Seven-foot center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum has played well in the first two exhibition games while Shareif Adamu, a six-foot-eight power forward, has gotten off to a slower start, but Barbee notes he has high hopes for Adamu.
The coach says he expects the forward to improve as he adjusts to the speed of the game at the major college level, something that has caused Adamu to foul too much.
"He has been behind the plays and that leads to being in foul trouble," Barbee points out. "You saw that in both exhibition games, but as he learns how hard you've got to play at this level to be successful he will improve. We saw a little bit in the second half of the second exhibition game of what he brings to the table.
"He's a skilled four man (power forward) who can rebound and defend in the position, which are the two most important things," Barbee notes.
Adamu and his teammates will tip off the regular season at 7 p.m. CST on Friday as IPFW comes to the Auburn Arena. Adamu notes he is looking forward to seeing how the Tigers perform.
I think the team is coming along very well as we try to get the rotation down pat and really see how each individual can really help the team," he says. "We're all meshing together real well."
The forward says he sees his role as being a guy who plays with "high energy" on both ends of the court. He noted that is a theme for the entire team. "We're learning how to adapt while the game goes on and really trying to make the team match our intensity," he notes.
One of six scholarship players who are newcomers to the squad, Adamu says the Tigers are building good chemistry. "The whole team has just a great family feeling," he says. "Everyone really feels like family. We feel like a bunch of brothers."
Commenting on what will be the keys to success for the Tigers, he says playing together as a team is first and foremost. "We need to play without selfishness, really looking out for each other and making sure we rebound," he says.
With 2011-2012 senior Kenny Gabriel gone the opportunity is there for Adamu to earn a significant amount of playing time if he proves worthy.
"Offensively, he's able to stretch the floor and shoot the ball from the perimeter," Barbee says. "He is also strong, physical and athletic enough to finish around the rim. That is something we haven't had at that position.
"Shareif knows he's got to fill a big void and a big role for us this year, but it all starts with him understanding how hard you've got to play to be successful at this level," the coach adds.
Friday's opener will be the first time the Tigers have ever played IPFW, a team picked to finish fifth in the Summit League this year led by Frank Gaines, a 6-5 guard who averaged 21.2 points per game as a junior. The Mastodons posted an 11-19 record last year. Auburn finished 15-16.
Barbee's starting lineup for the opener is expected to feature senior guards Frankie Sullivan and Josh Wallace, senior center Rob Chubb, senior guard/forward Noel Johnson and junior forward Allen Payne.