Auburn basketball: Why Bruce Pearl led Tigers to successful 2020-21 season

Auburn basketball Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Auburn basketball Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

One might read this title and blame the author for showing blatant bias towards Bruce Pearl and the Auburn basketball program for calling the 2020-21 season a successful one. After all, the Tigers are guaranteed to end up with a losing record this year no matter the result of tomorrow’s season finale against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

With that said, the Tigers were able to gain elite status among their peers in the 2020-21 college basketball season.

No, it’s not because of a trip to the NCAA tournament in Indianapolis. Because of shenanigans associated with Sharife Cooper’s father’s player agency, dreams of playing in the first March Madness in two seasons were dashed.

Yes, there hasn’t been a Final Four since Auburn basketball was playing eventual champions Virginia in Minneapolis.

Anyway, during a global pandemic, what Bruce Pearl was just able to accomplish with this Tigers team was even more astounding:

Having not a single positive COVID-19 test is almost unheard of for a team traveling the country in 2020/2021. Somehow, Pearl was able to keep his guys focused on playing out the schedule…this despite the fact the team wasn’t even postseason eligible in 2021.

This season has been absolutely butchered from a scheduling standpoint. While it has provided memorable moments nonetheless, numerous marquee matchups have been canceled all season.

It’s been such a hectic sprint that CBS’ Jon Rothstein has had a daily update for the schools that are on pause. Here’s today’s for reference:

Of course, not once in 2020-21 has Auburn basketball been seen on this list. As someone who was able to get to a pair of games, it was good to know I didn’t hit the road and find a hotel in a different city only to have the game canceled. As a human being, it’s damn relieving to know that the Tigers were not put in peril due to the ongoing pandemic.

War Eagle to that, Mr. Pearl. Let’s beat the Bulldogs and send this season out in style.

Next. Mississippi State game rescheduled to tomorrow. dark