Congratulations to Coach Bruce Pearl and his team for their performance at the SEC Basketball Tournament where they won a lot of respect for their play throughout the week. If they hadn’t already won the hearts of Auburn people before, they did it with their performance in Nashville.
I never coached basketball, but I have coached enough football to know what they did was a lot more difficult than what Kentucky did in the SEC Tournament. It took everything Auburn’s coaches and players had to make their run to the semi-finals. The Tigers were fighting uphill in every game, but managed to win three times.
It is a lot easier to do what Kentucky did in winning the tournament when you have superior talent and every advantage a team could have. I am not saying that Coach Calipari and his team haven’t done an excellent job because they have. They sure don’t play like a bunch of spoiled high school kids. They play like grown men and that is why they have a chance to make college basketball history by finishing the year as an undefeated team.
Coach Pearl pieced together his first Auburn team from players he inherited and players the Tigers were able to pick up very late in the recruiting process. The result was a group that wasn’t favored to win many times, but surprisingly, with a couple of exceptions, they were in every game because of the type of character and spirit they played with all season.
There is no better example of that than K.T. Harrell, who was an obvious leader and an unselfish player. K.T. was the best player on the team and one of the best in the SEC, but made sure he shared the ball with his teammates for the good of his team.
The 2014-15 basketball Tigers reminded me so much of our 1981 Auburn football team that I coached. We won five games and lost six, and we could have very easily won three more, and probably should have, if I had done a better job of coaching. Those players fought hard enough and played well enough to have won more games my first season at Auburn.
You have got to have a lot of respect for the two graduate students who transferred in to be a part of Bruce Pearl’s first Auburn team, Antoine Mason and K.C. Ross-Miller. When the Tigers had their struggles they could have been a problem, but I never saw a time when those guys didn’t play hard.
I think that applies to the team as a whole. Coach Pearl’s guys played hard and a lot of them got better throughout the season as the result of their work. That is a compliment to them and the coaches, who have fans excited about the future of Auburn basketball.
While on the subject of basketball I want to say a thank you to Auburn Network play-by-play man Rod Bramblett and analyst Sonny Smith for the job they did calling the games this season.
Sonny has got to be the best color man in America. He has so much insight and knowledge about the game and he can explain what is happening so fans with an average knowledge of basketball can understand what is going on, what the team needs to do, what is hurting the team and what it is doing well.
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