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With UAlbany behind him, Will Brown to lead Albany Patroons

Will Brown is introduced as Patroons coach in Albany Wednesday.
WAMC/Dave Lucas
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Will Brown is introduced as Patroons coach in Albany Wednesday.

After 20 years at the University at Albany, former men’s basketball coach Will Brown is going pro.

Now, the Albany Patroons say he is coming back to the court as general manager and head coach for the season that begins in March. Brown was introduced at the Washington Avenue Armory Wednesday afternoon by club president Michael Corts.

Brown and the Great Danes parted ways in March, capping a two-decade run in which he led UAlbany to five NCAA Tournaments.

The job with The Basketball League franchise was open because longtime Patroons coach and player Derrick Rowland left for a coaching position in Oklahoma in September.

It’s unclear how Brown will transition to minor league basketball after spending his career on the college level. He told reporters he had interviewed for a college coaching job recently, but felt it wasn’t worth relocating his family for.

Since signing on with the Patroons, Brown said he is studying the rule book as he transitions to a different style of play and coaching.

Another new wrinkle for Brown is working as a general manager.

“You know, it’s something that I haven’t done before, but we have a pool of money that we’re willing to pay each month, and it’s my job to stay within it and get the best players that fit within that framework, and that’s what I’m going to try to do,” he said.

Brown says he is open to finding local players for the roster, and will consider college players whose careers might be coming to a close right as the season begins.

“We’re really going to have to work hard to put together our roster. I’m not going to be a coach, or I should say, I’m not going to be a general manager that is just going to sign guys to fill out the roster,” he said. “I’m going to take my time, I want to make sure the pieces fit, and I want to make sure our fans really enjoy the talent that’s on that court because when they walk in that door the first time, I want to make sure they come back.”

Brown has spent his entire career in college basketball and isn’t ruling out a return to the NCAA. He acknowledged after leaving UAlbany, he was interested in testing out the professional ranks, including the NBA. But he says that is for another time.

“I’m really all in with this opportunity right now, not thinking about the college game or what could happen down the road,” he said.

The Patroons have a long and complicated history in Albany, on and off through three different stints since 1982. Once the toast of the CBA, the franchise’s former coaches include Phil Jackson, George Karl, and Bill Musselman. The franchise won a championship as recently as 2019, but attendance has been a struggle in recent years.

Brown says Capital Region coaching legend Don Bassett will return to the Armory as a Patroons assistant. Now in his 80s, Bassett was also by Brown’s side during the UAlbany years.

The Patroons did not disclose Brown’s salary terms.

“We’re doing it for the fans. We’re doing it for this building, and we’re doing it to have fun,” club vice president Rocco Ricchiuti said.

Dwayne Killings has replaced Brown at UAlbany, which kicks off its season November 9.

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