The six-foot-six senior swingman says good team chemistry and having more scoring threats on the floor is helping him personally and the team as a whole. "It is a lot easier with the help of Marco (sophomore forward Marco Killingsworth) down low and Derrick (senior guard Derrick Bird), and even Lewis (sophomore point guard Lewis Monroe) is stepping up.
"Nathan Watson playing as well as he is--that is helping out a lot," Daniels says. "Teams can't really look to double-team me as much with guys hitting the open shot."
Watson, a sophomore walk-on guard, joined Daniels on the San Juan Shootout All-Tournament team that featured Daniels as the Most Valuable Player of the eight-team event. Daniels says he hasn't been surprised at how well Watson has been playing. "Nathan was doing it all summer," notes Daniels, who had some advice for the sophomore when Watson got his chance to play earlier this season. "I was like, ‘When you come in just stay with it. Don't get under the lights and freeze up.' I think he took heed to it. He is doing a good job for us now.
The Vanderbilt game will mark the 2002-2003 season debut for (sophomore Brandon Robinson), who was just cleared to play on Wednesday. "He gives us great energy both offensively and defensively," Daniels says. "He rebounds well and blocks shots."
Robinson, a 6-8 forward, has yet to play this season, but he has practiced well, says Cliff Ellis. Auburn held him out of games while his eligibility was under review concerning questions about his recruitment while playing AAU basketball.
Auburn, 11-2, brings a five-game winning streak into the opener vs. a 7-4 Vanderbilt team, which faced a tougher preconference schedule than the Tigers played. Daniels says the game vs. Vandy is important for his team
"We need to take care of business at home and steal a couple of victories on the road," Daniels says of the key to a successful season in the SEC. The opener is a 7 p.m. home game on Wednesday vs. the Commodores and the first SEC road game of the season is in Fayetteville on Saturday vs. the Arkansas Razorbacks. "Starting off good in the conference would be great for us," Daniels says.
Whatever success Auburn has in SEC play, Daniels is likely to play a major role in it. He leads the Tigers in scoring at 19.9 points per game and is also the team's top rebounder with 7.5 per outing.