A Small Start: Lebo Discusses AU's Strategy

Auburn men's basketball coach Jeff Lebo discusses his team as the Tigers open the exhibition season on Friday night.

Auburn, Ala.--With two of three likely big man starters not available to open the season, height is going to be an issue for Jeff Lebo's third Auburn basketball team.

The Tigers will open the season with 6-8 forward Quan Prowell suspended for violation of team rules along with 6-7 forward Josh Dollard.

"We are small," Lebo notes. "We are getting bigger. Once we get all of our players on the floor we are going to be 6-7 and 6-8 and all can run, move and shoot the ball a little bit. I would rather have speed than size.

"I think you have to have a little size," Lebo adds. "You put a lot pressure on yourselves if you don't make perimeter shots. We have to make perimeter shots because we can to stretch you out and when we make shots we can sit your big guys down so we don't have to face them. But, when you don't make them they can play off you and size becomes a big issue for us."

The Tigers will likely go with three or four guards in the lineup as they open the exhibition season at 7 p.m. on Friday vs. Faulkner University, an NAIA program located in Montgomery. There is no admission charge to see the game at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

Korvotney Barber, a 6-7 sophomore forward who has hit the weight room hard in the offseason, will be called on to do yeoman's work on the boards this year, particularly until Dollard and Prowell are back in the mix.

Korvotney Barber

"We are more physical," Lebo says. "We are bigger. Korvotney is much bigger. Josh Dollard is a kid who has really worked on his body who can help us a bunch. Quan Prowell is sitting out through a suspension. He is 6-8, 225 to 230 pounds. We don't have a traditional low post big game under there. We are still hunting one of those."

Lebo notes that playing in the SEC, a league with a large number of big, experienced post players this year, the lack of a real big man could be an issue. "It depends on how we play in the game," he says commenting on big a problem that will be.

"If we can make shots we can beat people off the dribble. Two years ago we were the smallest team in Division I basketball. When we spread you and made shots and made big guys come out and play they looked silly sometimes out there. They would have to sit those big guys to play small against us, which helped us not having to worry about playing against that size. We are bigger, we are getting bigger, but we are not gigantic by any stretch."

In addition to Barber, the Tigers are expected to start 6-5 forward/guard Rasheem Barrett, 6-4 junior junior Frank Tolbert and 6-3 sophomore guard Quantez Robertson. All four are returning starters.

The fifth starter could be 6-6 freshman forward Lucas Hargrove, 6-4 junior guard Archie Miaway or 6-1 freshman guard DeWayne Reed.

The Tigers are also expected to play 6-9 freshman forward Matt Heramb while 6-4 freshman guard Kelvin Lewis is out of action with a stress fracture in his foot.

The Tigers will also play an exhibition game on Tuesday at 8 p.m. vs. AUM with the women's team playing an exhibition contest vs. Tuskegee University at 6 p.m. that evening.

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