Auburn, Ala.--Bruce Pearl, Auburn’s first-year head basketball coach, watched his Tigers go through a series of scrimmage games on Wednesday and when they were done he made it clear the Tigers have a lot of work to do in all phases of their play.
“The good news is that practice didn’t use to start until the 15th (October 15th) and so everything we have done to this point is sort of bonus,” the coach said of the new rules that allow an early start to full squad practices.
Bruce Pearl was hired by the Tigers in March after Tony Barbee was fired following four disappointing seasons as head coach.
Pearl and his staff experimented with different lineups in each of the six scrimmage periods that ranged from 10 minutes to five minutes apiece. After the session was done Pearl didn’t pull any punches in describing his feelings on how the team performed.
“It was pretty ugly,” he said. “When we play slow it is really ugly.
“When we play fast we make some plays offensively, but are we going to be quick enough to make plays and defensively get back in transition? Do we have the type of personnel on our roster to do that. That is what we have to figure out.”
The Tigers still have plenty of time before they have to make decisions on personnel and style of play. “That is something we will focus on next week,” the coach said.
On November 1st the Tigers will travel to New Orleans to participate in a private scrimmage with Tulane. Six days later they will go on public display at Auburn Arena in an exhibition game vs. the University of West Alabama, a contest that is close to being a sellout.
The leading scorer in the scrimmages was Kareem Canty, who finished with 25 points. Unfortunately for the Tigers, as a transfer from Marshall the point guard has to redshirt this season and will have two seasons of eligibility after that.
Senior guard K.T. Harrell, the top returning scorer back from last season’s team, finished the session with 23 points, one more than sophomore Tahj Shamsid-Deen, who is making a move from point guard to two-guard this season.
Sophomore post player Matthew Atewe, who has been recovering from injuries to both legs, saw extensive action in the scrimmages and scored 15 points while pulling in 13 rebounds.
Senior point guard Malcolm Canada scored 12 points and pulled in seven rebounds while adding six assists without a turnover.
The Tigers will open the regular season on Nov. 14th with a home game vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Pearl noted that he and his staff will be making evaluations in the coming practices on who they want to play when the season starts.
“We have 10 or 11 guys who have been going at it and I have to work it down to a rotation of eight or nine guys. Pearl said. “We will try to get that next week and focus on getting better every day.”