Tigers Relieved To Have New Coach

Auburn seniors Brandon Robinson, Marco Killingsworth and Lewis Monroe talk about the hiring of Coach Jeff Lebo.

Auburn, Ala.--Following a short meeting to introduce himself to his new team, Auburn men's basketball Coach Jeff Lebo was described as "cool" by most of the players hanging around the Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum floor. Taking over for departed Coach Cliff Ellis, Lebo should have a large group of seniors to work with next season.

One of those eight players is forward Brandon Robinson from Buckhorn, just outside of Huntsville. The lanky left-hander said that he really liked what he heard from Lebo in the team's first meeting with the coach on Thursday.

"He's a nice guy," Robinson said. "He gave us a few tips, a few pointers on what his style is like. I kind of dug it. We're alright.

"It's a big relief, especially with school going on," Robinson added. "Everybody was worrying about what kind of coach we were going to have and what kind of workouts we were going to have. To have a coach like Coach Lebo to come in and tell us what he requires out of us, that's a big relief. Now we can go back to our books."

Joining their fellow seniors in talking about Lebo were point guard Lewis Monroe and power forward Marco Killingsworth. Two of Auburn's team leaders, the duo talked enthusiastically about Lebo's style of play and how it fits into what they want to do on offense.

"He seems to be cool from talking to him," Killingsworth said. "He seems like he's down to earth."

"He's a nice guy," Monroe added. "The first thing he said is that he wants to win. I like his style of play about how he wants to get the ball up the court and shoot threes. Everything sounded good."

Marco Killingsworth

One concern among Auburn fans during the search for a new coach has been that Lebo would have problems keeping many of the Tigers in Auburn for next season. With the NCAA potential problems looming on the horizon and a new coach to deal with, all three players said that they have no concerns and are planning on being in orange and blue next season.

"I'm coming back," Killingsworth said. "I think these guys are coming back. I think everybody is going to be back next year."

Robinson added, "We're just one big happy family. Me, Marco, Lewis and Nate (Nathan Watson), we all came in at the same time. It wouldn't feel right with anyone of us departing like that."

After struggling through a season in which the Tigers finished with a record of just 4-12 in SEC play, Auburn will be looking to get back into the postseason after making it to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament just one year earlier. Killingsworth said that the disappointment of last season will be a driving force behind the team this summer as they get used to Coach Lebo's system and style.

"This is the last time around," Killingsworth said. "This is the senior year. You just have to let it all hang out and play. We have to try to win every game we can and get invited to the tournament."

One thing Lebo won't have to do next season is put confidence into his new team. A group of players who has already tasted success, Robinson said this team is ready to take a step forward and get the Lebo era off to a rousing start.

"He doesn't have to convince us, we know we can win," Robinson said. "We just had one of those seasons last year. We have everybody coming back next year. There's no convincing, we know what we can do and what we're capable of. Half the team in there now was in the Sweet 16 with us last year. All we can do is just play."

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