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Thoughts, news and notes from the sports staff of The Saratogian newspaper, located in historic Saratoga Springs, New York. The gang in the corner office on Lake Avenue give you the post-game wrap-ups, news and notes from the games we cover and opinions about the sports we read about every day.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Skidmore names Navy's Joe Burke as head hoops coach

Skidmore College has named Joe Burke as head men’s basketball coach, following a national search. Burke recently completed his sixth year as an assistant coach at the U.S. Naval Academy after four years on the Cornell University staff.

“We are thrilled to have Joe Burke join the Skidmore family and take the helm of our men’s basketball program,” said Gail Cummings-Danson, Skidmore athletics director. “Joe has proven himself as a tireless worker who has the ability to attract outstanding student-athletes. I look forward to watching the progress our program makes under his guidance.”

Burke was instrumental in the resurgence of the Navy program, serving as one of its top recruiters. He brought outstanding talent that immediately contributed to Navy’s improvement on the court. Five of Navy’s recruits earned Patriot League All-Rookie Team honors over the past six seasons.

In the 2008-09 season, one of Burke’s earliest recruits, Kaleo Kina, was a first-team All-Patriot League selection after leading the Midshipmen to a 19-11 record that equaled the most wins for Navy since the 1999-2000 season.

"I am thrilled to be at Skidmore,” Burke said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for me and my family. It will be a privilege to fulfill a life long dream of being a head coach at a great institution.

"I am anxious to get started," Burke said. "I have been fortunate to be an assistant to Steve Donahue when he took over at Cornell and Billy Lange when he took over the Naval Academy program, so I have a good feel for how much work there is to do. I am excited to start reaching out to the team, their families and the former players because this is truly their program. I am also excited to get on the road to recruit and represent Skidmore College."

A 1996 graduate of Ursinus College, Burke sees Skidmore as the prefect place for his first head coaching position. “I immediately reached out to Gail Cummings-Danson when the job became available and that interest only grew stronger as I went through the interview process and had the opportunity to meet Gail, her staff, the committee and members of the team.

“Everyone associated with the school and the community made me feel at home. Having been a student-athlete at Ursinus and having coached at such great academic/athletic institutions like Cornell and the Naval Academy really makes this a great transition.”

Prior to Navy, Burke coached at Cornell from 2001-04, serving as the team’s top assistant in the 2003-04 season. He was responsible for recruiting, practice planning, and game strategy. After leaving Cornell, his recruits helped the Big Red continue their upward trend toward their recent dominance of the Ivy League.

"I couldn’t be more excited about the future of this program," Burke said. "I think there are many pieces in place and I look forward to providing the leadership to take it to another level. As I told the kids when I met them, we will never settle. They want to achieve great things both on and off the court and it is my goal that as a team we do just that."

Burke was an assistant coach at Philadelphia University from 1998 to 2000. A 1992 graduate of Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in Pennsauken, N.J., he served as an assistant at his alma mater from 1996-1998.

Burke succeeds Luke Flockerzi, who recently took over the University of Rochester program. Skidmore returns four starters from last year’s team which went 16-10, tying a program varsity win record.

Burke and his wife, Victoria, are the parents of a son Alec (6) and two daughters, Elena (4), and Olivia Grace (2).

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