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One and Done

By on March 10th, 2017 in Basketball, News 10 Comments »

Is the hard-luck basketball team done for the season?
(Wade Payne, AP Photo)

     An up-and-down basketball season likely ended for the Auburn Tigers Wednesday night in the SEC basketball tournament. In typical Tiger fashion lately, Auburn blew a 10-point lead with less than 4 minutes left.

The question now is whether Auburn will seek a spot in the CBI tournament. On one hand, any additional practice is a good thing. However, this is a young team that finished losing 6 of its last 8. Does anyone really want to see an additional loss by this team, likely to a nonpower-5 foe?

     I watched the last 5 minutes of regulation on my DVR, and it was frustrating. Auburn defended poorly all season but makes up for it with speed and the occasional steal or block from an athletic young roster.

    The bottom line is that we would not be talking about a loss in this game if Auburn had just hit most of its free throws at the end. Missouri was not some juggernaut that could score at will. What they did, was foul, and Auburn would miss at the other end.

     Still, after Missouri cut the Auburn lead to 3 points with just 16 seconds left, all Auburn had to do was dribble or pass to open court and let the clock run out. With Auburn’s speed, that should not have been a problem. Instead, incredibly, an offensive foul was called, giving the ball back to Mizzou. Then, Auburn wandered around on defense, mostly packed in the paint. Why, I have no idea. A two-pointer does not save the game. Instead, Auburn allowed an open three, and the game went into overtime …

Both teams looked gassed in the extra period. Auburn missed a free throw that would have given the Tigers a 4-point lead. At the end of it, Missouri got a wide open look at a three and likely finished Auburn’s season. Auburn was done with the SEC tournament in just a day, losing to the last-place regular season finisher.

     I think it’s time to pack it in and start getting ready for next season. The Tigers need to get bigger and stronger, for sure. A core of really good players remains, and they won’t be mostly freshmen next season.

    Returning are guys like Austin Wiley, Danjel Purifoy, Horace Spencer, Mustapha Heron, Bryce Brown, Jared Harper and Anfernee McLemore. And, there is supposedly a really good recruiting class lined up as well. The chance to shine this season is done. It’s time to work towards the future.


  1. uglyjoe says:

    I voiced opposition to this idea a couple of weeks ago, but time to put basketball out of its misery for this year….Besides, it’s becoming a real distraction to softball.

  2. GreenvilleAUfan GreenvilleAUfan says:

    I had high hopes for this season. Very disappointed. Thought we finally had the coaches and the players to at least get to the NIT. Don’t know what’s the answer but it’s not the CBI.

  3. tigrrr tigrrr says:

    I think they should go to any post season offering. It has to help to get the practice.

    I heard Coach Pearl say on on occasion something like ” we have to win this one inside” and on another “defense will win this one”. The biggest threat we have is outside shooting, but we don’t rebound. No one is around the basket when the long shots are taken, its either hit it or it turns over.

    These guys were fun to watch, and were in the middle of the Missouri game. Then they must have worn down.

  4. audad says:

    As my son, who is the Auburn alum, said–"this was a season that appeared to have so much promise early on, and ended up reeking of garbage". He's pretty accurate with that statement, sadly. I live in Missouri, and believe me, this Mizzou team is one of the worst that school has ever put on a basketball court, and for AU to lose to them on a neutral court is mind boggling. Mizzou has lost thirty-some straight road games.

    I really don't care what they do as far as postseason play if they are invited to the CBI tourney. There are reasons to play and reasons not to play, one of them of course being the potential pain of watching them lose again to a much less talented team because of carelessness, poor defense, poor shot selection, missed free throws, stupid turnovers, weak rebounding, etc., etc.

  5. warhog 1 warhog 1 says:

    My memory tells me that Coach BP, around mid season, indicated that he was having to mellow his coaching methodology due to the fact that the team did not handle/respond to criticism very well. My suggestion in another venue was to play the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine and let BP be the kindly soon to retire cop and let the Rifleman be the bad dude. He has enough NBA cred and basketball knowledge to pull it off. That way, those players who have a modicum of maturity would get the hard coaching they expect at this level, and the spoiled brats could be bounced on Santa’s knee.

  6. Zach Taylor Zach Taylor says:

    Negative Nancy checking in here :

    I agree that, in most any case, extra games and practices are best. But, this team didn't learn to play defense all year. It didn't learn to hit free throws all year. In short, once conference play began, the same issues showed up all year and a few more practices won't help.

    What will help is letting these boys go back to class (or home, or whatever) and really question if they want to play and win at Auburn.

    I firmly believe that "the most talented recruiting class" really got in the head of some of these guys, Purifoy most notably. I firmly believe that Wiley shouldn't have played this year, not just because of anything Wiley did but because it minimized LaRon Smith.

    Go back and watch the film. When the tigers notched their 3rd sec win, a high under pearl, the team fell apart.

    So, you read all that so make sure you read this: up until that point, the Tigers were playing the best basketball we had seen in a decade. They were fun to watch. They were everything we expected them to be. We know they can win. We know Pearl can win. But, can pearl get these guys to win?

    I would not want ANY OTHER COACH. Period. End of discussion. But this meltdown was on Pearl. Specifically, the inability to play any semblance of defense in the second half.

    Just some food for thought: Jacksonville State is in the dance. Alabama is likely in the dance.

    • audad says:

      Zach, no problem with your comments. Mine from the previous day were somewhat negative as well. The truth hurts when you really take a close, analytical look at this year’s basketball team. The positive is that they finished 18-14, the first winning season in a while. The shame is, this team could have and should have won at least 22-23 games, and like the teams that you mentioned at the end of your post, would very likely be going to the big dance.

  7. WarEagleinKC says:

    Pearl’s coaching has me worried about the future. Next year’s team will be the most talented roster in the history of AU bball with the addition of Okeke and Mitchell, but without Coach Pearl improving his X’s and O’s we will not see the team function at it’s full potential.

    There are numerous problems with this team, mostly on the defensive side, but why on earth does Pearl avoid giving Purifoy the ball at the end of games? He’s an 88% free throw shooter and has proved that he is clutch at the end of games at the line (BC, UGA, Ole miss). If we give him the ball on Wednesday when mizzou had no choice but to foul, we win. Game over. It almost cost us the UConn game, and finally did in the first round against maybe the worst mizzou team ever. Pearl can load up with all the talent in the world, but if he doesn’t start making the common sense calls, we will never see a Final Four. And wasn’t that the point of getting him? To finally break thru?

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