Dec. 2, 2000
Men's Basketball Assistant Coach Sam Scuilli
Q: How did you get involved with the sport of basketball?
A: "I grew up in New Jersey and always loved playing the game. I was an average to below average high school point guard. I was the kind of player that gets coaches fired. I really loved being around the game. I went to school at Stanford and Coach (Mike) Montgomery gave me the opportunity to be the team manager and I had a great experience doing that. I learned a lot from him, Coach Oliver and all of the coaches there. They all really taught me a lot. After that, I graduated and thought about getting a "real" job but didn't because Coach (Steve) Seandel called me and said they were looking for a graduate assistant at Santa Clara. That was in 1994. I drove down, met with Coach (Dick) Davey and talked with him about it. I had a great experience in my four years at Santa Clara going to grad school and working and coaching. It is a lot of fun. I really enjoy it. I enjoy being around the guys. I love seeing the little light bulb come on over their head when they get it. I love the competition and I love the intellectual challenge of scouting and figuring out what the other teams are doing. Mostly this job is teaching - helping players improve on and off the floor."
Q: Why did you come all the way to the West Coast from New Jersey to go to college?
A: "I really wanted to attend Stanford. It was a good experience. It was a long way from home but I had a really good experience there. I met a lot of really neat people who I am still friends with and I had a great time."
Q: How did your position as a student manager come about?
A: "I called Coach Montgomery when I got accepted to Stanford and asked him what the procedure was to become a manager. He was very kind to write me a note back inviting me to come by his office when I got to campus and he would get me started. It was really pretty much that simple."
Q: Describe your responsibilities on the men's basketball staff here at Santa Clara.
A: "Coach Davey is a really good guy to work for because he really gives you a lot of responsibility. On the floor, primarily I am in charge of defense. I know that sounds really broad. But, Coach Davey has put me in charge of coordinating that end of the floor. Obviously there is lot of teaching in that, but all of the coaches help with every aspect of the game. Off the floor, I handle a lot of the academic stuff with the players. They do a great job of taking care of their business in that area. Recruiting is also a huge part of my job because it is important for us to continue to get high-quality student-athletes. Between Coach Seandel and myself, we coordinate, identify and actively recruit guys that we think will be a good fit for our program."
Q: Why would a men's basketball player come to Santa Clara University?
A: "I don't really like to recruit with a so-called "pitch." That isn't the way Coach Davey operates and it really isn't applicable for our situation at Santa Clara. I think you come to Santa Clara if you are a student-athlete because you value the total package. You value the education you are going to get. You value the contacts you are going to make with your fellow classmates, the community around you and the alumni. You value playing a competitive schedule and challenging yourself to become the best basketball player you can possibly be. Coach Davey recruits in a very unique way. He often tells players how bad they are when he talks to them on the phone. With that, the kind of player we get understands that he is a good player, but that he also needs to improve. I think that is one of the main reasons we have been successful over the years. We get guys who are willing to sacrifice, work and improve. That carries over off the floor as well. I think that is a big reason why I am so proud to be associated with our team, our players and our community."
Q: What are your hobbies and/or interests during your precious little time away from coaching?
A: I really like watching tape. I'm just kidding. For most of the year, much of our time is taken-up by watching tapes of opponents, recruits, practice, our games... Just about everything imaginable. Seriously, I enjoy playing golf although I am not very good at it. I think it is a great way to hang out with the fellas a little bit, get away and relax. I try to read books. I really try to stay in contact with my family and friends. I really don't have hobbies like model trains or anything like that. I do care about the New York Football Giants. They are truly the only team in all of sports, with the exception of Santa Clara, that I really care about."
Q: Being an assistant coach, you are obviously on a career ladder. What is the next career step for you?
A: "I have a lot to learn right now. I need to continue to improve my abilities. I would love to be at Santa Clara for a very long time. It is a great place and a great fit for my personality and I am really happy to be here. I think, and this is something my Dad has always told me, that if you are always looking for the next job you are probably not doing a very good job where you are. My way of thinking is that if I do a good job here and I am successful, maybe there will be opportunities for me. But if we don't do a very good job here and we are not successful, I feel like I am cheating the kids we have recruited and the administration that puts faith in us. There is a (career) ladder. College basketball is a really fun job. But, it is a really bad business. If you are looking for that next job, you aren't really focused on the job you are doing where you are."
Q: What would advice be to a young person looking to get into coaching?
A: "It is a tough business. It is a fun job, but a bad business. There are a lot of highs and lows. There isn't a middle ground between winning and losing. But, if you want to do it, you have to be able to take care of what you can control. You can only control your team, your situation, who you are recruiting, how hard you are willing to prepare and how much you are going to demand of your players. You can't control what the other guys are doing. If you do what you can do, you can put yourself into a situation to be successful."