June 24, 2013
By Charles Goldberg
AUBURN — Auburn basketball coach Tony Barbee will take his team to The Bahamas in August, but it won't be all fun in the sun.
"I think it's a great time to develop chemistry and it will give us a little bit of a head start going into next season," Barbee says.
Auburn will be looking to jump start the season on its exhibition outing. Barbee will be entering his fourth season looking for a bounce-back year after going 9-23 last season. He'll try to do it with eight newcomers and an assortment of veterans.
"I'm excited about the year," Barbee said during an SEC teleconference Monday. "I like the mindset of the returners. Those guys have been in the program now and understand the mentality we have to have to compete at the high level of this league. With the additions of the newcomers, I think we've upgraded our roster in a lot of ways, from talent, size, length. We've had to upgrade to compete in this league."
Auburn didn't complete its roster until last week when it signed junior college transfer Malcolm Canada. He's arriving in the nick of time, considering Auburn has only one other point guard, and that's freshman Tajh Shamsid-Deen.
Canada will be the big point guard at 6-foot-3. Shamsid-Deen is 5-9.
"We were fortunate to get Malcolm as late as we did in the process. Tahj is going to be a fantastic player for us. He's a winner, He's an ultimate competitor," Barbee said.
Barbee said Canada will add a different dimension as a taller guard.
"Very physical. He has great feet and great hands. He's a winner," Barbee said. "I think we've got a great mix in terms of those two. I think we've upgraded the position significantly."
Barbee said he expects all of his signees on board this summer, but the school paperwork still must be processed for international players Matthew Atewe (Canada), Dio Wade (Belguim) and Benas Griciunas (Lithuanaia).
Barbee said he's counting on the newcomers to mesh with his veterans.
"Every year is a transition for all programs," he said. "When you're trying to rebuild it, sometimes you're going to take a few steps forward and a couple going backwards to get going four or five steps forward, and I think that's where we're at in the process."
Barbee said other college teams will be in The Bahamas, too. Auburn will likely play exhibition games against teams from The Bahamas Basketball Federation.
Barbee said Auburn's schedule isn't finish, but said the Tigers' non-conference schedule includes Illinois in Atlanta, Boston College and Clemson in Auburn and Iowa State in Ames.
Charles Goldberg writes for AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine