BIOGRAPHY

In his first 13 years as a head coach, Bruce Pearl had experienced success on several different levels of competition. He had led NCAA Division II Southern Indiana to a national championship and then moved up to the mid-major level where he took UW-Milwaukee to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

His 14th season as a head coach, his first year at Tennessee, Pearl reached an entirely new level of success. Entering the 2005-06 campaign, the Vols were picked to finish fifth out of six teams in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division. With a team that had lost two of its top players from the previous season and just one new player added to the rotation, it was no surprise expectations were low in Knoxville.

At the end of the season, Tennessee had won 22 games and won the SEC Eastern Division title with a 12-4 league record. UT swept its regular season series against four of the other five SEC Eastern Division schools (South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Vanderbilt) and were ranked as high as No. 8 by the Associated Press.

Fans around East Tennessee took notice of what was happening at Thompson-Boling Arena. With six home crowds of at least 20,000, UT's average attendance in 2006 was 17,954 -- the fifth-highest average in the nation. In SEC games, Tennessee averaged 20,796 fans per game.

Along the way the honors began pouring in. The Sporting News named Pearl its national coach of the year. He was also named USBWA All-District IV Coach of the Year and was a finalist for the Naismith Men's College Coach of the Year and the Phelan Award for national coach of the year.

In just one season, Pearl had elevated the Tennessee basketball program among the nation's elite.

When University of Tennessee Director of Athletics Mike Hamilton began the search for a new basketball coach, he cited the desire to hire an established coach who, over a period of time, had proven success in leading his teams to championships.

Hamilton found his man, naming Bruce Pearl as Tennessee's 17th basketball coach on March 28, 2005, in a mid-court ceremony at Thompson-Boling Arena.

"Bruce Pearl possesses all the criteria for success in men's basketball at the University of Tennessee," Hamilton said. "He is a proven, nationally-recognized winner. His teams are disciplined, mentally tough and exciting to watch. He is a relentless recruiter, a passionate promoter of his program, an excellent floor coach and a staunch family man."

Pearl's success has been described as magical. At Division II Southern Indiana he led the Screaming Eagles to nine NCAA Division II Tournaments, including a national championship in 1995 and a runner-up finish in 1994. He then moved to mid-major UW-Milwaukee, where he directed the Panthers to the Sweet 16 of the 2005 NCAA Tournament with wins over major conference powers Alabama and Boston College.

A ringing endorsement from a Tennessee basketball legend who is considered one of the top front office talents in the NBA didn't hurt either.

"He's a basketball junkie," former UT All-America and current president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards Ernie Grunfeld said about Pearl. "He loves the game. He loves to talk about it. He lives it, breathes it and eats it, and those are the type of people you want running your program. And besides all that, he's a good guy."

In 14 seasons as a head coach, Pearl has compiled a 339-92 career record. His teams have received postseason bids 13 times and have advanced to the Sweet 16 of NCAA Tournaments seven times. Five times he has been named league coach of the year and 13 times his teams have registered at least 20 wins, including a school record 26 at UW-Milwaukee in 2005.

During the 2005 campaign he became one of the fastest coaches in NCAA history to reach the 300-win milestone. Pearl needed just 382 games to reach the 300-win mark, which was second only to Roy Williams (Kansas and North Carolina) who needed 370 games.

Pearl's success has been a result of hard work, both by the coaches and players. As a staff, the coaches quickly developed a reputation in Tennessee for working from sunrise until late into the night, leaving no stone unturned while working to improve the program. On the court, the coaches expect 100 percent effort from the players.

"One thing I can tell you about our basketball team is that they will play hard, they will play unselfishly and people are going to know we never got outworked by our opponent," Pearl said.

Pearl brought an exciting style of play, both for fans and players alike. In 2006 his Tennessee team led the Southeastern Conference in scoring offense (80.4 ppg), assists (16.97 apg), steals (10.03 spg), turnover margin (+5.30), assist/turnover ratio (1.32) and 3-point field goals made (8.80 3pg).

