Feb. 24, 2011
AUBURN - As the No. 18 Auburn gymnastics team (2-5, 2-4 SEC) prepares to take on Pittsburgh (3-7, 0-6 EAGL), the Tigers are looking to come out strong at home after two weeks on the road against top ranked SEC opponents.
"I feel like the team is finally starting to figure out the change in philosophy and the change in staff and our expectations," Auburn head coach Jeff Graba said. "I feel like we are just now seeing the team adjust to rising to expectations, increasing their own expectations and owning their gymnastics a little bit. I also feel like we are just now starting to click and just now starting to become healthy. I'm excited for where we are at right now."
This will be the fifth meeting between the two schools, with Auburn leading the series 4-1 (.800). All previous meets have been competed at a neutral site.
Graba notes that the Tigers are still looking for a complete meet and will have a healthy lineup for the first time this season.
"I think we're capable of a big score, and we're capable to hit 24-of-24," Graba said. "We feel like we've been building. We went from 21-of-24 to 22-of-24, and without a couple of the hiccups, we feel like we would have had really good scores, as well as good meets. The team is showing it. We just have to put four good events together."
After two weeks competing on the road, Auburn welcomes Friday's home meet and the opportunity to compete in front of its fans.
"That's a completely different mental focus," Graba said. "It's much easier to get up for a home meet, and it's a much different mental approach. Here you want to use the crowd to energize you, and when you're on the road, especially in the last two venues, we've tried to talk about staying in the zone and not letting the crowd get too far into you. Here you definitely want to let your crowd get involved."
The Tigers will face Pittsburgh on Friday at the Auburn Arena at 7 p.m. CT. The meet has been designated as "Short People Appreciation Night" and fans will receive free admission if they are shorter than Lauren Brzostowski, the shortest gymnast on the Tigers' team at 5-feet-0.
Fans will have the opportunity to get their picture taken with the BCS National Championship Trophy by a professional photographer. The trophy will be displayed inside Jonathan B. Lovelace Hall of Honor starting 90 minutes prior to the meet. There will also be an autograph session with the gymnasts immediately following the meet.
A live blog during Friday's meet can be accessed at www.auburntigers.com.