Bob Bessoir, one of the most well-known and successful basketball coaches throughout northeastern Pennsylvania, died Wednesday at the age of 88.
As the leader of the Scranton Royals men’s program for 29 years, Bessoir guided the team to a pair of national championships in 1976 and 1983, 14 conference titles, and 554 wins overall. Bessoir retired from coaching in 2001.
A native of Jersey City, New Jersey, Bessoir was also a standout player for Scranton in the 1950s, scoring more than 1,000 points for head coach Peter Carlesimo.
King’s men’s head coach J.P. Andrejko played for Bessoir and coached alongside him at Scranton. He offered perspective on the impact Bessoir made on local basketball, and the way in which he did it.
“We have not seen anybody like him since. I do not expect to see anybody like him in the future,” said Andrejko. “Bob did things his way. He was brash. He was confident. And he backed up all the things he said. For those of us that played for him and made it through the program, we loved it. It was a great experience, great college experience. It was a role that he cherished and he was great at.
“He is such an important figure, not only at the University of Scranton, in our local community, but also in basketball,” Andrejko continued. “He accomplished so much. The thing I admired the most about it, he did it his way. Bob was so sure of how to do things and what was the right way to go about it. And he did. Some people loved it, some people were put off by it, and at the end of the day, he didn’t care. He backed up everything he said.”