From Moravian College to Montclair State University, men’s basketball associate head coach Sean Rossi continues to level up alongside head coach Justin Potts.
Rossi, who is in his fourth season coaching at Montclair State, also coached two seasons as an assistant under Potts at Moravian and since then the two have developed phenomenal chemistry on and off the hardwood.
Prior to this season, Rossi was promoted to associate head coach, and receiving that recognition from Potts is what means the most to him.
“The main thing about the title change is, it makes me feel good in the sense that I have the utmost respect for [Potts] as a person and a basketball coach,” Rossi said. “And I think it doesn’t get any better than [Potts] when it comes to being a basketball coach so for him to elevate me to associate head coach just makes me feel good knowing that somebody who’s that good thinks highly of me.”
Rossi and Potts have developed a great friendship outside of coaching together and Rossi credits Potts for helping him grow in all areas of his life.
“We get along really well and we’re good friends,” Rossi said. “And I think we share a lot of the same values and you know, he’s added certain values to my life that have helped me. So I think that was the best part of starting to work for him, not only on the basketball court but getting to know him as a person and having him in my corner to help me grow as a person, has been a huge benefit to me.”
Rossi is a former player himself and he had quite the career at Ithaca College. He is the NCAA Division III all-time leader in assists with 957 but the biggest thing for him is the environment within a team and athletics as a whole, which is the basis for his love of coaching.
“The best part about coaching is the relationships that you get to have with the kids,” Rossi said. “There’s [very] few select other industries where you can have relationships or these types of relationships and athletics is one industry that you can.”
Although Potts is a great offensive mind, Rossi is now responsible for a lot of what Montclair State does offensively but he has learned a major amount under Potts in some key areas from a basketball perspective.
“I think it’s a good match,” Rossi said.” “Even though he has a really good offensive mind, I think naturally he’s just more focused on defense and pressure. I didn’t know anything about pressure going into it so that’s something that was a big learning curve for me and I learned a lot from him in that area.”
Potts has had the best view of seeing Rossi develop over the years and in his eyes, Rossi grows every year and operates like a head coach.
“I think the biggest thing with him from the time I started working with him is he’s developed every year from a professional [side], from a coaching side and from a personal side,” Potts said. “You know I think he operates like a head coach and that’s the most important thing for assistants. As a head coach, I want those guys to have a chance to lead their own program someday and he’s done a really good job of developing in all phases of being a coach.”
Like in all professions, having people around who make you better is essential and for Potts, that is exactly what Rossi does.
“He’s challenged me and made me a better coach,” Potts said. “Because of his willingness to learn and grow and develop and I just think he has a great maturity about him as a young guy as to what the profession is really about. And it’s about helping the guys on the team.”
In just about every year Potts and Rossi have been together, Rossi’s role has increased, which is a credit to the effort and amount of hard work he consistently puts in.
The duo has coached six seasons together so far and Potts acknowledged Rossi for influencing him along with being instrumental in all of their success.
“In the eight years that I’ve been a head coach, he’s obviously been with me for six of them and he’s been as instrumental in any type of success we’ve had and been a great impact on me and influence on me, getting me to think about some different things that he wants to try to incorporate,” Potts said.
Rossi and Potts will look to replicate that success once again as this season for the Red Hawks winds down.