r. Joe Carr was behind the Missouri bench Monday night. In the same gray sweat suit, a folder under his arm. He was in the huddle prior to Oklahoma's game-winning shot. He was in the locker room to counsel the Tigers after the loss.
The same good doctor was in UMass' locker room last Saturday, sitting with Bruiser Flint and his coaching staff, counseling them after a crushing defeat to rival Temple. He was there to soothe their minds, build up their self-esteem and finish off the day with a few hugs.
He has done his work at Cal, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Colorado and Xavier, as well as a few other schools who don't want to know they are seeking help. He might be headed to Seton Hall next year, although Tommy Amaker said he's just exploring the possibility. UCLA, UAB and Notre Dame are on the schedule, too.
Just who is Dr. Joe Carr? Well, he's different things to different teams. He's officially called a "consultant." But by any name, Carr is a fresh face with new ideas and soothing voice. He's not a coach, but rather a counselor to players and coaches alike. And he seems to understand what it takes to win in the world of Division I basketball.
"We believe in consultants," Missouri coach Quin Snyder said. "We want to expose our players to different things and use different people. It's really helpful to us.
"He gives us professional development and it's interesting to know how he's helped other schools and coaches, like Bruiser."
The 45-year old Carr began his basketball work in 1985, working with the NBA on its rookie orientations. He got hooked into it when he was in graduate school in clinical psychology at Washington State in the mid '80s. He befriended then coach George Raveling, who like Carr, has ties to the Washington D.C.-area. Carr charges $4,500, but that includes at least three follow-up visits with the team.
Carr's work is intensive, and teams like UMass and Missouri are using him during the latter stages of the season.
"I like to get with programs at the beginning of the season and then see them a few times during the season because you've got to do maintenance," Carr said. "You've got to look at situations, like bench poison, the 'I'm the man' syndrome, discipline, responsibility and finding a way."
Carr's "finding a way" to win theories worked for the Minutemen during their run to the top three in the Atlantic 10. UMass was struggling in the non-conference and couldn't "find a way" to win. Carr came along and things started to change. The sniping among players halted and the patience and perseverance led to wins.
"One of the reasons we don't fall apart is Dr. Joe," Flint said. "Our kids like talking to doc Carr. They can go over anything with him."
Carr's demeanor is accepting. He immediately introduces himself, and then in a calming effect, almost psychoanalyzes the past game without it being overbearing.
"You've got to keep maintaining them," Carr said. "You can't set up kids to fail."
Carr conducts group therapy with the team, using situations off the court in class, with peers, women and outside influences (agents, etc). He even helps the staff deal in late-game situations.
"We've even taken staffs to a bar and restaurant to go over temptations," Carr said. "I talk to coaches and players about leadership and why they're not having problems. Sometimes the two just aren't in sync and it helps to have an outside person come in."
Carr plans on having a coaches retreat in the offseason. He will be back behind the UMass bench for the A-10 tournament. He could be within earshot of the Tigers as well for in the Big 12 tournament. He'll likely be at a few other spots in the offseason, and during the fall, if he can continue to help get these teams on the same page, let alone in the NCAA Tournament.
"Today, you need to be creative on how to coach these kids," Snyder said. "Most coaches fancy themselves sports psychologists, but I'm not threatened by it. I want fresh ideas."
Carr certainly is new, innovative, and so far, highly successful.