Chuck Person Says AU Basketball Will be Fast Paced Like Malzahn’s No Huddle Offense

By Posted on: April 8th, 2014 in Basketball 3 Comments »

Chuck Person says he’s on the same page with Head Coach, Bruce Pearl. Flanked by his high school coach Earl Henderson and his Auburn coach Sonny Smith, the New Auburn Basketball Assistant promised at his hiring press conference to work hard to bring success to the Auburn program.

Chuck talks in the following video about his decision and about his desire to return Auburn Basketball to prominence. He sounds like a man who is already on the recruiting trail. “We’re going to run a no-huddle offense like Coach Malzahn does with the football team.”

“We’re going to get after it,” said Person. “We’re going to play fast, play smart, play tough. We’re going to rebound and defend. It’s going to be a fun game.We’re going to shoot three’s, we’re going to have fun. We may miss some of them, but we’re going to shoot them. So if any kids out there want to come to have fun, they need to come to Auburn (because) Auburn University is the place to be.”

                             

Bruce Pearl Could Hit a Homerun in Basketball With a “Rifleman” Hire

By Posted on: April 1st, 2014 in Basketball, Featured Article 7 Comments »
chuck-person-sonny-smithjpg-d448d64c6f7405f1 - julie bennett

         Former Auburn great Chuck Person with legendary Coach Sonny Smith. (photo:Julie Bennett, al.com)

Even though Auburn is not a part of this year’s March Madness, there has been a lot of excitement about Auburn Basketball the past two weeks. The hiring of Bruce Pearl on March 18th has fired up the fan base and he hasn’t even coached his first game or signed his first recruit.

The new round ball skipper has given the Tigers positive exposure across the country during the time of year that the nation’s interest is at a peak for college basketball. In addition he has popped up all over campus; whether it’s attending the Auburn women’s WNIT game or throwing out the first pitch of the Baseball’s game against Missouri – he’s been busy selling the program.

However, creating goodwill is not all that’s on his agenda. He has to complete his staff in order to get the program rolling with recruiting and coaching up the players. With his son Steven hired as the strength coach and Tony Jones on board as an assistant, Pearl now needs to fill three more assistant positions.

You can bet he has been contacted by a bevy of applicants and there’s one name that stands out above the rest … of course we’re talking about Auburn legend, Chuck “the Rifleman” Person.

Most Auburn people know that Person has been called the Rifleman for a couple of reasons. First his mother named him for two sport professional ball player and actor Chuck Conners who starred in the 1960′s TV western “The Rifleman “. The second reason was the Rifleman shot a rapid fire riffle with pin point accuracy. Well Person is ranked 17th in the NBA for 3point shooting and is the all time leader in points scored at Auburn with 2,311 points (a record set before there was a 3 point shot). He also holds the Auburn record for most points scored (747) in a single season.

Yes the case for “The Rifleman ” is a good one. He led the Tigers to their first ever SEC Tournament Championship in 1985. In 1986 the two time All American provided the leadership that led the Tigers back to the NCAA and an Elite Eight appearance before falling to eventual National Champion Louisville. He went on to be the NBA Rookie of The Year and has spent his life working at all levels of professional basketball.

He is arguably the best player in Auburn history and he understands Auburn’s situation. He has said “Basketball is important to me at Auburn … Auburn can win at Basketball as well as football, you just need to get the right players to do it with.” He is an Auburn and NBA Legend, he knows the game, he loves Auburn, he has honed his coaching skills under legendary NBA coach Phil Jackson of the Bulls and LA Lakers, and he has been endorsed by legendary Auburn Coach Sonny Smith.

Hiring the Rifleman would make sense for both Pearl and Person.

For Pearl, the hire would be similar to what the Dameyune Craig and Rodney Garner hires meant to the football program. Like those two men, Person is a former Tiger and a proven coach with a strong knowledge of Auburn University. And like Rodney Garner, Chuck has the added incentive for recruiting players who aspire to get into the pro’s sense Person was an NBA star and a coach for 25 years.

For Chuck it would be a chance to not only return to his alma mater but provide him with an opporyunity to complete his degree (something that is seen as almost necessary for landing a college head coaching job some day himself).

He told Al.com yesterday that he has interviewed with coach Pearl. Chuck said, “I would love to be on coach Pearl’s staff, but I know there are other qualified candidates that he’s talking to. The main thing is to get Auburn basketball back to where it should be.”

