Auburn Basketball officially opens the season on Monday, Nov. 7 at Neville Arena against George Mason.
The Tigers will get one last tune-up on Wednesday, however, by hosting Alabama-Huntsville of Division II’s Gulf South Conference at Neville Arena for a 7 p.m. CT tipoff.
What is Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl’s approach to the game? He expects to win Wednesday’s game but will do so by using a 12-13 man rotation. He also mentioned during Tuesday’s press conference that Allen Flanigan has gotten back into a rhythm following his leave of absence in September. The bad news, however, is that Chance Westry is still recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, and will not be available to play in Wednesday’s exhibition.
Not only did Pearl mention his team during his recent media availability, but he also shared his thoughts on the recent hire of John Cohen as athletic director.
Here is a look at what Pearl said prior to his team’s exhibition game against UAH on Wednesday night.
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We are excited about the exhibition opener tomorrow night. I spent a long time in Division II, so I know how good the basketball is. I know what a big opportunity this is for Alabama-Huntsville.
I’ve known Coach (John) Shulman for a long time from his days back at Chattanooga. He’s a really good man and a good coach. They have a terrific program, and he has done a great job there. Following Lennie Acuff, that’s a tough act to follow, and he has done it there in Huntsville. They are ranked 24th in the country, they are picked to win their league.
As you know, we have a history of having close games against Division II teams. We have been fortunate to beat Southern Indiana a couple of times, we got beat by Barry, we had a pretty good year that year.
They are going to shoot it, they are going to be dangerous in transition. They will be smaller than us at every position, maybe some of the guards will be bigger. Long shots, long rebounds, they are better from three than they are from two. They run good stuff that is hard to guard. Good defense, they will probably pack things in a little bit, we will have the advantage on the inside. We will throw it in there, they will double it. They will kick it out, we will shoot ann open three and see what happens, that’s a win for them.
It won’t be much like a lot of teams that we will play. From that standpoint, it is not going to be great. But they will be competitive. They will have everybody back from a year ago. If we don’t play them smart, they could hang around for a while.
We are pretty healthy going in. We still probably plan on playing 10-12 guys, maybe even 13. So still in the stages of evaluating, and we will certainly play to win. I will definitely be playing a lot of people, we may even mess around with the starting lineup.
On what he hopes to see from his team
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I’m just thinking continuing to play hard. What we do does not work without effort an energy, the system is not built that way. Obviously, understanding the scouting report. It is a great preparation, it is a definitive scouting report. What they do is what they do, and they do it really well. We have ways to guard it, but will we? Will we have the discipline to do the things that we need to do? From that standpoint, it will be a great excercise to get to see the kids play hard, we want to see them understand the scout. Probably the third thing is that it will be the first time in front of fans.. will they change? All of a sudden a shot that has not been a good shot all fall will become a good shot when you playing in front of your family, your girlfriend, and your fanbase. That is part of the way that you have a public exhibition, so that you can get a chance to let the crowd and let The Jungle kind of energize us, but then still play within the frame of what we need to do.
Does he expect Chance Westry to play?
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
No. He is a few weeks away
Does Pearl have a projected starting five picked out?
Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports
I have a starting five in mind for this exhibition, for sure I have one in mind of what it’s going to be. I think that this is not neccessarily, this may not be the same five for the opener on Monday.
On Allen Flanigan, what he expects to see from him in the exhibition
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Allen (Flanigan)… he’s had a couple of the best weeks in his career. The last two or three weeks has been really, really good. So I am excited to see myself. He has been consistently good at practice, he’s been effective, he has been winning, he has been making plays at both ends of the floor. His energy and effort has been consistent. His body language has been good. He is in good position to really have a good year. We will see.
On the hire of John Cohen
Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Man, I’m excited about John Cohen. I really am. The guy has got unbelieveable experience. Obviously tremendous SEC experience, tremendous experience in the region having grown up in Alabama and the different places he has coached throughout the SEC as an assistant and to build a championship program (for Mississippi State baseball) because that is a championship program, not just a championship team at Mississippi State, then to move on to the administrator level.
I know that commissioner (Greg) Sankey holds him in tremendously high regard having been in that SEC AD meeting in that room. A man of high character, intelligent. Obviously, he sees Auburn as a place where you can do more than what he has done at Mississippi State. He had a great job, and they loved him down there. He was a legend down there. He understands our challenges, he understands our goals.
I think that he is going to be tremendous. I think already that it was very wise of him to elebate Rich McGlynn to deputy AD and to take advantage of Rich’s talents and abilities. I think Rich was a legit candidate for the job, so I think we got the best of both worlds. Someone that has been on campus, and has a great reputation on campus like Rich. I think that is going to enable John to come in and be effective on day one.
I am very, very excited about the hire. Dr. (Christopher) Roberts went about this as I anticipated that he would. He is going to do his work and research, he is going to be well-informed, and he is going to make decisions which I think will be a great thing for a leader to do.
Did he have any say in the hiring process?
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You know what I do? Just what I always do. If I am asked my opinion, I’m going to give it. But I will not give it until I am asked my opinion. But my job is to help Auburn to be better. To help John be better, to help Rich be better, to help our new football coach to be better. That’s my job. To help our basketball team that’s first and foremost. That has always been what I feel, it is what I always want to do. I think Auburn wants me to do that.