March 24, 2014
Bruce Pearl meets his new fans in Auburn Arena on Monday night
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN, Ala. -- Bruce Pearl was too much about business to do a lot of Bruce Pearl fun things in Auburn Arena on Monday night.
Nothing out of the ordinary. Certainly no body paint. He cheered, like other fans, for the women's team against Old Dominion in the WNIT second-round game, won by the Tigers 82-59. Posed for photos with his new fans at halftime. Even chatted with Pat Dye in the stands during the second half. Otherwise, there were thoughts of all the serious work has done as he wrapped up his first week as Auburn's men's basketball coach.
So far: Lots of media appearances, meetings, thoughts on tougher schedules, putting together a coaching staff, organizing early workotuts.
"We had a 5:45 workout on Friday and we had a 5:45 workout this morning. The bottom line is, when those guys are getting up out of bed and so many athletes are seeing the basketball team going, 'What are these guys doing? Where are they going?' We’re just trying to get better," Pearl said.
Pearl said he likes early practices.
"The confidence that comes from that, knowing that the other guys in the league are in bed right now and this is what we're trying to do. Those have been the primary things as far as the players are concerned."
Pearl is sending that message to his players. He's sending the Auburn message to everybody else. He appeared in his old job as a basketball analyst on ESPN last week, and has done 28 radio interviews. Pearl says he's doing it to make sure everybody knows he's on the job, even if he can't go recruiting.
"It's things like that make it a 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."
Pearl needs players. And coaches.
"I’m spending a lot of time filtering through our coaching opportunities and possibilities," he said. "The response has been great. If recruits respond as well as coaches have to this opportunity, we’re going to be OK."
He said he could finalize his staff at the Final Four.
"The thing about the Final Four is it’s where I hobnob with my fellow wizards," Pearl said. "That's where we’re going to have a lot of our meetings."
Pearl's approach to scheduling non-conference games is apparently different. He said he wants tough ones and said he'll work with the SEC office to make it happen.
"My philosophy is going to be to play the best schedule we possibly can," Pearl said. "We’re probably going to have to travel some, especially early. 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."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: