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January 31, 2009

Men’s hoops: Vanderbilt 82, Auburn 75

Tough loss for Auburn today for some very tough reasons.

Starting point guard and leading scorer DeWayne Reed was benched for being late to the arena, then benched because head coach Jeff Lebo didn’t like his “energy.” It cost the Tigers dearly.

Although Rasheem Barrett scored a career-high 29 points, Auburn (13-8, 2-4 SEC) couldn’t keep pace with the hot-handed Commodores, who busted out of a month-long shooting funk to make 60.9 percent of their shots from the field.

Jermaine Beal was clutch, scoring 21 points on seven 3-pointers, including two in the final three minutes that would have had Bill Raftery yelling, “Onions!”

Vandy (13-8, 2-5 SEC), the SEC’s second-worst 3-point shooting team (24.8 percent), went 10-for-17 from long range Saturday.

Some other thoughts on the game …

  • Reed’s absence was a major blow. He only played three minutes and his teammates didn’t sound too thrilled about him showing up late for the game. “There are certain things that you can’t do when you are part of a team,” Barrett said. “You may look at yourself saying, ‘Oh well,’ but when you’re on a team, he has to realize that everything tha tyou do, good or bad, reflects the whole team and it hurts the whole team.”
  • Vandy coach Kevin Stallings had a good quote on the subject: “It’s just really damaging to the entire fabric of your team when a guy is careless, irresponsible or selfish like that. We’ve all had that as coaches and I feel badly for Jeff because the only choice you have is to do what Jeff did.”
  • Barrett was phenomenal. His previous career-high was 28, set his freshman year against Jacksonville State. He went 10-for-17 from the field and made five 3-pointers Saturday.
  • Korvotney Barber finished with 12 points and Lucas Hargrove 11, but the Tigers’ shooters were off the mark. Tay Waller scored eight points on 3-for-10 shooting, including a 2-for-7 afternoon from 3-point range. Quantez Robertson missed all three of his 3-point attempts and was 1-for-6 from the free throw line.
  • Bizarre disappearance by Frankie Sullivan in the second half. He was 3-for-6 for eight points in the first half but took one shot in the second. You’d figure Auburn would try to make him a big part of its game plan with Reed out of the game.
  • While we’re on that subject, Vot only took two shots in the second half.
  • Rebounds: Vanderbilt 35, Auburn 22. ‘Nuff said.
  • Auburn free throws: 7-for-15. Inexcusable. Try them granny style for goodness sake. Anything but what the Tigers have been doing all season.
  • Vandy center A.J. Ogilvy didn’t crush Auburn like he did last season, but he did finish with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists. Pretty good showing for someone dealing with a heel injury.
  • Up next: at Ole Miss on Feb. 4. That’s football’s National Signing Day. Can’t imagine anybody is going to be very interested in basketball that day, but Auburn can’t afford to slip any further below .500 in the SEC. A win in Oxford would be huge.

Washington makes it official

Demond Washington, who said he would change his commitment from Ole Miss to Auburn two weeks ago, followed through Saturday, becoming the Tigers’ 25th verbal commitment for 2009, according to AuburnSports.com and Scout.com.

Here’s the Washington file:

  • A Tallassee, Ala., native, he had probably the best quote of the any recruit from a couple weeks ago: “It’s a small city, but there’s all kinds of trouble to get into. It’s easy to get into; hard to get out of.”
  • 5-foot-9, 185-pound athlete who could play on offense or defense.
  • Attended Mississippi Gulf Coast junior college the last two years.
  • He’ll have three years to play two at Auburn.
  • No. 91 junior college recruit in country, per Rivals.

His stats, courtesy of Auburn Sports.com:

  • 2007 (as a running back): 1,182 rushing yards, 12 touchdowns
  • 2008 (as a cornerback): 55 tackles, 3 interceptions, five punt returns for touchdowns (first-team all-conference honors and being named a National Junior College Athletic Association All-American honorable mention)

January 30, 2009

Recruiting rundown: The final weekend

With six days until National Signing Day, Auburn is hoping for one final home run recruiting weekend. The Tigers are at 24 commitments for 2009 and will host a handful of big-name recruits this weekend.

(Yes, that’s Uncle Sam to the right. We like to keep a pro-American slant to War Eagle Extra, unlike some other blogs we can think of.)

The fine folks at AuburnSports.com have been all over the weekend visitor list and really put us newspapers in our place when it comes to this recruiting business.

Here’s a sampling of some of the players they say will be here. I’ll throw them into star categories:

5-star

  • WR Rueben Randle, 6-3, 195, Bastrop, La.: The top wide receiver recruit in the country will visit, but he’s already told Rivals that he’s narrowed his list to Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma.

