Barbee Evaluates Early Practices

Auburn men's basketball coach Tony Barbee discusses the first week of preseason practice for the Tigers.

Auburn, Ala.--With two days of practices and three workouts completed, new Auburn men's basketball coach Tony Barbee says his Tigers are making progress.

"Practice is going good," Barbee tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I have to catch myself in terms of being patient because everything we are teaching these players and putting in is new to them.

"We have go back to the fundamentals of it and that is new to me because the last couple of years I have had such a veteran team," says Barbee, who led UTEP to the Conference USA championship last season.

"I have to go back and say, ‘How do we build this pyramid from this point where they don't know anything?' It has been a lot of fun teaching. This is a very resilient group and a group with a very high basketball IQ. That is going to help us move things along quickly."

Barbee inherits an Auburn team that must replace four senior starters from the 2009-2010 squad. The other starter, 6-1 junior guard Frankie Sullivan, is out of action with an ACL injury that is expected to sideline him all season. Joining Sullivan on the injured list is 6-9 sophomore post player Ty Armstrong, who is also out with an ACL injury.

Commenting on what the focus has been through the two practices on Saturday and one on Monday evening, Barbee says, "It has been a little bit of everything, but the main thing we have been trying to accomplish in these early practices is to create our identity of this team. That is the crucial thing for us.

"We are not a team that is going to intimidate anybody with our size," the coach says. "Our identity is not going to be a team that is going to outscore people because our leading returning scorer is Earnest Ross, who averaged about two points per game last year.

Earnest Ross averaged 2.8 points per game last season as a freshman.

"What we have to be is a hard-nosed, scrappy, tough, defensive-minded team that never gives in," Barbee says. "If something happens and we lose a game the only reason we lost that particular game is because we ran out of time, not any other reason, because that is what we have to be.

"We started that foundation in our preseason conditioning and weight lifting building that mental toughness as well as the physical toughness," Barbee adds.

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