Thursday, September 27, 2007
#41 AUBURN TIGERS
Last Season: 17-15 (7-9), No postseason
Key Losses: None
Key Adds: C Boubacar Sylla (top 300), F Tyrell Lynch (top 300)
Auburn coach Jeff Lebo has plenty of options in the backcourt, starting with returning point guard Quantez Robertson. The 6-5 junior averaged 8.2 points and 5.1 assists per game last season, to go along with 1.7 steals per. Robertson has started every one of the 60 games Auburn has played since he arrived on campus.
Lebo will likely go with three guards in the starting lineup, with two more returning starters in 6-5 Rasheem Barrett and 6-4 Frank Tolbert. Tolbert is a slasher who can drive or hit the three (38%) and averaged 11.8 ppg last season. He needs to work on taking care of the basketball, as he averaged 1.5 assists to 2.3 turnovers per game last year. Barrett (11.0 ppg/2.3 apg) remains the team's top three-point threat, must must find his freshman form (when he was an All-SEC freshman) and find his shot again. Barrett shot just 38% last year, including 30% from three.
There is depth behind the three guards as well in the form of sophomore DeWayne Reed (5.4 ppg/3.0 apg), who made the All-SEC Freshman team last season. Reed can play either guard spot, and Lebo likes to have him in there with Robertson so he can slide Quantez over to the 2 spot at times.
The Tigers have a trio of hyper-athletic forwards who are almost interchangeable in Quan Prowell, Korvotney Barber, and Josh Dollard.
Dollar led the team in both scoring (12.5) and rebounding (7.0) last season, is very tough around the basket, and had double-doubles in both of the Tigers' final two games last season. Barber may be the biggest key as to how successful Auburn is this season. A former McDonald's High School All-American, he really improved his game from last season, ending up averaging 11.3 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting 61%. Barber is, like Dollard, tough around the rim and athletic enough to get out and run in Lebo's fast-paced offense. Prowell was the team's best outside shooter last year (43% from three) and compliments the other two forwards nicely, as he is not as much of a banger, but can get to the rim or shoot the outside shot. He's yet another returning double-digit scorer (12.0) for the Tigers.
Auburn will have some depth here as well in sophomore Lucas Hargrove, and freshmen Tyrell Lynch and Boubacar Sylla. Lynch is the most likely to play, a 6-9, 220 lb physical player who can bang downlow. Lynch would be the tallest player on the team if it wasn't for fellow freshman Sylla, who checks in at 7-1. He's a bit of a project, averaging just 2.4 ppg in prep school, but could give Auburn a defensive presence.
Auburn has their top seven scorers, including five in double-digits, and all five starters back from last season. Barber, Barrett, Dollard, Prowell, Robertson, and Tolbert are now in their second year together and improved from 4-12 in conference to 7-9 last season. If they can continue to improve, they could do some damage in a tough SEC this year. Free throws could be their undoing (63% overall, Barber led team in attempts but shot just 43%).