It’s never easy to follow a legend. Charged with the mission of replacing a man who guided UMass to unprecedented heights in the college basketball world, Brusier Flint has succeeded. Entering his fifth season as the leader of the UMass basketball program, Flint has put his own stamp on the Minuteman program and established himself as one of college basketball’s bright, young head coaching minds.
Consider if you will that only one other coach in UMass’ 91-year basketball history has won more games and taken more Minuteman teams to postseason play in his first four seasons at the helm than Flint, and that individual is the man Flint replaced on the UMass sideline, John Calipari. In four years in Amherst, Flint’s teams have won 71 games and advanced to postseason play three times, compared to Calipari’s 77 wins in four seasons and a like number of postseason trips. In fact, only Calipari reached the 70-win plateau faster at UMass than Flint, as Coach Cal hit that mark in 119 games, six fewer than Flint.
Flint heads into his fifth season in Amherst having guided UMass to an overall record of 71-57 (.555) and a 41-23 (.641) mark in A-10 play. His teams have never finished lower than third in the A-10 standings, and his 71 wins make him the fifth-winningest coach in school history. He needs 11 wins to overtake No. 4 Robert Curran (1952-59) on the UMass career victory list. Off the court, his program has succeeded too, as nine of 11 seniors (81.8 percent) have earned their college degrees in Flint’s tenure.
Year four of “Brusierball,” 1999-2000, saw the Minutemen (17-16) return to postseason play (NIT) after a one-year abscence, record the school’s 11th-straight winning record in Athlatic 10 play (9-7, third) and advance to the semifinals of the A-10 Tournament for the first time since winning the last of five-straight league crowns in 1996. In addition, UMass produced an all-conference player (Monty Mack) for the 17th straight year. Mack’s selection marked the seventh all-league player tutored in Flint’s program.
A 1-4 start in Flint’s third season was tough for UMass to overcome, and the result was the school’s first losing record (14-16) in a decade. However, eight of those losses were by six or fewer points, and another came in overtime. The Minutemen, though, put together a 10th-straight winning record in the A-10, at 9-7 (third).
Along the way, UMass produced a pair of memorable moments for its fans. Before a national television audience and a sold-out Mullins Center crowd, the Minutemen downed coach Roy Williams’ 15th-ranked Kansas squad, 64-60. Six weeks later, emotionally drained after dropping three of four games by a combined 12 points to A-10 foes, Flint’s troops knocked off No. 20 Temple, 57-49, at Mullins.
Flint’s 54 wins in his first three seasons rank second only to Matt Zunic in UMass history. He reached career win No. 50 in 87 games, eight games faster than the heralded Calipari.
In his second season, 1997-98, Flint guided UMass to a 21-11 record and the school’s seventh consecutive NCAA Tournament berth, a New England record. The Minutemen finished in a second-place tie in the A-10 with a 12-4 record.
Sparked by a 10-game midseason win streak, UMass climbed to 18th in the Associated Press poll (Feb. 16) and stayed in the top 25 for four consecutive weeks. Flint was recognized for his efforts as the NABC (National Association of Basketball Coaches) District I Co-Coach of the Year, sharing the honor with Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun.
With a 64-58 victory over Virginia Tech in the 1998 Atlantic 10 Tournament’s opening round, Flint reached the 40-win plateau faster than any coach in school history. He accomplished that feat in 63 games, four games faster than Zunic (1959-63). After two seasons at the helm, Flint owned a 40-25 overall record and had led the Minutemen to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances, becoming the only coach in school history to take his first two teams to the Big Dance.
In his rookie season (1996-97) on the UMass sideline, Flint inherited a program that had just lost the National Coach of the Year in Calipari, the National Player of the Year in Marcus Camby and two of the most overlooked bookend forwards in college basketball, Dana Dingle and Donta Bright. After struggling out of the gate to a 6-9 start while battling injuries to his key players and playing a schedule built for a veteran Final Four team, Flint inserted Charlton Clarke into the line-up as a third guard in the rotation.
That simple line-up change worked wonders. UMass rallied to win 12 of its final 15 games, finished third in the A-10 with an 11-5 record and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament. That late season surge left no doubt that the “Bruiserball” era had indeed arrived in Amherst.
With UMass’ 78-61 upset of No. 10 Maryland, Flint picked up his 16th victory of the season to become the winningest first-year coach in school history. Flint posted 19 wins in his rookie campaign, breaking the mark set by Johnny Orr, whose 1963-64 Redmen went 15-9. By contrast, Calipari went 10-18 in his rookie season (1988-89), and the legendary Jack Leaman, UMass’ all-time leader in coaching wins (217), went 11-14 during his first campaign in 1966-67. Flint also became the first UMass coach to advance to postseason play in his rookie year.
Flint officially became the 17th head men’s basketball coach at the University of Massachusetts on June 8, 1996, just two days after Calipari announced his resignation to coach the NBA’s New Jersey Nets. At the time he was selected by Athletic Director Bob Marcum to replace Calipari, the then-31-year-old Flint was the second-youngest head coach in the Division I ranks.
As an assistant coach at UMass under Calipari for seven years, Flint helped the Minutemen to five NCAA Tournament appearances and a pair of NIT trips. Along the way, UMass chalked up a 183-53 (.775) mark, the nation’s fourth-highest win total over that span.
In the summer of 1995, Flint was a finalist for the job at his alma mater, St. Joseph’s, and though he was not hired there, it was obvious others around the nation would soon be looking at him. Eastern Basketball listed Flint as one of the four best assistant coaches in the east and referred to him as “a desirable commodity for athletic directors all over the nation” prior to the 1995-96 season.
During UMass’ run to the 1996 Final Four, Flint had two chances to take the reins of the Minutemen. When Camby collapsed at St. Bonaventure and Calipari accompanied him to the hospital, Flint coached UMass for the entire game, earning a 65-52 victory over the Bonnies in his head coaching “debut.”
A little over a month later, he again took charge when Calipari was ejected in UMass’ 87-76 loss to George Washington at the Mullins Center.
Flint, a 1987 graduate of St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, was a four-year letterwinner for the Hawk basketball team. As a senior, he played 37.8 minutes per game while averaging 14.6 points. He led the Atlantic 10 Conference with 6.1 assists per game and finished second in steals with 60. Flint earned second team All-Conference honors during his senior season. He led St. Joseph’s to the 1986 A-10 championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament as a junior. The Hawks made NIT appearances in both 1985 and 1986. Flint still ranks sixth all-time at St. Joseph’s with 401 career assists, and his 171 assists in the 1986-87 campaign are the sixth-highest single-season total in school history. In 1998, he was inducted into the St. Joseph’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Following his graduation from St. Joseph’s, Flint spent two seasons as an assistant coach and assistant athletic director at Coppin State College. There, he got a look at all the facets of collegiate athletics. Flint was involved in scheduling, academic advising, budgets and compliance. He then joined Calipari’s UMass staff in 1989 and immediately became a key element.
A 1983 graduate of Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia, Flint was named first team All-Philadelphia and third team All-State during his senior season. He finished his prep career ranked second on the Inter-Academic Conference’s all-time scoring and assist lists, and was named the league’s MVP as a senior.
Flint was involved in the Five Star Basketball Camp and served as assistant commissioner of Philadelphia’s Sonny Hill Basketball League. He has also been involved in Big Brothers and the Special Olympics.
Born July 23, 1965, Flint is the eighth youngest head coach in Division I men’s basketball. He and his wife, Rene, reside in Amherst with their daughter, Jada (born Nov. 15, 1995).