Oct. 15, 2008
Quoting Auburn Head Coach Jeff Lebo
"We have a lot of new faces obviously on the team and six veteran players. What I have been pleased with to date off of the workouts, lifting and conditioning that we"ve done is some of the new guys are from winning programs that are used to winning. We bring that type of winning attitude to everything that we do. We have a little competition on the court, in the weight room and in the conditioning. That certainly pushes kids early to get better. We have a lot of new faces. The kids have been terrific. Their passion has been real good. They have been hungry in workouts. You like to see that. We haven"t had any injuries to date. You would like to see some competition when we get together in the workouts, and I have seen that to date."
(Although it is early, can you project Auburn"s potential starting
"It will be hard. I don"t like to do that right now. You can probably guess that some of the vets who have started a lot for us in the past in Quantez Robertson, Rasheem Barrett"s played, Korvotney Barber"s back, DeWayne Reed has started at different times. Lucas Hargrove is probably one of our most improved players. He has improved a bunch from the end of last year to this year. You are going to see those guys on the court a bunch. As far as the other guys, it is really up for grabs. We have a whole new inside group of guys including Vot back healthy. I don"t know how that is going to shake out now."
(On Quantez Robertson playing one position) "He will play one, he will play two and he can play three. He can play all three positions"
(What specifically has Lucas Hargrove improved upon) "He has gotten a lot stronger. He is almost 210 pounds and is able to take the beating more than he was in his first two years. He is even able to play some different positions for us. He can hold his own. If we want to go small at times when we need to, he can play the power forward position. If we need to go small, he can play the two guard position. He can defend anybody on the court. He is in great shape. He is much more mature on the floor. He still has energy and enthusiasm which will never go away and confidence, but I think he understands that he can affect the game in other areas on the court than just scoring the basketball."
(Do you have confidence in him shooting the basketball?) "I have confidence when he takes good ones. Shot selection is as important as anything. When he has open ones, we want him to take it. He is still streaky there. If he takes open ones, we have confidence in him taking them from three. He has to understand, we talked about this yesterday in a meeting, that the best thing that he does is take the ball to the basket. That is still something that we want him to do."
(Did you improve Auburn"s outside shooting with some of the new guys you brought in?) "We think we have two very good outside shooters coming in with Frankie Sullivan and Tay Waller. Tay is very capable, even with the line moved back, he can go two steps behind it. He is somebody who you are going to have to defend at all times. If he missed eight in a row, you think the next eight are going to go in. He was probably one of the best junior college 3-point shooters in the country. He has had games where he has had double figure makes from three in junior college. Frankie Sullivan, if you give him time, he has great range and shot selection for him is going to be big. He has to make that adjustment from where he had to score so much in high school where he is going to have to learn to play with better players. When he shoots open ones, I think every one is going to go down. You are going to have to defend those guys a little bit differently. Rasheem Barrett is a guy, when he takes good ones, is certainly capable from the perimeter. DeWayne Reed, this is an area where he worked very hard in the offseason to get better and make open shots and also Quantez. His percentage was a lot better than people imagined from three because he is not a great shooter from there but he has the toughness to make them when he needs to."
(How will the junior college players mesh?) "With the way you are able to do some things now in workouts with two hours (a week to practice), you kind of have a good feel before practice starts how they will mesh in. From an attitude standpoint from their ability to do whatever is necessary to help the team out, I don"t have any question those guys will do whatever necessary to help the team win. I am not real concerned about that even with a lot of new faces with junior college players. With those guys, they are used to playing. You have to have a need for those guys to come in and be able to play and contribute immediately, and we need those guys to be able to do that."
(What does a healthy Korvotney Barber bring to the team?) "He brings a lot to you. He brings your best defensive post player. He brings you an experienced post player in around the bucket. He is your most athletic guy. Defensively and offensively, he brings the ability in offensive rebounding. He was leading the nation last year before he got hurt in field goal percentage. He was very, very efficient when he got the ball in around the bucket. The area improvement where he needs to take it to another level is his ability to make free throws because he gets pounded down there a lot. He shot 60 percent before he got hurt from the field and 42 from the line. They were taking their chances sending him to the line. He has worked on that. He has really changed his shot and hopefully he will get some results out of that this year. Just from a standpoint of his athleticism and his leadership to be out on the court, he can get you some things off the offensive glass that you can"t coach."
(What are your expectations for Frankie Sullivan?) "I just want Frankie to learn to play with other good players. We need Frankie to learn what a good shot is. He had to do different things. His role for his high school team was much different than his role is going to be here. We want him to score, that is his nature. He can do it. The biggest thing for him to grow to learn what it is like to play at this level and not put too much expectation on him and also to be able to teach him about the point guard position. His size is one for him to really go to the next level, he is going to have to play at the point."
