Vanderbilt officially introduced new men’s basketball coach Bryce Drew at a press conference Wednesday, where he set lofty goals for the program.
“We picked a person who’s a winner,” Vanderbilt athletic director David Williams told reporters. “We picked a person who understands this place. We picked a person, who in the interview, said, ‘We will play in the national championship game.’”
Drew, 41, spent five seasons as the head coach at his alma mater, Valparaiso. During his time the team posted a 124-49 record , including four regular season titles in the Horizon League and two trips to the NCAA tournament.
He’s likely best remembered for his buzzer-beating shot made in the 1998 NCAA Tournament that helped No. 13-seed Valparaiso upset No. 4 Ole Miss. After a six-year career in the NBA and a brief professional career in Europe, Drew entered the coaching ranks in 2005 as an assistant at Valparaiso.
“There’s been a lot of opportunities in the past that I’ve looked at to be the head basketball coach, but none of them brought the full package that Vanderbilt brings,” Drew said. “What drew me to Vanderbilt and why I’ve always admired and liked this job and this university is the full package you get here. You get to compete at the highest level athletic, but yet you get to learn at the highest level academically.”
Vanderbilt has made 14 all-time appearances in the NCAA tournament and advanced to the Sweet 16 six times, but has never made a Final Four, which is something Drew hopes to change.
“Our goals go beyond just winning games here at Vanderbilt,” Drew said. “We want to win games nationally. No Vanderbilt team has ever made the Final Four and we’d like to be that first Vanderbilt team to get to the Final Four.”
In the final season of Kevin Stallings’ tenure as coach, Vanderbilt finished 19-14 and advanced to the NCAA tournament, but lost a play-in game to Wichita State, 70-50. Stallings accepted a six-year contract to become the Pittsburgh coach and left Vanderbilt with a 332-220 record.