Cremo the Crop: Danes Star Notches 1K Point
In just over two and a half seasons as a Great Dane, junior guard Joe Cremo has taken the UAlbany basketball scene by storm becoming the 10th player in the Division I era to score 1,000 points.
“It’s a tremendous accomplishment,” said UAlbany men’s head basketball coach Will Brown. “Especially to do it so early in his junior year. Very few people work as hard as Joe does on his game. Very few people love the game like Joe does.”
The feat came against Holy Cross, a team that UAlbany lost to last year, as Cremo scored a career high 30 points and powered his team to a fast 6-0 start to the season.
Cremo, a Scotia native, wasn’t highly regarded coming out of high school with UAlbany being the only school that offered him a scholarship, but since joining the Great Danes it’s been a mutually beneficial relationship.
“I only had one offer and it was from here,” said Cremo. “The team felt like a family and I just felt pretty close to the guys here. I just thought I fit in pretty well.”
Cremo has fit in more than well and found success as a Great Dane almost right away. At the conclusion to his freshman season Cremo was named the America East Conference Rookie of the Year, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished by a UAlbany player since Jon Iati back in 2004.
Cremo was also named the conference’s sixth man of the year in his first season as a Dane.
“Everything that comes his way is earned and well deserved. So I’m happy for him and I think his work ethic and his love for the game rubs off on his teammates,” said Brown.
Cremo and his teammates have a tremendous team chemistry and are brothers on and off the court. This tight-knit group are familiar with each other and it has led to a lot of success on the hardwood.
“We have a good chemistry on the court. I know where he’s going to be based on what set we run and he know where I’m going to be,” said junior point guard David Nichols. “I know where he likes to get the ball and he knows where I like to get the ball. So it’s a pretty good back and forth.”
Nichols, from Chicago, has been around a lot of different basketball players and he and Cremo lead the team in scoring this season both averaging 17 points per game. Being around a lot of talented players, Nichols has a knack for spotting talent and he thinks Cremo stacks up with the best of them.
“He’s got to be pretty high up there,” said Nichols. “My point guard in high school has got to be a close second. Anytime you have a consistent back court with guys playing together you’re going to get that comradery in there.”
Nichols and Cremo are regarded as one of the best back courts in the America East and they’ve enjoyed a lot of success playing with each other. The duo had their first full seasons as starters last year and took the Danes all the way to the America East Championship game. One man that was on the call for ESPN radio for that game knows Joe a little better than most.
“I’m not sure that I’ve met anyone in any walk of life that works hard at their craft as Joe Cremo does at basketball,” said current ESPN radio host and former play-by-play man for the Great Danes Zach Bye. “I was just so happy for that kid. I’ve known Joe since he was six years old.”
Bye and Cremo are 10 years apart, but know each other because they both grew up in the town of Scotia. Cremo was the ball boy for Bye’s basketball team and the two have shared a special bond.
“I’ve known Joe since he was a little boy,” said Bye. “He was in the same Tartan youth program from my town of Scotia that I was in 10 years prior.”
Bye would mentor Cremo on his game and he took notice to Joe’s talent and work ethic when he was a freshman in high school.
“I was the one that went to the [UAlbany] staff when Joe was a freshman in high school. I told them they have to look at this kid. He’s unbelievable. And he’s such a hard worker he’s really going to be something,” said Bye.
In high school Cremo guided Scotia-Glenville to the Section II Class A, Federation, Foothills and Arthur Hilliard Tournament Titles in 2013-14 and 2014-15. He also averaged 22.0 points, 11.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.5 steals per game and was a three-year captain.
Bye went to a lot of those games and when Cremo started playing at UAlbany it was something that couldn’t be scripted.
“It was so unique, said Bye. “Especially when he was a freshman we would always say I can’t believe that this is happening. If Joe’s got a game on the road at say Cincinnati I’m courtside calling the game. Joe’s playing Oklahoma I’m there at the game.”
Now Bye is co-hosting a radio show with former NFL player Brandon Stokely in Denver and isn’t around the area to make it to the games, but he still doesn’t miss a beat.
“It’s a little different that we can’t share those moments, but I did get to do it for two years and I’m appreciative for that, said Bye. “I still watch every game and I’ll text him or call him after a big moment like scoring 1,000 points.”
Cremo’s work ethic and dedication is far reaching and extends beyond just the court. He’s a player that his teammate and community rally around and embodies the sentiment that hard work pays off.
Cremo is on pace to be the second leading scorer all-time for UAlbany in the Division I era and if you have a chance you might want to make it down to a game at SEFCU Arena because you might be witnessing something special.