Posted by Wilson Gibbons
I sat down in Coach Burke's office. It was neat and simple, containing little evidence that it was the office of a basketball coach other than a white board on the wall behind his desk. The board was filled to capacity with precise lines and a multitude of X's and O's. In a way, his plain office was characteristic of Burke's style: not flashy or ostentatious, but a focused no nonsense approach to the game of basketball. He emphasizes defense as the staple and identity of the program, and his offensive tactics stress unselfishness and making the extra pass.
His attitude reflects his wealth of experience despite his relatively tender age. But experience has not made Burke a crusty curmudgeon by any means. He is undoubtedly in touch with the more modern constructs of professional basketball. He has implemented schemes such as Tom Thibodeau's strong side man-to-man defense (popularized by the '08 Celtics after their championship run), Jay Wright's "four out one in" offense (disseminated by the Villanova Wildcats) and two guard sets that are borrowed from his days under Steve Donahue.
Burke will be the first to tell you that his attitude and methodology are heavily derived from his mentors. He previously held posts as an assistant under hall-of-fame coach Herb "Shot Doctor" Magee at Philadelphia University, Steve Donahue at Cornell (Mr. Donahue would later go on to coach for Boston College) and finally under Bill Lang at Navy. All of these coaches offered invaluable pieces to Burke's repertoire. As a result, the Thoroughbreds offense is a blend of styles that reflect his collection of marks left from many basketball gurus
Any style of play requires the right personnel to implement it. Burke has a tremendous amount of confidence in his current roster, despite graduating his top five scorers from last season.
"We're not going to change-here we are. My expectations for this group are very high because I think we have a ton of talent," Burke said.
While Burke emphatically stated that he has not changed his approach, he did concede that he has had to be more patient with some of the newer players.
"I've had freshman come in [this year] that are as good as we've ever had from a talent standpoint," Burke said.
Despite the heavy roster turnover there are still high hopes for the College's Men's Basketball team this season. Ultimately, Burke said he would continue to rely on the philosophies and principles that have made him and this program successful.
The Men's Basketball team begins its season on Nov. 16 at Widener University against Delaware Valley College.