This is one writer that believes that one way to get the Tigers back (to where they should be) would be to hire the man who was instrumental in getting the Tigers to the top of the sport when he played on The Plains.

Pearl will probably complete his staff in the next week, with at least one hire possibly coming by Friday. If that hire is Chuck Person … Bruce Pearl will have hit a homerun in basketball.

Auburn Women Wearing Down Opponents in NIT (updated)

By Posted on: March 25th, 2014 in Basketball 3 Comments »
Tyrese Tanner leads the Tigers in scoring in the NIT. (photo:Lauren Barnad, Auburn Media)

Tyrese Tanner leads the Tigers in scoring in the NIT. (photo:Lauren Barnard, Auburn Media)

“You’ve got to give Auburn credit because they wear you down.” That sounds like a quote from one of Auburn’s football opponents. But this time it came from the Old Dominion University Women’s Basketball Coach, Karen Barefoot. She was referring to her team’s loss to Auburn in the second round of the National Invitational Tournament on Monday night.

The Tigers wore down the Monarchs 82-59. It was the second dominating performance by the Tigers in the last week. With the victory coupled with Auburn’s convincing victory over Furman Thursday, it appears Coach Terri Williams- Flournoy has her team playing with the high pressure defense and explosive offense that has brought her over 400 wins in her career.

This  NIT Tournament marks Coach Flo’s sixth postseason appearance in ten seasons as a head coach including having led Georgetown to the NCAA Tournament in 2010 and 2011.

Old Dominion fought hard and kept the game close in the first half but couldn’t withstand Auburn’s attacking style. The Tigers really poured on their inside game outscoring the Monarchs 44-14 in the paint including 30 -4 in the second half. Senior guard Tyrese Tanner led the way once again with 24 points, four rebounds and five assists.

The Monarchs’coach said. “I thought we had a great game plan, and we only had seven turnovers in the first half – really being patient. (But) they wear you down.” Barefoot continued, “It got away from us in the second half where they sped us up and either they got turnovers or we had quick shots. They got out in transition and really attacked the basket.”

Yes, Gus Malzahn is not the only Auburn Coach to have an attacking style of offense designed to wear down opponents; when Coach Flo’s teams are clicking, they are hard to stop.

And now Auburn advances to play Mississippi State in Starkville at 7 p.m. Thursday in the third round of the Tournament. Hopefully the Tigers will continue this level of play all the way and bring Coach Flo her first championship on The Plains. Good luck ladies and …

War Eagle!

Update:
The game was tied at 54 with 1:43 to go but All-SEC senior Tyrese Tanner and post players Tra’Cee Tanner and Peyton Davis  fouled out and could only watch from the bench as Miss. State scored the last five points to end Auburn’s season with a 59-54 win.  Still proud of our Tigers – War Eagle!

 

Spring Drills Begin!

By Posted on: March 20th, 2014 in Basketball, Football 12 Comments »
Spring Drills Begin

We have to earn it.
(Photo by Acid Reign.)

     War Eagle, everybody! It was an incredible day in Auburn Tuesday, as Auburn University announced the hiring of Bruce Pearl as the new men’s basketball head coach, and a wild all-day celebration followed. Lost in the euphoria and welcoming of Pearl was the beginning of spring football drills. Head coach Gus Malzhan had the right message with the above quote. The Tiger football team must earn it. Starting now, the SEC Tittle and improbable comeback of 2013 means little. A new slate of games awaits, and it’s a very tough schedule this fall.

     At the crack of dawn Tuesday, Auburn began a new grueling regimen. What was evident quickly on a day in shorts is that the off-season hasn’t been wasted. The team looks bigger and faster, and a quick look at reported weights on the roster bears that out. There are guys out there like Shon Coleman and Shane Callahan who’ve added more than 10 pounds of muscle. Likewise, a few guys who were overweight last season have trimmed down. Of particular note is that starting Star position senior Robensen Therezie has put on 8 pounds. In a defense without a true strong-side linebacker, the star has to sometimes make that tough tackle. At 212 pounds, Therezie should be even better this spring.

Position by position breakdown, after the jump!

