New Season, New Coaches, New Role for Tajh

Auburn basketball guard Tajh Shamsid-Deen talks about the coming season and his new position.

Auburn, Ala.--After starting all 30 basketball games as Auburn’s top point guard last season as a true freshman, Tahj Shamsid-Deen is focusing on new role.

Coach Bruce Pearl, who has taken charge of the program, has decided to use seniors Malcolm Canada and K.C. Ross-Miller, a transfer from New Mexico State, as the primary point guards while moving Shamsid-Deen to a shooting guard role.

“It is going pretty good,” Shamsid-Deen said of his move to a new position. “I think I am adjusting well. Coach has got me coming off some stuff (plays) going left.”

The left-handed sophomore was the team’s third-leading scorer last year at 9.5 points per game, trailing 2013-14 senior Chris Denson’s 19.1 points and K.T. Harrell, who is back for his final season after scoring 18.4 points per game as a junior.

With Pearl likely to play three and even four guards at the same time with a shortage of forwards and centers, the coach notes that Shamsid-Deen will have a major role during his sophomore season.

The transition to his new position is going smoothly, Shamsid-Deen noted, even though he doesn’t have much experience as a shooting guard. “I played the two a little bit my senior year in high school, but other than that not much,” he said. “I don’t see it as a problem though.”

Traditionally, full squad practices for basketball begin on October 15th. That changed this year with practices allowed in the summer and even more sessions early in the fall. Because of that Pearl and his assistants have had a substantial amount of time to put in their system.

“We are coming along pretty good,” Shamsid-Deen said. “I am glad we got the extra time to come in and practice, get the plays down and the concepts that Coach wants us to learn.”

Shamsid-Deen is shown in an offseason workout this year.

Commenting on how the team is performing in practice, Shamsid-Deen said, “We definitely need to work on our defense because defense wins game.

“We also need to work on our tempo to play the game the way Coach wants us to do it,” the sophomore added. “We are still adjusting to that and getting our conditioning where we want it. We need to be able to play at the tempo Coach wants us to play for the full 40 minutes.”

With transfers Ross-Miller and Antoine Mason expected to be major contributors, those newcomers have boosted the talent and depth at the guard spots.

“We are very deep with our guard play,” Shamsid-Deen said. “We go five or six deep and we can all make plays, make shots and make plays for our teammates. I think we will be tough to guard.”

The Tigers will play an exhibition game on Nov. 7th vs. West Alabama. A week later they open the regular season with a home game vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

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