Ken Burmeister, one of Lute Olson's top UA assistants in 1980s, dies at 72
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Ken Burmeister, one of Lute Olson's top UA assistants in 1980s, dies at 72

Ken Burmeister

Incarnate Word coach Ken Burmeister gestures during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014. Incarnate Word won 74-73. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Ken Burmeister, who helped Lute Olson build Final Four teams at Iowa and Arizona in the 1980s before going on to win more 300 games as the head coach at Loyola-Chicago, UTSA, Incarnate Word and Trinity University, died Tuesday at age 72. 

Burmeister had been battling cancer. 

An assistant coach for Olson's early Final Four teams at Iowa (1980) and Arizona (1988), Burmeister left UA in 1986 to become the head coach at Texas-San Antonio. 

Burmeister posted 72 wins at UTSA from 1986-90. He led the Roadrunners to their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament, where they lost to Illinois in 1988.

Burmeister took over at Loyola in 1994 after working as an assistant at nearby DePaul and went 40-71 over four seasons. He was the Ramblers’ coach when they moved into Gentile Arena on campus in 1996.

In 2008-09, just two weeks after Olson unexpectedly retired, Burmeister returned to McKale Center with Incarnate Word for an exhibition game against the Wildcats. Known for his personality and aggressive recruiting, Burmeister drew parallels between building the Division II program to what he did at UA two decades earlier.

“We take players and develop them,” Burmeister said before that game. “Same thing at Arizona. Now once you get it going, you can recruit a better player. That’s the fun part: Taking a player and developing him and making him play a style that’s aggressive.”

Includes information from The Associated Press.

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