Welcome aboard: Cross officially introduced as Troy’s next basketball coach

Published 4:31 pm Thursday, March 28, 2019

Troy fans and supporters were introduced to new Trojan basketball coach Scott Cross on Thursday morning at the Stadium Club inside Veterans Memorial Stadium.

Cross was named Troy’s new head coach on Tuesday and he will be taking over for former head coach Phil Cunningham.

During his nearly 30-minute press conference, Cross spoke about building Troy into a consistent winning program, one that will be challenging for not only a conference championship, but runs in the NCAA Tournament as well.

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“This is a sleeping giant. We’re going to awaken that giant,” Cross said. “Everything is in place to be successful. We have to go out and do it on a day-to-day basis.”

Cross comes to Troy after spending one season as an assistant coach at Texas Christian University (TCU). Before joining on with the Horn Frogs, Cross spent 12 seasons as the head coach at Texas-Arlington, where he led the Mavericks to an average of 19 wins per season.

Despite the success, Cross was let go by the Mavericks following the 2017-2018 season.

“Ultimately, I think it was the good Lord’s plan,” Cross said. “He knew this was the best way to remove me and this is the place I am supposed to be. It kind of prepared my wife and kids for this transition and we are all super pumped up about it.”

Cross joined with the Horn Frogs and in year one he helped lead them to an appearance in the NIT. They will play in the semifinals on Tuesday.

Cross came into town on Wednesday and immediately introduced himself to his new players.

“It was great,” Cross said. “I was excited to meet with them. I know it’s a little bit of a difficult situation for them. Anytime you have a new coach coming in, you don’t quite know what to expect. I have watched them on film, there was a lot of positive things and good young talent there. I can’t wait to get back down and start the process.”

As for recruiting, Cross wants to hunt down the “OKGs” (Our Kind of Guys) on the recruiting trail. A trail that will extend from the southeast to as far west as Texas.

“We are going to be looking for OKGs,” Cross said. “I learned that from coach Peterson, who used to be the football coach at Boise State. He wants high-character, blue collar, high-production, low-ego guys.

“There are a ton of good players all around this area. It makes it exciting. Florida, Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma is within distance. There are so many recruitable places right round campus. There are so many good players, we are going to find them. We are already on some great players and we are going to get them here.”

Those types of recruits at Arlington, according to Cross, helped the Mavericks knock off teams including Texas, Ohio State and Memphis.

“We are going to do the same thing here,” Cross said. “Dr. Hawkins said we want to go to the Sweet 16. We don’t want to stop there. We want to cut down the nets in the Final Four. That’s the ultimate goal. Yes, it’s a long way, but my philosophy is that championships are won today. We have to get better each and every day. If we do that over the course of many days we can get there.”

Step one is to navigate their way through the Sun Belt Conference. The Trojans finish tied for the last in the Sun Belt Conference after finishing the season 5-13 in conference season. It was their worst conference record since they went 4-16 during the 2015-2016 season. Despite the poor finish, Cross thinks the tools are in place to contend immediately in the Sun Belt Conference as early as next season.

“Our plan is to compete for a championship right away,” Cross said. “The Sun Belt is a very good league. There are teams that are going to have a lot of players coming back at the top of the league. We can contend for a championship next year and that is what we are going to do.”

Fan support is a goal high on the list for Cross. After a down season, one of the more important things on the list is packing Trojan Arena.

“I want to make Trojan Arena the toughest place in the country to play basketball,” Cross said. “We have to pack that place out. I’m going to have to do my job, I’m going to have to go out on campus.”

Although he couldn’t comment specifically about his coaching staff, Cross mentioned it would not be a rushed decision.

“I have a guy that was on my previous staff that I have been talking to,” Cross said. “I am going to talk to the current staff as well. I’m not going to rush anything. I’m going to make sure I have the right guys in the program to win basketball games. It’s not something that has to be done overnight, but we will get it done in a timely process.”

Shortly after the press conference, Cross headed back to rejoin TCU to prepare for the NIT semifinal.

“I didn’t feel right if I didn’t finish what I started,” Cross said. “Jeremy (McClain) was super supportive. I don’t know of any athletic director in the world that would allow their coach to do that and I am very thankful, honored and humble that he allowed me to do that.”