AUBURN | Bruce Pearl wants a more physical team when Auburn opens the 2017-18 season Nov. 10 against Norfolk State.
On Tuesday, the third preseason practice, Pearl’s players delivered.
“It's very physical,” Pearl said. “We made a decision that we'll probably only go live twice a week because they're playing so hard and it is so physical. Attention to detail is good.”
Wade Rackley/Auburn athletics
Pearl credited his son, Steven Pearl, for setting the team on the course to be a tougher and more physical unit this season. The younger Pearl was elevated from director of basketball operation to assistant coach in April.
“First, when Steven got on the staff, as he began to have a larger voice, his comments to me about our Tennessee teams were that our Auburn teams aren’t any less athletic, and in some cases, less talented, but our Tennessee teams played harder or more physical and played tougher,” Bruce Pearl said. “So we need to recruit and we need to coach accordingly, and so as a result, we’ve picked up the physicality. We’re trying to not overreact to the way they’ll call the game and the rule changes in the sense that we are playing more physically.”
That intensity could be throttled back a bit after Pearl brings in officials to work a scrimmage later this week.
“It may be a foul fest. They may be blowing whistles like crazy,” he said. “But I’d rather back it down than overreact to it. So Steven has brought the physicality, the toughness, the accountability, ending possessions, and his eyes will focus on the defense.”
Overall, Pearl was pleased with his team through the first few practices, especially how they’ve dealt with an ongoing investigation that could result in the ineligibility of a couple of players.
“I think they're practicing really hard,” Pearl said. “They've got great energy, I think they're working on trying to get better and they're doing the best they can to not be distracted by the noise.”
** The current director of basketball operations, Chad Prewett, has been elevated to an assistant coach. The position became open after Chuck Person was arrested and indicted on six federal fraud charges last week. Person has been suspended without pay.
“Right now we've elevated Chad Prewett to an assistant coaching position. And what ever we do, it's a temporary situation and that temporary could last a while,” Pearl said.
“We have no seniors. Our focus is this team. We have a strong focus on the 2019 class as well. There's not a tremendous urgency to have assistants be focused on recruiting.”
** Austin Wiley hasn’t practiced this week due to discomfort in his left leg, which began on Saturday. He attended Tuesday’s practice with a boot on his foot and lower leg. It’s the same leg that’s caused Wiley to miss time with a stress fracture.
“Austin has not practiced the last couple of days,” Pearl said. “He's been in a boot. He got X-rays on his leg that were negative, but tomorrow he gets a MRI. So we'll learn more about some pain he's having in his leg and we'll see what's going on with that.”