Barrett Predicts Improved AU Team

A key member of the 2007-2008 Auburn basketball team discusses the squad as the Tigers prepare to play a trio of exhibition geames in Mexico.

Auburn, Ala.--As Auburn prepares to play the first of three exhibition basketball games vs. pro teams in Cancun, Mexico, junior guard Rasheem Barrett says he is pleased with what he has seen from the Tigers.

Coach Jeff Lebo put his squad through 10 days of practice before flying south on Wednesday.

"We got a lot of accomplished in our practices from the youngest man on the team to the oldest, from the tallest to the oldest," Barrett tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "Everybody is confident as we go into these games.

On Thursday night, the Tigers will play a Mexican pro league team called the Quintana Roo Pioneros and again on Saturday night. On Friday night the Tigers face Selection Quintana Roo.

"I am very excited about this trip," says Barrett, who made a tour with an all-star team on a goodwill tour earlier this year to China. "On this trip, there won't be as much rice," he jokes.

Barrett is one of five returning starters on a team that also returns all of the key reserves. The guard notes that Auburn players worked hard in the weight room and physically will be a stronger team in 2007-2008.

"Everybody has matured, everybody has really come along," says Barrett, who credits strength and conditioning coach Bryan Karkoska with making a positive difference. "I am stronger and I am in good shape. I can keep up with Tez (junior guard Quantez Robertson) on the court now."

Senior guard Frank Tolbert (1) passes the ball to senior forward Quan Prowell (right) in practice.

Barrett notes that the 10 practices in Auburn featured a lot of work on defense and he says the Tigers made significant improvement in that area.

"I really believe the sky is the limit for us this year," the junior says. "From day one to day 10 of practice, the progress we made is tremendous."

Lebo says the emphasis on the trip is checking out the development on individual players and he says he hopes the competition will help give the coaching staff a good read on that subject. "We haven't scouted the competition, but we are expecting them to be older players with a physical style."

Jeff Lebo (left) prepares to make a coaching point as sophomore Lucas Hargrove (right) watches.

The coach adds, "We are going to be toying with some different things offensively. I want to see how they look and how much I want to tweak some different things. We want to win, but it is not paramount down there so I am going to play some of the guys who haven't played as much in the past to see how they will respond in a situation like that so when we start back at practice in October we will know what they can do."

Basketball Notes: Lebo notes that Bryan Bartley has switched duties from an administrative assistant's spot to an on-the-court coach. That will allow him to hit the road for recruiting trips. Bartley coached the team that Barrett played on in China along with teammate Quan Prowell...Lebo's father, Dave Lebo, will move off the court into an administrative assistant's spot...Lebo says by having so many experienced players back, the Tigers "picked up things" quickly in practice prior to leaving for Cancun...

Archie Miaway, who joined the team as a juco transfer last year, will be a senior guard this season. He will be looking for more playing time.

Lebo says the Tigers plan to stick with their man to man defense in the three games...The coach likens the trip to summer league basketball with contests on three consecutive nights in non air-conditioned gyms. He says he plans to heavily use his team's bench to keep fresh players on the court...The Auburn coach says he also expects it to be a fun trip for the players. "They have a little bit of free time to enjoy the beach in Mexico and the pool."

DeWayne Reed is coming off a productive freshman season at guard.

Korvotney Barber is back for his junior season at forward.

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