     Auburn defensive line was the strength of the defense last season, and it returns a good number of players this season, although finding a few more ends is crucial this spring. Missing from yesterday’s practice was senior starter LaDarius Owens. Don’t know if that was a class conflict, or something more serious. Carl Lawson was running first team, in Dee Ford’s former spot.

     Auburn appears set in stone as to the starting linebackers, Cassanova McKinzy and Kris Frost. Building quality depth behind them will be a priority. There are plans to play junior Justin Garrett, who missed last season with injuries at both linebacker and star. Yesterday, he was working at linebacker.

     On the back end, Auburn will be missing starting safety Joshua Holsey, who’s recovering from a knee injury last season. While Holsey won’t be cleared till fall, he was taking part in non-contact drills, which was a good thing to see. While Auburn begins spring with 19 defensive backs on the official roster, a notable one who is not there is Trent Fisher, who has been a valuable special teams guy the past 3 seasons. Jermaine Whitehead and Jonathan Mincy likely have starting spots locked down, but Auburn will look at a lot of new faces this spring. At least on the first day, the most impressive-looking of the bunch was JUCO transfer Derrick Moncrief. At 6′ 2” and 218, he gives Auburn more size than we’re used to seeing at safety. Trovon Reed worked at corner for the first time, and looked like a natural. He has switched to number 25.

     On the offensive line, Patrick Miller appears to be getting first crack at replacing Greg Robinson at left tackle. Miller took first-team reps on that side, with Avery Young on the right side. Coaches have said that they’ll look at Miller, Shon Coleman and Robert Leff as possible replacements.

     Most years, I worry about Auburn’s numbers at tight end and h-back. This year, things look as good as ever. C. J. Uzomah has added another 6 pounds, and looks the part of a tight end at 264 pounds. He and fellow senior Brandon Fulse should give Auburn the best pair of blocking tight ends in the SEC this fall, and we also know Uzomah has a knack for making the tough touchdown catch in traffic. Ricky Parks has returned to the team at H-back, and looks to again be in the playing rotation like he was last spring. Gage Batten returns after backing up Jay Prosch last season to compete for a starting job.

     Even with Trovon Reed moving to cornerback, Auburn returns a deep and talented receiving corps this spring. In drills yesterday, newcomer D’haquille Williams looked impressive. He’s got size, moves, speed and hands, and might be a threat to take a starting job. Another guy who’s evidently taken a jump forward is Tony Stevens, who played sparingly last season. Stevens is Auburn’s tallest wide receiver at 6′ 4”, and he’s added about 8 pounds of muscle. Auburn has really increased the size of its receiver corps in recent years. Auburn can rotate through Coates, Williams, Stevens, Ricardo Louis, and Jaylon Denson and not have a guy shorter than 6′ 2”. Add in slot guys Quan Bray and Marcus Davis, and it’s a deep and talented group. On the injury front, Jaylon Denson was at practice, but did not do any drills.

     One of the bigger questions on most folks’ minds is who will replace Heisman Finalist Tre Mason? Taking first team reps was Cameron Artis-Payne, with Corey Grant on the second unit. Auburn only has 7 running backs listed on the roster, but more big-name talent will arrive in the fall. For spring, I think the big names will be Artis-Payne, Grant and redshirt freshman Peyton Barber. On A-Day, I’d look for CAP and Grant to be sat down early, and the majority of carries given to the younger guys. That’s the way it usually is. I’ll be looking to see if junior transfer Lawyer Tillman gets a few carries. Yes, we have a Lawyer Tillman on the roster again! He’s the son of former Tiger wide receiver who scored the winning touchdown in the 1986 Iron Bowl.

     At quarterback, Gus Malzhan has his first returning starting quarterback since Mitch Mustaine in 2005. Nick Marshall will go through his first spring at Auburn, and I think everyone is looking forward to seeing what he can do with a greater command of the offense. As Jay Coulter wrote yesterday, I think the offense will run much faster this season. Rounding out the spring depth chart are sophomore Jeremy Johnson, junior Jonathan Wallace, junior Ben Durand, and sophomore Tucker Tuberville.

     The Tigers return to the practice field this morning, and will have a full-pads practice Saturday.

Bruce Almighty!

By Posted on: March 18th, 2014 in Basketball 24 Comments »
photo by julia bennett/al.com

Photo by Julie Bennett/al.com

Who would have dreamed that the most prominent coach ever hired by Auburn University would be its basketball coach? In a span of little more than a year, the athletic department has gone from employing Gene Chizik and Tony Barbee to Gus Malzahn and Bruce Pearl as its two marquee coaches.

