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Bruce Pearl to NCAA tournament foe Iowa: ‘I’ve changed all the play-calls’
Iowa assistant coach Matt Gatens, you see, was on Pearl’s Auburn staff four years ago
Here were some of Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl’s comments about playing Iowa Thursday (5:50 p.m. in Birmingham, Ala.) in the first round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, thanks to Tom Green’s story for Al.com:
“Now, our first opponent in Iowa: I would be absolutely remiss if I didn’t start a press conference talking about how special it was for me to be at Iowa as an assistant for six years.
“The Hawkeye State is something special. I think people in Alabama, here in the South, would share a lot of things with the people in Iowa in the Midwest. Two great states full of great people.
“A really important time for me as an assistant coach under Dr. Tom Davis, and I still have some great, great friends there. Matt Gatens, who played for the Hawks — whose dad, Mike Gatens, was one of my best friends in Iowa City, who also played for the Hawks under Lute Olson — was on our staff (from 2017-2019). So I’ve already texted Matt and told him I’ve changed all the play-calls, and I’ve changed all my signals, and we’re not running that anymore, and stuff like that.
“Matt works for a great head coach in Fran McCaffery — veteran that’s been there and done that. One of the most competitive, hardworking, great family man, great father, great teacher as head coach, and a brilliant offensive tactician.
“Iowa, as a team, will be one of the best offensive teams we’ve played. No. 3 in offensive efficiency. They play the 31st-fastest tempo. They make eight 3s a game. They’re No. 8 in the country at taking care of the ball, as far as their assist-turnover ratio. They just don’t turn it over.
“They get a shot off before they turn it over. Thirtieth in the nation in assists per field goal, and they’re a great offensive rebounding team. Defensively, they do a lot of different things. They’re multiple in how they defend. So just a lot of things, obviously, to prepare for.
“Obviously, Kris Murray is a great player. And I recruited his dad, Kenyon Murray, to Iowa, and Kenyon Murray had a great career at Iowa. So there’s a lot of meat there.”
For the record, Rich Walker was Davis’ primary recruiter of Kenyon Murray. Pearl left Iowa to become the head coach at Southern Indiana before Murray’s freshman year at Iowa.
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