Head Coach Richard Pitino of The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team announced a Lobo staff update Tuesday that included the addition of Eric Brown as assistant coach, Dan McHale as special assistant to the head coach and Nick Michael as strength and conditioning coach.
Brown will join Andy Hill and Isaac Chew and complete the new trio of assistant coaches while McHale and Michael will remain on staff.
“We are excited to announce Eric, Dan and Nick to our staff. They have a tremendous amount of experience and will instantly make our program better,” Head Coach Richard Pitino said.
“It is very important that we have a strong presence in Southern California and Eric’s extensive contacts in that region will have us living there from day one. Dan McHale brings a wealth of knowledge to our staff, we have worked together in the past and I trust him unequivocally. Nick has really impressed me since I have been here, his commitment in the weight room is second to none. I know our guys will be in the best shape of their lives under Coach Michael’s tutelage.
“My number one goal when putting together a staff was to put together a team that works relentlessly every day to get New Mexico back in the conversation for Mountain West championships. I know we have done that and I can’t wait to get to work.”
Brown comes to the Lobos from Arizona State where he spent two years as part of the Sun Devils’ staff. He brings 21 years of NCAA Division I assistant coaching experience.
No stranger to the Mountain West, Brown spent three seasons at UNLV (2016-19) prior to his stint with the Sun Devils. The Los Angeles native also spent nine seasons at Long Beach State (2007-16), one at Iowa State (2005-06), four at USC (2001-05) and three at Cal State Northridge (1999-01).
As an assistant coach, Brown has coached four NCAA tournament teams at four different programs.
“I am extremely excited and honored to join Coach Pitino and his staff. I am excited to join the University of New Mexico, the Albuquerque community and become a part of the Lobo Family,” Brown said. “I look forward to getting right to work helping our student-athletes develop on and off the floor. Go Lobos!”
While at Arizona State, Brown served as assistant coach for the 2019-20 team that posted its first seven-game Pac-12 win streak since the 1980-81 team won 11 straight. The squad went 20-11, after being picked to finish sixth in the annual preseason media poll, and took down No. 22 Arizona and No. 14 Oregon on its way to the Sun Devils’ third straight 20-win season for just the third time in program history.
In his tenure at UNLV, Brown helped bring in a recruiting class for the 2017-18 season that was ranked as high as No. 12 in the country and included McDonald’s High School All-American Brandon McCoy. While at UNLV, Brown also recruited Shakur Juiston (2016 National JC Player of the Year), Bryce Hamilton (2020 First Team All-Mountain West), Ethan Anderson (Current USC PG) as well as local talents Noah Robothom, Nick Blair and Marvin Coleman.
He helped the 2017-18 team to a 20-win season, marking the first for the Runnin’ Rebels in four years, as part of a nine-win improvement over the previous season. With Brown on staff, the Runnin’ Rebels also performed well academically, setting program records with a 3.17 grade point average for spring 2018.
In his nine years at Long Beach State, Brown helped the 49ers to three Big West Conference regular-season titles, three NIT appearances and a spot in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. During that three-year conference run, Long Beach State posted a league record of 43-7.
Brown spent his time with the 49ers serving as offensive coordinator where he helped the team finish second in the conference in points per game while leading the league in 3-point percentage.
While at Long Beach State, Brown recruited and helped develop All-Big West Conference players Casper Ware, Larry Anderson, Eugene Phelps, T.J. Robinson, James Ennis, Mike Caffey, Dan Jennings, David Samuels, Gabe Levin, Nick Faust, Justin Bibbins, Travis Hammonds, Stephan Gilling and Donovan Morris. Ennis and Ware have both played in the NBA.
At USC, Brown helped the program to several offensive marks in the top-10 of the school’s all-time history in just his first season serving as the offensive coordinator. The Trojans’ scoring averages in 2003 (76.5) and 2004 (75.4) were among the top 45 in the country. He helped coach 2004 Pac 10 Newcomer of the Year (Jeff McMillan) as well as 2002 Pac-10 Player of the Year (Sam Clancy).
As a recruiter at USC, Brown signed three players that were ranked in the top 100 nationally as well as 2004 McDonald’s All-American Robert Swift. In the 2007 NBA Draft, Brown had two players he recruited earn spots with NBA teams. Nick Young was a lottery pick by the Washington Wizards while Gabe Pruitt went in the second round to the Boston Celtics.
While at Iowa State, Brown coached a pair of all-conference selections (Curtis Stinson and Will Blaylock) while helping the Cyclones to the top of the Big 12 in scoring. Blaylock was a second-round pick in the 2006 NBA Draft while Stinson was the 2011 NBA D-League Most Valuable Player.
In his time at CSUN, Brown helped lead the Matadors to their first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history in 2001. In his three years, he coached eight All-Big Sky players including the 2001 Big Sky MVP (Brian Heinle) and 2001 First Team Big Sky point guard Markus Carr. That season, Carr led the nation in assists per game.