George Jefferson would be proud.

It’s a shame Jay Jacobs won’t allow himself a few stiff drinks because if anyone has earned it, it’s the reinvigorated athletic director. Hell, I’d be running around tonight in my boxers with my tie around my head. Mike Tyson wouldn’t be able to knock the smile off my face.

Has anyone grown into a job better than Jacobs? Less than 18 months ago, Las Vegas wouldn’t have given you a line on his job security. Now you have to wonder whether there’s another one better.

One thing is certain. If Bruce Pearl can’t succeed at Auburn with a still new arena and an energized fan base, then it can’t be done. We’ll know soon enough. Past success never guarantees the future, but it’s hard to imagine this program not competing for championships soon.

When the wheels of Auburn’s plane touched down today, Tiger basketball became relevant again. There couldn’t be more of a contrast in Tuscaloosa. It’s hard to explain how an athletic department with its recent football national championships now suddenly looks worn and tired.

Trophies have been replaced by a whining football coach who suddenly looks and acts old; and its basketball program has officially been tossed out as just another athletic department expense that sucks away profits.

While Alabama fans spent early Tuesday talking about how cool it was that Vince Vaughn bought Lane Kiffin’s home in California, Jacobs punched Tide boss Bill Battle in the nose with the Pearl hire. Once Battle was on the ground, it was Bama fans that were kicking him while he was down.

Paul Finebaum said Pearl’s hiring was Battle’s worst nightmare. I may argue that Kiffin is, but why split hairs?

And who said Auburn basketball couldn’t upstage football on the first day of spring practice?

With March Madness barely underway, the most asked question in these parts is when does basketball season start? Something tells me a seat at Auburn Arena may be a tougher buy than one in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Who would have guessed it?

Happy Birthday Coach Pearl ! – (with videos)

By Posted on: March 18th, 2014 in Basketball, News 2 Comments »

It’s Coach Bruce Pearl’s birthday today and he says coming to The Plains was a great way to celebrate the day. In the following video, watch Rod Bramblett’s (the voice of the Tigers), meeting with the new Head Men’s Basketball Coach. It’s Coach Pearl’s first interview at Auburn.

You can really get a good feel for the man, his philosophy and especially his impression of the Auburn Family. Be sure to see his last words in the first video and in the second video watch the fans greet him at the airport today.

The third video is Coach Pearl’s introductory press conference. Pearl says his reception was  “just beyond my wildest dreams.” The coach opens with a jubilant “War Eagle,” goes into the crowd to welcome Coach Malzahn, and then gives enthusiastic and humorous remarks followed by taking questions from the audience. Afterwards the students again wish their new coach a happy birthday. Watch it, you’ll enjoy it.

There’s no doubt he’s excited to be at Auburn and the fans are just as excited to have him in the Family. Happy Birthday Coach, welcome and …

War Eagle!

                            

In second video, fans sing Happy Birthday to Coach Pearl after greeting him at the Airport.

                             

In the third video, watch Coach Pearl’s unusual introductory press conference in front of fans at the Auburn Arena.

                            

Video of  Rod Bramblett’s, meeting with Auburn’s new Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Bruce Pearl in his first interview at Auburn. Pearl talks about his philosophy and about his impression of the Auburn Family.  be sure to see his last words in this piece. – See more at: http://trackemtigers.com/?p=25958#sthash.79LpxBbp.dpuf

Auburn Hires the Right Man as Tigers’ New Basketball Coach

By Posted on: March 18th, 2014 in Basketball, News 26 Comments »
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Auburn announced the hiring of Bruce Pearl this morning as the Tigers’ new basketball coach. Auburn AD, Jay Jacobs said, “From the moment I met Coach Pearl and heard his vision for our basketball program, it was clear he’s the right man at the right time for Auburn.”

One things for sure, Jacobs has brought a proven winner to The Plains. A three time National Coach of the Year and a two-time SEC Coach of the Year, he is the second fastest coach to amass 300 career wins in NCAA history.

“I’m humbled and blessed to be back in the game that I love,” Pearl said. “I don’t know how long it will take, but it’s time to rebuild the Auburn basketball program, and bring it to a level of excellence so many of the other teams on campus enjoy.”

