Fresno State assistant is head coach candidate

"I've never lost," Bob Burton says confidently. So it makes you wonder why he would be interested in the head coaching vacancy at Cal State Fullerton. But when asked if he was interested in the job he responded with an emphatic "absolutely!"

"I have not heard anything from Fullerton yet but I have applied," said Burton earlier today. In fact there have been many who have called Cal State Fullerton's athletic director Brian Quinn on his behalf. He even sent an email to Quinn apologizing for all the calls coming his way.

Coaches who have called Quinn to express their support for Burton include Arizona's Lute Olson, UCLA's Ben Howland and Utah's Rick Majerus in addition to many others.

He is also close friends with UCSB's Bob Williams and is responsible for helping put in the offense for the Gaucho's.

Burton lists his strengths as being an offensive specialist and "if there's anything I do well it's in the relationships I have with my players.".

He claims to be recognized by many in coaching circles as one of the top offensive coaches in the state of California. His system is identical to the one run at Kansas (the famed "Kansas Break") under former coach Roy Williams. Defensively, he prefers man-to-man with an occasional zone if necessary.

When asked how difficult it would be for returning players to adjust to a new offense Burton says it is "very simple" and there would be no growing pains. "Kids prefer to play this style."

As for recruiting, Burton knows the limitations of Cal State Fullerton but does not see that as a problem. "Recruiting is relationships" and he says he has been able to establish plenty in his 22 years as a coach at the college level (see bio summary below).

Burton says there are plenty of guys who seem to fall through the cracks every year. Again, this goes back to establishing contacts throughout the Juco ranks. And if you are going to get high school kids you need to get them signed early or go after the Prop 48 kids. In the long term, he says, Division I transfers come into play.

While the head coach at West Valley Burton has sent close to100 kids onto Division I basketball schools.

Burton stresses that he "has to have good kids to coach" but he has had the unique opportunity to deal with high-maintenance kids leftover from the Jerry Tarkanian era. Despite two kids leaving the program and projected to finish 5th in the WAC, Fresno State won 19 games and captured the Western Athletic Conference title. Due to self-imposed sanctions, the team could not participate in the 2003 WAC Basketball Tournament or any postseason tournaments.

Cal State Fullerton expects to name a head coach by June 1st, 2003. It is expected that Titan assistant Rob Orellana is also a candidate. Other names are expected to emerge later next week. Sources have said that while Paul Westhead may be interested, it is currently just a rumor.

Bio Summary

Burton was named conference coach of the year nine times, including this past season. He was selected the California Community College Coach of the Year four times. He guided the Vikings to the finals of the California Community College State tournament in 1991, 1995 and 1996. Burton took a one-year leave at West Valley, serving as an assistant coach at the University of Utah for the 1986-87 season, helping the Utes to a 19-10 record and NIT berth, before returning to West Valley.

Burton is 57 years old, has a wife named Toni and has no children.

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