It appears as though the first assistant to join recently hired head coach Bob Walsh’s staff with the University of Maine men’s basketball program is coming from the University of Vermont.
Matt O’Brien, who has spent the last four years as an assistant with the Catamounts, one of the Black Bears’ longtime America East rivals, has been asked by Walsh to make his next stop in Orono, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
A Twitter post made Sunday by former Vermont forward Luke Apfeld also referred to O’Brien’s apparent imminent departure: “Extremely happy for @ CoachMattOBrien! A guy that always had my back. Awesome coach, better mentor. Expecting great things #sendhimtoorono!”
Walsh declined to comment on the situation Monday evening, saying he did not have anything to announce regarding his staff at this time.
O’Brien, a native of Riverside, Rhode Island, has a couple of important ties to UMaine.
First, he served as an assistant under Walsh during his first three seasons at Rhode Island College from 2005-07. The Anchormen had a combined record of 69-21 during that span.
His father, Phil O’Brien, who was an offensive lineman on the Black Bears football team from 1973-75 under head coach Walter Abbott.
Matt O’Brien played college basketball at Division III Elmira College in New York, where he was a team captain and named the team’s most improved player during his senior season (2004-05). He also was an assistant coach for the junior varsity team.
O’Brien earned his degree in history and adolescent education from Elmira in 2005.
He has been part of Vermont’s tremendous success during the last four years. The Catamounts have compiled an overall record of 90-44, including a 52-12 America East mark.
Vermont has twice won the regular-season title and has finished second twice, claiming the league tourney title in 2012 when the Catamounts won a first-round game in the NCAA tournament.
O’Brien has been on John Becker’s staff for three seasons after coaching under Mike Longergan for one year. Prior to joining the staff, he served as UVM’s director of basketball operations from 2007-09.