Former Texas Tech men’s basketball assistant coach Brian Burg landed his first head coaching job as he was officially named the head coach at Georgia Southern on Sunday.
“I want to thank Brian Burg for everything he’s done for our program over the past five years and congratulate Georgia Southern on a great hire,” Tech head coach Chris Beard said, according to a Tech Athletics news release. “Burg’s contributions to our success cannot be overstated. He is a great coach, relentless recruiter and someone who worked his way through multiple levels of college basketball to earn this opportunity.”
Burg has coached under Beard since the 2015-16 season at Little Rock, where he served as an assistant coach. He then headed to Lubbock as Beard was named Tech’s men’s basketball head coach. In his first two seasons at Tech, Burg served as the chief of staff. In those first two years, the Red Raiders posted a 45-24 overall record while going 33-4 at home.
In the 2017-18 season, the Red Raiders had a season to remember as Tech was put on the map as a title contender. Burg helped coach Tech to the program’s first NCAA Elite Eight appearance after the Red Raiders won a program-high eight games against an AP Top-25 team. Tech also recorded 27 wins to mark the second-most wins in a single season in program history while also finishing second in the Big 12, the program’s best.
After the team’s season ended in the Elite Eight to Villanova, 71-59, freshman standout Zhaire Smith took on the NBA Draft. Smith was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers after averaging 11.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks per game. He left Tech as the single-season program leader in points scored by a freshman. Smith said Burg played a pivotal role in his collegiate success despite spending just one season at Tech.
“My relationship with Coach Burg was amazing on and off the court,” Smith said, according to the release. “He helped me with film and inspired me to be one of the best offensive rebounders in the Big 12 and inspired me to write ‘rebound’ on my wrist before every game.”
After Tech’s program-record breaking season, Burg was promoted to an assistant coach in 2018. In his first season as an assistant coach, Tech topped its previous season, going 31-7 overall and 17-1 at home. The successful regular season led Tech to be named the Big 12 champions for the first time in program history. The Red Raiders also made recorded deepest NCAA Tournament run, making it to the national championship game against Virginia. Despite losing to the Cavilers, Tech’s 31 wins marked the most in program history.
On the national runner-up team included the Big 12 Player of the Year Jarrett Culver. Culver averaged 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game and declared for the 2019 NBA Draft after the season’s conclusion. The sophomore standout was drafted by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the sixth overall pick. This made Culver the second-highest drafted player in program history as Tony Battie was selected with the fifth overall pick in 1997. Like Smith, Culver said Burg’s guidance helped him progress as a player.
“Coach Burg helped me through my success and is a relentless worker. He’s worked hard to help his players and also his development,” Culver said, according to the release. “He’s a winner and makes a difference wherever he is at.”
Another player who has been improved their game with the help of Burg’s coaching was Matt Mooney. The 2018-19 season was Mooney’s only year at Tech as he was a graduate transfer, but he made an immediate impact for the Red Raiders. Mooney averaged 11.3 points, 3.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game at Tech, ending his collegiate career with Final Four All-Tournament Team honors. Despite going undrafted, Mooney currently plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“I can’t say enough good things about Coach Burg. He genuinely cares about all his players,” Mooney said. “Every single day I was at Texas Tech, he pushed me to get better. That’s no exaggeration. He’s the ultimate grinder. He works as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen.”
Norense Odiase, a center who a Red Raider from 2014-2019, also finished his collegiate career in the national championship game with Tech. Odiase was one of the more experienced Red Raiders last season as he was with the program the longest. He finished the season averaging 5.4 rebounds per game, taking more of a leadership role on the team vocally. Odiase now plays for the Northern Arizona Suns in the NBA’s G-League. After hearing about Burg landing the head coaching job, he had nothing by praise when speaking about his former coach.
“This guy (Burg) is about excellence, and he demands that out of everyone in the building. From the staff to the players, his leadership inspires others to be ‘superstars’ in the role they play within the organization,” Odiase said, according to the release. “You won’t find another coach in the country that prepares his guys like Coach Burg does. You always feel like you’ve played the opponent several times before you actually have. This guy is special. I know whenever I need something, he’ll always be there for me.”
As his former players spoke highly of him, Burg’s final season with Tech ended unlike any other. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2019-20 season ended without a Big 12 or NCAA Tournament. Despite the absence of a postseason, Burg helped coach the Red Raiders to an 18-13 overall record, coaching another potential NBA first-round draft pick in freshman Jahmi’us Ramsey.
Aside from his coaching career at Tech and Little Rock, Burg also served as an assistant coach at North Carolina Central (2013-15), Campbell (2009-13), Western Texas College (2006-07) and Garden City Community College (2005-06). Burg was also the Director of Basketball Operations at Middle Tennessee (2007-09) and a graduate assistant for Lake Erie College (2003-05).
“I know that he will build on the success that Georgia Southern has established through his unmatched work ethic,” Beard said, according to the release. “He will be missed at Texas Tech, but I couldn’t be more proud and appreciative of everything we accomplished together.”