NIU Athletic Director Sean Frazier announced this afternoon that Rashon Burno will become the 29th men's basketball coach at NIU. Burno has an 11-year collegiate career that includes stops at Florida and most recently Arizona State, where he spent the last six years as an Assistant Head Coach to Bobby Hurley. Burno has four NCAA Tournament appearances under his belt with one Final Four Appearance. In his 11 seasons as a collegiate assistant or associate coach, he has tallied 210 wins compared to just 148 losses.
NIU men's basketball took a huge step back this season. Considering the Huskies were on the brink of a MAC Tournament run, the abrupt end to their season meant the Huskies lost out on a possible NCAA Tournament bid.
This is a quality hire for NIU as the Garden City, New Jersey native will get his first head coaching opportunity with a Huskies team hungry to compete this 2021 season. Burno, a Graduate of DePaul University in Chicago, will get to return to the state of Illinois for his first head cocahing job.
Burno helped Arizona State and Head Coach Bobby Hurley secure a top-10 recruiting class in 2020. It will be interesting to see how his recruiting skills transfer over to a smaller school in the Mid American Conference. Nonetheless, this is an impressive hire and a step in the right direction given the way this past season panned out. NIU will presumably return a majority of their starters, with an extra year of eligibility being awarded by the NCAA, so Burno will get a relatively full roster to begin his tenure.
It would be nice to see him add a few players to the roster before the 2021 fall season. One thing I believe shouldn't be understated, is the job Interim Head Coach Lamar Chapman did given the circumstances of this past season. The team improved vastly after the departure of former Head Coach Mark Montgomery, so I hope to see Chapman retained in some capacity with the program. That said, there isn't any confirmation regarding Chapman's future with the Huskies.
For now, Huskies fans are enjoying last night's 79-74 win. Trendon Hankerson finished the night with 27 points, a career high, to lead the Huskies to victory. The 2021 season feels like it will be successful, and completely different than last season with this team trending in the right direction.