Busy First Week On The Job For Pearl

Auburn men's basketball Coach Bruce Pearl discusses his first week on the job, assistant coaches, scheduling and more.

Auburn, Ala.--It has been six days since Bruce Pearl was hired as Auburn's men basketball coach and while there are no games to be played yet, it hasn't kept him from promoting the program and getting the word out that it's a different day for the Tigers.

Part of that has been being on radio and doing television with networks all across the country talking about his job at Auburn. Still under the show-cause probation by the NCAA until August, Pearl can't contact recruits nor can he even talk with high school coaches about potential prospects. With that in mind he said it's important to the word out so people understand his situation at the moment.

"If a high school coach is calling me and it's about recruiting, I can't call him back," Pearl said. "If I'm a high school coach in the state of Alabama and I've got a good sophomore and it's been five or six days and I'm wondering when is Coach Pearl from Auburn going to call me. Coach Pearl from Auburn can't call him. And, so, our assistants are working on that process. Once again, it's things like that make it challenge but it's nothing we can't overcome. So, my being on the radio and my being available to media is a way for me to get that word out.

"Look, if Jim Rome wants to talk to Auburn's basketball coach, Auburn's basketball coach is going to be available for Jim Rome because everyone in the country is listening to him. If Linda Cohn wants me on her podcast, where and when do you want me on your podcast? If Andy Katz wants me in Katz' corner, what corner? I'll be there."

With Pearl not on the road at the moment that job falls to assistants Tony Jones and his son Steven Pearl. Working to build relationships in Alabama and around the region, Pearl said for the moment those two will be the rest of his coaching staff but things could change in the coming weeks. With the NABC Coaches Convention surrounding the Final Four in Dallas, he said that is a great opportunity to fill out the rest of his staff and right now there is plenty of interest surrounding the positions.

"I'm spending a lot of time filtering through our coaching opportunities and possibilities," Pearl said. "The response has been great. If recruits respond as well as coaches have to this opportunity, we're going to be OK. Just like putting a team together, you've got to have a depth chart and you've got to have certain pieces and certain dimensions so I don't like making decisions until I have more information. If I've got three or four guys that are really good recruiting, if I've got three or four guys I trust as coaches that can challenge my thinking, and then once I get them all together, kind of deciding who we are going to bring in.

"I would imagine the staffing will begin to start taking place around the Final Four," he added. "There could be an addition before then and there were certainly be a couple of additions after the Final Four. That's what I've been focusing on too."

Pearl and Coach Pat Dye talking during Auburn's women's NIT game on Monday night

Trying to fill out his staff is only part of the day for Pearl as he has the current team already working hard to get ready for next season. That has meant early-morning sessions with the team as he pushes them to succeed, something he said has always been part of his program for past teams. One of the guys that has been forced to do extra is point guard Malcolm Canada. Missing the first day of classes with an excused absence from the previous coaching staff, Pearl said he understood that but it didn't allow him to get out of the running.

"He had talked to the coaching staff prior and we had a great visit and he ran till he puked the first day he was back," Pearl said. I'm not sure what corner he puked in but I think it was that far right-hand corner and he was good with it. He understood that's what he had to do so he handled it well and we handled it well and you know school starts, you got to come back to class."

Putting together a coaching staff and getting his team off to a good start has been a point of emphasis for Pearl, but he knows there is plenty more to do in order for Auburn basketball to get back on the national map. Part of that involves scheduling better non-conference opponents. That's something he believes in strongly and he wants to make sure it's done the right way to help the program in the long run.

"We've got a lot of work to do in scheduling," Pearl said. "In fact, I'm going to be visiting with the SEC office this week because they can be a great resource for us to assist us in scheduling when it comes to tournaments, neutral sites. My philosophy is going to be to play the best schedule we possibly can. We're probably going to have to travel some, especially early. I mean people aren't going to come here right away, so if I've got to go on the road first to develop the program that's what we'll do. We're going to put the kids in challenging situations early so that when we get into league play we're not as overwhelmed."


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