Barbee excited about next season

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AUBURN | Auburn basketball coach Tony Barbee spoke about his team's newcomers, the upcoming non-conference schedule and program turnover during the SEC's teleconference on Monday.
Opening statement…
"I am excited about the upcoming year. I like the mindset of the returners, the veteran group that we have coming back with Chris Denson, Allen Payne, Asauhn Dixon-Tatum, Jordon Granger, Shaq Johnson and with the addition of KT Harrell, who was sitting out last year as a transfer from Virginia. Those guys have been in the program now and understand the mentality that we have to have to compete at a high level in this league.
"With the additions of the newcomers that we will have on the roster this year, I think we have upgraded our roster in a lot of ways; from talent, size, length and a lot of different aspects that we have had to upgrade to compete in this league. I am excited going forward. I am looking forward to this summer. We are going to take a trip with the team, we are going to head down to the Bahamas in August. I think it is a great year for us to do that with the veteran players that have been in the program now and the amount of new additions that we have. I think it is a great time to develop some chemistry and get to work on some things and give us a little of a head start as we go into the next season."
On the newcomers…
"Every year is a transition for all programs, especially when you are taking over a program like I did a few years ago and you are trying to rebuild it. Sometimes you are going to take a few steps forward and take a couple going backwards to get four or five steps forward. I think that is where we are at in the process. I think in recruiting, where we try to recruit character or we try to recruit talent, I think ultimately we try to recruit guys who are about winning and come from winning programs. I think we have done that with the additions of the two kids from the Findlay Prep program in Dion Wade and Benas Griciunas. They played on the team that finished number one in the country. Those guys are about winning and all they have known is winning. Tahj Shamsid-Deen from Atlanta was a three-time state champion and lost in the state finals in his senior year. He was a three-time Mr. Basketball in the state of Georgia, so he is a guy who is a winner that all he knows is winning. Those are the types of guys I think we have added to our program this year that are going to be a plus and an added benefit to the veteran guys on this team that have been through the wars and have the scars of trying to help me rebuild this program.
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On the non-conference schedule…
"We still have a few games left to schedule. I think the strength of our schedule is pretty solid with the Iowa State game in the Big XII/SEC Challenge. That is going to be a challenging game against one of the top teams in the Big XII. We have the game against Illinois, a NCAA Tournament team, where we played them in Chicago last year in the United Center. They are going to return the game this year in Atlanta in Phillips Arena. We have the return game with Boston College, who has an experienced and talented team returning. That will be a team that is in the upper half of the ACC this year. Then we have started a series with Clemson, a home-and-home series that will start on our campus this year and we will return it the following year. I think every year we have upgraded our schedule and this year will be no different.
On the influx of talent coming into the league this season…
"It tells you that this is one of the best conferences in the country, when you have that type of talent entering the league. I think last year for the conference overall was a transition year. The year before we had lost a lot of talented players, not only to the draft the previous year before but we also lost a lot of talented veteran players, seniors who may not have been NBA-level but were fantastic college players. I think last year as a whole was a transition year and I think this year is kind of a bounce-back year for us with the amount of talented incoming freshmen and also the return of a lot of veterans who might have bypassed moving on in their career to the NBA. Every league is in transition from year to year, especially as young as this game has become. I think this is one of those years where we are on the upswing.
On adding Malcolm Canada last week…
"We were fortunate to get Malcolm as late as we did in the process. I think Tahj (Shamsid-Deen) is going to be a fantastic player for us. He is a talented players. He is really skilled, he is a winner and an ultimate competitor. But obviously you can't compete at the highest level of college basketball with just one point guard. I think when we were able to get Malcolm, he adds a different dimension. Tahj, if you want to classify him as your typical water bug point guard, smaller, 5-foot-10, 5-foot-11, great speed, great quickness, I think we did a great job of offsetting that with Malcolm, who is a bigger point guard at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds. He is a very physical, has great feet, great hands and is a winner. He is a kid that was a Third Team All-America in junior college so he is really, really talented. I think we have a great mix in terms of those two. I think we have upgraded that position significantly with Tahj and Malcolm. I think they will both add a lot to the program.
On the newcomers…
"They will all be enrolled here as we start the summer session. We are still waiting on some paperwork on the international kids, which is always a challenge. It's a timing deal, but we expect them all to be enrolled here for the second summer session.
On the trip to the Bahamas…
"We have been in touch with the Federation down there. They set up the schedule for all the teams that come down there. We will not be the only team that comes down there. They informed us that there will be 12 other Division I teams in the Bahamas at that time. They are trying to arrange the schedule for not just us but for all of the teams in terms of playing the games."
Twitter: @JHokanson
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