The Vanderbilt Commodores wasted no time in firing third year basketball coach Bryce Drew on Friday. The Commodores went (9-23, 0-18) in conference play this season. You can understand why the Commodores fired Drew after a winless conference season. However, they may have been better off by letting Drew develop this current roster of players.
When the season started, the Commodores were already going to be young. They had two freshmen become the No. 2 and 3 leading scorers on the team. Aaron Nesmith scored 11 points per game. He also grabbed 5.5 rebounds per contest. Big man Simisola Shittu scored 10.9 points per game. He led the team with 6.7 rebounds per game. However, neither of these players were supposed to be the main attraction this year.
Guard Darius Garland had plans to take the SEC by storm during his freshman season. Instead, Garland only played in five games before an injury ruined his one and done season. Garland was averaging 16 points per game when he fell to injury. He eventually decided to prepare for the upcoming NBA Draft. At that moment, the Commodores were going to be in trouble.
Yet, the other freshmen were developing at their own pace behind Drew’s tutelage. They had a number of single digit losses, including a win against the Tennessee Volunteers that was taken away from them. In all, they lost 10 games by 10 points or less. With Garland in the lineup, they definitely win a lot of these. Maybe he would have been the difference between and awful season and a NCAA Tournament run.
But in this day and age of quick fixes and no long term success, the Commodores thought they should get rid of a coach that led them to a tournament bid in his first season. Yes, the records got exceedingly worse over time, but sometimes is takes awhile to build the winning culture within the program. Keep in mind, the Commodores have only one senior on the roster. Leading scorer Saben Lee is only a sophomore. Therefore, the Commodores have plenty of room for improvement.
In all, 10 players made starts for the team. As it stands, eight of the players were returning. Now, they don’t even know who the coach would be. Drew finished with a (40-59) record with the Commodores. He produced a four 20-win seasons with the Valparaiso Crusaders before taking the job in the SEC. Drew has led his team to 3 NCAA Tournament bids in 8 seasons as a head coach.