AUBURN, Ala. (EETV) - After an abrupt ending of the season a year ago and one of the longest off-seasons, Auburn basketball is just around the corner.
Auburn held its first official team practice on Oct. 14 followed by a Bruce Pearl press conference the next day. Coming off the best start to a season in school history (15-0) and one of the best regular seasons in Auburn history (25-6), Pearl and the Tigers are looking to have another strong season.
Despite COVID-19 presenting many obstacles for Pearl and the Tigers to face, they are willing to do anything to have a basketball season.
“We really had a good summer and as best we possibly could try to have as normal a summersummer school and fall as possible giving all the different COVID protocols,” Pearl said.
“One guy, one ball, one basket, one shooting machine, and then we gradually worked our way through the summer to where we were able to begin to have more than one guy at a basket. Have three guys at a basket and then we started to actually share a basketball and it was quite a process. …I can tell you the vast majority of our team has not had it (COVID-19)."
Entering his seventh season as head basketball coach at Auburn University, Pearl faces a challenge unlike any other in his career.
“We’ve got a whole new team now. We lost 11 players from the Final Four and we lost our six best players from last year,” Pearl said. “We have 12 guys on scholarship, 10 of them are underclassmen… this is the youngest team I’ve had since I’ve been a Division 1 basketball coach."
This is not Pearl’s first rodeo of having a talented young roster. Just last season the Tigers had a consistent 10-man rotation, half of which were underclassmen, four of those being freshmen. One main difference, however, is every team Pearl has coached at Auburn has consisted of senior leadership. With no seniors on the 2020-21 Auburn roster, Pearl is still on the lookout for someone to make that next stride in filling the big shoes that were previously worn by players Jared Harper, Bryce Brown, and Samir Doughty.
“I think it's so early that I don’t comment much on it because I just got to let it play out, got to let it evolve and let those guys step up,” Pearl said.
Pearl and his Auburn Tigers are set to begin the season in a season-opening tournament in Orlando, Fla. on Nov. 25.