When Bernard Scott was named the Head Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of Detroit Mercy in May of 2015, he was already very familiar with program and the entire Horizon League after spending the previous seven seasons within the conference at Cleveland State and Youngstown State. This familiarity paid off in his season, as he led the Titans to more Horizon League wins (11) than the two previous seasons combined. That success has continued this season as Detroit Mercy won their season opener, a 90-71 victory at Delaware State, for the program’s first season-opening win in six seasons.
How did your experience as an Assistant Coach within the Horizon League at Cleveland State and Youngstown State prepare you to take over a program within the conference at Detroit?
Working in the Horizon League for seven years really prepared me to take over at Detroit Mercy. My transition went smoothly because I was already familiar with the Detroit Mercy players from scouting and coaching against them during my time in the Horizon League. I was also very familiar with the other programs in the Horizon League and their style of play, which helped us finish 11-7 in conference last season.
Take us through the interview process and emotion when you got the call from Detroit that you were being offered the Head Coaching position?
My first interview with Detroit Mercy was a phone interview a few days before the women’s basketball Final Four. I was slightly nervous, but also very excited for the opportunity. I wanted to make sure they knew how prepared I was for the interview, but I also wanted them to be able to feel my passion and energy for coaching and the opportunity to lead this program. I received a call from our AD Robert Vowels a week after my phone interview inviting me for an on-campus interview. I was excited, but I wasn’t nervous this time because I knew I was prepared and I felt the hard part of the interview was over when I got past the phone interview. I felt really good leaving campus and then it was just a waiting game. When I received the call from Robert offering me the job, I was very happy and emotional because becoming a Division I Head Coach was a dream come true.
With your student-athletes spending so much time on the court and in the classroom, what are some team-building activities you do with your team to allow them to have some fun away from basketball and school?
One of our four pillars within our program is “family” so we try to do a lot of things together outside of basketball. We have team Halloween and Christmas parties and team dinners. We have had our battles in team laser tag and bowling. We just came back from a tournament in California where we got to sightsee and share Thanksgiving together.
What are your expectations for your program this year?
My expectation for our program is for us to be one of the top teams in the Horizon League and earn a post-season tournament berth. For that to happen, we have to continue to get better every day. We have a focused group of young ladies that work hard and have great chemistry so I’m looking forward to seeing how well we can do this season.
Now that you’re in your second year as a Head Coach, what advice do you have for someone who wants to make the transition from Assistant Coach to Division I Head Coach?
My main advice for once someone is hired would be to make sure you hire a staff that is loyal and hard working. Also, focus on the culture because it sets the tone for everything. Jon Gordon said it best, “Culture isn’t one thing. It’s everything.”
Written originally for CollegeInsider.com on December 2, 2016.