Team preview: Auburn
Blue Ribbon Yearbook previews the 2006-07 college basketball season, exclusively on Insider.
(Information in this team report is as of October 1.)
Two years ago, when Jeff Lebo began his rebuilding project on the Plains, Auburn billed itself as the "shortest team in America," with only one player taller than 6-5 on its roster. Last year, with just one senior and a boatload of freshmen and sophomores, the Tigers considered themselves the youngest team in the country.
Year three of the Lebo era will be a combination of both -- the Tigers will either be the shortest young team or the youngest short team in the country, take your pick. Auburn is still painfully inexperienced, with nine freshmen and sophomores and no seniors on its roster. And the Tigers are again on the small side, with only two players 6-8 or taller, and both of them do most of their damage from the perimeter.
It may be lacking in size and experience, but what Auburn does have in abundant supply is athleticism -- speed, quickness and jumping ability. Lebo has no choice but to turn his players loose.
"We are going to have to play fast," Lebo said. "We have guards and forwards without any centers. We're going to use our speed and our quickness and get out in transition a little bit. We hope, barring any injuries, we have a little more depth to play that way. We didn't have depth the first year and not great depth last year.
"We like to play fast. You're starting to see the evolution of the team. You will start to see it this year and how we really like to play."
Provided they can get enough defensive boards to start their transition game -- last season Auburn was 10th in the SEC in rebounding, rebounding margin and defensive rebounds -- the Tigers will be able to zoom around the court with a bunch of 6-4 to 6-7 types that are versatile enough to play several positions. And some of them even have experience.
Lebo started four freshmen toward the end of last season, but this season he'll be able to put a junior or two in the lineup if he chooses. Two of them are newcomers.