Auburn Basketball: Bruce Pearl is a Coaching Machine


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

Auburn hasn’t made the NCAA tournament since 2003, and hasn’t played in a postseason tournament of any sort since the 2009 NIT. Despite those facts, there is more excitement for Auburn basketball entering the 2014-15 season than there has been in a long, long time.

The reason? New Tigers head basketball coach Bruce Pearl.

While visiting practice yesterday, athletic director Jay Jacobs tweeted that Bruce Pearl is a “coaching machine and a great teacher.”

How do the players feel about it?

“Oh, man, it’s so much fun,” Harrell told Auburn Undercover late last week. “He pushes you, too. He challenges you to guard guys you think you might not be able to guard. He challenges you to attack when you really don’t feel like attacking. It makes you want to make your teammates better and it makes us better as a team. It’s been good. We’re having a lot of fun.”

More from Auburn Basketball

Energy is always on display when Pearl is involved – he never seems to sleep. We’ve seen him all over ESPN and sister networks ESPNU and the SEC Network. He’s travelled to Los Angeles to appear on the Jim Rome Show and also spent time recruiting and visited with Los Angeles Clippers’ head coach Doc Rivers while out west. Just last week, Pearl was spotted at a Cleveland Cavaliers practice.

Pearl pounces on opportunities to be on television so often because that’s where he spent the last few seasons and he’s got great connections on the other side of the camera. He also knows it’s a great way to raise the profile of Auburn basketball and appeal to recruits.

As for meeting with NBA coaches, it’s all about learning and making up for the time he lost during a three-year show cause penalty. He’s open to new ideas, whether they come from the NBA, were gathered during his time as an on-air basketball analyst, or come from his assistant coaches.

However, he was pretty successful prior to taking the Auburn basketball job. Pearl has a 462-145 record in 19 years as a collegiate coach, and has reached the NCAA tournament 17 times in that span.

“Is what I’ve done for my whole career, does that still work three years later, four years later?” Pearl said in a recent interview. “I think the most important thing for me to do is to find out before we do a whole lot of changing.”

The biggest changes have come on the roster. Auburn has brought in a handful of new players, including transfers Antoine Mason, KC Ross-Miller and Cinmeon Bowers, to team with talented returners like KT Harrell and Tahj Shamsid-Deen to begin the new campaign. Trayvon Reed plans to join the team in January.

With so many changes, can Pearl take a team that was 14-16 last season and compete in an improved SEC? Could they possibly even make the NCAA tournament?

“Everything’s in place at Auburn,” Pearl said at a recent speaking engagement with the Montgomery Quarterback Club, “The facilities, the fan base, the Auburn family. I want our guys to taste some success. If we don’t get it done, it’s on me and the coaching staff. I want us to be competitive right away.”

It wouldn’t be a shock if the coaching machine gets it done.

More from Fly War Eagle