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Assigned Reading: Nebraska assistant Rashon Burno overcame adversity in promising basketball career

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Rashon Burno was hired as Nebraska’s newest assistant coach back in May. The move was viewed as a nice pickup for Tim Miles.

The diminutive point guard was a three-year captain at DePaul (1998-2002) and gained valuable experience from some of the game’s top coaches, from his high school days playing for Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley at powerhouse St. Anthony in his native Jersey City to the last three seasons he spent on the bench alongside two-time national champion Billy Donovan.

However, the 37-year-old coach had to go through more than his share of hardships to get to where he is today, as Lee Barfknecht featured in Saturday’s Omaha World-Herald:

Burno, 37, grew up in the Duncan Projects public housing complex in Jersey City — a tough enough challenge considering the crime, drug use and other daily misdeeds in the area.

The degree of difficulty grows exponentially when you are one of six children and both parents die by the time you are 8 and you have to move in with your grandmother. Multiply that even more when Grandma develops Alzheimer’s two years later and has to move to a care facility.

Burno’s coaching career began in 2007 as a teach and coach at Marmion Academy in Chicago. He made stops at Towson State, Manhattan and Florida before joining the Cornhuskers’ staff.

Burno replaces Chris Harriman, who accepted the associate head coaching position at New Mexico. Harriman was also part of an inspirational story, as his son Avery has courageously fought several battles with leukemia.

Assigned Reading: How Iowa State settled on Steve Prohm as its new head coach

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When Fred Hoiberg officially became head coach of the Chicago Bulls, the fact that he would one day move on to the NBA did not come as a surprise to Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard. The two have a good relationship, and during Hoiberg’s time in Ames that meant frequent communication on matters such as Hoiberg’s coaching future.

Pollard moved quickly to fill the vacancy, with Iowa State President Steve Leath offering his thoughts on who should be hired and the school using a search firm to help with the process. However the search firm wasn’t used in the way that some assume them to be; that they’re hired for a program that doesn’t know how to handle a coaching search.

Instead the school provided the firm with a list of names to look into in regards to background and interview logistics, with that list being narrowed down to seven before the interview process. In this story by Randy Peterson of the Des Moines Register, the entire search is broken down and it includes this interesting exchange between Pollard and Hoiberg:

When Pollard asked whom he should consider as his replacement, Hoiberg responded with two words: Steve Prohm.

“The first person out of his mouth was Steve Prohm, and Fred said the reason was that, ‘He runs everything that I run. I’ve met him, (and) he’s a man of character,’ ” Pollard said. “That did not mean Steve Prohm was getting the job. I did not meet Steve Prohm until (last) Sunday morning for the first time.”

Obviously not all head coaching searches are the same, with schools having particular criteria as to who they end up hiring. But this was a very interesting read, especially for those who wonder if Iowa State’s offense will change from the highly successful system run by Hoiberg.

The story can be read here.

Assigned Reading: Former Montana star Anthony Johnson looks to end cycle of abuse

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On March 11, 2010 in the Big Sky tournament final, Montana guard Anthony Johnson put forth a performance for the ages in the second half of the Grizzlies’ win over Weber State. With his team down by as much as 22 points (20 at the half), Johnson led the Grizzlies on an incredible comeback by scoring 34 of his 42 points in the second half (and the team’s final 21 points).

What makes the feat all the more amazing is that Johnson did so while struggling with glare caused by the lights in the arena that made it difficult for Johnson to see the rim. The story of how Johnson’s vision became an issue for him began an incredible story written by Jayson Jenks of the Seattle Times on the now-28 year old Johnson, and the cycle of violence he’s hoping to end.

At the age of nine Johnson was severely beaten by his stepfather, with the resulting injuries leading to two separate surgeries on Johnson’s left eye. Now raising a six-month old son with his wife Shaunte, Anthony Johnson aims to ensure that his child will never go through what he did as a youngster.

As much as Anthony wrestled with his childhood, as much as he tried to reconcile it, his past never let go of him. For a long time he didn’t want kids because he was scared of himself.

Some days Shaunte cried and worried that she was the problem. They were married in 2006, but Anthony couldn’t shake his fears. Would he repeat the ills of his childhood? Would he pass on his curse?

He knows the issues of his past will be the issues of his future, and he will have to decide for it to be different. Coldness is in his DNA, and the programming of his childhood will shadow him forever.

The full story can be read here. And highlights of that Big Sky tournament title game can be seen here.