Filzen tabbed as new Lawrence men's basketball coach

Zach Filzen, left, has been chosen to lead the Lawrence men's basketball program.
Zach Filzen, left, has been chosen to lead the Lawrence men's basketball program.

APPLETON, Wis. -- Zach Filzen is the new men's basketball coach at Lawrence University, Director of Athletics Christyn Abaray announced today.

Filzen, the current head coach at Lancaster Bible College in Lancaster, Pa., becomes the 26th head coach in school history.

"I am excited to have Zach join our Lawrence family as our head men's basketball coach," Abaray said. "Zach's confidence, intensity, skillset and excitement were palpable. He is a rising star in the men's basketball coaching world who also highly values the influence institutions like Lawrence make on the holistic development of our student-athletes. We are looking forward to our men's basketball program and Lawrence benefitting from Zach at the helm."

In three seasons at Lancaster Bible, Filzen has put together a sparkling 64-21 record and won a pair of North Eastern Athletic Conference championships. Filzen guided Lancaster Bible to the 2016 and 2018 NEAC regular season and tournament titles. The Chargers played in the NCAA Division III Tournament in both of those seasons.

"I am extremely excited and honored to be selected as the next men's basketball coach at Lawrence University," Filzen said. "I want to thank Athletic Director Christyn Abaray and the search committee for the confidence they have placed in me to lead this outstanding program into the future. Through the search process, it became very apparent that Lawrence is a very special place with a commitment to excellence in the classroom and on the court. In addition, I was impressed by the many folks I met who share my passion to challenge and encourage student-athletes toward a life of excellence."

Filzen was chosen as the 2016 and 2018 NEAC Coach of the Year, and he earned 2016 D3hoops.com East Region Coach of the Year honors. Filzen's 2015-16 team posted a perfect 25-0 regular season record and went on to compile a 27-1 mark on the season. The 2015-16 squad was ranked as high as No. 13 by D3hoops.com.

Lancaster Bible is coming off a 23-6 season that saw the Chargers win both the regular season and NEAC Tournament titles. Filzen is shooting for the same level of excellence that has been the hallmark of Lawrence basketball over the last two-plus decades. 

"My vision for Lawrence basketball can be summed up in the phrase 'Best is the Standard,' " Filzen said. "Best is the Standard is the theme that will drive our program. It is a call to excellence every single day and in every single way. Our aim is to develop high character young men who bring their best every day in the classroom and on the court. It is my expectation that the players in our program will be prepared for life after college by earning a world-class degree from Lawrence while contributing to a top-notch basketball program established in a culture of selflessness and commitment."

Filzen has a grasp on Lawrence's stellar basketball history and the success the Vikings have experienced over the past 20-plus years. The Vikings have won six Midwest Conference championships and MWC Tournament titles since 1997. Lawrence has played in six NCAA Division III Tournaments and went farther than any team in MWC history when the Vikings reached the Elite 8 in 2004. Lawrence posted a 25-1 record in 2005-06 and were ranked No. 1 by D3hoops.com.

"Our coaching staff and players will work hard to return this program to the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 levels that our alumni worked hard to achieve," Filzen said. "It is my desire to lead a program that will make our alumni, the Lawrence community and the Appleton community proud of and excited to get behind. I can't wait to get started."

A former NCAA Division I student-athlete, Filzen was a two-year starter at the University of Buffalo and helped his team to a pair of 20-plus win seasons. Filzen scored 1,155 career points and set the Buffalo record with 110 three-pointers made in a season. He also ranked fifth nationally that season in three-pointers made. Filzen led his team in scoring at 15.1 points per game as a junior and averaged 12.1 points as a senior. He started his career at Northern Arizona University and played one season there before transferring to Buffalo.

A 2012 graduate of Buffalo with a bachelor's degree in communications, Filzen attended Capitol Seminary and earned a master's degree in ministry with an emphasis in leadership in 2016.

A native of Northfield, Minn., Filzen was a standout player at Northfield High School. Filzen set career and season records in points and earned All-Metro and All-State honors in 2007. Coaching runs in the Filzen family, and he grew up watching his mother, Tammy Metcalf-Filzen, guide the women's basketball programs at both Carleton College and St. Olaf College. Metcalf-Filzen was a college head coach for 15 seasons and compiled a 252-148 record, including a 226-122 record in 13 seasons at Carleton.

Filzen and his wife, Megan, have a daughter, Selah, and will join the Lawrence family on April 18.

Filzen takes over a team that finished 11-13 and tied for sixth in the Midwest Conference under the guidance of interim head coach Chris Kellett. The Vikings return 17 letter winners, including Quinn Fisher, Bryce Denham, Mason Materna and Dylan Hamlin, who were all starters during this past season.