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Denver Coach Matt Brown

New Denver Coach Matt Brown Wastes Little Time Implementing Vision

September 13, 2023
Matt DaSilva
Denver Athletics

Matt Brown spent nearly 15 years as the head coach in waiting at Denver, formulating in his mind what he might do if he were in charge.

It’s taken him just three months to start executing on that vision — the most visible manifestation of which is under construction at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

The venue that set the bar for lacrosse-only facilities in the United States will have a new look in 2024, Brown said Tuesday. DU ripped up the synthetic turf that had been in place since 2012 and has replaced it with a redesigned field featuring a silhouette of the Denver city skyline and Rocky Mountains.

Vice chancellor of athletics Josh Berlo posted a photo of the new field on social media this week.

“In 2005, when we first opened Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium, we changed the lacrosse world with the first-ever lacrosse-only stadium. Now a lot of schools have followed suit,” said Brown, referring to similar venues that have materialized at Michigan, Notre Dame and Penn State. “Now is the time to reimagine Peter Barton.”

Brown said the concept of adding graphics to the playing surface originated in college basketball. Oregon’s “deep in the woods” design of its arena floor established a trend over the last decade that Denver hopes to introduce to lacrosse.

Brown also said there have been discussions of expanding the stadium beyond its current seating capacity of 2,000. Denver regularly sells out home games. The school ranked fifth among all Division I programs with an average home attendance of 2,070.

“And then there’s expansion,” Brown said. “We’re not quite in that phase of it.”

Earlier this summer, SUNY Morrisville unveiled an all-black field for its Division III field hockey, football, lacrosse and soccer teams.

Brown’s first moves as head coach go beyond branding, however. He hired seven-time NCAA champion assistant coach David Metzbower as his offensive coordinator — both were longtime understudies of Hall of Fame coach Bill Tierney, whose retirement after the 2023 season paved the way for Brown to take over at Denver — and solidified the return of seven fifth-year seniors.

With Metzbower and defensive coordinator John Gallant working the summer recruiting circuit to identify prospects in the high school class of 2025, Brown said, “We have more visits scheduled for the first three weeks of school than we’ve ever had by a long shot.”

Brown also beefed up the Pioneers’ non-conference schedule. They open the 2024 season at Johns Hopkins and will play Cornell at home. Duke and Yale remain on the slate.

With nearly every contributor back from a team that narrowly missed an NCAA tournament at-large bid, Denver is ranked No. 11 in Patrick Stevens’ way-early projections for next spring.

“Coach T and I said this when we first got together 15 years ago,” said Brown, who was also the head coach of the Canadian men’s national team this summer. “We will play anybody, anywhere, anytime.”

Denver’s first practice was Tuesday. Brown identified four pillars in the style of play he intends to foster this fall.

“We want to be relentless, competitive, creative and all the while disciplined,” he said, citing the Deion Sanders-led Colorado football team and Denver’s own NCAA semifinalist women’s lacrosse team as inspiration. “It’s the never-satisfied mentality.”