First of all, let me talk about the 41 year old Bryce Drew as a player. In the 1998 NCAA basketball tournament, No.13 seeded Valparaiso was facing No.4 seed Ole Miss and was a heavy underdog. Valpo was down 69-67 with 4.1 seconds left in the game and the Rebels' Ansu Sesay was at the free throw line. Sesay missed both free throws, Valpo rebounded the ball and took a timeout with 2.5 seconds remaining. On the inbound, the Crusaders made two passes and Bryce caught the ball 23 feet from the basket. He put it up. String Music and the Crusaders upset the Rebels, 70-69. Then Drew proceeded to lead his team to victory over 12th seeded Florida State 83-77, in OT. Drew finished with 22 points in that game. The Crusaders fell to Rhode Island in the Sweet 16, 74-68, but Drew finished with 18 points. He completed his career as Valpo's all time leading scorer, 3 point field goal shooter and assist leader. He was also an outstanding free throw shooter, 90% like. He was a first round draft pick by the Houston Rockets, as Bryce was selected 16th overall in the draft. He played six seasons in the NBA then played overseas for a year before beginning his coaching career.
He was elevated to associate head coach by his dad, Homer, in 2006. Homer won over 700 games in his career. Bryce became head coach at Valpo in 2011 and achieved a 124-49 five year record, which is a 72% winning percentage. He took his teams to two NCAA tournaments in 2013 and 2015, where his teams made it to the second round both years. In 2013, his Crusaders team lost to powerful Michigan State in the second round of the tournament, 65-54, and in 2015, they barely lost to fourth seeded Maryland, 65-62.
In 2011-2012, his team went 22-12 and won the Horizon League regular season going to the NIT where they lost in the first round. In '12-'13, his team finished 26-8 and won the Horizon and went to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In '13-'14, Valpo went 18-16, but came back in 2014-15 to finish 28-6 and make the second round of the NCAA's. This past season, his team went 30-7 and was the runner up in the NIT.
He was a point guard as a player and I love point guards as coaches. They're exactly like quarterbacks in football. He's considered highly intelligent and has numerous offensive plays.
Bryce will inherit a talented Vanderbilt squad though point guard Wade Baldwin and center Damian Jones are heavily considering going out for the NBA draft as they are projected to be first rounders. But Bryce could talk Wade and Dame into staying. Very hopeful that will happen. Bryce has a player from Valpo, Alec Peters, who has a chance to graduate early and be a graduate transfer. The 6'9" forward averaged 18.4 points and 8.5 rebounds this past season for the Crusaders.
Bryce's teams are known to defend well, shoot it extremely well, and rebound well. Sounds pretty good to me. He loves coming to a place like Vanderbilt, a private school where he can work with the best of the best in the academic department. He has coached quite a few All-Academic players. He's a players coach, but also a disciplinarian, if necessary. He'll have some great kids to coach who will not cause problems. This is a win-win for Drew, our players, our fans and our university. Excellent hire by Athletic Director David Williams. I see great things happening with our basketball program in the future. Bryce actually had an offer from Georgia Tech to be their head coach, but wanted to come to Vanderbilt instead. I like that Bryce wants to be at Vanderbilt, he's young, energetic, and will recruit through the roof then really coach his players up positively. His older brother, Scott, is the head coach at Baylor and has taken Baylor to two Elite Eights and they're always in the tournament. Exciting hire for Vanderbilt University.
No.3 Baseball takes two of three from No.6 South Carolina: It's just how we roll
Jordan Sheffield pitched a heckuva game Thursday Night in VU's 6-3 victory over South Carolina at the Hawk. Jordan went seven, gave up five hits, three runs, only two of them earned, walked three and K'd 9. He was awesome.Jordan was hitting the high 90's with his fastball and his change up and curve were electric. Ben Bowden finished it off. We lost 4-0 Friday night. Kyle Wright gave it all he had on the mound, but we just couldn't generate any offense. On Saturday, we came back from a 4-1 deficit to win 10-6. Penn Murfee was the player of game. Penn doubled home two runs and singled home another and played stellar first base. Know his dad and mom are proud of him. Ben came in and shut the door again. Ben is shut down as a closer. He brings the heat as well. Hayden Stone started on Saturday, competed hard like Hayden always does and did a decent job. I think Corbs is still trying to figure out that third guy on the weekend rotation and Hayden is doing reasonably well. Hayden is a super talent so he could end up being that guy. We'll see how that develops.
