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Interview of Coach Pearl Before NCAA Tournament
Bruce Pearl

Bruce Pearl

March 16, 2009


1. Describe Oklahoma State, the Vols' opening opponent Friday (12:25 p.m. ET, CBS) in the NCAA Tournament.

A: "Oklahoma State is a very talented team with a strength of schedule ranked about ninth in the country. It's a team that finished strong. They shoot the 3-pointer as well as any team we have played, averaging about 10 made per game. They have four excellent guards, including James Anderson, who may be as good as we have met. It's a tough opening opponent."

2. What must the Vols do in order to make a strong showing in the NCAA Tournament?

A: "We need to play outstanding basketball. We played great in SEC Tournament wins over Alabama and Auburn. Against Mississippi State, we played hard but without purpose or poise. We just rushed offensively so very, very much. Yet, we were in position to win that championship. I am very disappointed."

3. Briefly discuss what can be expected from the SEC contingent including LSU and Mississippi State.

A: "I think Mississippi State has a chance to upset Washington. The Bulldogs need to make shots. It's mind-boggling how little respect the SEC regular-season champion gets, especially in comparison to the ACC and Big 10. Butler will give LSU trouble the same way Mississippi State did."

4. Nationally, what teams seem to be coming around now in time to contend for the NCAA Championship?

A: "The No. 1 seeds are all very strong. Memphis is an awfully good No. 2 seed. Villanova is a team I like. It's wide open. I don't think the No. 1 seeds are as solid as they were a year ago."

5. Are you pleased with the current NCAA format, or what improvements do you think would be useful?

A: "I don't have time in this interview to make all the comments I could about the format. There are so many things we can't control, like winning or losing. But we can keep our strength of schedule high."

 

 

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