Auburn, Ala.--When Auburn fans check out the 2015-16 edition of Coach Bruce Pearl’s basketball team they will certainly notice the returning player who has changed the most physically is forward Cinmeon Bowers.
Down 30 pounds to a trim 250, the senior likes his new look. “I can get up and down the floor easier,” he says. “Last year...I am not going to talk about last year because last was last year, but I?feel great this year.”
Bowers notes that he has higher expectations for the Tigers this season even though they are picked to finish 10th in the SEC this year. The team is preparing for its Oct. 30th exhibition opener vs. Brevard College and the regular season that begins on Friday, Nov. 13th with a home game vs. UAB.
“Preseason is going great,” Bowers says. “We are getting after it and we are going hard in practice. The team chemistry is looking good. Everybody is on point, but we have to get tougher.”
Physical toughness has been a theme for Pearl in preseason. That wasn’t an issue for Bowers last season as he averaged 12.1 points per game and finished second in the SEC in rebounding with 9.6 per contest.
This season the senior’s preseason focus has been on becoming a more complete all-around player.
“I am working on my three ball and making better decisions when I bring the ball up,” Bowers says. “I am also working on being a leader.”
Free throws were a major problem area last season for a player who got plenty of opportunities at the foul line. He made just 99-207 (47.8 percent). “I have been working with my free throws with (assistant coach) Todd Golden and that is coming along good,” he says.
Cinmeon Bowers is headed into his second season with the Tigers after transferring to AU from junior college.
Pearl notes that Bowers has improved his shooting and will have the green light to put up threes in certain situations. Last year the forward made just 5-28 threes and finished with 85 turnovers and 45 assists. “Right now he has a positive assist/turnover ratio in practices,” says Pearl, who adds that Bowers has really worked on that aspect of his play.
The coach also notes that Bowers is quicker this year, particularly as a leaper. Bowers says he can tell a real difference carrying 30 less pounds. “Yes, I am much quicker--a shout out to Coach D (strength and conditioning coach Damon Davis) for that.”
Last season the Tigers relied very heavily on Bowers to rebound and defend inside while 2014-15 senior K.T. Harrell was the primary scorer. This season the scoring and rebounding load is expected to be shared by more players.
“Everybody has got to play together,” Bowers says. “It can’t be a one-man show. People being selfish, that is not how you win. We have to play together and win as a team. Our five guys can’t beat anybody. We have to have 10 or 11 guys who will be our team.”