Below is a diary entry from one of our readers, Power of Dixieland that examines the state of Auburn basketball. He makes some very valid points. Jeff Lebo gets a lot of credit for his team playing hard, but as the writer points out, there’s more to it than just hustling up and down the court…
By Power of Dixieland
The Auburn men’s basketball team lost its game against Georgia, 59-54 on Wednesday night. It was the last home game of the season, and the last home game for seniors Frank Tolbert and Quan Prowell (as well as Archie Miaway and benchwarmer Adam Luquire).
The loss dropped the Tigers to 14-14 overall and 4-11 in SEC play. They likely will not qualify for postseason play, unless there’s a highly unexpected run through the SEC tournament to the SEC championship.
This is Jeff Lebo’s fourth team, and he has amassed an overall record of 57-62 and 19-44 in SEC play. His year-by-year totals are 14-17 (4-12), 12-16 (4-12), 17-15 (7-9), and this season, 14-14 (4-11).
This latest loss was another disappointment in a season full of them. This already smallish team has been decimated with injuries, which hasn’t helped matters. However, it makes me wonder if Jeff Lebo is really the right man to lead Auburn basketball to the next level.
We have lost our last two games at home to South Carolina and Georgia, arguably the two worst teams in the SEC (other than Auburn). Like I said earlier, we likely will not be selected for the NIT, meaning that every year under Lebo the Tigers have failed to even make the NIT.
When Lebo arrived in 2004, he had to pick up the pieces following the fallout of the Cliff Ellis mess. Key players from the previous year’s team transferred after Ellis was fired, and he arrived with the cupboard bare. However, there has been little improvement if any at all in the basketball program in the last four years.
There is no doubt Lebo’s players play hard for him. However, in my opinion there are three important parts to building a successful basketball team: talent, hard work, and coaching (scheming). The team works hard at what they do, but they aren’t that talented and the schemes don’t work.
That’s one out of three.
An elite team has all three parts, a good team has two of three, and bad teams have zero or one. Taking a glance at the Rivals.com basketball recruiting index for 2008, so far Auburn is ranked 10th out of 12 SEC teams, and not on their top 30 radar, so talent isn’t likely to improve.
Unless Lebo undergoes a drastic style change, his schemes aren’t going to work, so we will toil at or near the bottom of the SEC unless either of those changes.
I understand that our facilities aren’t exactly top-of-the-line (and will be vastly improved in a couple of years), and as mentioned earlier, we have endured an unusually high number of injuries this season.
However, I wonder how a higher-level coach, like a Mike Krzyzewski, a Ben Howland, or even a Bruce Pearl would have done with this team this season. I’m not advocating we get any of these coaches (nor do I even think for the slightest moment that any of them would leave their jobs for the Auburn job).
I think it’s time that we blow up the men’s basketball program as it currently stands and start from scratch. I don’t think I can take another year of losing basketball.