"We're going to pressure the ball for 40 minutes. We'll do it 94 feet most of the time. The talent level will dictate how fast we make people go or how slow we make them go. There are two ways to control tempo -- pressure defense or holding the ball. I just prefer pressure defense."

Major Success As A Head Coach
In today's world of instant gratification, Pearl wasted no time in turning UW-Milwaukee into one of the most successful mid-major programs in the nation.

In his four years at UWM, the Panthers won a pair of Horizon League regular season titles (2004 and 2005) and two Horizon League Tournament championships (2003 and 2005). They advanced to Division I postseason play for the first time in school history, making two NCAA Tournament appearances (2003 and 2005) and receiving an NIT bid (2004).

In 2005, Pearl led the Panthers to the most successful season in school history. In addition to winning regular season and conference tournament titles, UWM set a school record with 26 wins and made its first-ever appearance in the Sweet 16 with NCAA Tournament wins over Alabama and Boston College.

During the Panthers' run to the Sweet 16, Pearl received national acclaim including being named a finalist for the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year honor with fellow coaches Bruce Weber of Illinois, Roy Williams of North Carolina, Skip Prosser of Wake Forest, Al Skinner of Boston College and Tubby Smith of Kentucky.

Honors consistently were bestowed upon Pearl and his players. Three times in his four seasons at UWM he was named the Horizon League Coach of the Year. In 2004, Dylan Page was named the Horizon League Player of the Year while Ed McCants repeated the feat in 2005. Four players (Clay Tucker in 2002 and 2003, Page in 2003 and 2004, McCants 2005 and Joah Tucker in 2005) earned first team all-conference honors under Pearl's direction.

Pearl's 51-13 (.797) record in Horizon League games gives him the best winning percentage of any coach in league history. He became the second-fastest coach to win 300 career games with a 73-56 win over Loyola Jan. 8, 2005. Only North Carolina's Roy Williams reached the milestone faster.

Other milestones under Pearl's guidance included the school's first win over a ranked team and first wins over teams from the SEC, Big Ten, Big East, Conference USA, WAC and Mountain West.

One of the most recognizable sports figures in the city, fans took notice of UWM's success under Pearl. In each of his four seasons in Milwaukee, the Panthers drew record-setting crowds for their home games.

First Job Nets National Championship
In today's world of instant gratification, Pearl wasted no time in turning both Tennessee and UW-Milwaukee into some of the most successful programs in the nation.

In his four years at UWM, the Panthers won a pair of Horizon League regular season titles (2004 and 2005) and two Horizon League Tournament championships (2003 and 2005). They advanced to Division I postseason play for the first time in school history, making two NCAA Tournament appearances (2003 and 2005) and receiving an NIT bid (2004).

In 2005, Pearl led the Panthers to the most successful season in school history. In addition to winning regular season and conference tournament titles, UWM set a school record with 26 wins and made its first-ever appearance in the Sweet 16 with NCAA Tournament wins over Alabama and Boston College.

During the Panthers' run to the Sweet 16, Pearl received national acclaim including being named a finalist for the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year honor with fellow coaches Bruce Weber of Illinois, Roy Williams of North Carolina, Skip Prosser of Wake Forest, Al Skinner of Boston College and Tubby Smith of Kentucky.

Honors consistently were bestowed upon Pearl and his players. Three times in his four seasons at UWM he was named the Horizon League Coach of the Year. In 2004, Dylan Page was named the Horizon League Player of the Year while Ed McCants repeated the feat in 2005. Four players (Clay Tucker in 2002 and 2003, Page in 2003 and 2004, McCants 2005 and Joah Tucker in 2005) earned first team all-conference honors under Pearl's direction.

Pearl's 51-13 (.797) record in Horizon League games gives him the best winning percentage of any coach in league history. He became the second-fastest coach to win 300 career games with a 73-56 win over Loyola Jan. 8, 2005. Only North Carolina's Roy Williams reached the milestone faster.

