Auburn's Tony Barbee speaks about upcoming season

AUBURN- The new Tigers head coach Tony Barbee spoke Tuesday at a press conference regarding the upcoming Auburn University Basketball season and Auburn Arena Grand Opening, taking place Friday October 15th.

The following are statements from Coach Barbee's Tuesday's conference:

"The last six months was the necessary evil of college athletics. As coaches, we are all teachers, and we can*t wait to be out on the floor and work with our guys on a day to day basis. What I*ve done the past six months is getting to know the area, getting to know the state, getting to know the fans and alumni as well as the coaches around the state. It*s been a fun period of time but the entire time I am doing it, I am looking down the road towards what is going to come on Friday, and that is working with my guys on a day to day basis and help them get better. We*ve had a great summer with the team. We*ve had a great preseason in terms of conditioning. We are starting to put together the framework for the team. Here we are on Friday, ready to tip off, and it can*t come soon enough. That is where I am right now and I am looking forward to Friday."

On the player's health-

Everyone is healthy for the most part. You get the typical wear and tear of the practices and the individual workouts like the nagging hamstrings and ankles. Everybody will be ready to go on Friday."

On the status of Varez Ward

"He hasn*t been cleared physically. He is going to have another set of tests on Thursday to gauge the strength in that leg. He hasn*t been going through the workouts with the ball or the coaches. We want to be cautious coming off that injury, and nothing has changed in terms of his status."

On the health of Ty Armstrong and Frankie Sullivan-

"You never know how an athlete is going to respond coming off an injury and going through the rehab. Both Frankie and Ty have been working extremely hard every day. It is not a good thing they got hurt, but the fact that they both are going through the same injury and the same recovery, they are not on an island by themselves. So, they are really pushing each other because they are going through the exact same deal every day. We all know how tough Frankie is mentally and physically, and that has really helped. He is a natural leader, the instinct he has, and he has really helped Ty through this. So in terms of expectations this year, there is really none. It all depends on how they progress though this rehab."

On expectations for the team this year-

"This is going to be a fun team to watch. It is going to be an interesting team. In the last four years when I was at UTEP, we were the biggest team around, in our conference, and really across the country.

Going through some of the injuries we've had and some of the guys that we recruited that didn*t make it academically, we are going to be one of the smallest teams I*ve ever been around. Everyday I*m with the staff, we are talking and brainstorming and doing what coaches do. We are all X-ing and O-ing on napkins, and it all seems to work then. We are just trying to find a way to be successful with the one of the smallest teams around in the country. We have one player that is over

6-foot-9 in Rob Chubb and everyone else is smaller than that, so we are going to be a fun team to watch. We are going to have to play a style that I like to play anyway, but I like to do it with bigger guys * a fast paced, pressure based defense where we are causing turnovers and forcing bad shots and getting down in transition and playing a fast style. What that leads to in wins and losses, that is hard to say.

Nobody is going to put expectations on my team higher than what mine can be. There is not a game on the schedule I look at saying we have no shot in that one. We are going to play hard, we are going to play fast, and we are going to play fun. It is going to be an exciting style for the players and for the fans to watch, so we*ll see what that leads to."

On coaching a small team-

I think that makes coaching fun, is figuring out a way giving what you have to work with. As a coach, you have an optimum style that you like to play but any coach is going to adjust that style to the personnel he has to work with. It is going to be an adjustment for me. We are going to have to be a scrappy group. We are all going to have to be tough. We are all going to have to rebound. It is not like we are going to say the big guys go rebound. Everybody is going to have to rebound since we don*t have any big guys so to speak. It is definitely going to beinteresting."

On the play of the bench-

"If I got five guys, and that is all I know I can go to, then we will figure out a style of play with those five guys. I would like to play seven, eight or nine guys so that will all shake itself out in practice, but there are some things you can do. If the bench isn*t as deep as I would like, then we can use timeouts in a creative way to get guys breaks. We will see in practice whoever can help us will play. That will determine how we will play."

On the expectations on Earnest Ross-

*When I look at the offseason and how hard he worked this summer, and I looked at the preseason since we came back for school doing the strength and training, he really stood out to me. He has really taken on a role of leading by example. How hard he works, how tough he is, those are the guys I want to build this program around, so I am excited about the year I am expecting Earnest to have. We really haven*t gotten into the meat of it all with practices, and all those things are yet to be determined. In terms of physicality, how hard he plays, and how hard he works in the weight room, he has set a good foundation for himself to have a good year.*

Information on the arena grand opening Oct 15th:

Auburn Arena doors will open at 6:15 p.m.

FanFest will open at 5:00 p.m. at the north entrance of Auburn Arena, complete with inflatable games, face painting and live music. The men's and women's basketball teams will sign autographs beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Seating is general admission within the section you have a ticket for

The Auburn Arena Grand Opening event will begin at 7:00 p.m. and will include the men's basketball team along with Head Basketball Coach, Tony Barbee; the women's basketball team along with Head Basketball Coach, Nell Fortner; the Auburn Cheerleaders, Tiger Paws, Pep Band, and Aubie; the Harlem Globetrotters

INFORMATION SOURCE: Auburn University Athletics