Auburn Plays In WNIT Sweet 16 Tonight

By Posted on: March 27th, 2013 in Basketball 1 Comment »
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Auburn’s Tyrese Tanner (32) drives past Western Kentucky’s Bianca McGee (22) during the second round of the WNIT Sunday, March 24, 2013, at the Auburn Arena.

Auburn women will play another round of the WNIT tonight at the Auburn Arena as the Tulane Green wave come to town. Both teams have made it to the Sweet 16 level of the Tournament.

Auburn (18-14) easily handled their first two opponents, UAB and Western Kentucky, using Coach Williams-Flournoy’s trademark full court press.

However the Green wave (24-8) should be ready for Auburn’ style since they lost a regular season game to the Tigers 70-65. Tulane will be seeking some revenge for that one as the Tigers rallied from a 14 point deficit to get the victory.

“It is so hard when you play a team in November because they are so much more mature now,” Auburn coach Terri Williams-Flournoy said. “Right now, Tulane is probably playing their best basketball, but I think at this point in the season, teams are not changing that much. We are who we are and Tulane is who they are.”

Auburn center Peyton Davis said, Tulane was, “undefeated until they played us, so I think we all kind of realize that they’re going to come in here hot, wanting to win this game,”

But expect the Tigers to make it close as they appear to be playing their best basketball of the year; led by Terese Tanner who is averaging close to 27 points, six rebounds, three blocks and 3.5 steals.

At any rate it’s a great match up with the winner advancing to the elite eight (semifinals) against the winner of the Bowling Green – Drexel game. Tip off is at 6 p.m. CT and will be broadcast over the Auburn Radio network.

Go Tigers!

Monday Musings

By Posted on: March 24th, 2013 in Baseball, Basketball, Football, News, Other Sports 5 Comments »
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A New Era in Accessibility.

Expect to see a lot more of the Auburn football team this spring. While former coach Gene Chizik preferred keeping a lid on practices, Gus Malzahn is opening things up a bit. While we won’t be returning to the open policies of Tommy Tuberville, the media will have a half hour a day to watch practice. Unfortunately, fans will still be locked out when things get started Wednesday.

Malzahn also plans to make coaches and players more accessible after practice. Auburn will practice 14 times before closing things out on A-Day April 20th…

I don’t know about you, but sentencing for Harvey Updyke last week was somewhat anti-climatic. The Toomer’s Tree killer was given a three year prison sentence, but in reality will only serve another six months. He’ll be placed on five years probation and will be prohibited from attending any college sporting events or speaking with the media. He’ll have a nightly curfew of 7 p.m. I say there’s no way he goes five years without violating parole. I predict at least two additional visits to the big house in the coming years…

Watching all the upsets by these small schools in March Madness makes you wonder why programs like Auburn and Georgia can’t compete. These small programs don’t have the shoe contracts or recruiting budgets of schools in the SEC, yet find a way to compete. As long as I’ve watched Auburn basketball, I’ve never been able to figure it out…

While some still believe this Auburn baseball team has a chance to be good, starting off 0-6 in conference makes you really question that logic. Then again, opening against the second and third ranked teams in the country is no easy task. You have to believe a good team would at least grab one win. Losing both series to Vanderbilt and LSU was maybe expected, get swept six straight was certainly not.

I’ll hold off passing judgement on this team for a few weeks, before putting them in the basket with football and basketball. It’s a big hole to overcome, but all is not lost – yet…

We saw this coming from 10 miles away. The Toomer’s Oaks slated to come down in a few weeks will quickly be converted to souvenirs. However, if you were hoping to buy a big slab of wood with Toomer’s written on it, you’re out of luck. Because of licensing issues, they’ll be called Auburn Oaks. Nobody loves the tradition of rolling those trees more than me, but without the Toomer’ name on them, the appeal is just not there. I’ll pass…

Word is, Auburn will be putting up power lines along Toomer’s Corner next season for fans to roll. There won’t actually be power running to them like the old days, but it will take the tradition back to where it started. Before fans turned to the oaks, they rolled the power lines situated on the corner. It may be four years before the soil is suitable for planting on the site. All in all, this is probably the best short term solution…

Despite them being our hated rival, you hate to see Alabama athletic director Mal Moore exit like he did. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone on either side of the rivalry that had a bad word to say about him. He’s had some tough personal battles in recent years. I hope he finds peace in retirement… 

Auburn Women Host First Round WNIT at the Arena

By Posted on: March 19th, 2013 in Basketball 1 Comment »
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       Terri-Williams Flournoy is taking her Tigers to the postseason in her first year.

The Auburn Women’s Basketball Team has been selected to the WNIT. The selection committee made the announcement Monday night. It will be the Tigers 22nd trip to the post season and the fourth appearance all-time in the WNIT.

It also marks the first appearance for Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy as the coach of the Tigers. Overall, it’s her fifth postseason appearance in nine seasons as a head coach and her second WNIT appearance. She led Georgetown to the NCAA Tournament in 2010, 2011

“We are really looking forward to playing in the WNIT,” said Williams-Flournoy. “Making the postseason in our first season here at Auburn was a goal of ours and this will be a great experience for our players as we continue to build this program back to where it should be.

“You cannot simulate the tournament atmosphere and what it means to play for a championship and we are excited that our young ladies will have that opportunity.”

Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. CT, Wednesday. Tickets for the game are available and are $10 for Reserved (Risers A, B, & C and Sections 101-104), $7 for General Admission and $5 for Students. Tickets can be purchased online at www.AUBTix.com, by phone at 1-855-AUB-2010 and in person at the Auburn Arena ticket box office.

Those that can make it, need to come out and support our Tigers at the Arena Wednesday.
Lets go Tigers!
 

UPDATE: Auburn beats UAB 80-57, and will advance to play the winner of East Carolina-Western Kentucky in the second round.

Auburn Falls to 3-27 in SEC Play This Academic Year… And No One Seems to Care

By Posted on: March 18th, 2013 in Baseball, Basketball, Football 18 Comments »

jacobs sideburnsReflecting on another stellar week of Auburn Athletics, I sat with a group of friends this weekend and tried to put into prospective how bad the situation is on the Plains. In case you missed it, and I pray that you did, Auburn was swept in a three game series by Vanderbilt at Plainsman Park.

On Friday, athletic director Jay Jacobs gave a vote of confidence to embattled basketball coach Tony Barbee. Coming off the worst season in Auburn history, and you know it’s monumental when you say that, Jacobs has pledged to assist Barbee in the rebuilding process.

“Coach Barbee and I will continue to work together to support our basketball program at the highest level so we can give our fans the kind of program they expect and deserve,” said Jacobs.

I don’t know about you, but I feel 100% better knowing that Jay is rolling up his sleeves and going to work on behalf of Auburn people everywhere. Meanwhile, Auburn president Jay Gogue was seen Friday walking on campus whistling Zippity Doo Dah.

Vanderbilt has long been the gold standard for futility in the SEC. As my friends discovered over a few cold beers this weekend, that’s no longer the case. Here are a few sobering stats to get you thinking:

  • Auburn now stands 3-27 in the SEC this academic school year in football, basketball and baseball. With Auburn traveling to Baton Rouge on Friday, it stands to get worse.
  • The Tigers have lost eight consecutive basketball games to Vanderbilt.
  • Auburn baseball has lost five of the last six games against the Commodores. Granted, Vandy is a top five team, but that begs the question, ‘Why not Auburn?’
  • Auburn has been outscored by Georgia and Alabama 146-21 over the last two seasons in football.
  • The Tigers have not scored an offensive touchdown against Bama since Phillip Lutzenkirchen did his dance in the end-zone of Bryant Denny Stadium in 2010.

These were just a few depressing nuggets that Miller Lite pulled out of us on a warm spring night. We decided to stop there in case anyone became suicidal. After all, we had one friend whose wife just left him. But rightfully so, he was more depressed about the situation at Auburn. 

I promise I’ll stop beating this dead horse at some point. I know it’s depressing to read this stuff on a Monday. I’m just stunned that Auburn people with deep pockets seem not to care.

It’s like they’ve double-downed on Gus Malzahn and pray that he makes everything right for all sports. The apathy is disturbing. Most everyone seems optimistic about football, but any success this fall will only mask the bigger issues taking place in the athletic department.

I’ll ask again, “Does anyone care?”

Is the Under Armour Argument Valid?

By Posted on: March 13th, 2013 in Basketball, Football 8 Comments »
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Much has been made about the contract Auburn has with Under Armour and the impact it has on the basketball program. Many argue that because Nike essentially controls AAU basketball and prevents coaches not wearing their brand from attending its sponsored basketball camps, schools like Auburn have a huge disadvantage.

It’s a logical argument. It also begs the question why the Auburn Athletic Department would enter into an agreement with an apparel company that would threaten the success of its second biggest revenue sport.

There’s nothing wrong with Under Armour from a consumer standpoint outside the prices. They have a great reputation with football and have really streamlined the look of the Auburn uniform.

But when Nike controls the high school and college basketball universe, why would you built a $100 million arena and then make it near impossible for your team to compete?

Don’t misunderstand; Auburn’s failures on the court this season are not Under Armour’s fault. Even if Auburn could recruit top talent, Tony Barbee would run them off. But moving forward, Auburn’s relationship with the Maryland based company could be a real hindrance in not only landing great talent, but also finding a good coach…

Is tonight Tony Barbee’s last one as Auburn coach? While athletic director Jay Jacobs has been mum on the issue, those close to him believe Barbee will be given a fourth year.

Auburn (9-22, 3-15) takes on 11th-seeded Texas A&M at 9 p.m. in the first round of the SEC Tournament in Nashville. The Tigers have lost 15 of its last 16 contests, but nine of those losses have by been by 10 points or less. Despite the long odds, Auburn players believe they have a chance.

“It’s been worse than what the numbers indicate for us,” Frankie Sullivan said. “Nobody wants to be in last place, but it is what it is, it’s the cards we’ve been dealt with, now we’ve got to go into the SEC Tournament and play our hearts out.”…

Yesterday was a tough one for a couple of former Auburn players. Will Herring parted ways with the New Orleans Saints after refusing to take a pay cut for the 2013 season. Releasing Herring saved the Saints $1.5 million in salary cap money.

In something of a surprise, Karlos Dansby was released by the Miami Dolphins yesterday, just three years after signing a five-year, $42.5 million contract. He was due a $6.2 million pay day this year…

In case you were wondering, Auburn kicks off the football season 170 days from now. Students are on break this week. Spring practice starts in two weeks. Maybe it’s the first appearance of warm weather, but I’m pretty excited about this year’s football team.

No one expects Auburn to compete for a title this season, but it will lay the foundation for all of Gus Malzahn’s teams to follow. Like 1981 and 1999, there’s always excitement in watching the ground floor go up.

Auburn – LSU Meet Tonight in SEC Tournament

By Posted on: March 7th, 2013 in Basketball 3 Comments »
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Against Mississippi State, Blanche Alverson became only the second Auburn women’s basketball player to amass 200 career three-pointers.

February 17, 2013, that’s when Auburn women’s basketball put the brakes on a losing streak by throttling arch rival Alabama 70-53. It was the game that effectively turned the Tigers season around.

The Tigers completed their best regular season record in four years after defeating Mississippi Sate in the season final on Sunday 74-65; earning a second round berth in the SEC Tournament.

Tonight Auburn (16-13) will face off against LSU (19-10) at 7:30 p.m. at the Gwinnett Center Arena in Duluth, Ga.

This will be the sixth meeting all-time between Auburn and LSU in the SEC Tournament with Auburn winning all five previous meetings. The two teams met once this season, with LSU getting the win 59-55.

The Tigers are glad to have another chance at the Bayou Bengals. Senior forward, Blanche Alverson said,” We think (the LSU game) was a game we let slip away from us. So we have some confidence going into the second round.”

After winning three of the team’s last five games of the season, Head Coach Terri Williams-Flournoy likes the confidence her team has entering postseason play. Hopefully Auburn can ride the new found momentum to the tournament finals.

It won’t come easy as the Purple Tigers come into the game riding a six game winning streak of their own.

Auburn has found their late season success by playing a new style based on high pressure and a fast break offense. The Tigers will be led by Alverson and All-SEC Team member Hasina Muhammad. Hasina has been averaging nearly 15 points per game and has had seven 20-point games.

For her part Alverson has been on a tear lately. She scored 22 against Vanderbilt and had a career high 32 against Mississippi State.

The Tigers are playing their best basketball of the year right now; if they get by LSU tonight, they may be poised to make a run in the tournament. The game will be televised by Sports South and on ESPN3. Tip off will be at 7:30 CST.

Go Tigers! Beat LSU!

UPDATE: Auburn made a mad run in the last five minutes to almost pull it out but a 3 pointer bounces out at the buzzer giving LSU the win 65 -62.

Things Aren’t As Bad As They Seem

By Posted on: March 6th, 2013 in Basketball, Football 17 Comments »

coach_dyeHistory tells us that despite Alabama’s recent run and Auburn’s woes, neither program is ever too far behind the other. Some may feel that’s being tested now. Nick Saban is the best college coach in the country. He may be the best coach to walk the sidelines in a generation.

As bad as things seem, they are not nearly as woeful as the situation back in the early 1980’s. Alabama was every bit as good as they are now, but Auburn’s situation was much worse.

There were still programs in the SEC who wouldn’t travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium. Tennessee finally came in 1980. It would be nine more years before Alabama was ambushed in Jordan-Hare.

Some Auburn people believed the hurdles were too high to get back to the days of Sullivan and Beasley. Jordan was gone and Barfield never seem to get the backing of all Auburn people.

When favorite son, Vince Dooley backed out at the last minute, things seemed to grow darker.

It all changed in an instant with the support of money heavy alumni including Bobby Lowder and the hiring of Pat Dye. Everything changed when the expectation became more than just competing with Alabama.

Money is not an issue today. Teams beg to get on Auburn’s schedule. They are three seasons removed from a national championship. Coaches have proven they can out-recruit anyone in the country. In some spots, the raw talent has never been better.

Much like 32 years ago, Auburn needs to believe again. It must believe that it can compete not only with Alabama, but everyone else. There’s no question the coaches believe. In my heart, I believe most fans believe.

The work begins shortly on changing the mindset of the players. That’s why even some of the good former coaches had to go. There must be no doubt that Auburn is heading back to the top.

Sure Gus Malzahn is still on his honeymoon. But you have to like the direction he’s taken already. He’s a straight shooter. Things may get worse before they get better. But I feel a lot better than I did at the end of November.

Let’s hope the players do…

Looking for a reason to get out of the house tonight? Auburn Basketball is literally paying (and begging) you to come out and watch the home finale with Tennessee that tips off at 8 p.m. CT. There are numerous promotions going on, including buy one, get one free tickets and all you can eat meal deals. It’s a shame beers aren’t included.

The buy one, get one free deal will run you $15. For $25 you can gorge yourself for 40 minutes while watching really crappy basketball. The ticket price includes all-you-can-eat hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and drinks. It doesn’t get much cheaper than this for SEC basketball. Hold the jokes… 

Another Weekend, Another Auburn Disaster

By Posted on: February 25th, 2013 in Basketball 17 Comments »
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I know basketball will never come close to reaching the level of excitement that Auburn football generates in a good year, but don’t you feel like you’re missing out on something?

With Auburn and school officials choosing to sit out another season of competitive SEC play, all fans had to look forward to this weekend were the NFL Combine and Auburn baseball taking on the likes of Middle Tennessee State and the College of Charleston.

Hell, I’d rather sit through an entire night at the Oscars than be subjected to those two events. No offense to John Pawlowski and company. I love you, but wake me up when the real season starts.

If Ole Miss can build a basketball program, why can’t Auburn? With the Tigers on the way to perhaps its worst season in a generation, athletic director Jay Jacobs continues to voice support for embattled coach Tony Barbee.

“We have to be patient,” wrote Jacobs last week to Tiger Unlimited members.

“Coach Barbee recently said we have to change the culture to elevate our program to a new level. History says he is right.”

Jacobs even compared the current plight to that of Sonny Smith who came more than 25 years earlier. “Our history says we can be successful in basketball, but it also says we have to be patient.”

I would also add that comparing Auburn basketball today with that of a former coach who walked the courts during the Reagan administration is moronic at best.

Despite proclaiming before the season that this year’s team was his best, Barbee has now lost 11 of its last 12 games. They’ve lost four of their last five home games and have been beaten by 30 or more points in two of its last three games.

Anybody that reads my weekly columns know I’m no fan of Jacobs. I just don’t get it. Since taking over nearly 10 years ago, Auburn has seen drastic declines in all four its major sports. Football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball are all in significantly worse shape than when he inherited it.

Take the 2010 football season out of the equation and you realize this has been one of the darkest periods in Auburn history. Yet Jacobs continues to thrive. It’s one of the damndest things I’ve witnessed in my lifetime.

I’m still amazed that those who give the most to the athletic department hardly complain (at least publicly) about coughing up $7 million to let Gene Chizik sit home and watch Ellen every day at 3 o’clock.

If my hard earned money was going toward covering Jacobs’ mistakes, I believe I’d demand a change. I was only on the hook for three sets of season tickets this past season, and I still feel violated.

The good news is the basketball season is nearly complete and some will begin buying into Barbee’s promises for 2014. He’ll undoubtedly sign several blue chippers in the off-season who’ll not qualify academically and Jacobs will swear the culture is changing.

Meanwhile, both he and Barbee will pocket another couple of million dollars and the beat will go on.

It’s a good gig if you can get it – and keep it.