4-star

  • DT Corey Gaines, 6-0, 274, Tallahassee, Fla.: Rivals says Ole Miss is the frontrunner for Gaines, but he’s also visisted Arkansas and will now try Auburn.
  • RB David Oku, 5-10, 186, Midwest City, Okla: A Tennessee commit who is looking at all his options. Rated as the No. 1 all-purpose back in the country by Rivals.
  • CB Taikwon Paige, 5-10, 175, Aiken, S.C.: Has spent the last two years at Georgia Military College. Originally committed to Minnesota when Auburn defensive coordinator Ted Roof was there.
  • OL Aubrey Phillips, 6-6, 310, Olive Branch, Miss.: Another Tennessee commit. He’s high school teammate with Auburn’s most recent commit, safety Daren Bates.

3-star

  • DT Nick Fairley, 6-4, 295, Mobile, Ala.: The junior college transfer has already signed a letter of intent, but according to the Press-Register, he is not currently enrolled because he didn’t meet the deadline for completing a course.
  • LB Greg King, 6-3, 200, Memphis, Tenn.: Had to postpone his trip from last weekend. He’s drawn interest from Tennessee and Texas Tech recently.
  • QB Clint Moseley, 6-4, 200, Leroy, Ala: Alabama’s Mr. Football committed Jan. 18. It’ll be interesting to hear his thoughts now that Auburn also added four-star Sulphur Springs, Texas, QB Tyrik Rollison to its class.

2-star

  • DB Daren Bates, 5-11, 195, Olive Branch, Miss.: As mentioned before, he committed yesterday.

Women’s hoops: Georgia 67, No. 5 Auburn 58

So much for the streak.

Following a program-defining win against Tennessee, the Auburn women’s basketball couldn’t avoid a letdown in Athens on Thursday night, watching its nation’s-best 20-game winning streak go down the tubes in a nine-point loss to Georgia.

I wasn’t there, but followed along for a while online. Sounds a lot like a one-woman show, with DeWanna Bonner scoring 27 points and not getting too much help from her friends.

Whitney Boddie struggled to a 2-for-11 night from the field, finishing with six points. Alli Smalley finished with two points, going 0-for-6 from 3-point range.

Auburn (20-1, 5-1 SEC) went 2-for-15 from long range as a team, shooting just 33.3 percent overall from the field for the game.

Georgia (14-7, 4-2 SEC) shot 51.9 percent, out-scoring Auburn 39-29 in the second half. Angel Robinson led the way with 17 points.

“On the road you have to be mentally tough,” Auburn head coach Nell Fortner said. “You just have to be a tougher road team in this conference.”

The Tigers are back in action Sunday when they travel to LSU for a 3 p.m. EST game.

Bates becomes commit No. 24

Daren Bates, a safety from Olive Branch, Miss., committed to Auburn on Thursday, according to AuburnSports.com.

A two-star player, the 5-foot-11, 195-pound Bates was previously committed to Arkansas State. He got an offer from Auburn just recently. Alabama had reportedly also shown interest.

Bates is Auburn’s fifth commitment this week.

He brings the Tigers’ 2009 class up to 24 members. Auburn has the 19th-ranked class in the country, according to Rivals.com.

The price of assembling an SEC staff? $2.07 million

Looks like I picked the wrong business to be in.

Though the contracts have not been formally finalized, Auburn’s assistant coaches have agreed in principle to their salaries.

The final damage? $2.07 million, according to a source.

Here’s the tally:

  • Defensive coordinator Ted Roof: $370,000
  • Offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn: $350,000
  • Wide receivers coach Trooper Taylor: $320,000
  • Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker: $300,000
  • Offensive line coach Jeff Grimes: $290,000
  • Running backs coach Curtis Luper: $260,000
  • Special teams coach Jay Boulware: $180,000

The lengths of the contracts have not been released. Keep in mind that Auburn still has two assistant hires yet to make — secondary and linebackers.

Head coach Gene Chizik is reportedly set to make nearly $2 million a year.

Just for comparison’s sake, Tennessee’s assistant staff, which appears to have set the standard for coaching salaries, will make $3.325 million next year. That includes $1.2 million for defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and $650,000 for uber-recruiter Ed Orgeron.

January 28, 2009

Gulley back on board

It took a week, but Brantley, Ala., athlete Anthony Gulley got the firm offer from Auburn he was seeking, according to the good folks over at AuburnSports.com.

Gulley became the Tigers’ 23rd commitment for 2009. He’s being recruited to play slot receiver. He scored 31 touchdowns for Brantley last season, so he seems to have a knack for finding the end zone.

