Rounding out his staff for the 2015-16 season, Pacific Men’s Basketball Head Coach Ron Verlin officially announced the hiring of Mike Burns as an assistant coach on Tuesday, June 16. Burns brings his extensive knowledge of the West Coast Conference to the Tigers’ staff after spending the last seven seasons on the bench at San Diego where he specialized in defense and recruiting.
The top assistant for the Toreros, Burns plied his breadth of basketball knowledge both on the hardwood and on the recruiting trail for San Diego. Heading up San Diego’s recruiting efforts, Burns brought in two-time All-WCC First Team member Johnny Dee, who graduated as the program’s all-time leading scorer and first-ever 2,000-point scorer in 2015.
“I am very excited to add Mike to our coaching staff,” said Verlin. “He will bring great experience and knowledge to the staff with his time as a head coach and as a long-time coach in the WCC. Mike coaches with great passion and energy and his enthusiasm for the game is outstanding.”
Prior to heading to San Diego, Burns led Community Colleges of Spokane in 2007-08 to a No. 1 ranking in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges and a second-place finish at the NWAACC Tournament. His team finished with a 30-2 overall record and had a 24-game winning streak snapped with a one-point loss in the title game against Yakima Valley CC. He was named the NWAACC Coach of the Year, and the NWAACC East Region Coach of the Year.
From 2004-07, Burns was charged with heading the Eastern Washington University men’s basketball program. In 2006-07 he led the Eagles to a 15-14 mark, while in 2005-06 EWU finished 15-15 overall and 9-5 in the Big Sky, good for a third place finish. That club led the Big Sky Conference and ranked third in NCAA Division I scoring with an average of 84.2 points per game. The team also was sixth nationally in field goal percentage (49.5%) and sixth in assists (17.7). While at EWU, Burns coached Rodney Stuckey, who went on to be selected No. 15 overall in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Detroit Pistons.
Burns spent the 2003-04 season as an assistant at Washington State University under Dick Bennett after spending the previous three years at EWU as an assistant coach on Ray Giacoletti’s staff. While at Washington State, he helped the Cougars finish with six more victories than the previous season, and the team qualified for the conference tournament for the first time since 1990, when all 10 schools qualified.
Under Giacoletti at EWU, Burns served as the team’s recruiting coordinator, coached perimeter players and was responsible for team defense. Eastern won 58 percent of its games overall (52-37) and 68 percent in conference play (30-14) in that three-year stretch en route to garnering the school’s first-ever berth in the National Invitation Tournament in 2003 and first-ever NCAA Tournament berth the following season.
In April 2002, following his second season at the helm of the Eagles, Giacoletti promoted Burns to associate head coach.
Burns has deep roots in the state of Washington, having graduated from Tyee High School and Central Washington University. Burns was an assistant at Central Washington (1996-99) and Stephen F. Austin (1999-2000). During his tenure at Central Washington, where he coordinated the defense, the Wildcats advanced to the NAIA Tournament quarterfinals (1997 and 1998) and earned a No. 1 ranking in the West Region during the 1998-99 campaign after moving to NCAA Division II.
Photo by: San Diego Union Tribune