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Expectations high for Scott, Princeton

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PRINCETON, N.J. — Former Air Force coach Joe Scott has high expectations for the Princeton basketball team. So do his new players.

Scott officially took over as head coach at his alma mater Friday, replacing the departed John Thompson III. Thompson left to coach Georgetown.

So far, Scott is pleased with what he has seen.

"This team had a very successful year, obviously going to the tournament. But I think this team can be better," Scott said. "There are high expectations that I have for that group of guys that I just met with. I feel really good they have the same high level of expectations."

Princeton won the Ivy League title with a 20-8 record last season but lost to Texas in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Tigers have 14 players returning next year, including 6-10 center Judson Wallace, who averaged 15.5 points and 6.4 rebounds a game last season.

Scott, a 1987 Princeton graduate, returns after guiding Air Force to its first NCAA tournament berth in 42 years. The Falcons lost to North Carolina in the first round.

Air Force went 22-7 and won the Mountain West Conference title, surpassing 17 wins for the first time. Scott was 51-63 in four years at Air Force.

Scott said his experience with the Falcons will help him at Princeton.

"My goal is to win every game we play, go out on that court whether it's Oklahoma, whether its Minnesota, whether it's teams on our schedule next year of that caliber. We've got to win those games," he said.

"I've had experience in winning those games, here in coaching Princeton basketball. This group of guys has to get that experience. If we can do that, I think that's what's going to make this group of guys take the next step."

Scott was an assistant at Princeton from 1992-2000, helping the Tigers to a 163-61 record, three NCAA tournament appearances and one NIT berth. He played for Pete Carril at Princeton from 1983-87, earning the B.F. Bunn Trophy as the team's most valuable player in 1987.

He also worked as an assistant under Bill Carmody, who replaced Carril.

Scott, a New Jersey native, said his family roots played a small part in his decision to return to Princeton. But in the end, his admiration for the basketball program was the most powerful draw.

"It was very clear to me, very obvious to me that Princeton University wanted me to be the coach, from the top on down," he said. "That meant a lot to me, having played here for Coach Carril, having the respect and admiration I have for this university in general and this basketball program and the tradition. It has made my decision a lot easier."