Griciunas Eager to Play With New Teammates

Seven-footer Benas Griciunas discusses joining the Auburn basketball program as the Tigers prepare to play a pair of exhibition games this week in The Bahamas.

One of two newcomers on the Auburn basketball team from Europe, seven-foot lefty Benas Griciunas is expected to play a major role on the 2013-14 Auburn basketball team.

Coach Tony Barbee's Tigers are in The Bahamas where they will play exhibition games on Tuesday and Thursday nights before returning to Auburn.

Griciunas, who joined the team in late July, missed some of the team's summer workouts, but his teammates note the big forward/center looks like he will be able to immediately help the Tigers.

"I am real excited about being on the team," Griciunas says. "I have been looking forward to this (joining his new team) all summer. I am ready to get together with the team and start the season."

Griciunas spent part of the summer back home in Silute, Lithuania after graduating from Findlay Prep, the high school in Nevada where he played with fellow Auburn freshman Dion Wade, a 6-5 guard from Antwerp, Belgium.

"When I was back home I went to a lot of basketball camps and I tried out for the national team, which was a good experience," Griciunas notes. "I was just working out at camps and stuff before I came to Auburn."

Barbee is expected to play the big freshman at both the power forward and center positions. The coaches and players alike have noticed how well the big man has been shooting the basketball since he got to Auburn.

"I feel comfortable with my shot when my teammates give me the ball," he says. "When I get open they give me the ball."

Senior guard Chris Denson notes that the newcomer has impressed the Tigers with his shooting. "We call him dirt because he rarely misses, especially inside the three-point line," Denson says. "He has a good mid-range shot and his three-pointer is money."

Griciunas says he isn't going to set many goals for his first season at Auburn. "I am just going to try to help my team win games," he says.

So far in practice the big man has spent more of his time at the four (power forward) position than center. One of the things he has been working on is scoring near the basket to take advantage of his size. "I have been working more on my post moves," Griciunas points out. "I am trying to get stronger in my legs."

Griciunas arrived with a reputation as a good shooter, even behind the three-point line. He is expected to have a green light to shoot from that range this year and the same is true of Wade.

Griciunas notes that he likes Wade's game. "He has a high basketball IQ," the big man says. "He can really shoot."

The Tigers will take the court for a 8 p.m. CDT game at Sir Kendall Isaac's Gymnasium on Tuesday to take on the Real Deal Shockers. On Thursday at 6 p.m. the Tigers will play The Bahamas All-Stars at the same facility in Nassau.

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