Auburn basketball opened its first practice of the 2009-10 season by working out for two hours in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum Friday that saw three returning starters joined by five other veterans and six newcomers.
"It was a good competitive practice," said head coach Jeff Lebo. "I thought the upperclassmen early on looked a lot better than the young guys. The young guys competed hard which I was happy to see. The first day of official practice, you have a lot of teaching and a lot of standing, but overall the effort was pretty good."
Lebo welcomed seniors DeWayne Reed, Tay Waller, Lucas Hargrove, Brendon Knox and Johnnie Lett and sophomore Frankie Sullivan.
"Being able to start a little bit earlier, we are a little bit ahead of things,* said Lebo. "I think the one thing that we can use these practices for, we have to spend a little bit extra time teaching for the new guys. We have a lot of new faces, and they need more reps than the older guys."
The Tigers concentrated on simple offensive sets in the beginning and worked on defensive fundamentals and had some five-on-five scrimmage. Newcomers Andre Malone, Ty Armstrong, Kenny Gabriel, Earnest Ross and Rob Chubb went through their first official practice as Tigers.
"We came out and played really hard, and the freshmen are really, really good compared to previous years' freshmen," said Hargrove. "I think that is going to be a big help because if everybody is on the same page, we can get in a groove faster and earlier in the season. We have great team chemistry."
Auburn will play 11 games against 2009 postseason tournament teams, including home games against SEC Champion LSU, Kentucky, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Niagara and Alabama State. Other home games vs. Virginia, Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia and Arkansas as well as a road game at 2009 NCAA Tournament participant Florida State, a neutral site game vs. North Carolina State in the Glenn Wilkes Classic in Daytona Beach, Fla., and a game at Missouri State also highlight the schedule.
The Tigers play an exhibition game against Miles College on Nov. 6 before playing its final season opener in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum on Nov. 13 against Niagara, who advanced to last season's NIT, finished with a record of 26-9 and a RPI ranking of 49.