Newcomer Making His Presence Felt

One of the players responsible for Auburn's strong start this basketball season has comments on his game and his team's performance.

Auburn, Ala.--The Auburn coaching staff must have had a touch of extra sensory perception this week as it made the decision to start junior guard/forward Ronny LeMelle for only the second time this season.

The junior college transfer from Western Oklahoma State College made the coaches look like geniuses as he scored a career high 18 points for the Tigers, hitting 7-12 shots from the field and four of the six three-pointers he attempted in the Tigers' 73-51 win over the Montana Grizzlies Wednesday night That was the last game for the Tigers until Dec. 20th. They are currently busy taking care of their academic business in final exams.

"Coach just gets feelings about who he should play against certain teams," LeMelle said. "I guess he was right this time."

Wednesday's game, LeMelle's first start since the Tigers' season opener versus College of Charleston, provided a perfect setting for the junior from Harrisburg, Pa., to shine as the Grizzlies played a variety of zone defenses throughout the night and put the clamps on Auburn's big men inside. And shine he did, as LeMelle was all over the court in the contest as he added four rebounds, four assists and three steals to his career high 18 points.

"You have got to take what they give you and what they were squeezing was the inside and they were shading other people and other people stepped up," Auburn's Cliff Ellis explained. "And Ronny certainly did. In the first half he gave us some big buckets just to keep us around."

Junior Ronny LeMelle

LeMelle said that Ellis told the perimeter players that the game would be a huge opportunity for them and that they simply had to step up to the plate. "Coach told us that every time we threw the ball inside they were going to converge," the junior said. "He told us to keep our hands cocked and ready to shoot when the ball came to us. He said we were going to get a lot of open shots and we just had to knock them down."

LeMelle admitted that he was pleasantly surprised that he was the leading scorer for the Tigers vs. Montana as Auburn improved its record to 7-0. "I just wanted to go out and play," LeMelle said when asked if he saw that kind of game coming on. "I was just excited that coach was starting me again. I didn't know that was going to happen."

Another one of the Tigers' quickly developing junior college transfers, Ian Young, scored 15 points on 4-9 shooting from three-point land and added four assists. He said that having LeMelle and all of the other offensive weapons that are developing on the roster creates an Auburn team that is difficult to defend. "That makes it so they can't just focus on one person," Young explained. "They have got to defend six or seven people now so that makes it easier for other guys--like when Ronny got it going it made it easier for me to get some looks for Marco (forward Marco Killingsworth) and everybody else."

Following the game against the Grizzlies, LeMelle's numbers are pretty impressive, especially for a player who has only started twice this season. The 6-5 swingman is averaging 9.5 points on 46.8 percent shooting from the field. He is also hitting a blistering 58.8 percent of his three point shots while averaging three rebounds and three assists per contest in 22.7 minutes of action. The junior also doubled his amount of steals on Wednesday night grabbing three to bring his season total to six.

LeMelle explained that when you are having an offensive game like he was it makes you want to turn up the heat defensively. "It kind of gets you fired up because you want the ball again," he said. "The quicker you get the ball the faster you get another shot."

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