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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

A timeline of the Bryce Drew Era of Vanderbilt Basketball

Ziyi Liu
Bryce Drew as Vanderbilt lost to #6 Kentucky 87-81 at Memorial Gym January 10, 2016.

For the second time in four years, Vanderbilt will be searching for a new Men’s Basketball coach.

Bryce Drew was fired as Vanderbilt’s head coach on Friday, ending a three-year tenure that brought one NCAA Tournament appearance, the highest-ranked recruiting class in school history, and the first 0-19 season in SEC history.

Here’s a look back at the Bryce Drew Era of Vanderbilt Basketball.

Bryce Drew is Hired – April 6, 2016

David Williams hired Bryce Drew as Vanderbilt’s 27th men’s basketball coach after he had a successful five-year run at his alma mater Valparaiso. He won four regular season Horizon League championships and led the Crusaders to two NCAA Tournament appearances. He was brought in to bring Vanderbilt back to national prominence. In his introductory press conference, he stated that his goal was to take Vanderbilt to its first-ever Final Four.

Saben Lee Commitment – June 13, 2016

Lee was the first high school commitment of the Bryce Drew era, and the four-star point guard would become an impactful starter early in his freshman year on campus. Lee was the 22nd-ranked point guard in his recruiting class, and has backed up that ranking by averaging 11.6 points in almost 30 minutes per game over two seasons.

72-62 OT Win over #17 Florida – March 10, 2017

In the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament, Vanderbilt defeated the SEC’s No. 2 seed six days after beating the Gators at home by two to end the regular season. The conference tournament rematch was Vanderbilt’s sixth win in its last seven games, and this streak propelled the Commodores to their only NCAA Tournament appearance under Drew.

68-66 NCAA Tournament Loss to Northwestern – March 16, 2017

No one wants to relieve the last 18 seconds of this game, but it was a heartbreaking loss to a team making its first NCAA Tournament appearance in school history. It was also the last time Luke Kornet would take the floor in black and gold, and Vanderbilt has not had a presence in the paint quite like him ever since.

The Best Signing Class in Vanderbilt History – Fall 2017

Aaron Nesmith was the first of the trio to commit on September 19. Nesmith was a four-star forward, and while in most years he would have been the highest-rated Vanderbilt signee, the 2018 class was so strong that he was the lowest-rated of the three. Two months later, five-star prospects Darius Garland and Simisola Shittu committed just over a week apart. Fans were excited about Drew signing All-American players away from blue-blood programs such as Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, and North Carolina.

78-62 SEC Tournament Loss to Georgia – March 7, 2018

No one ever expected Vanderbilt to win the SEC Tournament in order to avoid the first 20-loss season in school history, but coming into the tourney with 19 losses, this was the one that will go down in history. Vanderbilt never led in the game, and the team was outplayed for all 40 minutes.

Darius Garland Injures His Knee – November 23, 2018

Two minutes into the fifth game of the year, Garland went down with a left meniscus injury. He averaged 16.2 points in the first four games, and his sharp shooting and commanding presence on the court were missed the rest of the season after he had to have surgery to repair his knee. Garland would not return for the spring semester and declared for the NBA Draft. The team looked lost for the remainder of the season without Garland.

81-65 Win over #19 Arizona State – December 17, 2018

In the lone bright spot in Drew’s last season, Vanderbilt defeated an Arizona State team that had recently beaten Kansas on the road. Arizona State would end up making the NCAA Tournament and winning a First Four game. Less than a month after losing Garland, this game gave fans a glimmer of hope that Vanderbilt could salvage the season.

84-48 Loss to Arkansas – March 6, 2019

As unexplainable as the Arizona State win was, so was a 36-point loss to Arkansas in Drew’s last game at Memorial. Arkansas went just 8-10 in conference play, but completely dominated Vanderbilt on Joe Toye’s senior night. Vanderbilt shot under 30% from the field, and players looked ready to be done with the season. The loss sealed the worst season in Vanderbilt basketball history.

Bryce Drew is Fired – March 22, 2019

In a move that shocked no one close to the Vanderbilt program, but for some reason baffled national sports personalities, new athletic director Malcolm Turner fired Drew. Drew’s Commodores had just posted the first 0-19 season in SEC history and were the first team to go winless in conference play since Georgia Tech did so in 1953-1954. Vanderbilt ended the season on a 20-game losing streak, the longest in program history. Drew finished his Vanderbilt coaching career with a 40-59 record overall and just a .296 winning percentage in SEC games.

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About the Contributors
Betsy Goodfriend
Betsy Goodfriend, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Betsy Goodfriend ('21) was the Deputy Sports Editor for The Vanderbilt Hustler. She majored in Human and Organizational Development with a minor in Business. In her free time, she enjoys online shopping, creating to-do lists and watching football even if she has no interest in either team playing. She can be reached at [email protected].    
Ziyi Liu, Author
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