“We got robbed,” said Rashon Burno, chuckling as he remembered back to his playing days at DePaul and his team’s loss to Florida in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. “A couple calls didn’t go our way.”
Burno, Florida’s newest assistant under Billy Donovan, remembered more than just the outcome of the game. He vividly remembered the entire atmosphere, as well.
“The fans were rowdy,” he gushed. “Tough place to play. Hard to hear your coach away from the bench.”
More than 10 years later, Burno is the one bringing the enthusiasm.
The Florida program is one he has kept his eye on throughout the last few years. Now, he is happy to be in Gainesville.
“Billy was somebody that I admired from afar,” he said. “Anybody that wins two national titles as a coach, you’ve got to take your hat off to him and just respect what he does and what he stands for.”
Which is exactly what Burno did.
Having made coaching stops at Towson and Manhattan prior to coming to Florida, Burno was perhaps not the most likely candidate for the vacant assistant position.
From an outsider’s perspective, Burno was relatively unknown. Behind the scenes, his relationship with Donovan was continuing to blossom throughout the years.
“From a coaching standpoint, it was someone that I looked up to and reached out to and was looking to build a relationship with,” he said, referring to Donovan. “It was over a four- or five-year span of really picking his brain about how to be a productive coach.”
“I think that helped in the process because he got to know me off the floor,” he added. “I think it paid dividends, obviously.”
Still, the relationship is more than a few phone calls being traded back and fourth. It is something that goes back through the coaching family tree.
At Manhattan, Burno worked under coach Steve Masiello. Masiello was a walk-on at Kentucky, playing for Rick Pitino. Before landing the coaching job at Manhattan, Masiello was an assistant for Pitino at Louisville.
Of course, Pitino and Donovan have ties from their days together at Providence and have since stayed close.
“You do a good job for someone in the family, word travels fast,” Burno joked.
All kidding aside, it was apparent Burno was already revving his engine and looking to help the Florida program in any way he could.
At 5-foot-7, he was a point guard for his DePaul team and spoke about that being his primary coaching focus in the past. He will continue to spend much of his time working with the backcourt.
“Whatever I can do, I’m hungry to do it,” he said.
That includes recruiting, an area where Bruno described his mindset as “tenacious.”
“I try to wear many hats because every kid is different, and I try to adapt to a particular kid,” he said. “Definitely one of aggression, trying to make sure they understand where they stand with us.”
The lone folly Burno has so far found with his new home is the weather.
More specifically, the heat.
“At 8 o’clock, it’s 80 degrees,” he said, laughing. “New York is a little different. We’ve got more buildings to shade the sun.”
Despite the heat, it is clear Burno is in the place he wants to be.
“For me, I wanted to get with people that I respect,” he said. “This is something that can obviously be a long-term fix for me. I’m happy for the opportunity.”