Newly appointed head coach of the Georgia Southern men’s basketball team, Brian Burg, spoke at his first press conference as an Eagle on Friday.
Burg was hired after a nine-day nationwide search and comes from his assistant coaching role at Texas Tech. He was mentored by Chris Beard, who is currently head coach of the Red Raiders and former coach of Little Rock, a Sun Belt foe. Under his leadership, their team made an appearance in the 2019 National Championship game and Beard was named Pac 12 Coach of the Year.
Burg began his coaching career at Lake Erie College, a junior college in Ohio. He has since worked at seven other schools, four at the Division I level.
“I’m a guy that wrote letters, day-after-day, to break into the industry for a coaching job,” Burg said. “I’ve also traveled across the country with no money...just to beg a coach for an opportunity until he’d hire me. I’m a guy that’s been counted out many times.”
He wants to continue the GS winning ways and put his own spin on the GS blue collar mentality. He credits Erk Russell (former head coach of the GS football team and Georgia Sports Hall of Famer), Michael Curry (former GS basketball player and current coach of Florida Atlantic), Jeff Sanders (former GS basketball player and first round NBA draft pick), Charlton Young (former GS basketball player and current assistant coach of Florida State), Trey Currents and Tookie Brown (former GS basketball player and current professional basketball player overseas).
His game plan coming in is simple — he wants GS to simply ‘outwork their opponents’. Burg describes GS as a hidden gem and says that the University has everything at their fingertips for success.
“We have a strong community, a winning tradition and we have a relentless work ethic,” Burg said. “We’re a player-first program...we’re going to make every decision to benefit our players.”
He explains that the program will be more disciplined as a whole and he will continue to graduate every single player that comes through.
When he was an assistant coach at Little Rock, he remembers Hanner Fieldhouse as the toughest venue to travel to as a competitor in the Sun Belt. He wants to pack the stands and keep fans as involved as possible.
This week, two notable players on the team entered their names in the transfer portal, Calvin Wishart and Quan Jackson. As a self proclaimed ‘relationship guy’, Burg is in talks with both of them almost daily.
“I hit the ground running whenever i got here,” Burg said. “I’ve been on the phone non-stop. It’s important to build relationships and relationships take time. It’s a very unique situation that we’re in.”
He’s confident in his ability to fill the roster with talented and committed athletes, but in-person recruiting is on hold for now due to COVID-19 restrictions, though he is still recruiting ‘high level talent’ through Facetime and Zoom.
He has had a phone call with former Head Coach Mark Byington and praises everything he did at GS during his seven-year tenure.
“I had a great conversation with him,” Burg said. “He’s going a million miles an hour as well at James Madison...I think the world of what he and his staff did here during his tenure.”
Though GS has finished with 20+ wins for the past three seasons, GS has not made an NCAA Tournament appearance since 1992. He has been to the tournament five times since 2014 and has high hopes for the future of the program.
“I’ve worked my whole life for this opportunity,” Burg said. “I will not let you down. We will win...and we will do it the right way.”
Amanda Arnold, The George-Anne Managing Sports Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org