Brett Nelson has scored his first head-coaching job at Holy Cross.
Ben Steele, Marquette men’s basketball beat writer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, was the first to report the news this morning.
The 38-year-old Nelson just completed his fifth season as a Marquette assistant under Steve Wojciechowski. The Golden Eagles have been to two NCAA Tournaments and one NIT during that span.
Nelson will replace Bill Carmody, who retired on June 18. Carmody was formerly the head coach at Princeton and Northwestern.
Carmody went 92-25 (78.6%) in four seasons at Princeton, guiding the Tigers to two NCAA Tournaments and two NIT appearances.
The 1997-98 Tigers led by Steve Goodrich finished 27-2 overall and 14-0 in the Ivy League. They earned a fifth seed in the NCAA Tournament after losing to only North Carolina in the regular season. Princeton beat UNLV in the first round but dropped a 63-56 decision to Michigan State in the Round of 32.
Carmody’s success at Princeton landed him the Northwestern job, but he failed to take the Wildcats to their first NCAA Tournament in school history during his 13-year tenure. Instead, Northwestern settled for four NIT bids in his last five years at the helm.
However, in his first season at Holy Cross, Carmody and the Crusaders arrived at the Patriot League Tournament with an abysmal 10-19 record. Nevertheless, they won four games in a row to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Playing in the First Four in Dayton against Southern, Holy Cross won a 59-55 decision for the program’s first NCAA Tournament win since 1952-53. But Carmody never had a winning season at Holy Cross, going 58-73.
Holy Cross went to four Elite Eight’s, two Final Fours and won one national title from 1946-47 to 1952-53. But the Crusaders have been to just nine NCAA Tournaments since then and only twice since 2003-04.
Nelson arrived at Florida as a McDonald’s All-American out of St. Albans, West Virginia. He was a part of Billy Donovan’s incredible 1999 recruiting class that included Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem and LaDarius Halton. The Gators went to four NCAA Tournaments in a row during Nelson’s playing career.
Nelson was one of the catalysts in UF’s run to the 2000 national championship game. He finished his career with 1,417 points, 406 assists and 274 made 3-pointers.
He got his coaching career started at VCU under Anthony Grant, a UF assistant during Nelson’s playing career. After one year at VCU as director of basketball operations, Nelson joined former UF assistant Donnie Jones as a part of his staff at Marshall from 2007-10.
Then in 2010-11, Nelson hooked up with another former UF assistant from his playing career, John Pelphrey, who hired him on his staff at Arkansas. Pelphrey was fired a year later, however, so Nelson went to Drake for two years. He spent one season at Ball State before arriving at Marquette.