Currently an ESPN analysts, he  took six teams to the SEC Tournament while coaching at Tennessee from 2005 – 2011. We are looking forward to seeing Coach Pearl bring his winning ways to The Plains. Basketball just got fun again.

Welcome Coach Pearl and War Eagle!

Writing On Wall For NCAA Amateur Status

By Posted on: March 18th, 2014 in Basketball, Featured Article, Football 15 Comments »
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Yesterday, a lawsuit was filed in US federal court in yet another attempt to tear down the amateur distinction of big time college athletes at big time college institutions in an ultimate attempt to get fair compensation for student athletes in the respective multi-billion dollar industries in which they toil. This new suit, against the NCAA and the five largest conferences, challenges the lawfulness of the “wage” assigned to football and basketball players to being capped at the value of an academic scholarship, presumably under existing anti-trust legislation. With recent suits also pursuing the NCAA on similar grounds, could it finally be 3rd and 25 for college football? Watch for the pooch kick here soon.

While no reasonable person can defend hundreds of millions in value added to major programs’ bottom lines by a countless parade of high-profile athletes with little more than tuition and board as the carrot, no sane college football fan can discount the negative effect of direct money payments to players on the integrity of the sport. While this type of compensation and resulting corruption have gone on ever since we’ve had the game of football, the modern age brings the spotlight full on the big money sport it truly is. With major programs generating billions in revenue, the lavish amounts of money heaped on from ticket sales, television, and merchandising is too much to ignore anymore.

It’s un-American to think that  players’ images on TV and in video games can earn these types of dollars cumulatively but can provide no more than books, lodging,  and two semesters a year for the individual himself. It’s also unreasonable to think that the schools themselves, who have been building their brands for in excess of one hundred years in most cases, have no intrinsic value other than a revolving cast of semi-employees who filter in and out of their ranks every year. Why must it always be 3rd and long?

How did football and basketball end up like this, with the colleges serving as de facto farm systems for the sports, unlike baseball, which does provide a real alternative for those who wish to become semi-pro and those who want to remain amateurs until they get their education? We’ve so bastardized the systems and they’ve grown unchecked for so long that it may well now be impossible to separate those two distinctions again.

One must know that direct payments in the open to amateur athletes will only drive the illicit payments further underground and to ridiculous amounts. The NCAA investigative arm would never be so busy as it would be once direct compensation was approved for athletes. The corrupting influence of money over and under the table would kill the sport entirely as the integrity of the sport, schools, and individual players will be under constant scrutiny. Larger schools could always pay more than the smaller ones–the same with conferences. Recruiting would literally morph into a draft.

No one wants to think about the alternative of the pros establishing legitimate farm systems for football and basketball. Even if the NFL and NBA could, the lure of college athletics would still be strong. What 18-year old kid would want to play in front of nobody for $50,000 a year if he could instead strut his stuff in front of  a home crowd of 90,000 and a national TV audience? It would be a much harder decision than you think. You can’t break the stranglehold of decades of national prominence and tradition overnight–for any price. I’d like to think we’d still root for our schools even if we only fielded intramural level teams, but college fans are a lot more sophisticated than they were even two decades ago. Everything in the sport is evolving.

I think it’s inevitable. Athletes are soon going to get a better compensation package than they’ve been getting. So many lawsuits, so much money, and so many good arguments about the fairness of it all are swaying the sentiment. The only details are in what form the compensation will be. Here’s some of the things I think I know what it CANNOT be:

  • An inducement for a player to be recruited by a particular school
  • Anything based on wellness or non-injury
  • Differences in conferences
  • Media attraction, TV appearances, individual awards, or star power

I think a good starting point for compensation would be in a deferred fund for players of a division–FBS, FCS, etc– after their eligibility was exhausted. Call it the ultimate collective bargaining agreement. They all earn as a collective body and share in the rewards after their college careers have ended. Having the compensation deferred would help protect their amateur status, if not in word, then in perception. A share of all revenue they help earn would go into the pot, to be drawn on eventually for such issues as medical treatment, continuing education, and perhaps a pension.

No one should pretend to have all the answers on such a large, complicated, comprehensive issue as justly compensating college athletes a fair wage for the revenue they help generate, but we should try to get ahead of it very soon and do it voluntarily–instead of having it ordered as a judgement in a huge lawsuit.

How would you help solve it?