Pearl wins Rupp Cup

Tennessee's Bruce Pearl wound up posting a victory in San Antonio, after all.

The Vol basketball coach fell short of the NCAA Final Four when his team lost to Louisville in the Sweet 16, but he was in San Antonio Thursday to accept the Adolph Rupp Cup as the 2008 National Coach of the Year.

Pearl guided the '08 Vols to a 31-5 season that shattered the program's previous single-season record of 26 wins. He won the SEC championship by two games, enjoyed a week as the No. 1 team in the national rankings and earned a No. 2 seeding for the NCAA Tournament.

Ironically, Pearl had to share the SEC Coach of the Year Award (voted on by league coaches) with Kentucky's Billy Gillispie.

North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough earned the Rupp Award as NCAA Player of the Year.

Club spokesman Gerry Calvert, who played for Rupp at Kentucky, expressed pleasure with the selections of Pearl and Hansbrough.

"Anybody who knew Coach Rupp well would tell you that Tyler is the kind of player he would have loved to coach," Calvert said, "and Pearl is the kind of coach he would have loved to compete against. They both typify the passion, drive and excellence for which Coach Rupp will always be remembered."

The selections were made by a national committee consisting of more than 40 present and retired sports writers, coaches, TV-radio broadcasters, and sports administrators. The awards were presented by North Carolina coach Roy Williams and Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan.

Originated in 1972, the Adolph Rupp Player of the Year Award has been given to such notables as Bill Walton, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, David Robinson, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan, and Kevin Durant.

The award is given in memory of Adolph Rupp who coached the Big Blue from 1930 to 1972. Rupp retired with 876 victories and four NCAA titles. Rupp 82.2 winning percentage still ranks No. 1 among men's Div. 1 coaches with at least 500 victories.

The Rupp Cup for coaching excellence has been given since 2004. Pearl's predecessors included Phil Martelli, Bruce Weber, Roy Williams and Bo Ryan.

Joining Hansbrough on the 2008 Rupp All-American Team are Michael Beasley (Kansas State); D.J. Augustin (Texas); D.J. White (Indiana); and, Kevin Love (UCLA).

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