Rebuilding Basketball at Baylor University
By Tom Buehring
The 700 Club
CBN.com - College Basketball is a picture of transition -- student-athletes on a learning curve, competing in games filled with surprise – to the challenge and delight of their coaches. Baylor Basketball Head Coach Scott Drew says, "Something about an 18-year-old or a 19-year-old or a 20-year-old having a chance to make a game winning shot! David vs. Goliath! Authenticity! Upsets in March Madness! College basketball, the parity, and each and every game, you don't know who's going to win and just when you think you have it figured out, that's when you're really in trouble -- it's like life."
Coach Scott Drew arrived at Baylor in 2003 to fix a program already in trouble for numerous NCAA violations. Improper player payments, recruiting infractions and drug use led to one of the strongest set of sanctions and probations imposed on a Division One school. The scandal was uncovered after the murder of a Baylor player by a teammate. Grief and resignations left the penalized program in shambles. It was clear what the student-athletes needed. Drew says, "They needed love. I know the school did a great job in providing counseling and help. I didn't realize just how much were hurting, because I could've done more. I think what our staff tried to do was love them, care for them. At the same time, the great thing is life moves on. And the new season, the new competition – that was able to help them focus on the future rather than the past."
Along the way, the goals and brand of Bears Basketball were rewritten, as the team walked the long, lonely road back to respectability – with fewer resources and even fewer guarantees for success.
Drew remembers, "The biggest challenge was trying to compete because the first season we played with 5 to 7 scholarship players most of the year. Now you were recruiting walk-ons to not help you practice but actually play. So, you're playing top-20 teams with people that you're just grabbing from campus and we weren't able to play a non-conference schedule. That was really hard. We're so far behind. That was pretty low."
700 Club Sports Reporter, Tom Beuhring asks, "What did he see in the opportunity that others couldn't?" Drew says, "I was attracted to what Baylor University stood for; Outstanding Christian leaders with great vision! And they wanted to have a university that could be a great representative and a beacon of Christian light and hope to the world. Athletics gives you an opportunity with a lot of exposure, a lot of national attention to do that. That's a calling that we were excited about."
Coach Drew and his staff have led the Bears on a reclamation fast break – with 5 NCAA tournament appearances since 2008, going as far as the Elite Eight twice, the Sweet Sixteen once and an NIT Championship. As Baylor's all-time wins leader and owner of multiple coaching awards, Drew has been on the forefront of one of college basketball's most dramatic rebounds. Drew explains, "All of a sudden what you've done and accomplished isn't enough anymore; the bar's been raised. Winning games, going to post season, being successful, having NBA draft picks, now this is the standard. Now you have a different type of pressure and expectation. So that's what life's about though, is overcoming and adjusting and constantly – the bar being changed and redirected, reset."
It's a rare double dribble, rescuing a failed basketball program then turning it into a consistent winner. The combination requires strong coaching, but even stronger leadership. Scott Drew leads much like his Baylor success – uniquely, proving players with something that wins them over and keeps them there. Drew says, "I think the biggest thing is modeling after Jesus. He was a servant leader. And with us, hopefully and prayerfully, its humility, its serving our players and helping them achieve their goals and dreams, not only on the court but in life and in the classroom. So if you're serving somebody else, I think that's where the best practice always is."
So what's the most meaningful feedback a player's given him? Without hesitation Drew responds, "There's no question! 'Love you Coach.' 'Thank you Coach.' 'Appreciate you Coach.' 'Thanks for being there Coach.' When you're helping them with life more than basketball, that's when the real relationship is. One thing you love about coaching, is you have a chance to not only have an impact in players' lives for 0-4 years, but you have a chance to impact 60 years, hopefully help them with eternity, help them to impact their kids and their kids' kids."
His reach extends nationally as a skilled recruiter, effectively reloading the Baylor roster with talented players, while helping distance the school from its infamous basketball disaster. Drew believes, "I always thought, what man meant for harm with the scandal and everything that went on, God meant for good. A lot of positive attention has been brought, since. And be able to bring, hopefully honor and glory to God with our wins, losses, how we carry ourselves, what we do. That's what our mission is."
Baylor Basketball's Scott Drew put the bite back in the Bears – a playmaker at the turning point in this long shot – with his eye fixed beyond the rim, saying "Whichever way that ball bounces off, it can bank in, it can do whatever, that determines good coach, bad coach. That's why if I didn't have a relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior, I'd be a mess and the highs would be too high and the lows would be too low. I mean we're all competitors. We want to win. But at the end of the day, I'm coaching for an audience of One."
CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!
Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting?
Are you facing a difficult situation?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.