The Auburn Tigers finished last NCAA basketball season as the worst team in the SEC with only three total conference wins. Their biggest win of the season had to be the victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide that was pretty much the blight on the Crimson Tide’s record that kept them out of the NCAA tournament.
Last season, Tony Barbee relied on older players to produce despite having a fantastic group of freshmen; this season, he will have no such crutch. The Tigers’ go-to player, Frankie Sullivan, has graduated. Four-star recruit Shaquille Johnson was dismissed from the team, and Jordan Price transferred to La Salle. The “future” for the Tigers has all but disappeared.
The only thing that Auburn seems to have going for them is that Barbee is a fantastic coach. With all of the big-names from the Tigers’ recruiting class gone from the school, he’s the type of coach that will be able to get the most from his young team.
However bleak their upcoming season may seem, there are some signs of life for the Tigers. Chris Denson will be a veteran leader for this team, and he is a lot better than most people realize; Ashaun Dixon-Tatum is no pushover in the paint either. Sophomore Jordan Granger has to step up, as well as Junior Allen Payne if the Tigers are going to beat any good teams.
This was the season that Auburn basketball was supposed to be an NCAA bubble team, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. Fortunately, after last season’s train wreck of a basketball team, the only way for Auburn basketball to go is up.
Don’t expect an NCAA tournament berth from Auburn, but don’t expect a horrible nine-win season either. The Tigers will show signs of life in the 2013–14 season that will give fans – and players – hope for the future.