We're now 23-5 overall and 6-3 in the SEC. We trail SC and Florida by a game in the East. We have Lipscomb tomorrow @ 6:30 PM CT/7:30 PM ET on SEC Network+, then we travel to LSU Thursday through Saturday. Lipscomb is 16-12 overall. The game will be at home. LSU is 18-9 overall and 4-5 in the SEC, not a typical LSU start, but down in Alex Box Stadium, it'll be rockin, so we'll need our A games all weekend. That stadium seats about 8,000 and they are as rowdy as they are in Death Valley, so our guys will need to be locked in. Thursday's game is at 6 PM CT/7 PM ET on the SEC Network, Friday's game is at 7:30 PM CT/8:30 PM ET on "duh U," ESPNU. Saturday's game is at 2 PM CT/3 PM ET on SEC Network+ on the computer.
Freshman Alonzo Jones is terrific as a DH. Really like Alonzo. Freshman Ethan Paul at second base is still getting his defense down, but he's got a stellar bat. Will Toffey hasn't heated up just yet at the plate, but he will, and his defense is superb. Tyler Campbell is doing an excellent job at short and with the bat. Jeren Kendall and Bryan Reynolds are studs and Ro is playing awesome ball for us. Our outfield is tremendous. Our arms are stellar. We've got the makings of a special group, but we've got to just keep it in neutral and improve every practice and every game, and take it from there. Love what we can do this season though.
We have eight players on Major League 25 man rosters this season. David Price was getting the start today for the BoSox at Cleveland, but the temperature was 17 degrees and bad outside, so Dave will go tomorrow at 12:10 PM CT/1:10 PM ET. Sonny gets the start tonight vs. the White Sox and stud left hander Chris Sale. So Sonny has his work cut out for him. Should be a heckuva pitching duel. Pedro and Ryan Flaherty are on the Orioles and Pedro is DH'ing today for the Birds. He's 0 for 3 right now with a walk. The O's are tied with the Twins 2-2 in the top of the ninth. Ryan has not entered the game, but according to Corbs, O's manager Buck Showalter really likes Ryan, so Ryan will see plenty of playing time.Mike Minor is on the disabled list for the KC Royals, so it looks like late May, early June before Mike can get back from his torn labrum suffered last season with the Braves. He's had elbow problems as well. Curt Casali is the starting catcher for the Rays. Love that for Curt. Caleb Cotham is pitching for the Reds and Drew VerHagen will be pitching out the bullpen for the Detroit Tigers.
Women's tennis keeps on rolling
Geoff McDonald's fifth ranked women's tennis team won two matches in Mississippi last weekend, beating Mississippi State, 4-1, and Ole Miss, 5-1. Frances Altick, who is ranked No. 17 in the country, won her 100th match over the weekend. No.21 Astra Sharma won and No. 25 Sydney Campbell won. Courtney Colton and Georgina Sellyn won at No.'s 4 and 5 respectively for the Dores against Ole Miss. Next up for the girls is a match at Missouri on Friday. We are now 14-4 overall and 7-2 in the SEC. We're starting to hit our stride.
Men's golf wins Mason Rudolph
Scott Limbaugh's ninth ranked Commodores golf team got outstanding Sunday performances from junior Matthias Schwab and freshman Patrick Martin, who shot 69 and 68 respectively, as the Dores captured the Mason Rudolph championship at home with a one shot victory over No. 10 Florida. Two thousand thirteen and 2014 national champion Alabama, which still fields a strong team, was in the field and finished 14 shots back of us. Luke List finished tied for 25th at the Shell Houston Open. Luke getting closer and closer to doing very well on tour. Jon Curran didn't have his best stuff, but JC and Luke have many more opportunities along with Brandt, who is gearing up for Augusta National this week, where he has a shot.
Will have more later in the week with baseball in a big week, the guys in the pros, Brandt in the Masters, women's tennis, men's golf competing and any football news I can find.