New Guard Could Play Major Role for Tigers

Tay Waller and the 2008-2009 basketball Tigers are preparing for their exhibition game on Friday.

Auburn, Ala.--When the Auburn basketball Tigers take the court for their exhibition game on Friday evening vs. Morehouse, one of the most closely watched players will be newcomer Tay Waller.

A 6-2 guard who transferred in from Okaloosa-Walton Community College over the summer, he will be counted on to be a scorer for the Tigers and arrived at Auburn with a reputation as a strong three-point shooter.

He showed that skill with an impressive outing over the weekend in a couple of scrimmages vs. the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum.

"I hit a few," he says with a smile. "I am not sure how many it was because I wasn't keeping up with it."

Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo says that Waller is off to a good start. "Tay really shot the ball well in the scrimmage," he notes. "He made some tough shots.

"One thing that Tay has to get better at is his defense," Lebo points out. "I thought he did a good job of off-the-ball defense (in the scrimmages), but his on-the-ball defense has to get better. His ball-handling has to improve, too, but he can really shoot a basketball once he gets open.

"He is trying to do what we ask and he is a coachable kid," Lebo adds. "Just having him on the court with his ability to shoot should open up some things for us. He can make tough ones with guys in his face."

Tay Waller dribbles in practice this week.

Commenting on his adjustment to playing with his new team, Waller says, "Everything is going good so far. Everybody is picking up the offense. Everybody has got the hang of it."

The guard says the scrimmage vs. the Mocs was helpful. "It was good to play somebody different and it showed us what we need to work on to get ready for the start of the season," he says. "We have to get better with our offensive execution and our defensive assignments. We have to get better learning the rules for our off-the-ball assignments on defense.

"I thought we played well, but we had some mistakes, but that is something you expect when you play your first game," he adds.

Waller is one of two guard signees the Tigers are counting on this year. Freshman Frankie Sullivan is recovering from an ankle sprain he suffered last week.

"It hurts us a lot not to have Frankie out there," Waller says. "It is putting pressure on another freshman (walk-on point guard Josh Wallace) to get ready to play. Josh has got to step up until Frankie gets back. Josh is pretty good and he can really play some defense."

Wallace is a 5-10, 160-pounder who averaged 16 points and eight assists for Washington High in Pensacola, Fla., last season where he earned Class 4A All-State honors.

Tipoff time for Friday's game at Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum is 6 p.m. The regular season will start a week later as Missouri State comes to Auburn on Friday, Nov. 14th for a 7 p.m. contest.

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