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10 Things To Look For

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10 Things To Look For
« on: November 04, 2021, 12:12:05 PM »
Brian Stultz • AuburnSports
Staff
AUBURN | Think Bruce Pearl has big expectations for his team this season? The Auburn coach isn’t shying away from what his Tigers can achieve.

“Absolutely,” he said when asked if they could win the national title.

That’s not him spitting hyperbole, either. This year’s team has everything that Pearl needs: toughness, excellent guard play, size and length, a superstar freshman and depth that rivals almost any team in the country. A mixture of newcomers, including four transfers, and veterans make up the lineup and how they play together has yet to be seen, but not since the Final Four run in 2019 has there been these types of projections for Auburn to make some noise late into March and early April.

So, with the Tigers taking the floor with an exhibition game against Southern Indiana on Friday, here are 10 things I’m looking forward to seeing during Auburn’s 2021-22 season.


1. Jabari Smith’s extraordinary talent

The highest-ranked recruit in Auburn history, Smith is one of those rare talents where, when watching a team play, you immediately know he’s the best player on the floor. Sure, he hasn’t played a college game yet, but all signs point toward him being both one of the best players in the SEC, if not nation, and a high draft pick.

Smith makes everything look smooth and can do it on both ends of the court, with his defense behind his offensive play right now. He’s going to be fun to watch for all Auburn fans.

2. Opponents trying to bring the ball up court against Zep Jasper/K.D. Johnson combo

One thing you will notice the first time you see Johnson, a transfer from Georgia, play is how fierce he is, especially defensively. He loves to get in the face of ball handlers and frustrate them with his relentless pressure. Add Jasper, the transfer from College of Charleston, and you have a full-court press that will break even the best players. Expect this combination to create some turnovers.

3. Walker Kessler in form

One of the top transfers this past offseason, the 7-foot-1 center creates mismatch opportunities with his ability to knock down the three-point shot while also dominating inside with his height and length. He showed flashes of his potential in limited time last year at North Carolina, but now with an entire offseason of putting on weight and working on his game, a breakout season is in store.

4. Allen Flanigan back at his natural position

The season almost ended before it started for the junior forward as he suffered an Achilles injury, but surgery and rehab will have him back by mid-December and SEC play. Last season, injuries forced Flanigan to play minutes at the guard and, sometimes, point guard position where he struggled to get into the flow. Now, back at small forward, he looked like his old self before the injury in practice and scrimmages. A big season after his comeback could rocket him up some draft charts.


5. Improvement of Dylan Cardwell

If you haven’t seen him on the jumbotron in Jordan-Hare Stadium, you might not realize how much baby fat Cardwell has lost and how in shape he looks now compared to last season. That should help him with battles down inside the lane as he’s put on some muscle as well. He might not see a lot of minutes, but his energy and leadership, even as a sophomore, are valuable to this team. Speaking of energy ...

6. Lior Berman providing quality minutes

I might be pumping up Berman’s potential a little too much, but he can play. While Berman’s defense needs some work, he can fill crucial minutes at the guard positions and has a good shot when given a chance. At 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, he can also handle the physicality of SEC play.

7. Wendell Green Jr. catching fire

There will be at least three or four times this season when Green, a transfer from Eastern Kentucky, feels it, and the rim begins to look five times its size. I’ve seen it happen during practice and, when it does, you better hold onto your seats. Green, much like Jared Harper, has no limit on his range. It is fun to watch.

8. Devan Cambridge’s confidence

Are you a person that struggles with confidence? Well, Cambridge is not. No matter how many times the junior guard misses, he’s still going to fire up three-point shots any and every chance he gets. Yet his most significant strength is those moments when he breaks free for a monster dunk and gets the crowd on their feet.

9. How Pearl uses all this talent

Unlike last season, the Auburn coach has a plethora of depth at his disposal. Counting Flanigan, Pearl states that he has 11 players that have earned playing time. He wants his team to wreak havoc on defense and speed up the game on offense, no matter who is on the floor. Pearl also has his biggest team in some time with five players (Kessler, Smith, Cardwell, Jaylin Williams and Babatunde Akingbola) that are 6-foot-8 or taller.

Auburn can match up against any team no matter what they bring.

10. Packed Auburn Arena

It was great to get a season in last year, but it just wasn’t the same without packed arenas, especially the student section. With the amount of hype about this team coming, fans are ready to impact games. We saw the difference Jordan-Hare Stadium’s atmosphere created against Ole Miss this past Saturday. Expect Auburn Arena to be lit all season long.
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Thou May Ingest A Satchel Of Richards

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Re: 10 Things To Look For
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2021, 06:23:35 PM »
I just filled the cup.
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You can keep a wooden stake in your trunk
On the off-chance that the fairy tales ain't bunk
And Imma keep a bottle of that funk
To get motel parking lot, balcony crunk.