A Preseason Q&A with Auburn Coach Tony Barbee

On his expectations for his first season at Auburn

"I really don't have any expectations because everything is so new. The league is new to me, and the set of players that I have to work with is basically new. So, until I get a chance in the full practice setting to get a feel for what I'm working with, it's hard to put any expectations on this group although my expectations are higher personally than anybody could ever put on the team because I am an eternal optimist.  There's not a game on the schedule that I look at and say we can't win that game, and that's the approach I want my team to take.  I know this.  When people watch this team play, they're going to see a few things.  One, how hard my team competes and how cohesive they are defensively.  When my team is good defensively, people say it looks like they've got eight or nine guys on the floor at one time.  We're going to share the ball offensively.  They're going to talk about how unselfish that we are.  The last thing is they are going to talk about how much fun my guys look like they are having playing that way.  That's my ultimate vision for this team and this program even next year as we start our first year."

On the difficulty of only having a month to put in his system with a new team

"It's the toughest because there are so many unknowns, but at the same time it's a process.  It's a journey.  It's the same thing I tell my guys individually that everybody loves the destination, championships, conference championships, NCAA Tournaments those types of things, but you've got to enjoy the process.  There's going to be a learning curve that we've all got to go through including me.  That being said, there's nobody that enjoys the day-to-day grind of it as much as I do.  Every day I get to come in and work with my guys individually and work with them collectively and see them get better."

On starting the Barbee Era in Auburn Arena

"The excitement level is at an all-time high.  The expectations to go along with that are very high.  I'm not going to do anything to dampen anybody's excitement level or expectation level, but at the same time, there's got to be a perspective of where we are starting from.

We're going to have a young team of freshmen and sophomores, which means there is a lot of growing that has to take place. What comes with growing is growing pains, so we are going to have to go through some growing pains.  The payoff down the line is always worthwhile.  There is so much excitement and there should be, but at the same time, there has to be baseline for where we*re starting and watch us grow from there."

On the dribble-drive offense

"It's a system where you get five guys on the floor at any one time using their talents individually for the collective unit of the team.

It's that in a nutshell.  It's about spacing.  It's an evolving offense depending on the strengths of your team, so it's not all head down drive like a wild man and see what happens.  That's not what the offense is about.  If you've got really good bigs, you can adapt post-ups or ball screens and isolations.  If you've got really good guards, you can space four out, one in to create driving lanes with a different variety of movements.  But at the end of the day, it is an offense that is hard to guard because the hardest thing to guard in this game is guarding an individual off the bounce.  It puts a lot of pressure on defenses, and it gets you to the foul line as a team a lot, and that*s what I like about it."

On the returning players

"I like what we have to work with individually, although there is not a lot of experience with Frankie (Sullivan) seeing a significant amount of time and production over his career at Auburn.  Outside of that, you had Earnest (Ross) and Josh (Wallace) and Andre (Malone) who all played sparingly. With that being said, ,individually, I like what we have to work with. Until we get a chance to see collectively when we get them on the court as a unit to be able to go through practice and drills and those different things, it'll be hard to know what we've got as a collective unit."

On the incoming recruiting class

"I'm excited about the incoming freshmen.  I think anytime you get the chance to make some changes once you take over, to bring in players that you believe can fit within what you are trying to do.  I think all of those guys you look at Josh Langford with what he'll bring coming from a winning program and what he brings from his experience being Mr. Basketball in the state.  Josh brings us a lot of versatility.  He can play anywhere along the perimeter or along the frontline with his skill set.  Allen Payne is very similar to Josh, a 6-foot-7 versatile player that can play inside and can play outside because of his length.  Adrian Forbes is an athletic interior player who will bring us some toughness and some rebounding along the frontline.  Chris Denson will add much needed depth in the backcourt.  Size-wise with Luke Cothran and Shawn Kemp along the frontline will bring us some depth and size that we don't necessarily have. So, we were able to get those two and bring them into the fold."

INFORMATION SOURCE: Auburn University Athletics