Auburn Offense '08-'09
|Four Factors||Percent||Nat'l Rank|
|Off Reb Rate||31.7||217|
Auburn's surprisingly successful '09 campaign (24-12, 10-6), coming as it did on the heels of a terrible '08 season (14-16, 4-12), made for one of the bigger turnarounds in college basketball. But they lost three key contributors to graduation during the off-season--most notably forward Korvotney Barber--and the early returns suggest they may be heading back to the drawing board in '09-'10.
The Tigers head to Daytona with a narrow win over Niagara and an 11-point loss to a bad Missouri State team (which they beat by 15 last year). So far, the offense has been a complete disaster: they're shooting below 42%, turning the ball over nearly 27% of the time, and rebounding less than 30% of their missed shots. Like Akron, Auburn likes to shoot lots of threes despite the fact that they don't make very many of them. They've hit more than half of their twos this season, but 41.4% of their attempts have come from outside, and they've hit less than 20% of those. Their 3FG% is certain to work its way back up eventually, but considering that they shot just 33.5% from three last year, I'm not sure the ceiling is particularly high. Might be a good idea for the Tigers to attack the rim a little more often.
Making matters worse offensively, the Tigers will be without juco transfer Kenny Gabriel, a "swingman with range," indefinitely. Their most prolific and effective three-point shooter, Tay Waller, is nursing a sore quad--his status for the weekend is in doubt. Backup PG Tony Neysmith has been limited by a bum ankle.
DeWayne Reed (6-1, 175) -- So the team's leading scorer is back, but that's good and bad. He's taken 32 shots through two games this season. Problem is, the dude can't shoot. From anywhere. He hit 61.8% of his FTs, 44.6% of his twos, and 32.7% of his (numerous) threes last season. Those were not aberrations. He did a good job distributing from the point while keeping the turnovers down, and his quick hands spearheaded a vastly improved defense, but that 46.8 eFG is evidence that he bit off more than he could chew at the offensive end. I'm not sure Auburn has a choice in the matter, though.
Frankie Sullivan (6-1, 185) -- A three-point specialist; good steal percentage last year.
Earnest Ross (6-5, 215) -- A freshman who by the looks of it fits right into the team's three-firing vibe. Unfortunately he's off to a 37.5% start from the field and has hit just one of his six 3FGAs.
Lucas Hargrove (6-6, 205) -- He was a secondary option last season, but an effective and versatile one. Turnovers were a problem, but he rebounded well at the defensive end for a guy his size, and he shot the ball well both inside and out.
Brendon Knox (6-10, 220) -- Hit 66% of his twos in very limited playing time last season. He's an extremely light-usage guy, probably because he's a foul-prone turnover machine. That's too bad, because this team could really use a reliable low-post scorer.
Three guys have been getting double digit minutes off the bench: Kenny Gabriel (out), Andre Malone (6-5, 202), and Johnnie Lett (6-8, 210). Malone is a freshman. Lett profiles similarly to Knox--less effective from the field but a better rebounder. Bench production looks like a serious problem for the Tigers.
Auburn Defense '08-'09
|Four Factors||Percent||Nat'l Rank|
|Off Reb Rate||30.8||92|
Auburn's '09 rebound was made possible by its defense. As John Gasaway notes in College Basketball Prospectus, "In fact no major-conference team over the past three seasons has improved its D in league play as much as Auburn did last year." They allowed 1.14 points per possession in SEC play two years ago and somehow managed to cut that down to 0.98 last year. That's insane.
The really odd thing is that they were undersized both years: 241st nationally in effective height in '08, 258th in '09. Jeff Lebo did more with fewer inches in 2009 than anybody in America (call him, ladies). Could be that it was a fluke.
Regardless, Auburn's D is going to make for an interesting battle of wills. They want to keep opponents out of the paint and they've done a fine job clogging the lane and making foes look to the perimeter for scoring. In each of the last two years, over 40% of their opponents' field goal attempts came from beyond the arc. Zone defense alert.
Can we get it inside the way we want to, or will we end up settling for a lot of jumpers? If we get frustrated and start heaving, this game could be a hideous low-scoring affair.