Pearl completes staff

Bruce Pearl got his man … finally. Tennessee's head basketball coach today announced the hiring of Steve Forbes – a guy he tried to secure 14 months ago – to round out the Volunteer staff for 2006-07.

Pearl made a run at Forbes shortly after accepting the UT reins in March of 2005 but couldn't close the deal. Pearl eventually hired Scott Edgar, who left in March to become head man at Southeast Missouri State. That opened the door for Pearl to renew his pursuit of Forbes, who spent the past two years at Texas A&M.

Forbes helped the Aggies go from a 7-21 record in the year prior to his arrival to 20-win seasons in 2004-05 and 2005-06. A&M went 21-10 in the former, qualifying for the National Invitation Tournament. Last winter's Aggies went 22-9 and made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1987. They lost to eventual Final Four participant LSU on a last-second shot.

Pearl and Forbes go way back, and their respect appears to be mutual.

"I have known Steve for more than 20 years," Pearl said in a statement released by the UT sports information office. "We've been trying to find a way to work together for a long time. Last year we talked about coming to Tennessee but he had just gotten settled in at Texas A&M. Steve is a great professional. He's solid and experienced in all areas, including recruiting and coaching."

Forbes' recruiting skills appear to be exceptional. Texas A&M's last two recruiting classes were ranked in the top-10 nationally. That's quite an accomplishment for a team that won just seven games in 2003-04.

Halfcourt defense was a problem area for the 2005-06 Vols. Forbes believes he can help in that regard, too.

"I think one of my strong points would definitely be defensively," he said on AM-1180's "The Edge" radio program. "It's a little different package than what Coach (Pearl) believes in. I've been around pressure defense on the halfcourt – not so much on the full court – but I'm familiar with his system of play because we've known each other for so long…. Hopefully, I'll be able to help him change some things defensively to pressure the ball in the halfcourt, as well as the full court."

Forbes began his coaching career as an aide at Southwestern Community College in Iowa (1989-91), then compiled a 36-27 record in two years as the school's head coach. He spent two years (1993-95) as an assistant at Barton County Community College, then went 68-28 in three years as the head man at the Great Bend, Kansas school. His 1995-96 team went 29-4.

He joined the Idaho staff as an aide in 1998-99, then spent three years (2000-2003) on Louisiana Tech's staff and one year at Illinois State (2003-04) before moving to College Station two years ago.

Forbes coached two players who were drafted by NBA teams. Aleksandar Radojevic (Barton County) was the 12th overall selection of the Toronto Raptors in 1999 and Kaniel Dickens (Idaho) was a second-round pick of the Utah Jazz in 2000.

Born in Lone Tree, Iowa, Forbes graduated from Southern Arkansas University in 1988 with a degree in secondary education. He spent one year at his alma mater as the sports information director before launching his coaching career.

Forbes and his wife, Johnetta, have three children -- a daughter, Elizabeth, and sons Christopher and Jonathan.

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