Just wrapped up the first day of interviews for SEC media day. No, Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl didn’t wear an orange jacket, instead opting to show his school colors with a creamsickle orange and white striped tie. But Pearl did pay a nice compliment to Billy Donovan, noting that the league has taken on Donovan’s personality.
“The SEC, it is wide open, it is up tempo, it is fast-paced, it is spread, it is ball screens and that’s been Billy’s style,” Pearl said. “It’s a reflection of his winning … maybe my being at Tennessee has helped that because we try to play similar.”
Like Pearl, Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings was relaxed, cracking jokes on how he should have an Academic Progress Rate clause written into his contact and comparing playing in the SEC to an eight-week trip to the dentist. The most inspirational story of the day was talking to Alabama senior point guard Ronald Steele, who is coming back for his final season after sitting out of more than a year and a half following knee surgery.
Other talking points:
*SEC director of officials Gerald Boudreaux does not see the difference in distance in the women’s and men’s 3-point line crossing up his refs. “The lines will be different colors,” Boudreaux said. “And we have made sure that at no point the arcs will be touching.”
*Former U.S. Olympic and WNBA standout Dawn Staley joins the league’s women’s coaching ranks at South Carolina, adding another big name to a league that boasts Tennessee icon Pat Summitt and LSU coach Van Chancellor. “I looked at the coaches in the league and said that I wanted to compete against the very best,” Staley said. “Here’s an opportunity to do that.”
*Line of the day: “I felt like going out and buying a bottle of Jack Daniel’s,” Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said after finding out that Ronald Steele was going to have to sit out last season on a medical redshirt.