Denver’s unofficial coach-in-waiting Matt Brown has
fingerprints all over the Pioneers
by Corey McLaughlin | | Twitter | McLaughlin
Denver’s first trip to the NCAA semifinals in 2011 was a wake-up
call for the national lacrosse community. Former Princeton coach
Bill Tierney’s Rocky Mountain project was coming along at lightning
But the Pioneers’ first big voyage east was an equally
enlightening experience for nearly everyone in their program,
including a young offensive assistant coach, Matt Brown.
If it looked like playing in a big atmosphere, the home of the
NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, was throwing off Denver’s typically
well-spaced and executed offense, it was. Virginia, which went on
to win the NCAA championship, led 9-2 by halftime and won 14-8.
Denver’s box lacrosse-inspired two-man pick games built around Mark
Matthews and Alex Demopoulos were rendered ineffective.
“We got beat up pretty bad,” Brown said.
You could almost hear the nightmares churning in his head.
Brown, 31, is heralded by his peers as one of the brightest
lacrosse minds around. A former Pioneers attackman, Canadian Minto
Cup veteran and MLL and NLL pro, he’s now in his fifth season
working under Tierney and 13th overall at Denver as a player or
He’s so good, his Hall of Fame boss all but named him the next
head coach at Denver, a team that has reached two more final fours
and entered this season ranked No. 1 in the Nike/Lacrosse
Magazine Preseason Top 20. The Pioneers are 3-0 heading into a
matchup against No. 5 North Carolina on Friday.
“It’s a no-brainer,” Tierney said. “But hopefully I’m not going
anywhere anytime soon. He would never say this to you, but he knows
that there aren’t too many guys out there that understand it the
way he does.”
What Brown understood back in May 2011 at M&T Bank Stadium
in Baltimore is that Denver not only looked star-struck, but also
unprepared for the noise generated by a crowd of 45,000-plus fans.
Brown’s booming voice normally sent in play calls. He went unheard.
So did the signals he likes to bark out during the game.
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