Tiger Roundballers Prepare To Run And Gun

Senior guard Ian Young talks about this season's team and playing in Jeff Lebo's system.

Auburn, Ala.–-Fans coming to Auburn's version of "Midnight Mayhem" Friday night at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum will get a glimpse of a new style of play for the men's basketball team under new Coach Jeff Lebo when the three-point shooting competition takes place.

That's because Auburn's projected starting lineup this season doesn't have a player over 6-6 in the mix. With the losses of Kyle Davis, Marco Killingsworth and Brandon Robinson, the Tigers were left without an inside player to count on this season. Left with no other choice, Lebo and his staff have worked the players harder than ever to prepare them for an up-tempo style of play with five guards on the floor most of the time.

Senior Ian Young says he has definitely noticed the difference in the workouts and instruction leading up to the first day of practice this season. "We're doing a lot more on-track running and a lot more conditioning," Young says. "We're focusing more on conditioning drills and everybody getting in shape. That's the main focus now."

A 6-3 guard that is Auburn's leading returning scorer, averaging 10 points per game last season after starting all 28 games, Young has quickly become a favorite of Lebo and his staff because of the work ethic he's shown in the off season. Young says that because of the defections off last season's team, he had no choice but to take over as a leader this season if this team hopes to improve on last year's 14-14 record.

"With all the new guys we've got, me and Nathan (Watson) have to step up as leaders," Young says. "Coach Lebo talked to me early about that. When everyone left he told me that I had to be a leader. Everybody is doing fine. There are a lot of new guys and the veteran guys knew we were in a situation where some guys might leave. We adjusted well. Everybody is working hard, everybody is on the same page now. There are no egos. Everybody wants to win"

Quinnel Brown will be a man of many roles this season for the Tigers.

Because of having so many guards in key spots, Auburn will look to shoot the ball from the perimeter as much as possible this season. There is a very good possibility that the Auburn record of 703 three-pointers attempted in the 1996-97 season will go down this year with Young and his teammates ready to play run and gun basketball.

"We're going to let it ride," Young says. "We're going to shoot a lot of threes. In conditioning drills and individuals we're getting a lot of shots up because that's what we're going to have to do to beat people. We'll shoot a lot of threes. It's fun because coach is going to spread the court and let other people do certain things they couldn't do last year because we don't have a big man."

The negatives are obvious for Auburn this season in that rebounding and interior defense are going to be difficult for a team without an inside presence. While that is true, there are also some positives and Young says he hopes the Tigers can exploit some of those this season.

"They're going to have to adjust to us too," Young says. "I know we're going to be small, but when I'm at the point I'll be bigger than everyone else in the post. Coach will be posting me. They're going to have to adjust to us too."

Playing on the interior will be 6-6 senior Quinnel Brown. One of Auburn's top deep threats from the perimeter last season, Brown averaged seven points per game and hit 35.5 percent of his shots from outside the arc. Ten times last season Brown scored in double figures, but this season he will be called on to play in the paint. Young says that he believes Brown will be able to help the Tigers a great deal this season underneath.

"He's been working extremely hard all summer making sure he's posting up," Young says. "He's been working out real good. I talk to him all the time about him having to play the four or five. He said he's going to take on the challenge. He played it in junior college so he's ready."

One common thread among players and coaches this preseason has been the willingness to work and get better in practice. Young says that everybody is pulling for the same goal this year and he's looking forward to how the team responds on the court.

"That's a lot different," Young says. "Last year was a lot of different egos. People would want to do this or do that. Everybody just wants to win this year. That's a big difference."

"Midnight Mayhem" is just one of many events going on Friday on the Auburn campus. Here is a list of Friday's activities, all of which are free. Donations are requested at Brad Cotter's concert for the World Relief Fund, which combats world hunger.

Softball vs. Central Alabama CC, 3 p.m., vs. Jeff State, 7 p.m. (Moore Field)
Men's and Women's Swimming/Diving Orange and Blue Meet, 5 p.m. (Aquatics Center)
Brad Cotter Concert Coliseum Lawn, 5 p.m.
Baseball Home Run Derby and Intra-squad, 6 p.m. (Plainsman Park)
Volleyball vs. Tennessee, 8 p.m. (Student Act)
Men's and Women's Basketball Midnight Mayhem, 10 p.m. (Coliseum)

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