T.J. Lang is a sophomore guard for the Tigers.
A six-foot-seven guard, Lang started five of Auburn’s final seven games last season.
“T.J. is a sophomore now and is really shooting the ball well,” Pearl says. “He has gotten bigger and stronger, which is helping his confidence. At the end of last year he was one of our better defenders and I have got to keep that mantra going with him.”
Lang agrees with his coach that he is improved. “In the offseason I got in the gym and got with the coaches and asked them what I need to improve on,” he says. “They told me I need to be more aggressive and take more shots while being a creator for my teammates while still maintaining the defensive intensity I had.”
Physically, there is a noticeable change in how he looks.
“Last year I weighed in at 195 pounds to begin the season,” Lang recalls. “Right now I am at 215 and I can tell a difference. It really helps a lot when I am going to the rack to finish. It also helps me hold my own defensively.”
Pearl points out the time that Lang has put in with strength and conditioning coach Damon Davis has helped. “With the work that Coach D has been doing with him in the weight room you can start to see T.J. being able to do more things athletically that he didn’t do a year ago so I think his confidence is up,” the coach says.
Asked if his confidence is higher, Lang says, “Yes. Being a sophomore and starting at the end of last year helped me a lot. I am trying to pick up where I left off.”
T.J. Lang (center) is shown at Saturday's Auburn scrimmage. At left is point guard Kareem Canty and at right (in orange) is senior Tyler Harris.
Lang, who averaged 19 points and 7.1 rebounds as a senior at McGill-Toolen High in Mobile, averaged 2.4 points and 1.3 rebounds and 13.8 minutes per game as a college freshman. He averaged 4.3 points and 21.2 minutes per contest in the final seven games, which included Auburn’s run to the semi-finals of the SEC Tournament in Nashville.
Lang contends that the Tigers should be improved in Pearl’s second season at Auburn. “We are really talented and athletic,” he says. “I think we can be really good defensively. We have all the right pieces--people who can get to the rim, people who can shoot it, bigs who can stretch the floor and point guards who are really good.
“Now that we have all the pieces we have to put them together, buy into the system and plays as a team,” he says. “Right now we are focusing on team chemistry and I am focusing on making sure I?hit the shot when I am open.”
The Tigers will play their first game on Oct. 30th, an exhibition contest vs. Brevard College. The regular season opener is No. 13th as UAB visits Auburn Arena.