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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Basketball season can't come soon enough for new Tigers coach Tony Barbee

It's hard to believe, but men's basketball practice starts Friday. Auburn coach Tony Barbee had a brief meeting with reporters today. Here's some of what he had to say:
  • Barbee sounds ready to get actually get onto the court and do some coaching, calling the last six months a "necessary evil" coaches must deal with. "Here we are on Friday, ready to tip off, and it can't come soon enough," he said.
  • Texas transfer Varez Ward is in school but has not been cleared medically to practice. He suffered a quad injury that kept him out most of last year. Ward will have another set of tests Thursday to test the strength in his leg.
  • There is no new news regarding the waiver Auburn is seeking from the NCAA so that Ward can play immediately. He moved closer to his home in Montgomery because his mother has a heart condition. Under normal transfer rules, he would have to sit out this season.
  • Barbee does not have any expectations that Frankie Sullivan or Ty Armstrong will contribute this year. Both had surgery for ACL injuries this summer. "It is not a good thing they got hurt, but the fact that they both are going through the same injury and the same recovery, they are not on an island by themselves," Barbee said.
  • Like years past, this is going to be a small Auburn team. Nobody on the roster is over 6-foot-9 except for sophomore forward Rob Chubb. "In the last four years when I was at UTEP, we were the biggest team around, in our conference, and really across the country," Barbee said. "We are going to be one of the smallest teams I've ever been around. Everyday I'm with the staff, we are talking and brainstorming and doing what coaches do. We are all X-ing and O-ing on napkins, and it all seems to work then. We are just trying to find a way to be successful with the one of the smallest teams around in the country."
  • Barbee wants to play a fast style, a pressure-based defense that cause turnovers and plays in transition. He called the team a "scrappy" group. "What that leads to in wins and losses, that is hard to say," he said. "Nobody is going to put expectations on my team higher than what mine can be. There is not a game on the schedule I look at saying we have no shot in that one. We are going to play hard, we are going to play fast, and we are going to play fun. It is going to be an exciting style for the players and for the fans to watch, so we'll see what that leads to."
  • A statement from Barbee I don't know is true: "The misnomer that everybody's had about the state of Alabama not being a basketball state is far from the truth. People love basketball in this state."
  • How shallow is the pool of returning players? Sophomore guard Earnest Ross is the team's leading scorer and rebounder coming back (2.8 points, 3.0 rebounds per game). "He really stood out to me," Barbee said. "He has really taken on a role of leading by example. How hard he works, how tough he is, those are the guys I want to build this program around, so I am excited about the year I am expecting Earnest to have."
  • Ross is embracing his new role. "At former schools, I was the leader on my team, so I don't mind taking on the leadership role," said Ross, who called last year humbling. "But, we have a lot of guys that are natural leaders on this team. It is going to be an exciting year to watch us play and play with those types of guys. With the group of guys that we have, we should be pretty good this year."
  • Ross said the offseason conditioning program was "very, very tough. ... With the system that he runs, we all have to be in shape in order to play the minutes he wants us to play. So at the end of the day, I feel good, and I am happy he is doing it."
  • Outside expectations aren't high. Ross has heard it. "We are using it as motivation," he said. "Like Coach Barbee was saying, we are a very small team and a lot of the competition we are going to be playing is going to be bigger than us. With the group of guys that we have and the type of character guys that we have are all very competitive. That makes us a very scrappy team. We look forward to playing the bigger and better competition. We are just going to compete every time we step on the court."


Justin said...

"Can't come soon enough"? Oh yes it can. And it will.

scottie burns said...

uuuhhh....when have we NOT been the smallest team around? seems like we've been hearing that for a long time.

Anonymous said...

You can thank the injury to Armstrong for that as well as Cothron not qualifying. I heard Kemp Jr. "might" get in in January - maybe Andy can find something out about that.

scottie burns said...

hope so. we're gonna need all the help we can get.

Clint Richardson said...

I started following Auburn basketball about two years ago or so. It's actually pretty fun. I went to the Auburn-Alabama A&M here in Huntsville, and got to go to the first round of the SEC Championship game vs Florida. Basketball is completely different than Auburn football, but its still pretty fun. Its sad that the bball team isnt respected as well, or at all really, as the football team. I'm excited to see Barbee and this new team, but like most people here, I'm not ready for it to start, because we've got the best football season we've had in quite some time.

Good luck Barbee, WAR EAGLE!

AUsome04 said...

Let's go Tigers! Whew, with all the players that didn't make it to the team this year it's going to be hard for these guys to stay competitive even with a new coach and/or arena. It'll be interesting to see how the fans will react if we get off to a slow start. One thing I defintely agree with the coach on though is size. We need some big guys. He'll get'em to AU. I'm with you Coach Barbee win,lose, or OT. LolWaR EAgLE