The first hardwood edition of the Iron Bowl takes place for the last time in Beard-Eaves Memorial Coliseum when Anthony Grant's upstart Crimson Tide take on Jeff Lebo's Tigers.
There are many questions surrounding this game, such as will their actually be a sell out? (probably not). Will half the crowd be Tide fans? (possibly). Will Anthony Grant's undermanned "Rocket 8" sustain the momentum of the last two games? (possibly) Is this Jeff Lebo's last home game vs Alabama? (very possible if they lose) And last but cetaintly not least, will the troughs in the men's restroom move into the new arena? (N0)
The growing question surrounding Jeff Lebo seems to be will he come back for the 2010-11 season. I've always been a big fan of Lebo. I remember my dad and grandfather taking me to see him play at the old HersheyPark and Farm Show Arena's when he was an All-American at Carlisle High School in Pennsylvania, playing for his father. The kid could flat out shoot which led him to Chapel Hill.
Lebo really seemed to be buidling some momentum with the Tigers NIT run last year. His teams were undersized, but they played hard, his x and o's always were superb. But now we're in year six of his era and the Tigers seem to be regressing. Their also seems to be dissension in the ranks. Former R.C. Hatch star Frankie Sullivan says the Tigers problem is a lack of "effort" on the defensive end. Trust me, the kid would know because he won 3 state titles. Lebo is quoted in today's Montgomery Advertiser as saying its a "lack of size" thats hurting his team on the defensive end.
Lebo's lack of talent, size or depth was acceptable in the past, but now these are his players and the team he has or has not constructed. The lack of size is his fault. A poor recuiting effort of local talent in the Brimingham and Montgomery areas has hurt. Their is plenty of local talent that heads elsewhere without getting a sniff of Lebo and his staff. Lebo said today that the lack of size at the guard position is hurting. Both Jeff Davis and Robert E. Lee high schools in Montgomery have sent hard playing, bigger guards who Auburn seemed disinterested in. One of those, Chavez Davis is playing for Alabama today. The others, like Fortson at Arkansas or Brandon Crawford at Jacksonville State have achieved success elswhere. Even Eric Bledsoe, the star Kentucky freshman from Parker in Birmingham received little interest from Auburn.
So Lebo really has no one to blame for his problems except for himslef at this point. Even as an Alabama fan, I like for Auburn to be doing well in hoops, because its a boost for basketball as a sport in a football crazed state. Usually wins over Alabama can boost a coaches standing at Auburn, but I doubt that beating an undermanned Tide team at home will earn many brownie points for Lebo like it did in the past with the 500 fans who attend games. Time will tell his fate, but a loss today may begin the pink slip process for Lebo.
As for the game, I expect Auburn to come out strong, but one thing about Anthony Grant's team is they are gonna get after you on the defensive end. Auburn has never faced a Tide team that plays with this intensity on defense. If your gonna beat 'Bama, you better do it now because Grant will win and I believe win big when he gets a full compliment of players in the coming years. I think the one day to prepare for the Tide will hurt Auburn today, 'Bama 67-62.