Interviews

Published on June 2nd, 2020 | by Percy Crawford

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Arizona State Coach Rashon Burno Explains How Covid-19 Brings Forth Greater Appreciation

Arizona State assistant basketball coach, Rashon Burno talks about the Sun Devils plans moving forward!

Tough times don’t last, tough people do. Although the Arizona State Sun Devils were in position to be competing in the NCAA Tournament, Covid-19 had other plans. Ending the season before we could see just how far they could go. Coach Rashon Burno sympathizes with the seniors who will never have the opportunity to play with this current group again. However, he is looking forward to building a locker room and a team that can survive the test of times such as these current conditions.

I caught up with the former DePaul guard and current ASU assistant coach to get an update on the Arizona State University basketball team.

 How are you doing, coach?

Rashon Burno: All is good, man. Just trying to stay out of harm’s way. That’s about it.

What an abrupt way to end the season. You guys [Arizona State] were headed towards the tournament and then… season over. When did you realize that it was real?

Rashon Burno: I would say Wednesday night when the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder game was cancelled. That was the first realization that this thing is really serious. Most people or pundits were saying, “It’s bad, but sports are still going on throughout the country.” I think the Utah game was the first that was cancelled due to Covid-19. We figured it was just a matter of time, and then Thursday morning, we’re 3-hours behind east coast. When those games started to get cancelled, that’s when we knew that it was real jeopardy for the entire post-season.

How disappointing was the ending considering the type of season you guys were having in terms of success?

Rashon Burno: You felt horrible for the guys who put in a crap load of work. Seniors who will never play with that group again. They lost out on an opportunity to showcase their skill set, win some games to ultimately put them into the record books at ASU. Earning potential. We had two seniors that were trying to win some games to get some pro opportunities. But at the moment, you’re so consumed with, alright, let’s keep these guys in the right frame of mind. You’re ultra-optimistic that something may be worked out and we’ll start the tournament will start at a later date. That was something that was floated to the coaches and floated on national radio shows. You try to be positive, but you also have the realization that this thing may be over.

Are you guys having weekly meetings with the NCAA? How are you guys staying abreast of what’s going on, I guess is what I’m asking?

Rashon Burno: We get it from our administration. They have done a phenomenal job with communicating with the rest of our staff, the athletic department on weekly Zoom calls. They are in direct contact with the NCAA. But right now, it’s more predicated on your conference president and your school president. who are making the ultimate decision when to open and when to let athletics resume.

How important is communication right now all around the board; between players and coaches, coaches and coaches and coaches with staff members and how are you guys staying in touch?

Rashon Burno: It’s very important because there is so much information being thrown out there on social media. So, it’s important to have a system in place in regard to what’s real and what’s not. We have daily communication as a staff. We make sure we talk to our players. We are on weekly Zoom calls. It’s important because these kids are home, away from campus and they are unsure of what’s to come, so they are looking at us for guidance and direction. So, being informed is very-very important.

Do you check on conditioning and things like that because they are away from campus or are you just trusting that they are doing the right things?

Rashon Burno: These kids are still finding out ways to stay in shape. We can’t do anything with them because yet again, the distance thing. But we are encouraging our guys to try to stay in shape, eat healthy and if you’re going to work out, workout under the guidelines that are being presented. Staying in shape is a concern, but not high on the list. I just want our guys to stay safe to be honest with you.

Recruiting is a huge part of what you guys do at the collegiate level. I know it’s been difficult because there are no face-to-face meetings. Is that a concern at this point?

Rashon Burno: It’s a concern because that’s your lifeline. The most important thing you can recruit is your locker room. Because of distance and this uncertainty, you have guys who live cross country. Their family members are concerned about them going too far away from home, especially with the uncertainty of this virus. Conversely, players are concerned about leaving loved ones to go to college, especially some of the east coast kids. It’s a lot of uncertainty from that standpoint, but from a recruiting standpoint, a lot of it is done on the phone’s anyway, right. So, just trying to stay active and stay busy with calling parents and checking up. But it’s difficult because there is not face-to-face interaction. Everything is Zoom calls and Facetime calls. It’s a challenge, but stay organized, we gotta do it.

Anytime something is taken away from you… and that’s not to say that the passion wasn’t there before, but do you feel even more passionately about your job and what you do because of how quickly you see it can be over with?

Rashon Burno: Yeah absolutely! This is the first time I’ve experienced anything in my lifetime that requires us to be quarantined for 90-plus days. You appreciate practice, more importantly your family… we get into this rat race of trying to win games and build a program, you get tunnel vision and you lose sight of what’s really important. And that’s your family, the people you love and making sure everyone is healthy. We will all have a greater appreciation when this is all said and done for each other.

Arizona State is becoming a school to be reckoned with on the hardwood. What do you feel Coach Bobby Hurley and you have done to make sure you compete game in and game out?

Rashon Burno: Thank you! You have a plan. When you take over a “rebuild” situation, you have a plan. And then the second thing is you have an adaptable plan in case things don’t go 100% according to plan. We knew that this was going to be a process. We knew that we wouldn’t have traction like some of the other power five and Pac 12 schools, so we had to hang our hat on skill development and bringing in the right guys. We knew that if we got a solid core of guys, we could get them better, and once you started doing that, the “higher” level recruited players would want to be a part of what we’re doing. Coach Hurley is a tremendous player-minded coach. He understands playing in the NBA, he understands what players would like to play like and he coaches like it’s a player’s game. A lot of times back in the day it was more team oriented. Now, because of social media and the world that we live in, you got guys want to be individuals. They want to be successful in that way, so you have to take advantage of that and still have that team mindset. Coach Hurley has a tremendous understanding of that. That sped up the curve a little bit, but just hard work and dedication. There’s no magic pill that’s going to get you from right now winning 12-games to 20-games. It’s hard work and dedication and sticking to your plan.

I always believe, it’s imperative, especially the age group you guys deal with to get these guys to buy in. They gotta buy into what you are selling.

Rashon Burno: Yeah, you constantly have wars with human nature, right. Total buy in to something that takes place every day because at the end of the day you gotta start over. We’re around these guys a small amount of time based on NCAA rules in regard to practice and things like that. So, you constantly gotta reinforce every day the buy in. It’s enough poison that’s out there via social media, sometimes family and friends, who all have different motives to what the team and the program have. So, every day we try to make sure that we are focusing on the right stuff. And that’s obviously things that goes into winning. We believe that if the team wins you win. That’s something that we try to focus on every day. It definitely helps to get guys that are hungry to win and win the right way. It’s definitely helped us speed up the process.

Coach, I hope to see you guys on that court again soon, so you can do what you do best. Stay in touch, my man. Is there anything else you want to add?

Rashon Burno: I appreciate you giving me a platform to talk about Arizona State basketball. Much appreciated. Hopefully this thing turns for the better because I look forward to having a discussion for the ’21 season.



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