Matt Bowen is entering the fourth season of his second stint on staff at Valpo in 2021-2022. He moved back into an assistant coaching role for the 2019-2020 season after serving as the Director of Basketball Operations/Special Assistant to the Head Coach in 2018-19.
The 2020-2021 season saw Valpo improve its Arch Madness seeding for the fourth straight year as the program continued to make positive strides in each season as a Missouri Valley Conference member. Thanks in part to Bowen’s efforts as the squad’s offensive coordinator, the team earned a first-round bye in the State Farm MVC Tournament for the first time since joining the prestigious league.
Bowen coordinated Valpo’s offensive efforts in 2019-2020 and played a key role in helping the team average 72.3 points per game, second in the MVC. That marked the program’s second-highest season scoring average over the last eight years. Valpo jumped 5.5 points per game from 2018-19 to 2019-20. Despite playing at an increased tempo, the team turned the ball over at a lower clip, committing just 12.7 turnovers per game, the program’s lowest total in recent memory.
With help from Bowen’s offensive tactics, Valpo shared the basketball with regularity in 2019-2020, leading the Missouri Valley Conference with 15.2 assists per game. That marked the first time Valpo led a conference in that area since pacing the Horizon League in 2011-12. The 15.2 assists per game was Valpo’s highest total since 2010-11 (15.8 apg) and the team’s second-highest output over the last 13 seasons. The squad ranked 29th nationally in assists per game and 12th in total assists.
Valpo made 287 3-pointers in 2019-2020, the team’s second most since 2007-08 and third most over the last three decades. Valpo knocked down 922 field goals, its third-highest total in a three-decade span. The team scored 287 points in the MVC Tournament, the third most in the long history of the event and most since 1978.
Other offensive-related feats during the 2019-2020 campaign include setting the league-only MVC record for made 3-pointers in a game with 18 vs. Bradley, Ryan Fazekas ranking second in program history for single-season 3-point percentage and wrapping up his Valpo tenure as the career leader in that category and sophomore Javon Freeman-Liberty ranking second in The Valley in scoring. The season culminated with an unprecedented run to the MVC title game that saw Valpo become the first team in the 30-year history of Arch Madness to reach the final after playing in the opening round.
Before returning to Valpo, Bowen spent six seasons (2012-18) as head coach of the University of Minnesota Duluth men’s basketball program. He led the Bulldogs in 2014-15 and 2015-16 to their highest back-to-back win totals since the 2002-03 and 2003-04 teams. Under his tutelage, UMD cracked the NABC Top 25 national rankings in January of 2016, while each of his last four Bulldog teams ranked among the top-10 in the nation in fewest turnovers/game. During his time at Duluth, Bowen recruited and coached a First-Team All-American who eventually became the program's all-time leading scorer.
Prior to UMD, Bowen served six seasons (2006-12) as men’s basketball head coach at Bemidji State University. The fourth head coach in seven years when he took the position, Bowen increased the program’s win total in five of his six seasons, culminating with the 2011-12 squad setting a school record for wins in a season. The 2011-12 NSIC coach of the year, Bowen recruited and coached the 2012 Daktronics NCAA D-II National Player of the Year in James Ellisor, as well as two of the top-10 leading scorers in the 90-year history of the Bemidji State program and the program’s all-time assist leader.
Bowen was a member of the men’s basketball coaching staff at Valpo from 2002 through 2006, spending one season as an assistant coach under Scott Drew and three seasons working as an assistant for Homer Drew. Bowen helped the program to 70 wins over his four years on staff, including back-to-back Mid-Continent Conference regular season championships and a Mid-Con Tournament title and NCAA Tournament berth in 2004.
Before his first stint at Valpo, Bowen spent seven years (1995-2002) as an assistant coach at UAB. He helped the Blazers to one NCAA Tournament appearance, a Conference USA National Division championship and two NIT berths in his tenure on the staff. In his first year at UAB, Bowen worked under the legendary Gene Bartow, who was Valpo’s head coach from 1964-70.
Bowen attended Indiana University, where he was a team manager for five years for the men's basketball program under head coach Bob Knight.
Bowen graduated from Indiana University in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science degree in health, physical education and recreation and earned a Master’s degree in health education from UAB in 1999.
Bowen's father, Rick, was the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls from 1986-2006 and retired as that school’s athletic director in 2010. His grandfather, Otis, was governor of the state of Indiana from 1973 through 1981 and later served as the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (1985-1989).
Bowen and his wife, Ashli, have two daughters - McKenzi and Addison.