(On the three new big men in Francis Aihe, Brendon Knox and Johnnie
"Knox can alter shots. He is a very good rebounder. He is a back to the basket type of player. He is 230 pounds. I think you are going to see Brendon Knox get better and better and better. He already has in the short period that he has been here. He is a very quiet kind of introverted-type kid, but he really works hard. He wants to be good. Offensively, he is an around the basket kind of guy right now. Defensively, he could be a factor for us. He has speed. When he wants to run, he can change ends of the court. He will be more of a center for us inside. You have Johnnie Lett who can play center or power forward. He is a very good, quick defensive player around the post. He is an excellent rebounder. He is not an outside shooter. He is a decent foul shooter and is going to be a garbage guy around the bucket area and an excellent defensive guy. Aihe may be the guy who can step out a little bit and be able to screen a little bit and make the 16 footer. He is kind of a set shooter right now. He is very good defensively and is able to guard a lot of different positions on the floor. He is not as big and strong as the other two guys right now."
(On Auburn"s schedule)
"It is another difficult schedule with road trips to an ACC school in Virginia and a road trip to Cincinnati to play Xavier, which is a game for Tez (Robertson) to go back home to play. We have home games against George Washington which is besides last year, was the top team in the Atlantic 10 for the past five years. We have some in-state games in Alabama State and Alabama A&M which will be fun games to play here against teams in the state. We have a trip to Chicago to play in a tournament with Dayton and Northern Iowa. We have Missouri State to open the season here, and they have traditionally been a very, very strong team and an NCAA quality Tournament type team. We have challenged ourselves pretty well with our schedule with a couple of tough road games which will help."
(What are the reasonable expectations for this team?) "Each year, we go in with high expectations. Probably our expectations of our first year and second year were not very high. We wanted to show improvement our third year in which we were one decision away from winning a SEC (Western Division) Championship at Ole Miss. Last year, probably was the highest for me personally. It didn"t turn out. We thought we had all the pieces there and we were ready to compete. Night in and night out I thought we would have a chance and it didn"t work out that way. This year with new faces, I kind of want to wait and see. I don"t want to put a too high of an expectation level on us. I love the way how the team has meshed and how hard they have played. They want to win. We have to run a six minute mile to make the team and this is the first time everybody made it. They are doing a lot of stuff together. I like where we are. We will see what happens with our cohesiveness once the games start. That is the true test for your team when playing time is determined and all kind of different things happen. It is all because of that. If we can stay together through that and if we can get some consistent play out of those big guys " I like where we are right now with our depth. I think we will be able to play a lot of different people this year."
Quoting Senior Forward Korvotney Barber
"I am very excited about the new season. We have a good group of guys in. They listen really well. They are real coachable. They stay away from negative things and everybody is on the right page. I think we have a lot of work to do from last year. We had a bad season last year because of injuries and players being ineligible. I think this season will be a pretty good season."
(Which of the new players can add immediate help?) "All of the guys can I think. All of them can do different things. Tay Waller is a good shooter. Johnnie (Lett) and (Brendon) Knox are good shot blockers. Even our walk-on, Josh Wallace, is really good defensively on the ball. I think all of the guys are going to help the team this season."
(Is it good to get a fresh start this year?) "Last year, we could have had a lot accomplished if we had all of our players. Last season was a bad season for Auburn " a bad season."
(On his wrist)
"It is better than it was before, and is a lot stronger now. I have 2-3 pins in it so it is a lot stronger now than it was before I broke it. It hasn"t given me any problems."
(Have you been working on a part of your game?) "My jump shot from 15 feet out and I have been shooting free throws a lot. I am just trying to change it up a little bit for my last go around."
(Is being a bigger scorer something you think you can do and want to do this year?) "I can do it, but I don"t think about too much about scoring. I just think about whatever I can do to help my team win. I think I can score a lot more points if I really wanted to. It"s not all about scoring, it"s about winning."
(What goals has the team set for this year, getting to postseason?) "That is one of the main goals. Just going out every night, playing hard and giving all you have win or lose and knowing you left it all out there on the court."
(Are you disappointed about not getting the extra year of eligibility
"At first, I was telling people that I wouldn"t get mad if I didn"t get it back, but when it came down to it and they told me I couldn"t get it back, I wanted to cry because I really wanted my year back. I only played 10 games last year and was six minutes over the time. I really wanted my year back, but I didn"t get it back. I just have to move on."