I Believe In Auburn and … I Believe In Auburn Basketball
Auburn bench celebrates a basket during the Tigers comeback victory over Georgia Jan. 20, 2018 (photo: Julie Bennett/al.com)
In speaking with reporters Tuesday at the Senior Bowl, Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn announced the date for the start of spring practice. And for the second consecutive year the Tigers will begin practice in February with the finish coming at the April 7 A-Day game.
Normally I get excited when Auburn announces the date of spring football. However, with the basketball team undefeated at home and on a tear in its SEC schedule, all my interest is focused on whenever the Tigers take the court.
Not since the days that Cliff Ellis roamed the sidelines (1994–2004) has there been so much excitement around the roundball sport on the Plains. Ellis won an SEC Tournament Championship and took the Tigers to three NIT’s and three NCAA Tournaments, reaching the sweet sixteen twice.
But he did it with players like Wesley Person, Doc Robinson and SEC Player of the Year Chris Porter. There are no stars like that on this undersized Auburn team. And that’s one of the things that make following this bunch so exciting. The fans recognize that and have made the Auburn Arena a very difficult place for opponents—a true jungle of horrors.
In addition, no Auburn coach has ever connected with the fans like Bruce Pearl. His persona has as much to do with the rocking Arena as the performance of his team. He’s one part coach, one part showman, one part cheerleader, and one part magician. That’s a combination that has made him probably the most popular Auburn basketball coach ever, at least with the students.
Pearl started this year with a depleted bench but has made a believer out of not only Tiger fans but those opponents who have fallen in the wake of Auburn basketball’s resurgence.
It’s hard to temper my enthusiasm for what we are witnessing. I know with the Tigers at 17–2 overall and 5–1 in the SEC, there’s still a lot of basketball left to play, but don’t wake me up from this dream just yet. I want to see the Tigers repay the Tide when they come to the Arena February 21. I want to see Bruce Pearl cutting down the net after winning a championship. And I want to see Auburn return to the Big Dance.
Lofty dreams? Yes, but I believe in Auburn and …
I believe in Auburn Basketball!