Lebo Strengthens AU's Non-Conference Schedule

Auburn, Ala.--New head basketball coach Jeff Lebo promised he would toughen Auburn's pre-conference basketball schedule and it looks as he has done just that.

Despite major defections that have limited his talent and depth, Lebo's undersized Tigers will tackle a schedule that features pre-SEC tests vs. Virginia, UNLV, College of Charleston, Temple and Colorado State.

Lebo must face the schedule with only one player on the team taller than six-foot-six in freshman forward Ryan Daniel, who is 6-11. In addition to the graduation losses of 2003-2004 seniors Kyle Davis and Chris Lollar, three key players are transferring after Cliff Ellis was fired following a disappointing season and another is academic ineligible.

Center Dwayne Curtis, who was a freshman last season, followed former assistant coach Tracy Dildy to Ole Miss. Point guard Lewis Monroe and forward Marco Killingsworth, who would have been seniors for the Tigers this season, are transferring to Indiana. Forward Brandon Robinson, who had academic problems, has left the program and would have been one of the top players if he was back for his senior year.

Lewis Monroe will sit out this season as a transfer to Indiana.

"It is the most demanding schedule that we have had in a while if you look back over history," Lebo said in announcing his first AU team's schedule. Last year he was head coach at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. "It might probably be too hard for the team right now," he added. "As the team gets better, you challenge yourself a little bit more with the schedule.

"Right off the bat playing Temple at Temple will be no easy task. UNLV is coming to Auburn. We play Virginia in a return game in Richmond, and we are going to play in the San Juan Shootout (Dec. 20-22). It is not an easy schedule. It is going to be very challenging.

"I think it should be a bit challenging to find out what you can do and where your weaknesses are early in the season," Lebo said. "We kind of have a feel already where they are going to be, but there are going to be some other things that you need to find out about your team. We will find that out because of the tough schedule that we have."

Auburn will open the season in Philadelphia on Nov. 19th at Temple. The Tigers begin their home schedule with four consecutives games starting on Nov. 22nd vs. Furman. AU will play Nicholls State on the 24th, Louisiana Tech on the 27th and Colorado State on NOv. 30th. The Tigers open SEC play on Jan. 5th at defending champion Mississippi State.

"If you have a real weak schedule early and don't find out some weaknesses that you may have until the conference, sometimes it takes a couple of weeks to solve some of those problems," Lebo said. "By that point, you are already two weeks into your conference play. I believe that you need to have some true road games early where you go to somebody else's place and play on their court and not on a neutral site. I think it is good training for them so when they step on the court in this league and go in a hostile environment, they will have some semblance of going through it before. They know how to react to it."

Center>2004-2005 Auburn Basketball Schedule

Nov. 12--Lee University at Auburn 7 p.m. (exhibition)

Nov. 19--Auburn at Temple 6 p.m.

Nov. 22--Furman 7 p.m.

Nov. 24--Nicholls State at Auburn 7 p.m.

Nov. 27--Louisiana Tech at Auburn 1 p.m.

Nov. 30--Colorado State at Auburn 7 p.m.

Dec. 3--Auburn vs. Virginia at Richmond, Va., 6 p.m.

Dec. 5--Wofford at Auburn 2 p.m.

Dec. 7--Auburn at College of Charleston, 6 p.m.

Dec. 12--UNLV at Auburn TBA

Dec. 20-22--San Juan Shootout, Caguas, Puerto Rico TBA

Dec. 30--Belmont at Auburn 7 p.m.

Jan. 5--Auburn at Mississippi State 7 p.m.

Jan. 12--Florida at Auburn 7 p.m.

Jan. 15--Ole Miss at Auburn 1 p.m.

Jan. 22--Auburn at Arkansas 2 p.m.

Jan. 26--Alabama at Auburn 7 p.m.

Jan. 29--Tennessee at Auburn 1 p.m.

Feb. 2--Auburn at Ole Miss 7 p.m.

Feb. 5--Mississippi State at Auburn 1 p.m.

Feb. 9--Auburn at LSU 7 p.m.

Feb. 12--Auburn at South Carolina TBA

Feb. 16--Vanderbilt at Auburn 7 p.m.

Feb. 19--Auburn at Georgia TBA

Feb. 23--Auburn at Kentucky 7 p.m.

Feb. 26--LSU at Auburn 1 p.m.

March 2--Auburn at Alabama, 7 p.m.

March 5--Arkansas at Auburn 1 p.m.

March 10-13--Auburn at SEC Tournament, Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga. TBA

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