Conditioning and Defense Points of Emphasis

Sophomore Rasheem Barrett discusses his Auburn basketball team as the Tigers get ready to open the season.

Auburn, Ala.--With the exhibition season starting Friday night, sophomore Rasheem Barrett says his Auburn basketball team has been working hard to prepare for the 2006-2007 campaign.

The Tigers are expected to hit the floor running and will try to keep up the pace for 40 minutes, game after game, this season.

"We are going to be in wonderful shape the way we are running now," the team co-captain says. "Coach is running us like crazy during practice and after practice he says, ‘Everybody get on the line' and we do it again."

Coach Jeff Lebo says the plan is to take advantage of Auburn's quickness and try to negate his team's lack of height.

"The team is coming along well," Barrett says. "The coaches are bringing the freshmen along and trying to show them how to play college-level defense."

Barrett says playing good defense has been a focus of preseason drills. "It is really important. It will have a lot to do with helping us win. We are not that big so we are going to have to play good team defense. That is what we are trying to do and hopefully that will take us over the top."

Barrett, who plays both guard and forward, will spend much of his time inside early in the season because the Tigers will be without two forwards, Josh Dollard and Quan Prowell, in the early games. "Playing three, obviously I have to rebound," Barrett says. "We know what we need to do win. I don't mind at all."

Rasheem Barrett launches a shot as a freshman. He averaged 11.1 poitns and 3.0 rebounds per game.

Barrett predicts Lebo's third Auburn team will be a close-knit unit. "We have real team chemistry and unity. It started this summer when the freshmen first got here. Me and Korvotney Barber told ourselves we had to get these freshmen on the same page with what we were doing here. It has worked real well. They come to us with questions like we are big brothers. Everybody is working."

The Tigers have four freshmen and junior college transfer Archie Miaway to bolster the ranks this year although guard Kelvin Lewis is currently sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot. "The freshmen are going to help us a lot," Barrett says. "Archie is a great outside shooter. The freshmen can give Tez (Quantez Robertson) a break at the two at point guard and let him move over to the two and do a little bit more scoring this year. They are all going to give us a big energy boost."

Barrett says he is eager to get the season started. "I have improved a lot," he points out. "I would say it is a big gap. I have worked on my jump shot and worked on my leadership. I have to work hard on all parts of my game and show the freshmen how to work hard."

Barrett was bothered with back spasms last season and had some problems with that in the preseason, but says he is back to 100 percent. "You don't know how good I feel know," he says with a big smile. "Without back pain, I can do wonders."

Lebo certainly isn't expecting wonders from the sophomore forward/guard, but he is expecting to see a player who does everything well and Barrett looks ready to deliver on those expectations."


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