Oct. 16, 2013
Allen Payne and Auburn was out to prove the doubters wrong at SEC Media Days (Todd Van Emst photo)
By Charles Goldberg
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Allen Payne doesn't have time for the doubters. He has some basketball games to win.
The Auburn forward, and coach Tony Barbee, shrugged off being shuffled to the back of the preseason predictions Wednesday at SEC Media Days and instead focused on the team unity they say has been forged over the summer and an influx of new players that may help the Tigers be one of the conference's surprise team.
Payne said he likes the new Tigers, who are practicing toward their exhibition opener against Victory University on Oct. 28. He says he isn't worried about the expectations of others.
"That's doesn't matter much to us. Our biggest thing that Coach Barbee is preaching is that we're our own judge, and we stay within our locker room. We don't worry what anybody else thinks," Payne said.
"We'll be better. We'll be improved from where we were last year. Our chemistry is good."
Payne said the biggest surprise "will be how hard we play. We always played hard, but we'll play harder this year, we'll play more together and be a lot more competitive than we have been."
Barbee spent most of the summer building toward that by meshing a trip to The Bahamas with the word of sports psychologist Joe Carr.
"Bonding, chemistry. It's going to go along way," Barbee said.
"This team is motivated, and not because of preseason polls.
"There's an accountability level that is there between the players, which is different. Guys are being called out by their teammates. There's not the sensitivity that was there before. There is an understanding that 'he's saying that because he cares about me.'
"I think this is a team that's going to make everybody proud."
Barbee, who is entering his fourth season at Auburn, says this is his best team with the proper mix of guards, forwards and centers on the rise.
"It depends on what happens come game time, but I'm excited as about this talent level because we're as deep as we've been in each position. You've got guys who can score the ball in terms of our point guards. We've been limited in that way. Our 2s and 3s can all score, and shoot it from range. I like the combination of bigs; we've got some versatility in the 4 and 5 positions.
"We can play big. We can play small. It's better, but we'll see."
Charles Goldberg is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @AUGoldMine