Friday’s SEC Tournament quarterfinals showdown between Auburn and Alabama took a wild turn even after the Crimson Tide stormed back for a victory.
After the Crimson Tide came from behind to top Auburn 81-63, ESPN cameras showed Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl visibly upset walking off the court. A replay showed Pearl in a heated exchange with an unidentified Alabama coach before Pearl was finally escorted away.
So, who was the Crimson Tide staffer jawing with Pearl?
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The man in question was Alabama head strength and conditioning coach Lou DeNeen, who is now in his fourth season in that position with the Crimson Tide. According to the Crimson Tide’s official website, DeNeen worked at UAB, Florida International and California prior to coming to Tuscaloosa.
Per the website, “During his collegiate coaching career, DeNeen has trained 25 players who have either played or are currently playing in the NBA, including Joe Smith, who was the 1995 NBA Draft No. 1 overall pick. He has also coached and developed numerous NBA All-Stars and lottery picks during his coaching career.”
DeNeen is also credited with having worked with several professional athletes from a number of different sports, including Alex Rodriguez, Jamal Mashburn and Tony Gonzalez.
Pearl explained his side of the story in the postgame press conference.
"Just as I was walking to my locker room, I just had to — a gentleman just was in my path, and I had to negotiate — try and negotiate around him," Pearl said, via Sporting News. "I think he may have clipped me, and then he said something to me.
“Of course, I should be able to walk off the floor without having somebody stand in front of me and try to make contact with me. So that was all it was."