AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn’s got a pair of guys who can run the point, a couple of swingmen who can drive to the basket, and what seems like 12 different perimeter shooters to handle the long-range tries.
Auburn’s only got one Rob Chubb.
Sure, on nights when Asauhn Dixon-Tatum has provided energy and intelligence off the bench, Chubb spells Rolaids A-D-T.
But on nights like last Saturday night against No. 23 Ole Miss, which brings more brawn in the lane than maybe anybody else in the country, it seemed like it was Chubb against the World fighting for position on the glass. (Frankie Sullivan’s a capable rebounder when he needs to be, and when your combo guard’s grabbing seven boards, you know it’s a rough night for Auburn’s bigs.)
Yet Chubb forges ahead with his thankless, sometimes lonely position of providing the only real physical presence Auburn has to offer. He’s tied for fifth in the league with 9 rebounds a game in SEC play.
But his scoring has tapered off – just one point against the Rebels – which for a perfectionist like Auburn coach Tony Barbee, isn’t good enough all things considered.
“Rob’s been physical. This is the best rebounding season he’s had,” Barbee said. “But he’s not playing as well offensively as he has the last two years. He’s not posting how he’s needed to post. I don’t know if he’s worried about the offensive fouls he’s gotten … he needs to be the Rob Chubb he’s been on offense.”
Offered a chance to coddle Chubb because of his heightened rebounding responsibilities, Barbee balked.
“It shouldn’t (affect him),” Barbee said. “It should make him more aggressive on the offensive end of the floor, that he is rebounding at such a high level.”
This four-game losing streak’s not all on Chubb. In conference play, the Tigers rank fourth in field-goal percentage, but that’s been propped up by Chubb and forward Allen Payne shooting 55 percent from the floor.
Guards Frankie Sullivan, Chris Denson, Josh Wallace, Shaq Johnson, Noel Johnson and Jordan Price are all shooting well under 40 percent in six SEC games.
“Our shooters, who we’re getting a lot of open shots for, have got to step up and make them,” Barbee said.
The season’s slipping away, and Chris Denson insisted tonight’s 7 p.m. ET tilt at Georgia (8-11, 2-4 SEC, same as Auburn) is a must-win. The game is televised by CSS and also available on ESPN3.com.
Barbee indicated he expects a change to the starting lineup – “I’m just trying to figure out what that is,” he said Monday – with Chubb, Payne, Shaq Johnson, Sullivan and Wallace not panning out lately. Denson did start the five games he played in between an academic suspension and a stress fracture in his foot.
A special team meeting before the Ole Miss game got the Tigers back to realizing their own roles, instead of worrying about doing other teammates’ jobs for them.
“Airing the team laundry has brought us back to being the type of team we can be,” Barbee said. “Hopefully we caught it early enough that we can turn things around for us here.”