It’s been a busy week for Auburn, which already got commitments from defensive tackle Jamar Travis, defensive end Nosa Eguae and quarterback Tyrik Rollison.

National Signing Day is just seven days away on Feb. 4.

Men’s hoops: Auburn 66, Texas-Pan American 63

Late night so far, so I’ll just post my lede for tomorrow’s game story and add a few comments:

By Andy Bitter
abitter@ledger-enquirer.com

AUBURN, Ala. — Not even a buy-one, get-one-free bargain could convince many more than a few hundred fans to attend Auburn’s oddly-timed non-conference game against Texas-Pan American on Tuesday.

The Tigers barely showed up themselves.

Auburn didn’t breathe easy until UTPA guard Nick Weiermiller’s 25-footer drew back iron just before time expired, allowing the Tigers to escape with a less-than-impressive 66-63 victory against the Division I independent Broncs at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum.

“We were just happy to survive that one,” Auburn head coach Jeff Lebo said. “It was not pretty by any stretch.”

DeWayne Reed scored 14 points and Lucas Hargrove added 10 for Auburn (13-7), which looked nothing like the team that traveled to Arkansas last weekend and routed the Razorbacks by 22.

Some quick thoughts …

  • Positively brutal game to watch, even though it was so close. Auburn shot 25 percent in the second half and went 2-for-14 from 3-point range. How you can do so well at Arkansas and so poorly against this team is beyond me.
  • Another no-so-great night at the line for the Tigers, who were 15-for-27. Let’s let Lebo have the final word on that stat: “The free throw line just about bit us again. Fifty-five percent is just terrible. It’s terrible is what it is. It’s just terrible.” Actually, it’s only a shade below the team’s 59.4 average, but who’s counting?
  • Keep in mind that UTPA was playing without leading scorer and rebounder Emmanuel Jones, who was injured. Who knows how he could have impacted the final margin.
  • Rasheem Barrett was a quote machine afterward. Some samplings: “As the game went on, we just got nonchalant, basically. We just started taking them for granted, looking at the scoreboard how it was and playing real, real sloppy.” AND: “For me, I feel like it was a big letdown. I’m not going to let my teammates get comfortable with this win, because we skated by.”
  • Announced attendance? 3,283. Actual attendance, I’d say less than a 1,000. This is a women’s basketball school after all.
  • Auburn’s got Vanderbilt up next in a 2 p.m. EST game Saturday at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Mausoleum … err, Coliseum. Four of the Tigers’ next five games are at home. They’ll need to play better if they don’t want their SEC season to go into the tank.

January 27, 2009

Tyrik Rollison, come on down …

You’re the next commitment to Auburn’s 2009 recruiting class. So says AuburnSports.com

That’s right, Rivals.com’s No. 2-ranked dual threat quarterback committed Auburn today.

The Sulphur Springs, Texas, quarterback wrapped up his official visit to the Plains on Monday. He had narrowed his choices down to Kansas State and Auburn by that point.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound quarterback threw for 4,729 yards and 51 touchdowns during his senior season. He added 1,094 yards on the ground with 14 more touchdowns, leading Sulphur Springs to the Texas Class 4A Division II state title.

Rollison’s commitment brings the Tigers’ 2009 class up to 22 members. He is the second quarterback of the class, joining Alabama Mr. Football Clint Moseley of Leroy High, who committed last week.

Rollison might have to make some academic strides to qualify yet, but this is still a big addition for a program that’s been needing an answer at quarterback.

For those curious, here’s his Web site. Check out that Mohawk!

Some rankings for you:
Rivals No. 2 dual threat quarterback
Rivals No. 9 recruit in Texas
Rivals No. 60 recruit overall nationally
Scout No. 11 quarterback overall

And finally, a little video. This is from the U.S. Army All-American game. He’s the quarterback, in case you just started reading the blog entry at this point.

Eguae commits, brings Auburn’s 2009 class to 21

The good folks at AuburnSports.com never rest. Word tonight is that Mansfield, Texas, defensive end Nosa Eguae has committed to Auburn for 2009.

Eguae, a 6-foot-3, 244-pound strongside end, visited Auburn from Jan. 16-18. At the time, I believe it was Dee Ford who said Eguae planned to commit.

He did after the Tigers’ coaching staff made a fullcourt press with an in-home visit Monday to seal the deal, AuburnSports.com reported.

Eguae is ranked the No. 17 stronside defensive end in the country by Rivals. He originally committed to Colorado but re-opened his recruitment earlier this month. Auburn was a finalist, along with Texas Tech and Minnesota.