Basketball Media Days Underway

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The SEC's basketball media days don't get the same scrutiny as their football counterparts, but there's plenty to be learned by those who choose to attend them. Half the SEC's men's and women's coaches were in Birmingham on Wednesday for the first of two days of exposure. One thing on everyone's mind was excitement over the SEC's mammoth new deal with ESPN.

"This television package is REALLY going to help us in recruiting," said Tennessee's Bruce Pearl.

The Volunteers may eventually shift their scheduling philosophy as a result since they've been arranging high profile non-SEC matchups as a way of generating more television exposure.

"By playing Kansas, Memphis, Gonzaga, Temple, Marquette, Ohio State ... we put ourselves on TV," Pearl said.

The Volunteers were selected as the likely conference champion by a media vote earlier in the week. Florida was picked to finish second in the Eastern Division. Pearl, however, said he's been cautioning his team to expect big things out of the Gators.

"Those kids are talented, and they played hard," Pearl said. "They were challenged to find ways to complete games only because of their experience, that's all. They had to go through it."

The one newcomer to make his debut Wednesday was South Carolina coach Darrin Horn. He left Western Kentucky after taking them to the Sweet Sixteen to replace Dave Odom in Columbia.

"We're learning a lot about our team, and they've been responding really well," Horn said. "We're really encouraged by what we've seen in the first week."

Florida's Billy Donovan will be one of the featured attractions of the second day in Birmingham. The Gator head man will be accompanied by Walter Hodge and Dan Werner. Other noteworthy day two attendees will be Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie and new LSU coach Trent Johnson.

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