Homer Drew: Former Valparaiso Unversity Coach Enters Crusade with Cancer

Tom FirmeAnalyst IIOctober 12, 2011

LAS VEGAS - NOVEMBER 26:  Head coach Homer Drew of the Valparaiso Crusaders talks to his players during a timeout as they take on the Northern Colorado Bears during the third round of the Las Vegas Invitational at The Orleans Arena November 26, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Former Valparaiso University coach Homer Drew faces his latest, toughest foe—cancer. 

Both Drew and his wife, Janet, have been diagnosed with cancer, according to the Northwest Indiana Times.

VU sports media relations director Aaron Leavitt confirmed the diagnosis on Tuesday.  However, Leavitt did not disclose what type of cancer Drew and his wife have.

Sports Illustrated reports that Drew said in a statement through VU, "Janet and I would like to thank everyone for their well-wishes and prayers.  We are very appreciative of the support from our friends and family, as well as the Valparaiso community."

Drew, who had coached the Crusaders for 22 seasons, handed the reins to his son, Bryce, in May.  At the time, Drew said that he was well and that his retirement was not health-related.

Drew brought success to VU basketball. 

In 1988, he took control of a struggling program.  The Crusaders had 11 straight losing seasons before Drew became head coach. 

In time, Drew turned the Crusaders into a powerhouse in the Mid-Continent Conference—now the Summit League.  While in the Mid-Continent Conference, the Crusaders won eight conference titles and earned seven NCAA Tournament berths.

Drew experienced moderate success after VU moved to the Horizon League, leading them to two 20-win seasons in four years before retiring.

Drew now faces a foe much bigger than any he has ever faced before.  Unlike rivalry games against Butler or NCAA Tournament games against teams such as Florida State, Drew doesn't have a scouting report to rely upon.

15 Mar 1998:  Guard Bryce Drew of the Valparaiso Crusaders talks to his father and coach Homer Drew during a game against the Florida State Seminoles in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Myriad in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  Florida State defea
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As Drew once said, "I'm a doctor, but not that kind of doctor."

Drew is a man of strong faith and good humor.  He will use those to battle cancer.  His cheery spirit will be as strong a weapon for him as Brandon Wood was in the past two years on the court.

Drew was one of the classic nice guys in college basketball.  He generally refrained from yelling or swearing.  Instead of yelling at referees, he would cajole them. 

Anyone would be moved to root for Drew in his darkest hour.

Surely, this will be a family affair, not just because his wife also has cancer.  Both Bryce and Scott Drew served as assistant coaches under their father. 

Bryce Drew also played for him.

Hopefully, Bryce won't have to hit a buzzer beater for him, like he did in the 1998 NCAA Tournament against Mississippi State.