|College:||Central Washington '97|
|Experience:||3rd Season (23-25)|
Under Burns, Eagles continue climb toward another NCAA berth A debut season full of change turned into a season full of success for Eastern Washington University men's basketball coach Mike Burns. Burns begins his third season at the helm pursuing the school's second NCAA Tournament berth. After showing a great deal of promise for the future last season, the Eagles hope to return to their championship ways of 2003-04 (NCAA Tournament, Big Sky regular season and tournament titles) and 2002-03 (NIT Tournament). The Eagles came close to a NCAA berth a year ago when they were just a missed shot away from beating Montana in overtime in the Big Sky Conference Tournament semifinals. Instead, the Eagles watched the Grizzlies win the title, then upset Nevada on their way to the NCAA Tournament second round. The 2005-06 Eagles finished 15-15 overall, which was seven victories better than the year before. Led by Collegeinsider.com Freshman of the Year Rodney Stuckey, the Eagles reversed their conference record from a year before, finishing with nine victories and just five losses. Burns' first season at the helm yielded just an 8-20 record, and Eastern finished sixth in the Big Sky Conference with a 5-9 record. Eastern's season ended with a 58-48 loss to eventual champion Montana in the first round of the conference tournament. Last year's squad had just one senior, meaning experience will be plentiful in 2006-07. Also plentiful is an abundance of players from the state of Washington. Eastern's 14-player roster includes 11 players that played either high school or junior college basketball in Washington, and two more that played high school basketball just a few minutes away from the state's borders. Burns himself has deep roots in the state of Washington, having graduated from Tyee High School and Central Washington University. He had coaching stints at both of his alma maters, as well as Highline Community College in Des Moines, Wash. Known for his humor off the court and intensity on the court, Burns has a reputation for creating and motivating outstanding defensive squads. His 2004-05 team led the Big Sky in scoring defense in league games only, allowing just 62.9 points per game. Overall, Eastern allowed 67.6 to rank third in the conference - less than a point per game out of first. In 2005-06, Eastern was second in defense in league games only (72.7). Having spent three previous years as an assistant coach at EWU, the 44-year-old Burns returned to Cheney, Wash, to be named as Eastern's 15th men's basketball coach on April 1, 2004. Burns spent the 2003-04 season as an assistant at Washington State University under first-year Cougar head coach Dick Bennett. But the prior three years he spent at EWU on the staff of Ray Giacoletti, who left Eastern on March 31, 2004, to become the head coach at the University of Utah. Under Giacoletti, Burns served as the team's recruiting coordinator, coached perimeter players and was responsible for team defense. Eastern was 17-11, 17-13 and 18-13 in his three previous seasons as an Eagle as the school advanced to the Big Sky Conference Tournament title game each year. 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. Burns Promoted to EWU Assistant Head Coach in 2002 . . . In April 2002, following his second season at the helm of the Eagles, Giacoletti promoted Burns to associate head coach. Burns spent all three seasons under Giacoletti as recruiting coordinator. He helped the Eagles recruit heavily in the Northwest, particularly from inside Washington. Eastern's recruits during that time included three transfers from Tacoma Community College, one from Edmonds C.C., six in-state high school players and one from Portland. With Burns coordinating the defense for three seasons, Eastern was one of the most aggressive teams in the Big Sky Conference by allowing just 68.1 points per game while forcing 17.7 turnovers each outing. All three years Eastern ranked in the top three in the Big Sky in both scoring defense and turnovers forced. In 2002-03, Eastern ranked third in scoring defense (66.9) and was second in turnovers forced (16.8). In the 2001-2002 season, Eastern ranked third in the league in scoring defense (68.9) and was first in turnovers forced (17.4). In the 2000-2001 season, the Eagles led the Big Sky in scoring defense (68.8) and were second in turnovers forced per game (18.7). He left Eastern to join Bennett at WSU for the 2003-04 season, and the Cougars finished the year 13-16 overall and 7-11 in the Pacific 10 Conference. Washington State finished with six more victories than the previous season, and the Cougars qualified for the conference tournament for the first time since 1990, when all 10 schools qualified. At Washington State, the Cougars allowed an average of just 59.7 points per game while scoring at a 57.9 clip, and forced 13.9 turnovers per game while committing just 12.1 per game themselves. "I'm grateful to Washington State, Coach Bennett and everybody there who gave me the opportunity in Pullman," Burns said. "My year there was a blessing. Professionally it was an experience that was invaluable for me." College Coaching Stops Also Include Central Washington . . . An assistant in 1999-2000 at Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, Texas, Burns spent three seasons from 1996-99 under Greg Sparling at Central Washington University. The Wildcats, fierce basketball rivals with Eastern Washington in the mid-1970s, were 61-29 and won three conference regular season titles and three conference tournament championships in his three seasons there. The Wildcats advanced to the NAIA Tournament his first two seasons, knocking off the No. 5 seed and reaching the quarterfinal round (final eight) both years. In 1998-99, Central was 24-5 and earned the No. 1 ranking in the NCAA Division II West Region. Burns coordinated Central's defense, and in all three seasons, the Wildcats led their conference in turnovers forced and in turnover margin. In 1998-99, the Wildcats forced an average of 24.2 per game, better than eight per game more than they committed. Five times Central opponents had 30 or more turnovers. In his three seasons in Ellensburg, Central forced 21.2 turnovers per game. Prior to joining the CWU coaching staff, Burns served as co-head coach of his alma mater Tyee High School in the 1995-96 season. Prior to coaching at Tyee, Burns spent three seasons as an assistant at Highline Community College in Des Moines, Wash. He also managed the West Coast All-Star Basketball Camp in Los Angeles, Calif., in 1996. Burns is a 1980 graduate of Tyee High School where he earned six total letters in basketball, cross country and track and field. He attended Idaho State University and finished his bachelor's degree in health and athletic management at Central Washington in 1999. Burns was born on May 14, 1962, in Tacoma, Wash. His wife's name is Mary. They are the parents of twins - a boy named Bode and a girl named Kylie -- who were born Sept. 23, 2006.