In his final season at CSUN he signed six players, three of which earned 2002 Big West All-Freshman honors, including three-time, First Team Big West selection and 2004 Big West Tournament MVP Ian Boylan.
Brown was named one of the Top 25 Assistant Coach Recruiters at the mid-major level by a panel of national media, scouts and former coaches and was named No. 3 in 2001 on the Basketball Times list of the Top 50 “Low to Mid-Major Assistant Coaches.”
Brown lettered four years at Grant High School in Van Nuys, Calif. and played one year at Valley College in 1993. He received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from CSUN in 1998.
Brown began his coaching career at Grant High (1995-97). While there, he coached a pair of all-city players, including former Washington Wizard guard and NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas. From there, he served as an assistant coach at Los Angeles Valley College in 1998 where he helped the Monarchs to a 22-10 mark. Brown recruited five players from the 1998 L.A. Valley team who went on to play for NCAA Division I schools.
Brown and his wife, Stephanie, have two daughters and one son.
Dan McHale enters his third season with the Lobos in 2021-22 and will serve as the special assistant to the head coach. In his first two seasons at UNM, McHale served as an assistant coach.
Prior to his time at New Mexico, McHale served as the head coach at Eastern Kentucky for three seasons. That stint immediately followed two years as an assistant coach at Minnesota where he worked under Pitino.
“Richard and I have known each other for 20 years and I have had the privilege to work alongside him at Minnesota,” McHale said. “I am excited to reunite with him at such a special place like New Mexico.”
In his first season at Eastern Kentucky in 2015-16, McHale’s fast-paced Colonels ranked 18th in the country in scoring offense (80.5 points-per-game) and scored over 100 points in three games. His up-tempo system led EKU to be the only school in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC) to rank in the top three in the conference in all shooting percentage categories – first in three-point percentage (39.5), second in field goal percentage (a school-record 49.1) and third in free throw percentage (73.0).
McHale earned 15 wins in his inaugural season, the most by a first-year Colonel head coach since the 1992-93 season. In his tenure at EKU, he also guided multiple All-OVC selections.
Prior to his position as head coach at EKU, McHale served as as an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota where he worked under Pitino. McHale got his coaching start under Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino as a staff assistant at Louisville from 2001 to 2003.
In his first season at Minnesota, McHale helped the Gophers to an NIT Championship and a 25-13 record that included wins over No. 9 Wisconsin and No. 11 Ohio State. The 25 victories marked the second-most in program history. The 2014-15 squad won 18 games, including a victory at Michigan State, a team that would reach the Final Four.
He spent three seasons at Seton Hall under head coach Kevin Willard before his two-year stint at Minnesota. There he helped the Pirates win 20 games in his second season. While at Seton Hall, McHale was responsible for the Pirates’ defensive game planning and spearheaded opponent scouting and game preparation.
McHale joined Willard’s first staff at Iona as an assistant in 2007 before joining Willard at Seton Hall in 2010. While at Iona, McHale and Willard helped lead the Gaels from two wins the season prior to their arrival to 12 wins in their first season and 21 wins in year three. McHale recruited NBA draft pick and 2012 MAAC Player of the Year Scott Machado to Iona.
Before entering the coaching ranks, McHale served as a student manager for four seasons (1997-01) at Kentucky. He was part of one national championship team, four NCAA Tournament teams and three Southeastern Conference Championships while working with Tubby Smith’s Wildcats.
The Chatham, New Jersey native earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and graduated with honors from the University of Kentucky in 2001. McHale and his wife Jackie have two daughters, Lilly and Molly, and a son, Daniel.
Nick Michael was hired to handle the men’s basketball strength and conditioning program in July 2020 and will remain on staff under Pitino.
“I am excited to come back and continue to work with these guys and I am looking forward to having the opportunity to learn from Coach Pitino,” Michael said.
With nearly a decade of experience, Michael joined the Lobos after three seasons working with the men’s basketball and men’s golf programs at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). At UAB, Michael was responsible for developing and implementing strength and conditioning programs, educating student-athletes on healthy nutritional habits as well as planning and organizing team meals.
Prior to his time at UAB, Michael also worked with the men’s basketball teams at Missouri, Rice, VCU and Elmhurst College. In addition, he completed over 200 clinical hours with several organizations, including the Chicago Bulls.
Michael spent several seasons playing professional basketball overseas in Ireland and Germany from 2007 – 2011 after graduating cum laude from Elmhurst College with a bachelor’s degree in information systems in 2007. He earned a second bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Elmhurst in 2013 before earning a Master of Education degree in sport leadership from VCU in 2014.
Michael resides in Albuquerque with his wife, Keeley, and their infant daughter, Charlotte.