first_imgPerhaps there’s another way to judge Malcolm Turner’s work in the G-League beyond the nightly oceans of empty seats and the perennial sense of ennui regarding its very existence. Whatever he accomplished in his five years in charge of the NBA’s minor league, it was enough to get those in charge at Vanderbilt to hire him to run the athletic department and for its PR folks to label him a “visionary.”He has an interesting vision, to be sure, for the Vanderbilt basketball program. Friday morning, he fired coach Bryce Drew.SN’s MARCH MADNESS HQLive NCAA bracket | Live scoreboard | Full TV schedule​This is one of the most shocking coach dismissals in my 32 years of covering college basketball, ranking up there with Duquesne’s removal of Ron Everhart after five straight non-losing seasons (they went 37 games under .500 in the next five seasons) and St. John’s removing Fran Fraschilla after a 22-10 season and NCAA appearance (they’ve won six NCAA Tournament games in the 20 seasons since).“Perhaps Vandy was disappointed Bryce Drew wasn’t on a wiretap, and therefore not trying hard enough,” ESPN’s Jay Bilas tweeted.Once considered a rising star after winning four Horizon League regular-season titles in five seasons and earning two NCAA Tournament appearances, Drew led Vanderbilt to the NCAAs in his first season with the Commodores, fell to 12-20 as he began rebuilding process necessitated by the dubious recruiting during Kevin Stallings’ later years and signed two top-15 recruits in advance of his third season on the job.One of them, point guard Darius Garland, played four full games for the Commodores. They won each time, including on the road at Southern California and home against NCAA-bound Liberty. Then Garland blew out his knee two minutes into a game against Kent State. They lost that one, and another 22 by the end of the year. They lost every Southeastern Conference game they played, including in overtime against NCAA title contender Tennessee and by 3 points each against South Carolina and at Arkansas.Don’t think one player can make that big a difference? The Indianapolis Colts were 10-6 in 2010 with Peyton Manning as their quarterback. He missed the next year to have neck surgery. They went 2-14.MORE: Live scores, highlights from Day 2 of NCAA TournamentIt was a dreadful season by any measure, and no one would pretend otherwise. But given the failure was precipitated by a single injury, and that Drew had demonstrated the ability to draw such players as Garland and forward Simi Shittu to Vandy in the first place, a rational decision would have been to watch recruiting and development for at least the next year to see if the first six or seven years of Drew’s career were maybe a better indicator of his ability than the past four months. This was so stunning, it was tempting to suspect there might be a catalyst for Drew’s removal beyond Vanderbilt’s season record. But the release officially announcing his departure quoted Turner as saying Drew “represented Vanderbilt in exceptional fashion during his time here” and thanked him for his contributions.So, you know, nothing fishy was going on. Except an AD on the job three months fired a respected young coach who’d been on the job three years.Firings as extreme as these happen rarely in college sports, even now. When they do, it is even more uncommon for the decision to turn out well.last_img

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