Sunday, March 13, 2011

March 13, 1998: Bryce Drew

OKLAHOMA CITY - Homer Drew had been a coach in some capacity since 1971. Whether as an assistant coach or as the head man, he had been in many huddles, had drawn up countless plays. But this one was the one he would always remember, the one that would make him known across the country.

Drew's Valparaiso Crusaders were trailing Mississippi 69-67 in the first round of the NCAA tournament, and had to inbound the ball under their own basket, 94 feet away, with 2.5 seconds to go. Drew diagrammed a play called "Pacer," which called Jamie Sykes to throw a long pass to Bill Jenkins, who would then quickly pass the ball to the wing for a hopefully open 3-pointer for Bryce Drew.

See, that was the kicker right there. Not only was Homer drawing up a potential NCAA tournament game-winning shot, but he was drawing it up for his own son. You couldn't fault the man if he felt a little bit of fatherly pride at that point.

And so Valparaiso went out to try their final play. Sykes' long pass was perfect. Jenkins caught it in the air and, with two defenders on him, slipped it over to Bryce Drew. Just as designed, he was open, and just as his father had dreamed, Bryce hit the shot.

The momentum garnered from Drew's game-winning shot carried the Crusaders through to another win in the second round before they fell in the Sweet 16 to Rhode Island. Those two wins in 1998 are the only two NCAA tournament wins in Valparaiso's history. But the video of Bryce Drew's famous shot, followed by him diving across the floor before being mobbed by his teammates, will live on as the epitome of March Madness, the crazy first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament where anything can and will happen. Including a long-time coach drawing up a game-winning shot for his son, and watching their family's dream come true.

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