With all five starters back from last season's 17-15 team, Jeff Lebo has higher expectations for the 2007-2008 Tigers. As the Tigers close out their first week of practice, the coach gives his squad mixed reviews.
"It's been okay," Lebo tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I would have liked to think we could have moved a little faster, but we have had to go back and re-teach some things. When kids have small breaks their retention is not as good as you would like it to be."
Lebo and the returning players got a head start on the season in August as they practiced for 10 days in Auburn before heading to Mexico for three exhibition games.
The Tigers are preparing for the regular season that opens Nov. 9th at Tulane. Before that, on Nov. 1st at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum, the Tigers will play an exhibition game vs. Bluefield College from Virginia.
"Defense has been the emphasis in practice and we have just put in a little bit on our fast break," Lebo says. "We have spent very little practice time working on our offense."
The Tigers made their exhibition trip to Mexico without freshman center Boubacar Sylla, who is the only incoming signee.
Sylla, a seven-foot-one, 275-pound center, is considered a project with his limited background in basketball. So far the big fellow from Paris, France is off to a solid start.
"He is doing well," Lebo says. "We have done a lot of drill work and he has picked up some stuff. We haven't done a lot of full-court work with him. Boubacar is getting in a little bit better shape. He is learning and picking up things a little bit quicker than I would have expected so that is encouraging.
"It is going to take some time with him," Lebo notes. "Especially early, it is going to look a little ugly at times with him out there on the court, but if he will continue to listen and learn, and work hard every day like he has, and continue to have a good attitude, he will make progress. I have been pleased with Boubacar."
Having veteran players with post moves such as junior Korvotney Barber, senior Quan Prowell and junior Josh Dollard, along with sophomore Matt Heramb, has helped Auburn's big freshman, Lebo says. "It is great for Boubacar," the coach points out. "I think he can watch somebody do it at his position and do it right. You can tell somebody something, but visually is where they seem to learn a lot better. He can watch Vot, he can watch Quan, he can watch Josh and he can watch Matt. That makes it a lot easier for him."