Photo by Eric Drotter
On a quiet and warm Sunday afternoon in late March, Bill Grier enjoyed exploring the University of San Diego campus on foot.
It was a pleasant stroll, one that he had never experienced, even though he’d made many previous visits to USD in the past 16 years as an assistant basketball coach at Gonzaga University, one of the Toreros’ West Coast Conference rivals.
“We used to drive in on a bus to the Jenny Craig Pavilion, and I never saw the campus,” Grier recalls. “But I’ve been so impressed with the campus and the facilities. The university is a welcoming place, and that’s one of the reasons I took the job.”
Grier was introduced as USD’s new men’s basketball coach a day after his Sunday stroll. He came to the attention of USD Executive Director of Athletics Ky Snyder from his time at Gonzaga, a stint that saw the Bulldogs rise from a middle-of-the-pack WCC team to a program recognized as a perennial national power.
For the last eight years, Grier served as head coach Mark Few’s No. 1 assistant. In those eight seasons, Gonzaga won seven WCC regular-season titles, seven WCC tournament titles and advanced to eight NCAA tournaments.
Now, his challenge at USD is to follow Gonzaga’s proven model of success and adapt it to Alcalá Park.
“It’s a little different in San Diego,” Grier says. “But if we have success, I believe people will come out and support us. It’s great environment here, but we’ve got to do a better job of getting the students and the fans to come out. That’s on the coaching staff, but it’s also a responsibility of the players to meet other students. If we can do that, I’ve seen first-hand how it makes a big difference with home-court advantage.”