Friday, May 7, 2010

Robert Burke Hired at Mount St. Mary's

Another individual with past MAAC connections has become a head coach.

The latest is Robert Burke, an assistant at Siena during Paul Hewitt's time there (1997-2000), who will be introduced Monday as the new head coach of Mount St. Mary's University of Emmitsburg, Md., a member of the Northeast Conference.

The 43-year-old Burke had been an assistant this past season at American University, which had an 11-20 record.

Before that he was an assistant for five seasons at Georgetown under John Thompson III, but departed from that program under unexplained circumstances after the Hoyas failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament in 2009. Most reports indicate that Burke was either fired, or forced to resign under pressure.

Burke has coached as an assistant for 22 years on the Division I level, and is acknowledged as a good recruiter and tactician. But, there's probably a reason why he's coached for so long without getting an opportunity to run his own program.

After Hewitt left Siena for Georgia Tech he did not offer to bring Burke with him, an unusual move since most head coaches moving on to better things traditionally bring their top assistants along.

Burke did seek to become Hewitt's replacement at Siena in 2000, but was not a serious candidate then. The school opted to hire Louis Orr at that point, and Orr remained at Siena for all of 49 weeks.

Burke was interviewed again by Siena when the position was open prior to the 2005-06 season. But a source on that search committee revealed that Burke had an extremely poor interview and was subsequently dismissed from consideration in the process that ultimately brought Fran McCaffery to Siena.

This blogger's interactions with Burke over the years found him to lean toward the paranoid side (which seemed to make him a perfect fit at Georgetown) and extremely hesitant to reveal even the most innocuous seeming of information.

While assistant coaches are usually considerably more accessible to close program followers than head coaches, Burke opted not to develop those type relationships at Siena. It's probably not stretching the issue to perceive Burke's people-person skills weren't his strongest characteristic.

His hiring at Mount Saint Mary's, though, makes sense. It's a school in the shadows of several larger programs so media attention is minimal and its fan base relatively small.

Burke replaces Milan Brown, who moves on to become the head coach at Holy Cross. Coincidentally, Brown was on Siena's radar to replace McCaffery but was not interviewed.

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