Coach Jeff Lebo labels his team "not" ready for Friday night's game vs. Faulkner, but the contest vs. the NAIA team will go on as scheduled at 7 p.m. at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.
"I really don't know a whole heck of a lot about them so those are the things that worry you because we are not ready, really, to play a game so we don't really know what they do," Lebo says of Coach Jim Sanderson's Eagles. "To prepare with a young team, if they do some different things, it could send our young kids into shock and we don't have that many bodies to put out there as it is."
Lebo's Tigers are down to eight available scholarship players for the exhibition opener. Auburn will take the court without suspended forwards Josh Dollard and Quan Prowell, who can practice but not play at this stage of the season. Prowell is expected back for the Tennessee State game on Dec. 19th while Dollard is expected to play Nov. 28th vs. Nicholls State.
The Tigers lost one of their freshman guards, Kelvin Lewis, to a stress fracture in his foot during practice. He will be out for six weeks, Lebo says.
The other Tigers are healthy and ready to play against somebody different, Lebo notes. "I know they are excited to actually get in a game situation," he says.
AU's 2006-2007 team includes (front row, left to right) Larry Williams Jr. (10), Drew Smith (14), Frank Tolbert (1), Archie Miaway (2), Rasheem Barrett (21), Quantez Robertson (23), DeWayne Reed (12) and Kelvin Lewis (5). On the second row are Ryan Brooks (35), Josh Dollard (3), Quan Prowell (24), Matt Heramb (13), Korvotney Barber (32) and Lucas Hargrove (4).
Auburn is expected to start a lineup with either three or four guards on the floor. The four returning starters are expected to keep their spots for the opener. That group includes 6-7 sophomore forward Korvotney Barber, 6-5 sophomore guard/forward Rasheem Barrett, 6-4 junior guard Frank Tolbert and 6-3 sophomore guard Quantez Robertson.
"Of all of the guards he is the least athletic of the bunch," Lebo says of Miaway. "He is the best standstill shooter so he can make a three-point shot off the catch so you are going to have to defend him. We are going to do some things to get him some looks on the perimeter."
The Auburn coach says that Hargrove, who will also play small forward and possibly guard, will concentrate on his power forward assignments early in the season while Dollard and Prowell watch from the sidelines along with the injured Lewis, 6-4 from Fort Worth, Tex., who was learning both the point guard and two-guard spots.
Lebo says he has been impressed by what he had seen from Lewis prior to the injury. "I like his toughness. He is not a big kid. He guards the ball pretty well. He gets through screens decently. He rebounds the ball for us at the guard spot a little bit. I really like him offensively. He can really pass and he is probably our second best outside shooter off the statistics we do. He just takes an occasional bad shot like they all do."
Faulkner returns four starters from a 14-12 team. The leading scorer is 6-7, 220 center Jon Uriarte, a junior from Spain, who averaged 11.1 points and 5.1 rebounds. The next tallest starter is 6-2 forward Richarde McCray, who averaged 9.2 points and 6.7 rebounds as a sophomore.
The rest of the Faulkner starting lineup includes 5-9 senior forward Jamie Evans (7.8 points, 2.2 rebounds), 6-1 junior guard Jeremy Lunn (8.0 points, 1.9 rebounds) and 6-1 junior guard Bryant Murray (8.3 points, 2.7 rebounds). Even though Evans is listed as a forward, Faulkner is a team that is expected to give a look with one post player and four guards.
The Auburn coach says he plans to play 6-1 freshman guard DeWayne Reed and 6-9 freshman forward Matt Heramb, his other signees for this year's team.
"DeWayne Reed had a great day (Monday) and a poor day (Tuesday)," Lebo says. "Matt Heramb is a little bit away physically, but he shows signs here and there. I have to scream at all of the freshmen until my head explodes to get them to go at the pace that I want them to go. They are trying to learn. It is a hard thing. They want to do everything right and they are trying to think, and it is hard to think and play at the speed I want them to play, but they are trying hard."
Auburn Hoops Notes: Lebo says that with the Tigers short-handed that Frank Tolbert will be a valuable player. "Frank Tolbert is a kid who plays four positions. With Kelvin Lewis out now he is my third point guard. The problem is he is my starting four man and my backup three and two man. If he gets in foul trouble, we get all wacky with our positions. I love Frank. Frank will do whatever. I will even play him at the five (center). He knows every position on the court...Rasheem Barrett is Auburn's leading returning scorer with his average of 11.1 points per game. Barrett, who was bothered with back spasms earlier this year, says, "My back feels great."...Faulkner won the 2001 NAIA championship and plays in the Southern States Athletic Conference. The Eagles were 11-9 in league play last season...There is no admission charge for either Auburn exhibition game. The Tigers, who were 12-16 overall and 4-12 in the SEC last season, will play AUM on Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the coliseum with the women's team playing an exhibition at 6 p.m. vs. Tuskegee University.