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COLUMN: Drury at brink of another milestone

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Bearcat coach could reach 400 wins this weekend

By John Herndon

Chances are that few, if any, of the current Anderson County Bearcats will know about what they will be playing for this weekend until they read this column.

That would suit Coach Glen Drury just fine.

In fact, he would be more than OK if I never mentioned that he is on the threshhold of 400 coaching victories. But that would be a disservice to you.

And to Drury.

Here are the raw numbers: After the Bearcats dispatched of Western Hills last Friday night, Drury was 398-253 in 25 years of coaching. All 651 games had been with the Anderson County school system and all but eight of the wins have been recorded at Anderson County High School.

Drury was 8-34 in two years at Western Anderson High School.

The Bearcats were to have played at Spencer County last night then will travel to South Oldham and Simon Kenton over the weekend, meaning that if the win counter hits 400 in January, 2010, it will be away from the court that was named in Drury’s honor this past November.

It is almost a deja vu from winning 300, a mark Drury crossed during Christmas break in the 2004-05 season. It was during an obscure seventh-place game in the eight-team Henry County Invitational Tournaemnt when Drury’s team routed the host school 75-45. The game tipped off at 10 a.m. and a snowstorm hit just before game time. With that double-whammy, only 41 people, not including players, coaches and referees, witnessed the milestone win in the massive Henry County gym, which seats about 6,000 fans.

It was almost a picture of Drury’s career, which at the time had been often overlooked.

That part has changed some. Drury is now often mentioned when talking about Kentucky’s best. He’s been inducted into the Kentucky Association of Basketball Coaches Court of Honor and has been named the Eighth Region Coach of the Year several times. He’s also been selected to coach the Kentucky All-Stars in their summer series with Indiana in 2011. He will assist on that team this year.

Yet Drury himself hasn’t changed. He never mentions 400 and admitted that the hoopla about his 300th victory became a distraction for the team.

“That is just how he is,” his wife, Jennifer, said Sunday. “He hasn’t said anything to the kids about it. He is more interested in getting ready for the (post-season) tournaments.”

Over those last hundred wins, Drury has passed such big Kentucky names as Guy Strong (350), Mutt Varney (369), Stan Hardin (377) and Fairce Woods (389) in career victories.

When Drury hits 400, he will tie long time Lexington Catholic coach Tommy Starns as well.

It has been quite a ride since that November night in 1985 when he led the Western Eagles on the floor for the first time. Western beat Louisville Evangel that night, using Drury’s trademark man-to-man defense to stifle a more athletically gifted team.

His hair, what is left of it, is now gray. Drury is much more mellow on the sidelines. He still loves the man-to-man defense but his state tournament teams of 1997 and 2009 often shut teams down with a zone.

Yet, Drury’s longtime friend and trusted assistant coach, Jimmy Young, says those differences are just Drury’s growth as a coach. “He hasn’t changed one bit,” says Young, who has probably been at more of Drury’s games than anyone, with the exception of Jennifer Drury. “There’s not a bit of difference in him now and when he was coaching at Western. He’s a workaholic. He was then and he is now.”

Young, however, has watched Drury become a master. “I think as we get older, we all become better teaches. That is the way it is with Glen,” he said.

Indeed.

Drury’s teams are always prepared. Always.

Other teams might beat him, but it won’t be because Drury has not put his team in its best position to win, whether it be slowing it down or picking up the pace, playing zone or that rugged, in-your-face man-to-man. It is a given that an opponent will have to fight and scratch for everything it gets against a Drury coached team.

Never was that preparation more evident than last Tuesday when the Bearcats slipped past North Oldham. Anderson was favored, mind you, but that did not take into account that four-year starter Will Ruggles would have to miss the game because of sickness.

“I told him he was like Houdini,” said another longtime friend, Anderson scorekeeper Wayne Wilder. “I told him he was like that when he can go into that environment (the North student section was full), without his second-best player and still beat a good team like North Oldham.”

Houdini? Not sure about that one, but Drury has learned from the many coaching influences in his life: Wayne King, Ron Reed and Roland Wierwille. He once told me he likes watching NBA games bcause those teams run so many special plays. He’s a fan of coaching philosophies as diverse as Bobby Knight, Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino and John Calipari.

The common thread with all of them is defense.

And adapting to your players. After all, Drury said in an interview before No. 300, they are the coach’s voice.

Not too many coaches have hit 400 wins at the high school level. The pay is low and the hours long.

Drury has enough time in to retire, a topic of speculation over the last few years.

The commitment to the Kentucky All-Stars will keep Drury at Anderson at least through next season. Drury could move on to college coaching but it would not be surprising to talk about No. 500, and passing legends like Jock Sutherland and Ralph Carlisle, in five or six years.

Whatever happens, Glen Drury will probably be on the sidelines somewhere.

That’s only fitting too.

As Young says, “He just loves the game so much.”

E-mail John Herndon at jpherndon@theandersonnews.com.