Auburn, Ala.--Tony Barbee sent his players through an unusual 6 o’clock practice on Monday morning and on Monday evening he was critical of how he has coached his 2012-13 basketball team and how the players have performed.
“I have to do something to change us,” Barbee said of the intense early morning workout. “I have to do something to change the direction we are going.
“I have got to get these guys’ attention so it was a tough one,” he said of the practice. “It was a hard one and it was bright and early because I am not going to settle for anything but these guys’ best and right now each team has got to hold the rope, and right now we are the team letting go. I am not going to let us let go.”
Barbee noted the issues that have led to a six-game losing streak are varied. “It’s a long list,” he said. “It is about everything--our defense, offense, special teams, it’s everything.
“We are not very good and it is on me,” Barbee added. “When I watched the tape (of Auburn’s loss to Missouri) I told the guys I am embarrassed to say I coached this team, and the majority of it is on me. My fault.
“I told them I am going to do my job to change it,” Barbee said. “I need you guys to do your job and change because it hasn’t been good enough.”
The next chance for the Tigers to get a win is at 7 p.m. on Wednesday as Alabama visits the Auburn Arena. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.
Asked what his team needs to do specifically to get better, Barbee said, “A lot of things--approach to the game and mental toughness, execution, defensive toughness--a little bit of everything.”
Senior guard Frankie Sullivan and the Tigers fell 91-77 in Auburn's first-ever game at Missouri on Saturday.
The third-year Auburn head coach said that he told the players that all of the starting spots are open following their road loss at Missouri.
He added that he also told the Tigers that the leadership he thought the team was showing earlier in the year is not there. “I did, but it was a little bit of fool’s gold because I thought our leadership was strong enough having been through it, but they weren’t. I have been as disappointed in our leadership (as I have) since I have been here and I have said we haven’t had any since I have been here.
“The coaches have been the leaders and when the coaches are the leaders of the team as you are going through it--through the hard times in the middle of the games--your team is not going to be very good.
“When the team takes ownership of it, then you have got a chance,” Barbee said. “I was fooled into thinking this senior group, this veteran group, had got it...They have slipped right back into their losing habits so I have to change it.”
Auburn will bring an 8-13 record into Wednesday’s game. The Tigers are 2-6 in the SEC while Alabama is 6-2 in the league and 14-7 overall.
Barbee said the strength of Alabama’s team is its guard play. Junior guard Trevor Releford is the leading scorer at 15.3 points per game and sophomore guard Trevor Lacey is averaging 12.4 points per contest.
Barbee said senior guard Andrew Steele is a catalyst for the Tide. “Steele gives them a level of leadership and toughness that my team doesn’t have. You see what happens with that team when he is on the floor vs. when he is off the floor.”
Auburn’s leading scorer, senior guard Frankie Sullivan, is averaging 16.5 points per game. He agreed with his head coach that it is embarrassing the way the Tigers have played since opening 2-0 in the SEC.
Sullivan said the Tigers really need to get a win no matter who the opponent is. He said that he agrees with Barbee that the team needs to play better and tougher. “I took it as a challenge,” Sullivan said. “He is challenging me and the other seniors to step up and win ball games. That is what the people want from us.
You should demand that from your players, especially having senior guards with me and Josh (Wallace) playing most of the minutes and not producing at this point in time,” Sullivan added. “I said the game before, and game and game again, when we lose it is on my back because the players look at me--they come to me--when times are rough. I think that I have let them down. Hopefully, I will pick it up on my part. I will on my part.”
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