By Robert Tuzzio
Joe Scott is in his first season as an assistant coach for the men’s basketball team, but his relationship with coach Bill Carmody goes back much further than that. After establishing himself as one of the best multi-sport high school athletes in New Jersey, Scott continued his academic and basketball career at Princeton University where he was the starting point guard for legendary coach Pete Carril and a young assistant coach, Bill Carmody. After Princeton, Scott earned his law degree from Notre Dame Law School and began his career as a litigator at prestigious law firm in New Jersey. Working as lawyer seemed like a good life for the young Joe Scott and it fit his competitive nature. However, his true passion was coaching. “I always knew I wanted to be a coach.”, said Scott. “My father was a college baseball coach.”
So, in 1991, Scott left his law firm and became an assistant at Monmouth University for one year and then an assistant at Princeton in 1992, where he worked with assistant coach Carmody under Pete Carril. After Coach Carril retired, Carmody became the Princeton head coach and Scott stayed on as an assistant. Scott’s first head coaching job was at the Air Force Academy, where he had great success. He returned to his alma mater, becoming Princeton’s head coach in 2004. After three years at Princeton, Scott went on to coach the University of Denver from 2007-2016.
This past summer, Scott came to Holy Cross as an assistant coach for long-time friend Bill Carmody. After running his own programs for 16 years, it could have been a hard transition going from head coach to assistant, but Coach Scott feels as though he is working through it. “Parts have been difficult, but change has been good.”, says Scott. “I like the role that I’m right in right now. It’s a whole different perspective.” His respect for Coach Carmody and his working relationship with him have eased his transition. It also doesn’t hurt that he and Coach Carmody have similar philosophies on coaching and the style of play. “We both think of basketball the same way. To us, it’s more than the Princeton Offense. It’s about playing a good brand of basketball. That includes getting everyone on the court involved and playing smart defense.”
When asked about how his academic background influences his coaching philosophy and his ability to meet the challenge of coaching at yet another highly competitive academic school like Holy Cross, Scott says, “From the days when I was a student at Princeton, I always believed in the philosophy of the student-athlete. It’s called COLLEGE sports for a reason. At the end of the day our players are students, first and foremost.”
Scott has been greatly impressed with Holy Cross. “I’m impressed with how much people love this school and how they give back to it.” He is also well aware of the Crusaders’ strong basketball history and how recruits and their families already know all about Holy Cross. “When I recruit kids, I really love the fact that they know the identity of Holy Cross as both a strong academic institution and for its rich basketball history.”
From his experience as an Ivy League student-athlete, Scott knows the challenges of being a Division 1 athlete in a rigorous academic institution. He feels that, at this level, you must really love your sport and school work in order to be successful and you must stay focused and avoid distractions. “You have to overcome adversity in academics and athletics”, says Scott. “That is the only way you are going to get better.”
Coach Scott is excited about his new challenge and feels that the future is bright for the Holy Cross basketball program. “We are constantly building the team”, says Scott. “So far they are doing well. It’s a process.”
Although Coach Joe Scott is only in his first season here on Mount St. James, he is already making his presence felt as a member of the Holy Cross community. His experience as both a student-athlete and head coach prior to his arrival are huge assets for a Holy Cross basketball program which is on the rise.
Photograph Credits: Holy Cross Athletics