Lebo To Make His Debut In Exhibition Game Vs. Lee

Auburn, Ala.--Ready or not, the curtain rises on the 2004-2005 Auburn basketball season with an exhibition game on Friday at 7 p.m. vs. Lee University, an NAIA college out of Cleveland, Tenn.

New Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo will lead his undersized Tigers against at team that has jumped out to a 4-0 start. The coach notes that while head coach at Chattanooga and Tennessee Tech that Lee wanted to play his teams, but he avoided the little known NAIA team that has little reputation, but a very good basketball tradition.

For Lebo, this is the only exhibition game before opening the season a week later on the road in Philadelphia vs. Temple before returning home for four games in an eight-day stretch.

Unless true freshman forward Ryan Daniel starts, Auburn's tallest starter will be 6-5 Quinnel Brown. Other potential starters include 6-3 senior point guard Ian Young, 6-1 senior shooting guard Troy Gaines, 6-3 senior guard Nathan Watson and 6-4 freshman guard/forward Daniel Hayles.

Off the bench, freshman Toney Douglas will be a player to watch. The Parade All-American is the most talented AU freshman in recent years. Two other true freshmen will likely play--6-3 guard Frank Tolbert and Daniel, who averaged 17 points per game at Goodpasture High in Madison, Tenn., last year.

Quinnel Brown goes to the basketball while Ronny LeMelle watches.

Ronny LeMelle, a 6-5 senior guard, is out of action with a knee injury and is not expected back until later this month at the earliest.

Lebo says he hasn't decided on what type of playing rotation he will use. "I don't know yet," he says. "It is still a little early. A lot of that is going to depend on foul problems, injuries and fatigue. Hopefully, we can stay healthy. We lose one and we are really in bad shape. We just are."

The Tigers had two scrimmages last Saturday vs. Chattanooga as a tuneup. He says those sessions underscored the need for his guard-oriented attack to make its shots, particularly three-pointers. "It is one of those deals that we could lose to anybody if we are missing them," he says.

Young, who averaged 10 points per game, is the only returnee who scored in double figures last year. Brown averaged 7.1 points per game, Watson 7.5 and Gaines scored 3.8.

The Tigers lost four players during the coaching transition from Cliff Ellis to Jeff Lebo, including all of their big men. Auburn is predicted to finish last in the SEC West after going 5-11 last season to tie Ole Miss for fourth. The Tigers were 14-14 overall.

Auburn has never played Lee University in basketball. That team has victories over Wesley College (145-34), Arkansas Baptist (83-67), Tennessee Temple (90-82) and Montreat College 109-105) this season.

Michael Sringer, a 5-10 senior guard, leads Lee in scoring with 20.3 points per game. Kellen Pickel, a 6-2 freshman reserve guard, is averaging 19 points.

Lee is also expected to start 6-5 sophomore forward Lance Sexton (10.5 points, 6.5 rebounds), 6-8 senior forward Kwbana Bockles (9.8 points, 5.5 rebounds), 6-6 sophomore forward Kierren Lovick (12.5 points, 6.8 rebounds) and 5-11, 170 junior guard Rob Giesy (10.8 points, 4.8 assists).

There is no admission charge to the exhibition game and fans are asked to bring a food item to donate to the East Alabama Food Bank.

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