Auburn Basketball: Bruce Pearl And The Tigers Open Practice


Mar 18, 2014; Auburn, AL, USA; Auburn Tigers head basketball coach Bruce Pearl is welcomed by athletics director Jay Jacobs during his introductory press conference in the Auburn Arena on Tuesday. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball season is on the way and in less than a month, the Auburn Tigers will tipoff against West Alabama. Friday, Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl finally had an opportunity to run his team through official season practices.

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The typically boisterous coach was very calm and reserved as he sat and spoke with the media. Here are a few thoughts he shared prior to the Tigers’ court session:

  • “When you’re new, you almost have to teach them how to practice again. It’s new drills and new ways to warm up, and a new pace and a new tempo.”
  • “Getting them to go faster and play a little bit more recklessly, getting the scramble and getting them to communicate are things that are going to take time.”
  • “I have a lot more figured out… what the guys’ strengths and weaknesses are, what they can and cannot do, where I can feature them and where I should hide them.”
  • “We’re not going to be very big, or very tall or very long, but we are going to be physical. So the interesting challenge is going to be are our guards quick enough to press, are they quick enough to make people go faster? Is that going to make us better? Is that going to make them better? We are going to have to figure that out. I do think in order to protect the rim we are going to have to extend this year, because we don’t have enough quality depth on the inside that would stand foul trouble or anything like that. Those will be the things that I will be watching and learning.”
  • “The roster is in better shape now than it was in the spring, because of our additions and I think because of the progress the returning players have made. Matt [Atewe] was out all year, so it’s hard for him to have made progress, but KT [Harrell] is stronger, faster, quicker, lighter. Malcolm [Canada] is also the same and much more confident and has got a stronger personality of this team. Jordan [Granger] has been a good leader and is just going to be a more confident player this year.”
  • Tahj [Shamsid-Deen] is very, very competitive. Tahj has been very well coached. He’s got really good fundamentals defensively. He makes us better with him on the floor.”
  • “I’m going to play Tahj off the ball most of the year… We’ll be undersized when he’s playing the two, but he’s better on the wing right now and Malcolm and KC [Ross-Miller] are better with the ball in their hands. I’ll put the ball in Tahj’s hands to score, but he’s not going to bring the ball up the floor a lot this year. Now, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a future in our program as a point guard, but I want him as a scorer and I want him as a defender because he can really, really guard you.”

Pearl also touched on some of the changes on the roster, and Alex Thompson and Ronald Delph – who have both taken leaves of absence from the Auburn basketball team – specifically. “They’re not enrolled this fall and there’s a chance that one or both could come back,” Pearl said. “That’s going to be determined probably later on.”

The decision to take leave from the team may have something to do with the shaky scholarship situation the program found itself in this off-season. The Tigers were over the limit for scholarships, but with the departure of Thompson and Delph, along with the transfers of Dion Wade and Benas Griciunas, the Auburn basketball roster actually has two open spots entering the season. One is expected to be filled this January by Trayvon Reed, who committed to play for the Tigers this summer after originally signing with Maryland.

You can view the first ten minutes of the  press conference here:

And check out some of the action from practice here: