Burleson set to return | NevadaAppeal.com

Burleson set to return

Appeal Sports Writer

Lyndale Burleson has had Dec. 22 circled on his calendar for a long time.

Burleson was ruled academically ineligible by the university earlier in the school year, and was ineligible for the first semester and the Pack’s first 10 games this season.

And, barring any last-minute complications, Burleson is expected to make his debut today (11:05 a.m./KAME-TV) when the Pack basketball team visits Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa in a rematch of last season’s BracketBuster game.

Nevada, coming off four straight home wins, enters the game with a 6-4 record. Northern Iowa has won four of its last five, including a win over Iowa, and enters the game with an 8-2 record.

As per NCAA rules, Burleson wasn’t allowed to accompany the team on its charter flight because the team left before the semester officially ended at 5 p.m. on Friday. Burleson, or his parents, had to pay for a one-way ticket to the game. He will return home with the team on its charter.

Burleson, who talked to the media prior to the Colorado State game, said he’s been itching to play.

“I’ve been sitting out a lot of games,” Burleson said. “It’s hard to sit and watch. I’ve been just working hard in practice. I have experience and I’ve played a lot of games. I know what it takes to win.”

The 6-foot-3 Burleson has played in 66 games thus far. He averaged 1.7 points and 2.2 assists as a sophomore after averaging 2.2 points and 1.5 assists as a redshirt freshman.

Nevada coach Mark Fox said the experience factor might be the biggest thing that the team gains with Burleson’s return.

Burleson hasn’t played in a game since Nevada’s loss to Memphis last March, but Fox doesn’t think his junior guard will have a whole lot of rust in his game.

“His experience level is something that has been missed, so we’re excited to get him back,” Fox said. “Lyndale has practiced with this team; with the first group and with the second group. We just don’t have enough players so it’s not been an issue for him to sit on the side. He’s been in on every rep.

“I don’t think you should see too much rust. Obviously, he hasn’t played in a game for a while. It may take him a little while to get comfortable.”

With the loss of Tyrone Hanson (kicked off team) and the injury to Richie Phillips, the Pack has been playing essentially with just nine players. Having Burleson back helps the Pack’s rotation immensely, but how much he’ll play right away depends on game situations.

“We’ve needed another perimeter guy,” Fox said. “I think it depends a lot on who we’re playing, what kind of guards we’re going against, if they are bigger guards, he might play more. Lyndale is certainly going to be welcomed back with open arms.”

Fox said senior Marcelus Kemp, sophomore Brandon Fields and freshman Armon Johnson all have played more than 30 minutes a game. Burleson’s return means some minutes will obviously go down, but the players will stay fresher, and that’s always a good thing.

Fox said that he has been impressed with Burleson and his attitude. He talked briefly with Burleson after the Pack’s win over Colorado State Wednesday night.

“I’m impressed with the way he’s handled the situation,” Fox said. “He’s handled it better than I have. I have a lot of respect for that kid.”

Burleson comes back into a good situation, too.

“I think we’re better than we were at the beginning of the season,” Burleson said. “Everybody is getting a lot more comfortable with each other.”

Notes: The team left Reno around noon on Thursday, but didn’t get to Cedar Falls until about 11 p.m. because the airport in Waterloo, Iowa was fogged in, according to team spokesperson Rhonda Lundin. She said the team had to wait for 90 minutes for the bus to pick it up, and then it took about two hours to bus to Cedar Falls… Nevada won 79-64 last season … Eric Coleman, a starter for Northern Iowa last season, is coming off the bench this season. He’s averaging 11.4 points and 8.5 rebounds a contest… Nevada players will get a day and a half off before leaving for North Carolina on Christmas morning.

• Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281


Hometown: Seattle, Washington

Position guard: Guard

Height/weight: 6-3, 190

Year: Junior