Homer Drew passes torch to his son Bryce as Valpo hoops coach

Homer Drew's all-time favorite movie is Apollo 13.

He recalls the famous scene when Tom Hanks declares, "Gentleman, it's been my honor to fly with you."

In 22 years at Valpo, Drew took Valparaiso on quite the journey himself--from a program which never had a winning record when he arrived to one that has won games in the NCAA Tournament and is one of the top teams in the Horizon League.

On Tuesday, the legendary Home Drew retired as the Crusaders head coach and his parting message rang true to Apollo 13.

"As I look out to all of you, it's been my honor to be your coach for the last 22 years," a choked up Drew said. "God bless."

With that, Drew exited stage left as another Drew--his son Bryce--took the reigns of the program his father built.

Valpo officially named Bryce Drew as its 21st men's basketball coach and perhaps no one helped dad put Valpo on the map better than Bryce.

In 1998, Bryce Drew hit a remarkable buzzer beater shot to beat Mississippi on a full court play that gave Valpo it's first ever NCAA Tournament win. The play--to this day--is considered one of the most iconic moments in the history of the Big Dance.

"That game put us on the national scene and even the world scene," Bryce Drew explained Tuesday. "People now knew of Valpo basketball and knew that it was successful."

To this day, it's known simply as "The Shot" throughout Northwest Indiana. Homer Drew thought after about a month, everyone would have forgotten about the play. That's never happened.

"Every Valpo fan, alum can tell me the very spot they were when the second they saw 'The Shot,'" Homer Drew said with a smile. "It was special for Valparaiso."

For the player to hit the shot be his son, makes it that much more special for Homer. Homer recalls Bryce making that shot many times in the Valpo gym during practice, many times in the Drew family backyard.

"For him to have a chance to do it on a national stage, only God could arrange such a beautiful thing," Homer continues.

And for Bryce, the play represents everything Valpo stands for.

""Teamwork--three different players with two different players in three seconds," Bryce says. "And the second thing, is finishing strong. We could have easily folded with three seconds left, but we finished the game strong."

Homer's other son Scott was on the bench as an assistant coach for Valpo when "The Shot" happened. Scott became the first Drew son to take over at Valpo for his dad. That was in 2002 but it lasted just a year as Scott became head coach at Baylor, where he coaches to this day.

Scott was in attendance on Tuesday and couldn't be prouder of both his dad and his brother.

We jokingly asked Homer if he would be returning a year from now if Bryce would get another job and he pointed out that a coach never loses his way.

"Scott has three children and [my daughter' Dana has four. That's seven," Homer points out. "If we can get three more grandchildren, we've got 5-on-5 and I can still stay in coaching."

In the meantime, Homer will remain heavily involved with the Valpo program as an Associate Athletic Director. He also plans to do TV work on the national stage.

Homer finishes his career with nine 20-win seasons - 25 in his last season before retiring the first time and 23 this time. He took the Crusaders to five straight NCAA tourneys from 1996 to 2000, including the school's only regional semifinal appearance in 1998, and he made NCAA trips overall.

But after winning 640 games in 32 seasons, No. 7 among active coaches, and coaching more than 1,000, Homer Drew decided it was time to step aside for his 36-year-old son.

Quite the career for a man who became a household name in Michiana 30 years ago when he led Bethel to the national championship game. He would also start the program at IU South Bend before taking over at Valpo in 1988.

All three of his kids grew up in South Bend and have fond memories of their time here.


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