Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
This interview with Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl is the fifth in a series of interviews with Division 1 head coaches conducted at camps this summer.
NEW YORK — Bruce Pearl knows the SEC East will be absolutely loaded this year.
With Kentucky, Florida, South Carolina, Vanderbilt and Tennessee all in the same division, the SEC East could be the toughest conference in all of college basketball.
“We could be a Top 10 team in the country and we could be the third best team in the SEC,” Pearl said last month at St. John’s. “It’s a great league.
“It’s loaded every year. With John [Calipari] at Kentucky, the bar’s been raised. Florida’s not been in the [NCAA] Tournament two years in a row. That’s not going to happen again. They got a lot of guys back.
“Wherever the bar is set, we all seem to rise to wherever the bar is set. We have beaten Florida seven of the last eight times. We finished ahead of Kentucky four straight years. We’re trying to go after our fourth SEC championship in five years, we’ve got an awful lot to play for. I’ve got to continue to keep Tennessee in a very competitive situation so that when you guys start talking about the SEC East, not only are you talking about Florida and Kentucky, but you also talk about Tennessee.”
There has been quite a bit of movement in the Big East over the past few days…
Pittsburgh suspended forward Gilbert Brown for the fall semester because of academic reasons.
Brown, a redshirt junior from Harrisburg, Pa., played in 32 games off the bench last season. He scored in double figures five times and averaged 5.4 points and 3.1 rebounds.
The 6-6, 200-pound Brown could be eligible to rejoin the team Dec. 20.
The Panthers already lost DeJuan Blair and Tyrell Biggs. Now Brown’s absence leaves the Panthers even thinner up front. McDonald’s All-American Dante Taylor figured to be a key player as a freshman and his role may have just gotten even more important.