for nine years before taking over the Crusaders’ head coaching job for one season. After Scott moved to Baylor in the summer of 2003, his father came back as Valparaiso’s head coach for eight more seasons. Bryce joined the Valparaiso coaching staff in 2005 and served as an assistant for six seasons before becoming the head coach in 2011.
Though the Drew brothers’ coaching styles and ideas of running a college basketball program are a reflection of their father in many ways, they’ve each added their own personal stamp along the way.
“My brother has his own different ways of doing things and so do I,” Scott said. “But the fundamentals are the same in that we want our teams to play hard and together with good shot selection and a pace that’s enjoyable to watch.”
Drawn to the underdog
Bryce is proud of how Scott has turned around a Baylor basketball program that was in turmoil when he arrived in 2003 following the resignation of former coach Dave Bliss and the murder of Patrick Dennehy by former Baylor teammate Carlton Dotson.
The Bears have won at least 20 games five of the last six seasons including two Elite Eight appearances in the NCAA tournament and this year’s NIT championship.
Though most coaches wouldn’t have touched the Baylor job 10 years ago, Bryce knew his older brother wasn’t afraid to take on a difficult challenge.
“One thing Scott has always been is very competitive,” Bryce said. “He loves the underdog role. When everyone in the country said don’t take the (Baylor) job, I think it made him want it even more. He wanted to prove he could win at Baylor. What’s he done is pretty remarkable. What my dad did at Valparaiso is what he envisioned there.”
Scott is equally impressed by how Bryce has carried on their father’s winning tradition at Valparaiso with 48 wins in his first two seasons, two Horizon League regular season championships, and this year’s conference tournament title. Like Scott, Bryce has developed into an ace recruiter.
“You’re not going to be a good coach unless you can recruit, and I think that’s an area Bryce has really excelled at the last few years,” Scott said. “People knew he would be good technically as a coach, but he’s developed relationships through recruiting.”
Family fishing excursions
With their demanding schedules, the Drew brothers don’t see each other often. Besides his basketball duties, Scott and wife Kelly have three young children ages 2 through 9.
But Scott and Bryce have been able to connect during the summers on the recruiting circuit, and have been able to get together for a few days with their dad to fish at Texas lakes.
“That’s a great getaway for us,” Scott said. “For two or three days away, we can talk shop.”
Though it would be an intriguing matchup, the Drew brothers don’t necessarily want to play each other. They know a loss would devastate the other brother. But Scott wouldn’t mind facing off against Bryce in the NCAA tournament.
“I’d love to play him in the NCAA tournament,” Scott said. “It makes for an interesting storyline, but at the end of the day their fans expect them to win against whoever they play and it’s the same with us. We’re both competitive and we want to win.”