Other milestones under Pearl's guidance included the school's first win over a ranked team and first wins over teams from the SEC, Big Ten, Big East, Conference USA, WAC and Mountain West.

One of the most recognizable sports figures in the city, fans took notice of UWM's success under Pearl. In each of his four seasons in Milwaukee, the Panthers drew record-setting crowds for their home games.

Humble Beginnings
Pearl's coaching career began at his alma mater, Boston College, as a student assistant coach to the legendary Dr. Tom Davis. After 14 seasons seated to the right of Davis, the 32-year-old Pearl embarked on his own head coaching career.

"It's a great country, isn't it, when you can start from really humble beginnings, work hard, believe passionately and accomplish just about anything," Pearl said. "I've worked my whole life to get to a place like Tennessee."

Pearl's first break came while an undergraduate at Boston College when Davis offered him a position of student assistant in 1978. In 1981, the Eagles won the Big East Conference championship and reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. The following season, BC advanced to the Elite Eight.

When Davis moved on to Stanford in 1982, Pearl joined his staff as an assistant coach and then, at the age of 23, was promoted to associate head coach for the Cardinal. While in Palo Alto, Calif., they ended a streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons with a 19-12 overall record in 1983-84, laying the groundwork for a resurgence in Stanford basketball. During this time they recruited four players who were drafted by the NBA, including Todd Lichti who finished his career as Stanford's all-time leading scorer with 2,336 career points.

After four seasons on the West Coast, Pearl followed Davis to the University of Iowa in 1986. Over the course of the next six seasons, the Hawkeyes received five NCAA Tournament berths while compiling a 129-63 overall record. In 1987, the Hawkeyes recorded a 30-5 record and advanced to the Elite Eight before falling to UNLV. The following year, Pearl was recognized as one of the top Division I assistants in the country by Basketball Weekly while helping direct the Hawkeyes to the Sweet 16.

His six seasons in Iowa City helped produce 11 NBA draft picks for the Hawkeyes, including Brad Lohaus, Kevin Gamble, B.J. Armstrong, Roy Marble and Acie Earl.

These 14 seasons with Davis provided Pearl a foundation of basketball knowledge that enabled him to move on to a head coach position.

"I feel like I had a great mentor in Dr. Tom Davis," Pearl said. "If you're any good at anything, chances are you had somebody pretty good who taught you how to do it. I had the pleasure of being by his side for 14 years. He was a brilliant defensive strategist. He taught me how to press and how to run, but, more than anything else, he taught me how to work with young people, how to be patient, how to be disciplined and how to get the most out of them, even more than they ever dreamed they could have."

A native of Boston, Mass., Pearl received his bachelor's degree in business administration from Boston College in 1982, graduating cum laude. His wife, Kim, is the niece of college coaching great Norm Sloan. In May 2005 she received a nursing degree from UW-Milwaukee. The couple has two daughters, Jacqui and Leah, and two sons, Steven and Michael.

 
Head Coaching Record
Year School Overall Pct. Conf. Pct. Postseason
1992-93 Southern Indiana 22-7 .759 14-4 .788 NCAA II Tournament (1-1)
1993-94 Southern Indiana 28-4 .875 16-2 .889 NCAA II Tournament (4-1) National Runner-up
1994-95 Southern Indiana 29-4 .879 15-3 .833 NCAA II Tournament (6-0) National Champion
1995-96 Southern Indiana 25-4 .862 18-2 .900 NCAA II Tournament (1-1) Sweet 16
1996-97 Southern Indiana 23-5 .821 16-4 .800 NCAA II Tournament (0-1)
1997-98 Southern Indiana 27-6 .818 14-5 .736 NCAA II Tournament (1-1) Sweet 16
1998-99 Southern Indiana 26-6 .813 18-4 .818 NCAA II Tournament (2-1) Sweet 16
1999-00 Southern Indiana 25-6 .806 17-3 .850 NCAA II Tournament (1-1) Sweet 16
2000-01 Southern Indiana 26-4 .867 18-2 .900 NCAA II Tournament (0-1)
2001-02 UW-Milwaukee 16-13 .552 11-5 .688
2002-03 UW-Milwaukee 24-8 .750 13-3 .813 NCAA Tournament (0-1)
2003-04 UW-Milwaukee 20-11 .645 13-3 .813 National Invitation Tournament (1-1)
2004-05 UW-Milwaukee 26-6 .813 14-2 .875 NCAA Tournament (2-1) Sweet 16
2005-06 Tennessee 22-8 .733 12-4 .750 NCAA Tournament (1-1)
Totals 14 seasons 339-92 .785 NCAA Tournament (19-12)
at Southern Indiana: 231-46 (9 years)
at UW-Milwaukee: 86-38 (4 years)
at Tennessee: 22-8 (1 year)



