Burwell Has Improved During Sit-Out Year
Courtesy: Athletics Media Relations  
Release: 07/17/2012
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South Florida transfer Mike Burwell completed a demanding year of practicing with his new team, but he was unable to play per NCAA rules. When it was over, he finally earned the chance to go home to spend some time with his family in East Brunswick, N.J. during the early part of the summer. One would think he’d take advantage of this downtime and put the basketball away for a few weeks before returning to Towson, but that clearly wasn’t the case.

"I did two-a-days every day while I was home," said Burwell. "The only day off was Sunday. I'm already in the best shape of my career and I'll be even better before the start of the season."

Burwell didn't just begin working hard though. He and teammate Jerrelle Benimon used their sit-out season to improve all aspects of their game. They worked out with the team on non-game days and did individual workouts with assistant coach Kevin Clark on game days. Both Burwell and Benimon, along with the coaching staff have taken notice of how much they’ve improved since their arrival on campus a little over a year ago.

"I've improved my ball handling and my aggressiveness," explained Burwell. "I think over the past few years, I would always sit back and just play my role on teams. But this year I have great expectations and I'm setting goals for myself."

Back in New Jersey, Burwell was able to combine family and workout time as he did many of his workouts with his 14-year old brother, Vance.

"It's always great to get home and hang out with the family," said Burwell. "I hadn't seen my brother in four years because he lives in New Orleans. He's going to be a really good player so it was great to see him and work out with him and take him under my wing."

Taking his brother under his wing is good practice for Burwell. He will be taking the entire Tiger team under his wing during the 2012-13 season. The Tigers are loaded with talented, but youthful guards. Although it will be Burwell’s first year in a Tiger uniform as well, the coaching staff will be relying on him to show the freshmen and sophomores the ropes.

"I’m excited to lead them because our young guys are bringing a different energy," said Burwell. "Last year we were trying to find ourselves to know our roles. This year, the freshmen coming in have a lot of energy. They are working hard because they want to play. These guys are in the gym every day and every night trying to get better. They want to take somebody's spot and that's big for us because it gets everyone better. It makes all of us work harder and stay true to ourselves."

Burwell relishes the role of being a leader because he looks back to the days when he was a freshman at South Florida. Former Bull and current member of the Dallas Mavericks, Dominique Jones, took an interest in Burwell and guided him on and off the basketball court when he was a freshman. Now he wants to return the favor.

"Over the years I've learned a lot from a bunch of different guys," said Burwell. “What I want to do is lead our young guys by example. I don't want to do a lot of talking; I want them to see how to act by watching me. Actions speak louder than words."

Burwell admits that it was tough for him and Benimon to watch the games from the sideline last year because they wanted to be out there to help the team so badly. However, he believes that the sit out year has made him want to improve and increased his desire to win. Although he doesn’t want to be outspoken, he’s not shy when it comes to setting lofty, but attainable goals for this team.

"We know goals lead to hard work in preparation so that's why we set them so high," said Burwell. "We want to have one of the biggest win-loss turnarounds in NCAA history and I think we have the kind of guys that can make that happen. Who knows, maybe they'll make a movie about us one day."



-TowsonTigers.com-



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