Multiple sources close to the situation have confirmed that the University of Albany has terminated the contract of assistant coach Pat Filien. Filien had served as an assistant to head coach Will Brown for six seasons and had previously been an assistant at Vermont for five. Although his name is still listed on Albany’s roster, Filien was reportedly relieved of his duties in March, shortly after the completion of the Great Danes season.
Few coaches in America East history have been a part of as many NCAA tournament teams as Filien, who went to five NCAA’s in a row – three with Vermont from 2003- 2005 and two with Albany in 2006 and 2007. However, after establishing themselves as one of the conference’s premier programs with back-to-back NCAA appearances, including a near-upset of No. 1 seeded UConn in 2006, the Danes returned to the middle of the America East pack, with recruiting taking much of the blame.
Filien is unanimously regarded as a “great guy” in basketball circles and no one at Albany will say a single negative thing about him as a person. However, Filien’s struggles as a recruiter and the lack of development of Albany’s big men have been cited by several sources as the reasons for his termination.
The ineffectiveness of recent Great Dane frontcourt players was particularly surprising considering that Filien held a much-deserved reputation as one of the best big men coaches in the league. At Vermont, Filien helped develop three-time America East Player of the Year winner Taylor Coppenrath as well as the late Trevor Gaines (a First-Team All-Conference selection as a senior), and seemed to do wonders in his first season at Albany, as 7’1” project Kirsten Zoellner transformed into an impact player. Both Coppenrath and Gaines credited Filien with their development. However, with the ineptitude of Albany’s low-post play for the past five seasons, as well as Filien’s struggles in recruiting (“He’s a great guy – we all love him – didn’t bring in one impact player in six years,” said one source), Filien was relieved of his duties.
Moving forward, Brown could look to bring in a new assistant from outside the program, or it is also possible that assistant coach (and former UNH Wildcat) Jeremy Friel and Director of Basketball Operations and former Great Dane Player Brent Wilson will each be bumped up; Brown would then search for a new “DOBO.”
As for Filien, there appears to be an opening at Brown, where Filien could re-unite with Bears head coach Jesse Agel, a former Vermont colleague. Wherever he winds up, OBW wishes him the best of luck, as he is a terrific guy and will be missed greatly.