Auburn associate head basketball coach John Cooper works a drill with Josh Dollard during the team's first practice of the season. (photo by Todd Van Emst)
Oct. 14, 2006
AUBURN - Auburn opened its second century of basketball with the first practice of 2006-07 by working out for nearly two hours in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum Friday.
Third-year head coach Jeff Lebo welcomed five returning starters and eight newcomers, including six freshmen. Junior Frank Tolbert (9.1 ppg) is the lone returning upperclassmen starter along with a quartet of sophomores in Rasheem Barrett (11.1 ppg), Josh Dollard (9.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg), Quantez Robertson (8.0 ppg, 4.6 apg) and Korvotney Barber (6.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg).
"It was nice to have some veterans out there," Lebo said. "It was a big difference between the vets and the freshmen like it was last year and the year before that. They learned how it is going to be. The pickup games in the offseason are a lot different than now. It is a little bit harder for those freshmen to score against those vets when we start focusing on some defense.
"We did a lot of talking today and will do a lot of teaching in the first couple of days, and the freshmen seemed to pick up things pretty quickly so that was encouraging."
The Tigers concentrated on team defense, post defense and fast break situations in the first half of the practice. The remainder of the initial workout featured several offensive sets.
"The first day went pretty well, and you could tell the difference between the vets and the freshmen," said Barrett. "We are going to pull them along and teach them like we did in the summer. It is a different time now. We have longer practices, and you're body is going to get worn down."
Last year at this time, it was Barrett's first collegiate practice. Now, the sophomore can definitely see a difference.
"Oh my gosh, it was a lot easier this time," Barrett said. "Last year, in our first drill with the three-man weave, I couldn't go one time down. I am now in shape and know what is going on."
Auburn will practice again Saturday and will take Sunday off before practicing Monday through next Saturday. The Tigers have an autograph session for fans before the Auburn-Florida football game Saturday at 5:15 pm Central in the Verizon tent located in front of the Coliseum.
"We are going to build and see what we can do," said Lebo of what the Tigers are going to work towards in practice the next week. "For the young kids, it is kind of like boot camp. Now they have to do it over and over again, and their bodies have to get in shape. We don't want to get anybody hurt or injured.
"We would like to have everybody fresh and ready to go and be able to stay out there for longer periods of time. We are just going to continue to build what we are doing. The freshmen are going to have to catch up to the older guys, who are much more advanced at this time than they are."
Following a pair of free exhibition games Nov. 3 vs. Faulkner and Nov. 7 vs. AUM, Auburn opens the season at home Nov. 10 against Troy. Auburn basketball season tickets are on sale for the 20-game home portion of the schedule for $205. Non-conference individual game tickets are $10 and Southeastern Conference game tickets are $15 except for the Florida and Alabama games, which are $20.
The Tigers will play host to eight NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago including defending national champion Florida, Final Four LSU, Pittsburgh and Texas A&M. Please call 334.844.4040 or 1.800.AUB.1957 for ticket information or visit www.auburntigers.com.
The single-elimination Jeff Lebo 3-on-3 Tournament began once the Tigers' first practice was over and continued into the night until a winner was crowned. The teams consisted of Auburn students, faculty and staff with the winning team earning a chance to play a final game against Lebo and the Auburn basketball coaching staff for the right to travel with the Tigers to a road game this season.