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Bruce Pearl, Auburn Men's Basketball Head Coach

Zach Gleb Show / Zach Gleb
The Truth Network Radio
March 14, 2023 8:20 pm

Bruce Pearl, Auburn Men's Basketball Head Coach

Zach Gleb Show / Zach Gleb

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March 14, 2023 8:20 pm

Bruce Pearl joined Zach to discuss how proud he is of Auburn getting 20 wins this season and how good the SEC conference has been. 

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Auto Trader. We continue this at Gelb Show Coast to Coast on CBS Sports Radio. The NCAA tournament is here.

8th seed Iowa up against 9th seed Auburn in Birmingham for the first round of the NCAA tournament Thursday at 6 50 PM Eastern. And now joining us is the head coach at Auburn and Bruce Pearl, who by the way, is a member of the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the home of the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame is the Suffolk YJCC on Long Island in Comac. And that was actually my gym growing up when I was in high school, so I would see Coach Pearl's face each and every day on the wall.

Coach, appreciate the time. How you been? Yeah, I tell you what, that's that's about as good introduction as I've had in a long time. I've been I've been on a lot of Wall of Shames.

There aren't many, you know, Walla Hall of Fames that I've been I've been on. So yeah, I remember that was very, very special time to be inducted. Well, it's great to have you back on the show. We were talking a lot about your team last year with Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler. Now both those guys are off in the pros. Your team is back in the NCAA tournament. They hit the 20 win mark once again. What does it say about this group with what they lost that they were still able to get back to the big dance? It says a lot about our program.

It really does. It says a lot about the guys that returned. It said a lot about the newcomers, said a lot about the staff, but that gets in life and in basketball, it's easier to get there than it is to stay there. And so getting there this year wasn't easy. We played a really tough schedule. Only three teams in college basketball had more appearances against the field than Auburn did. And we took some tough losses and some last second defeats, but the body of work was good enough to get us a nine seed, get us 20 wins, get us back in and a lot of teams aren't playing for anything and we're still playing for national championship. When you got to Auburn, you knew the task at hand. They wanted to have some consistency. They didn't see an NCAA tournament since 2003.

The program has only been to the tournament now 12 times 4 since 2018. Just how do you kind of describe where the state of your program is and what you guys have built? Well, it's good.

It's great. You make history, not once, but you make it over a period of time. And so I would like to see us continue to make history. It's what we ask our players to do when they come here. I got to tell you Zach, so often when former athletes come back to their old coaches or to the old universities, 100% of them say, you know, I wish I would have, and then you fill in the blank. And sometimes it was just life lessons that they didn't realize they were learning when they were going through it.

And they might've done something differently. Sometimes it might've been the way they trained or realizing that this was an incredibly special time. So take advantage of the opportunity and can you have one shining moment?

And, you know, because here's what happens. At the end of a season in March, we're, we're tired. It's been a grind. We've been at this since, since this team got together right after Memorial day. And, and, and you've got to find a way in spite of the competition, the challenges to elevate your game and, and, and to play your best basketball at the end, because to the victory of the spoils and the spoils are so incredible at this time of the year. Bruce Pearl, you guys got off to a great start at 16 and three. I know things haven't gone your way down the stretch for nine down the stretch. Where's the confidence of this group as they head into the NCAA tournament on Thursday?

You know, that part I did, I didn't actually even really know those numbers. And so thank you for ruining my morning, but you know what it all had to do with the competition. You know, we, we played a good dog. We played six teams in the field at an on conference. We played three true road game against power five teams in non coverage. The only power five club to do that. I think it had more, if you look at those nine losses, most of it had to do with the competition and being on the road and everything, but it does affect your confidence.

That's a great question. And so my message to this team and look, the work's done and we are prepared. Let's take advantage of the opportunity.

What are the positives that you could take still, like with the way that the team has played the last month or two, like what are you seeing from your view? Well, wait, look, we played Alabama for 85 minutes. Uh, uh, we lost to them, uh, you know, at Alabama in overtime.

Uh, they, they, they're, they're like housing people there. Their average margin of victory for Alabama at home this year was 2025, something like that. And we took them to overtime. I think we led Alabama for maybe 67 of the 85 minutes. And right now the number one scene in the tournament. So if we're good enough to be able to be able to play with them or, or, you know, you know, lose Tennessee in a last possession and beat Tennessee at our place or, you know, things like that, I can point you some games and go, guys, we are prepared.

Um, and, and, and there's no better way of, of building confidence than feeling like you're prepared. Well, I'm glad you brought up the Alabama games. Cause you guys did an exceptional job on Brandon Miller. We know how great of a player he is.

Only hit one three pointer in the two games he played in at 17 and 13. And like you mentioned, coach Bruce Pearl, one of those games went to overtime. I guess you guys have a little bit of the secret sauce up against them.

What was the keys in kind of containing him? Uh, you know, it just, it's, they're big games and I don't know that we got any secret sauce against them. Um, you gotta be competitive against your rivalry.

They swept us this year. So, um, I don't feel like I got anything, uh, uh, anything the secret, but, you know, look, he's, he's, he's better from three than two. And so you gotta make a, put the ball down the floor and then take your chances from there.

You give him space and time and he's going to make you pay. For you, Bruce Pearl, why was Jenai Broom such a good fit for you guys transferring over from Morehead State? Well, what a, what a, what a great feeling, you know, my son Steven did a great job recruiting Jenai and his family. Um, when you lose Walker Kessler, it was the national defensive player of the year, uh, on all American, uh, first team all conference performer.