University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

86 wins in four seasons
2005 Horizon League Champions
2005 NCAA Tournament - Advanced to Sweet 16
2004 Horizon League Regular Season Champions
2004 NIT Participant
2003 Horizon League Champions
2003 NCAA Tournament
Three-time Horizon League Coach of the Year

Southern Indiana

231 wins in nine seasons
1995 NCAA Division II National Champion
1994 NCAA Division II National Runners-Up
Six NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearances
Four Great Lakes Valley Championships
Ranked #1 nationally six different times
Nine consecutive 20-win seasons
Nine consecutive NCAA appearances

Division I Assistant Coach

NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite Eight as assistant coach at the University of Iowa
NCAA Sweet 16 and Elite Eight as assistant coach at Boston College
Named one of the top assistants in the country by Basketball Weekly in 1988
Coached for 14 seasons alongside Dr. Tom Davis
Coached numerous future NBA players, including B.J. Armstrong, Brad Lohaus, Kevin Gamble, Acie Earl and Matt Bullard

Honors and Awards

2006 National Coach of the Year (The Sporting News)
2006 National Coach of the Year (Basketball Times)
2006 National Coach of the Year (CBS SportsLine.com)
2006 Naismith National Coach of the Year Finalist
2006 Phelan National Coach of the Year Award Finalist
2006 USBWA All-District IV Coach of the Year
2006 SEC Coach of the Year (AP)
2006 SEC Coach of the Year (CBS SportsLine.com)
2006 SEC Coach of the Year (CollegeInsider.com)
2006 SEC Coach of the Year (ESPN.com's Pat Forde)
2006 Tennessee Sports Writers Assoc. Coach of the Year
2005 Phelan National Coach of the Year Award Finalist
2005 Horizon League Coach of the Year
2004 Horizon League Coach of the Year
2003 Horizon League Coach of the Year
2000 NABC Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year
1999 One of five "Head Coaches On The Rise" (Sport Magazine)
1995 NABC Division II Coach of the Year
1994 Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year
1993 Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year
1988 One of the top assistants in the country (Basketball Weekly) 

Coaching Achievements

Led his teams to 13 20-win seasons
Averaged more than 24 wins per season
Made 12 NCAA Tournament appearances
Won 19 NCAA Tournament games
Captured nine regular season or postseason league titles
Won six league coach of the year awards
Earned two national coach of the year awards
Coached five league players of the year
Won 78.5 percent of his games
Won 200 games at one school faster than any other coach in NCAA history
Won 300 games faster than all but one active coach
Reached postseason play in 13 of 14 seasons as a head coach
First recruiting class at Tennessee ranked among the top five in the nation
Directed the Vols to a No. 8 national ranking in 2006
Tennessee averaged 17,954 fans in 2006 and had an increase of 5,504 fans per game -- the largest increase in the nation

 

Check out the schedule and get all the latest game results
Updated player biographies and the entire Volunteer roster
Get all the latest Volunteer team and individual statistics
 

AllCoachNetwork.com, a Division of CollegeInsider.com in partnership with NABC.com. All Rights Reserved.