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March 24, 2014

Pearl working toward filling his staff


AUBURN | New Auburn men's basketball coach Bruce Pearl will continue to fill out his coaching staff and hopes to finalize that staff shortly after the conclusion of the Final Four on April 7.

Tony Jones and Steven Pearl are already on staff and on the road recruiting until March 31. Jones was a part of Pearl's staff at Tennessee. This is the younger Pearl's first coaching job, having played under his father at Tennessee previously.

Pearl will use the Final Four and the plethora of coaches that attend to his advantage in filling out his first staff at Auburn.

"I'd imagine the staffing will begin to take place around the Final Four. There could be an addition before then, and there certainly will be an addition after then. The thing about the Final Four it's where I can hobnob with my fellow wizards. There will be a lot of coaches there and sometimes instead of bringing them to campus, it's more productive to visit with them there. That's where we'll have our meetings," Pearl told AuburnSports.com on Monday evening.

"I'm spending lots of time filtering through our coaching opportunities and possibilities. The response has been great. If recruits respond as well as coaches have, we're going to be OK. We need certain pieces and certain options. I don't like making decisions until I have all the information. If I have three or four guys that are good at recruiting, if I've got three or four guys that are good coaches and can challenge my thinking, then once I have them together, deciding who we will bring in."

Pearl conducted interviews via phone on Monday and that process will continue until the staff is filled. Ryan Miller, the Tigers' associate head coach last season under Tony Barbee, remains a possible candidate to be retained from the previous coaching staff.

Following his introduction as next head coach last Tuesday, Pearl met individually with players at 5:45 a.m. the following morning before traveling back to Bristol, Conn. to fulfill ESPN obligations. He was encouraged by the talks.

"We had some productive meetings," Pearl said. "I got the chance to meet them and find out what they were thinking about. We have good kids in the program. The next few days, we started individual training. Player development between now and the start of the season next year is vital."

Including in that player development will be early morning workouts. Pearl believes they are instrumental in the team's psyche and success.

"I believe very much in a couple of times a week getting up early and working out. We had a 5:45 workout on Friday and again (Monday) morning," he said. "When those guys are getting up early and out of bed and other people are saying, 'what are those guys doing?' We're just trying to get better. The confidence that comes from knowing the other guys in the league are in bed right now."

Pearl said guard Malcolm Canada was late arriving to the team's first meeting after leaving campus for spring break. Canada is back in good standing with the team, but he paid the price.

"He ran until he puked the first day," Pearl said. "He was good with that. He understood that's what he had to do. He handled it well."

In the meantime, Pearl will continue to spread the word about the Auburn program the best he can until his show-cause ends on August 23. No contact with high school coaches is an obstacle Pearl is working around. Pearl has done nearly 30 radio interviews since taking over the reigns of the Tigers' program, and just finished a weekend of analyzing the NCAA Tournament on ESPN.

Now, he's back in Auburn full-time, but that will not slow down his PR campaign for Auburn basketball.

"I think that we have to get the word out. If I'm a high school coach in Alabama and I have a good sophomore and it's been five or six days and I'm wondering when is Coach Pearl going to call me, Coach Pearl from Auburn can't call him. It's nothing we can't overcome," said Pearl.

"If Jim Rome wants to talk to Auburn's basketball coach, Auburn's basketball coach is going to be available. If Linda Cohn wants me on her podcast, I'm going to be available. If Andy Katz wants me in Kat'z Corner, what corner? Being available to the media is the way to get that word out."

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