Current And Former Players Like Pearl Hire

Auburn's hire of Bruce Pearl as men's basketball coach is receiving positive reviews.

Auburn, Ala.--Current players and former players say they are quite pleased with Auburn's decision to hire Bruce Pearl as Auburn's new head men's basketball coach.

On Tuesday morning the university announced that Pearl had been hired to replace Tony Barbee, who was fired last week. On Tuesday night the coach was formally introduced at a press conference at Auburn Arena.

"I am excited that Bruce Pearl is our new coach," said junior guard K.T. Harrell. "In our meeting with us he told us that we shouldn't be afraid of anybody and that we have the talent to turn this thing around.

"You can tell that he has a lot of belief in himself, and when you see a coach who has that like he does it automatically helps his team have belief in him," Harrell added.

Asked if his teammates share his opinion on Pearl, Harrell said, "Absolutely, absolutely. He is so passionate it makes you really want to play for him."

Bruce Pearl is shown with Athletic Director Jay Jacobs.

Freshman center Benas Griciunas, who missed most of the season with a back injury, agrees with Harrell that the Pearl hire is a popular one with the players. "I am real excited," he said. "I think it is a going to be a new beginning and I am excited that all of my teammates will be back and we will be playing together.

"I really like his playing style," the freshman said. "He said we are going to pressure and play fast. I feel like that fits me really well. I think that fits the players we have here."

Benas Griciunas is shown in a preseason scrimmage.

Auburn is planning to apply for a medical hardship redshirt for Griciunas. "I am hoping to get it, but I don't yet," he said.

Asked how his rehab is going, the seven-footer said, "It is getting better. I have been able to work out a little bit."

Rex Frederick, one of the top players in Auburn history, attended the event along with another 1950s standout, Terry Chandler. Both said they liked the hire.

"I think it is a fantastic hire," said Frederick, who played on nationally-ranked teams under Coach Joel Eaves. "He is going to bring a lot of strength with him because of his relationship with high school coaches and players. I think that is going to be a big plus for Auburn. Terry and I were talking about the fact he has been a winner everywhere he has been and he will be at Auburn, too."

Chuck Person, a 1980s star at Auburn and in the NBA, agreed with Frederick. "I think Coach Pearl is going to do a great job," he said.

Allen Payne, who wrapped up his Auburn playing days last week, is also on board with Athletic Director Jay Jacobs' decision to bring Pearl to Auburn.

"I think it is a great hire," Payne said. "I am excited for K.T., Tajh (Shamsid-Deen) and the rest of the guys. I?built a real good bond with them and I am excited where Coach Pearl can take our program."

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