Tigers To Play West Alabama on Monday

Auburn, Ala.--Jeff Lebo says it is too early to know who his starting lineup will be for the 2005-2006 season so Auburn fans attending Monday night's exhibition game against West Alabama will likely see a variety of players on the court.

"There is competition at every position," Lebo tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I think Ronny LeMelle, Frank Tolbert and Daniel Hayles are guys who are going to play because they have played in the past. We have got Rasheem Barrett and all of the freshmen who are breathing down everybody's neck. It is going to be day to day, I think, to see who is ready to play a particular night."

LeMelle, a 6-5 senior who plays small forward and big guard, is back after missing most of Lebo's first season at Auburn after he suffered a serious knee injury that required surgery.

Hayles averaged 6.0 points and rebounds as a guard and forward last year, a dual role he is expected to continue as a 6-5, 215 sophomore.

Frank Tolbert is a 6-3, 205 sophomore guard, who averaged 6.9 points per game last season.

"We may play some Hayles there at the four (power forward) a little bit early," Lebo says. "We have freshmen in there. It is like going into the Southeastern Conference in football and playing freshmen linemen. I don't think there are any linemen on Auburn's (football) team that play as freshmen.

Daniel Hayles is one of Auburn's few experienceed returnees.

"These guys are going to have to learn," Lebo says of freshman forwards Joey Cameron, Josh Dollard and Korvotney Barber. "They are going to look ugly at times. By the middle of the year, hopefully they will try to show some improvement. It has been hard for them.

"It is has been difficult for them with the thinking part of it and playing at the pace we want," Lebo notes. "The banging and physical play is different. What was a foul for them in high school is no longer a foul.

"Those guys are going to be in there," the coach adds. "We are going to play three of them in there that are freshmen, with Hayles who can play a little with them. Then we are going to get Emanuel Willis, who is really a freshman, too, because he hasn't played. We aren't big or huge inside, but we are a little more athletic in there."

Willis, a 6-8, 220 transfer from Southern Cal, will be eligible to play after the end of the fall semester in December.

Barrett is a 6-5, 220 freshman. He can play guard or small forward.

The Tigers also have a pair of new point guards--6-3 freshman Quantez Robertson and 5-11 junior Michael Woodard, a juco transfer. Brett Howell, a 6-1 junior, can play both guard spots.

"We are obviously new there," Lebo says of the point guards. Ian Young, who handled most of those duties last season, was a senior last season, who will be missed for his scoring, too. He averaged 13.3 points per game.

"We have a true freshman and a junior college transfer there," Lebo says. "I am pretty demanding on my point guards. I haven't made a decision on who is going to be the guy there now. They are both vying for that spot. I have also got Brett Howell, who is kind of an experienced guy who knows what he is doing there, but he has been hurt the past week (ankle injury)."

Howell is expected to be available for the exhibition game on Monday night.

"It will be interesting to see how they perform when they turn on the lights and play in front of people," Lebo says. "We had the open practice (prior to the Ole Miss football game) and they were a little nervous--we had a couple of thousand people in there. They live for the games so we will see how they respond. It will be fun for them because they are ready to play against somebody other than themselves."

Tipoff for the exhibition game is 7 p.m. at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum and there is no admission charge.


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