Fire Away: No Limits on LeMelle, Lebo Says

Lebo's heated halftime speech propelled AU to victory.

Auburn, Ala.--With only one senior on the team--a quiet one in Ronny LeMelle--Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo and his staff have to make up for the absence of leadership by being vocal themselves.

At halftime of Wednesday's home win, Auburn was trailing by six points to Ole Miss, a team on a five-game losing skid at the time, when Lebo and the rest of the staff took matters into their own hands and sent a message to their players.

"I can't remember him fussing like that before," LeMelle says. "I don't remember him doing it the way he did it Wednesday. He was calling people out as a team, individuals and everybody was sitting there looking around. It wasn't just him. It was Coach Johnson (Brandon Johnson), Coach Coop (John Cooper), all of them took a piece out of everybody. It was coaching staff effort how they chewed us out."

Lebo says that he hadn't planned on the screaming for his halftime speech before it happened, but notes it worked as Auburn pulled out a 58-50 victory for the second conference win of the season.

"Sometimes you don't know how kids are going to respond to it," he says. "It's not really what I do. It's not really my nature really. It just came out and didn't stop. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Defensively we did some good things holding them to 21 points (in the second half).

"I still have a headache today from it," he adds. "It was a pretty good one. (Eddie) Fogler called me and said he was proud of me."

Lebo was an assistant under Fogler at South Carolina.

LeMelle adds that it definitely got everybody's attention for the rest of the season.

"It was a good thing that it happened," the senior notes. "I don't think anybody will want to get yelled at again like that. Hopefully, it keeps everybody playing like they're supposed to the rest of the year the whole time, not just part time."

LeMelle also says that even though the coaching staff showed their obvious disapproval about how the Tigers have been playing, that Lebo has been able to give him confidence in his game. It showed on Wednesday night as LeMelle started just 1-9 from the field and had two points after the first 29 minutes of action, but shot his way out of the slump.

LeMelle misses a jumper early in the second half but listened to his coach, kept shooting the rock and eventually the shots began to fall.

He finished the game 7-17 from the floor for a game-high 18 points while leading the Tigers to victory after trailing by nine with just over 10 minutes to play.

"He was telling me when I'm shooting and I'm not on it's like my game goes down three or four notches because I'm not being aggressive anymore and I'm not doing all the other things on the court," LeMelle says. "When that happens I'm not helping the team."

"He put more confidence in me," LeMelle adds. "He told me if I get 50 open shots to shoot them. ‘If you miss all 50, then the 51st shot is open I still want you to shoot it.' When he told me that it made my confidence go up and I figure if he's got that much confidence in me I need to do my part and do what he asks of me and be more vocal."

LeMelle and the Tigers will be on the road on Saturday with a game at Bud Walton Arena vs. the 15-7 Arkansas Razorbacks who are 4-5 in SEC play.


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