Lebo's Tigers Preparing for Exhibition Game

A report on Coach Jeff Lebo's Auburn basketball team is featured.

Auburn, Ala.--Coach Jeff Lebo notes that a weekend scrimmage vs. the UT-Chattanooga Mocs was productive, but says his basketball team needs work as the Tigers prepare for their exhibition opener on Friday.

"We still have a lot to do, a lot to get in," Lebo tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "I think the scrimmage helped us in a lot of ways. With two guys being out we got other guys a lot of minutes and found out a little bit about ourselves."

Senior guard/forward Rasheem Barrett, a returning starter, is being held out of practice while he recovers from a groin injury.

Freshman guard Frankie Sullivan is recovering from an ankle sprain.

"We have a long way to go," Lebo says. "Our execution this time of year is obviously not what we would like. Also, our shot selection needs to get better."

Saturday's scrimmage was the first game type situation against someone other than his teammates for senior Korvotney Barber since he was injured in game 10 last season and lost for the rest of the year after having surgery on his wrist.

"It was nice to see Vot back in there," Lebo says of the player who was named to the Coaches Preseason All-SEC Second Team on Monday. "He hasn't played (in a game) for almost a year so he was a little rusty and his execution isn't what I anticipated it to be, but we are going to get there."

Lebo got plenty of chances in the scrimmage to look at his three new big men who are juco transfers--6-8 Johnnie Lett, 6-10 Brendon Knox and 6-9 Francis Aihe. Of that group the coach says that Lett was the one who had the best performance with a good effort defensively and rebounding.

Brenden Knox is Auburn's tallest player this season.

"Knox also had some moments where he played well," the coach points out. "Aihe did okay, but he needs to get a little tougher and a little stronger. He tried to do what we want, but he fatigued so fast because of the pounding. We are probably going to have to give him little small doses (of playing time) to try to bring some energy."

Another juco transfer, 6-2 guard Tay Waller, shot the ball well vs. UT-Chattanooga, Lebo notes. "Tay made some tough shots," he says.

Lebo's other guard signee, Sullivan, injured his ankle in practice and is sidelined after getting off to a good start in preseason. Lebo noted when the injury happened it was a high ankle sprain, a problem that can keep a player out for several months.

Asked if Sullivan could be out for the first two months of the season, Lebo says, "I am hoping he will be back way before that. We are going to have to see. It is going to be based on how he does. He is doing an aggressive rehab. Jarod Grace, our trainer, has done a great job. We will re-evaluate it the next week."

Lebo was hoping to have Barrett back for the regular season opener a week from Friday vs. Missouri State. "Rasheem hasn't practiced at all," the coach says of the 6-5 senior who started all 30 games last year and averaged 13.6 points per contest. "We hope he will be back for the opener, but we will see. That is an injury that can linger.

"He tried to practice a little bit last week," Lebo adds. "I think he can run a little bit and jump a little bit, but the sideways movement and staying in a stance is a problem for him. We are going to maybe play around with him a little bit. We are hoping to have him by the beginning of the season, but I don't know how effective he is going to be because he hasn't practiced so he is going to be out of playing shape.

"If they miss several weeks, it is going to take Rasheem and Frankie several weeks to get back in the groove once they are back," Lebo adds. "It is not great timing to have an injury at this point of the season."

Jeff Lebo makes a coaching point at practice this week.

Following this Friday's exhibition game vs. Morehouse, the Tigers will open the regular season a week later with a home game vs. Missouri State.

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