Tigers Try To Make Overachieving An Accomplis

FAYETTEVILLE — The third paragraph of Jeff Lebo's biography on Auburn's official Web site reveals the difficulty he faced when taking the Tigers job in April of 2004. Lebo, a former program restorer at Tennessee-Chatanooga and Tennessee Tech, succeeded that first year by most people's standards in Auburn.

The sentence reads, "an overachieving 14-17 record in 2004-05."

Further down, in describing Lebo's Auburn accomplishments, the bio states of an "over-achieving 12-16 record to tie for fifth in the SEC East."

Granted, not much was expected out of Lebo in his first couple of season. He sported perhaps the youngest roster in the country last season. But now, Lebo is ready to ensure that when people speak of overachievement at Auburn, it* means something. Like an NIT or NCAA Tournament berth.

"It's time to make the next step," said Lebo, a standout at North Carolina under Dean Smith. "This is my first year that I know what I'm going to get from seven of the players. That is a nice feeling to have. We still don't have any seniors, but we have a solid base. That took longer than what I expected. We have a great nucleus to build off of."

Lebo does have to integrate eight newcomers, including six freshmen, into his program. But, for the first time in Auburn, Lebo has a starting point.

All five of his starters return — sophomore forwards Josh Dollard and Korvotney Barber, sophomore guards Quantez Robertson and Rasheem Barrett and junior guard Frank Tolbert.

Barrett is the leading returning scorer, Barber the leading returning rebounder and Tolbert the leading returning three-point threat.

The Tigers, though inexperienced, did earn some respect around the Southeastern Conference last season. They traveled to Baton Rouge, La., and Gainesville, Fla., and gave eventual Final Four participants LSU and Florida all they could handle before losing.

This season, they enter confident, ready to overachieve in a meaningful way.

"We had a lot of freshmen last year and this year with us being sophomores will help," Barber said. "We know what to look for this year, and I think we are going to surprise some people."

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