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GORCHES: Something to suit all types of fans at Valpo

Valparaiso University head coach Bryce Drew  (middle) takes off his sport cowith 16:28 left first half play against UIC

Valparaiso University head coach Bryce Drew (middle) takes off his sport coat with 16:28 left in the first half of play against UIC during their game held at Valparaiso University on Thursday January 2, 2014. | Charles Mitchell/for Sun-Times Media

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Green Bay
at Valparaiso

When: 7:05 p.m. Wednesday

Radio: 95.1-FM; 95.9-FM; 1230-AM

The skinny: Get to the ARC early, because before the game the No. 24 will be retired in honor of head coach Bryce Drew and Bruce Lindner, who played for the Crusaders from 1967-70. Then stick around for a tough challenge as the Phoenix are starting to look like Butler back when it dominated the Horizon League, though Valparaiso (12-10, 4-3) has the type of team that could upset Green Bay (17-3, 7-0).

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Updated: March 3, 2014 3:11PM



A week ago I wrote that I kind of feel sorry for Bruce Lindner, who wore No. 24 for Valparaiso University’s men’s basketball program 24 years before Bryce Drew wore the same number.

You see, both will be honored Wednesday night when Valparaiso retires the No. 24 jersey, but the large majority of fans will be cheering louder for Drew, who is the current head coach who led the Crusaders to the NCAA Tournament last year, and hit one of the most memorable shots in NCAA tourney history in 1998.

Drew has benefitted from the multi-media age and television channels repeatedly showing “The Shot” every March.

I didn’t know Lindner last week when I wrote the column. I might get to meet him Wednesday, but in the meantime, he did send me an email “introducing” himself to me by acknowledging much of what I wrote in that column. He said he sent the column to his brothers, and they had some advice for him.

“They got a kick out of it and told me I should recruit some old people like me to go to the game and clap when my name is mentioned,” Lindner said in the email. “I told them I don’t care if anyone claps. I’m just excited someone at the university thought my name should be mentioned with Bryce’s.”

After that email, I really like Lindner because he gets it, though I think he’ll get plenty of applause — just not as much as Drew.

Young or old, fans who do come to the ARC will get to see the best team in the Horizon League the last two years going up against the best team in the Horizon this year in Green Bay, with some good old-fashioned post play taking center stage.

The Crusaders (12-10, 4-3) have a seven-footer in Moussa Gueye, and two 6-10 players coming off the bench in Bobby Capobianco and Vashil Fernandez. Green Bay (17-3, 7-0), which could sneak its way into a top 25 poll with a few more wins, has 7-foot-1 Alec Brown in the middle, as well as 6-9 Greg Mays and 6-8 Kenneth Lowe.

And the teams are similar in that despite all the height, the leading scorer is a little guy. For the Phoenix it’s 5-11 guard Keifer Sykes at 20.8 points per game, while 6-1 LaVonte Dority leads Valparaiso at 16.2 ppg.

But if a good game and supporting a fellow old guy isn’t enough, how about watching my new favorite character trait of Drew when he’s on the bench: The ceremonial removal of the suit jacket.

It’s a common conversation among us media types keeping an eye on Drew early in the game.

When will he take it off? Can we actually see it happen in the midst of trying to pay attention to the game?

Some games it happens earlier than others. During the UIC game at the ARC, he took it off with 16:28 left in the first half. During the Wright State game, though, he didn’t remove it until close to the 11-minute mark.

So I couldn’t help but ask him about it.

“It started out last year when I was coaching at practice and I’m very much into it, and in the game I get very into it, and the jacket is kind of restricting — sometimes it does get pretty hot,” Drew explained. “It’s not like I’m thinking about it (as he laughed). It’s more about the comfortability.”

So the obvious follow up question is, why not take it off before the game even starts if it’s so restricting?

“Maybe I should get a bigger jacket,” he joked.

He acknowledged that it’s a trend among younger NCAA coaches: “Billy Donlon (head coach of Wright State) pretty much does the same thing.”

Then again, the veteran, high-profile coaches — such as Kentucky’s John Calipari, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo or Indiana’s Tom Crean — keep their more expensive suit coats on most, if not all of the game.

“Maybe they’re used to wearing a suit more and don’t want to take it off,” Drew analyzed.

Hmmm … maybe there’s something to that since Drew doesn’t come across as a suit coat kind of guy.

“Only when I’m coaching games,” he answered when asked if he wore a suit often.

Though, he’s not required to wear a suit jacket. He admits it’s his professional preference, unlike some coaches who haven’t worn coats on the bench (Dew specifically mentioned West Virginia and former Cincinnati head coach Bob Huggins and former Indiana head coach Bob Knight).

“Hopefully some games I can try to keep it one all the time,” he said.

Wait a minute. That would throw everyone for a loop. Wednesday’s game would be a perfect time to go for that new personal record.



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