Um, and obviously having his game is translated to the NBA a lot better than most people thought it would not me, uh, not our program. Um, though you talk about big shoes to fill now, holy crap. And I think Jenai has done a great job.

Um, you know, uh, uh, filling those shoes. He, he's probably scored it, um, better than Walker scored it for us. Um, you know, he's, you know, Walker was one of the greatest shot blockers in history college basketball.

Um, and so, but Jenai does a good job protecting the rim. He's a really good overall player. He, he understands how to pass. He can shoot the ball. Uh, he, he communicates well. Um, he's kind of an old school, um, you know, big, um, kind of a dinosaur if you will.

Um, but, but that old fashioned stuff, you know, still really works. And then Jalen Williams, who, who played behind Jabari last year, a lot of guys in that situation would have transferred. When you bring in someone like Jabari, he stayed the course. He competed with Jabari, challenged him every day in practice. And we went to the bench with Jalen Williams.

We didn't drop off that much. And then Jalen's taken advantage of the opportunity this year and been one of the better powerful to the SEC. When you look at someone like Jenai, I was talking to John Becker yesterday at Vermont and he was like the transfer portals kind of like speed dating. I guess you don't really know if a guy's going to mesh, but what do you kind of see him? What do you kind of talk about with your staff to know if the guy will be a good fit for Auburn and what you guys are trying to do?

Well, you know what? You study the, you study the film, Zach, you know, it's you, while it is a transfer portal, there's film out on all these guys. And we spent a lot of time evaluating talent. You know, one of the things that you don't do, uh, with transfers don't, you can't, can't make mistakes with transfers. Not that you can make mistakes with freshmen, but freshmen are young. They got time to develop and they still have that one time transfer exception.

If, if things don't work out. Um, now I don't have many guys transfer from Iowa, what we, excuse me, from Auburn. That's just not been our DNA that could change the transfer portal, but that's just not been who we've been. People come here, tend to want to stay here. Um, but, but on a transfer, you better make certain that you've got playing time.

You've got the right style of play and the right opportunity. And so we studied more at state and, and, and studied to the, to the credit of their coaches. When we were recruiting Jedi, while they were disappointed, he was leaving. They did a wonderful job explaining to us who he was and who he wasn't so that we knew pretty, had a pretty good idea of what we're getting and whether or not it would be a fit. And I do think it's really important that coaches only take transfers if they can help them because this is it for them.

On the way out with Bruce Pearl. So you got Iowa eight, nine matchup coming up on Thursday. Good draw for you guys. It's the fact that it's in Birmingham, but a heck of a team in Iowa. It all starts with Chris Murray. I know, you know, the family, uh, very well going back to your days coach at Iowa, just what jumps off to the page at a McCaffrey squad for you.

Well, but like you said, Chris Murray jumps off the page for sure. Um, you know, I recruited his dad to help recruit his dad and Kenyan minor Murray with the all time greatest players in Iowa basketball history, you know, such a versatile player. Um, three-way score did it on both ends of the floor, tough kid and unbelievable teammate loved Iowa and Iowa loved him. And so not surprising his sons get to go there and, um, and obviously Kenyan married well, and they had big, beautiful children who, you know, are taking Hawkeyes to a completely different level. He could do it inside and out. He could do it off the bounce and with his shot, um, and he's got great, great length. Um, and he's gonna be a pro like his brother and, um, you know, the, the, the, the other, the Serbian frontline player and I pronounced his name wrong sometimes, but he's just a great, great player.

And I think, uh, Rabacha, um, he, he's a forced out in there. So the matchup, we talked about Jalen Williams and Jenai Broom, um, and Dylan Carwan, Chris Moore, how we match up in four and five, I think is going to be extremely important. You know, Perkins and, and Ulyssa tough McCaffrey is a phenomenal playmaker and passer, uh, and friends got this team, you know, they're the number three ranked offense as far as offensive efficiency. They don't turn the ball over.

They shoot the crap out of it. They're a dangerous, dangerous team. Um, in March, because the way they, the way they run their offense with great freedom and they go on runs, they can score, they could score, score points and punches, and they got great length. Coach, before we let you run, you've been at this for a long time in many different stops, Southern Indiana, Milwaukee, Tennessee, and Auburn. Do you get nostalgic? I know you're, you're focused on the task at hand, but you'd all get nostalgic when you look back, how many times you've been in post-season play, you know what you don't get nostalgic, but you do, you do take note of it. Um, and I'll tell you though, um, when you hear your name called on selection Sunday, um, it is emotional. It is special, um, for these players, some, this will be their only chance to have that one shining moment for others.

You know, they'll have an opportunity over three or four year career. Um, but is there's nothing, nothing like March Madness is nothing like the big dance. Um, and there's nothing like the opportunity to win two games and get to the sweet 16 and, and, and, and that's what we're trying to do. Last thing I'll ask you, Bruce Pearl, before we let you run just the SEC, I'm always interested in the narratives heading into the tournament. You've seen it, you've coached up against it all throughout the year to get eight teams in. What does that mean for the SEC? Well, it means that it, it, it now, uh, runs sort of parallel with every other sport in the SEC. I mean, we dominate college football, baseball, gymnastics, you know, tennis and golf and softball and, you know, swimming and golf. And it's crazy how good this league is. A men's basketball has been behind in many regards. Um, but now, um, you know, I think that we are right there, um, with whoever could be the best power five conference in men's basketball.

Uh, the SEC is in the discussion and that just wasn't the case 10, 15, 20 years ago. Coach always appreciate our conversations. Thanks so much and good luck coming up on Thursday in Birmingham.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-14 22:30:21 / 2023-03-14 22:36:34 / 6

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