The Burgin Bulldog basketball team enters the 2015-16 season with a new coach, but definitely not a new face. Don Irvine takes over head coaching duties, replacing Brian Kirk, who went back to coach at his alma mater Augusta High School after spending the last three seasons in charge of the Bulldogs.
Irvine, who coached at Burgin from 1986-1989 and then again from 2003-2012, led the Bulldogs to their last winning season during the 2011-12 season, when the team went 22-9.
“We had about five years in a row where we kind of got over a hump, kind of got our system in place. We had some good players and we got lucky to have two or three really good classes in a row. That is what it takes at a school of our size,” said Irvine.
Irvine now hopes he can get this year’s team back to the type of success he had during the last five years of his previous stint with the Bulldogs, when they compiled a 77-49 record.
“I think we’ve got some good players who are hungry for success. That is always good to build off of,” said Irvine. “This team reminds me of the team that I came back to in 2003, with Zack Gross, Sean Bottoms, Joe Harris and Bobby Wiley. They had kind of been beaten up on for three or four years and we got them up close to .500, so I feel this bunch is a lot like that team.”
“I have a little bit more of an advantage this time, because I got to watch this group last year and Coach Kirk worked with them well and got them all some experience,” said Irvine. “I also had a whole summer with them, so that helped me get used to them, and them to get used to me.”
A lot of Burgin’s success will come down to the leadership of senior Tommy Lopresto on the court.
Lopresto, who led the Bulldogs in scoring with 12.6 points per game last season, is ready to embrace that role.
“I am very comfortable with this team and I think we are going to have a strong season. I’m ready for the season to start and I am hoping to finish out my senior year on a strong note,” said Lopresto.
The Bulldogs also return their leading rebounder, junior Jordan Hurst (4.3 points per game, 5 rebounds per game), who Irvine hopes can have another big year on the glass.
“I expect him to be our leading rebounder again,” said Irvine. ”He is our strongest guy inside, so we also expect him to expand his range on offense as well. Jordan plays as hard as anyone on the court.”
Along with Lopresto and Hurst, the Bulldogs also return starters Chase Hale (3.9 points per game, 3.1 rebounds per game) and Drew Raisor (5.8 points per game, 4.4 rebounds per game).
Pick up a copy of this weeks Harrodsburg Herald or subscribe online for the rest of the Burgin Basketball Preview.