Newcomers Making Impact for Tigers
Tay Waller shoots a free throw.
Tay Waller shoots a free throw.
Inside the Auburn Tigers
Posted Jan 6, 2009


Auburn, Ala.--After playing three games in six days, Coach Jeff Lebo’s Auburn Tigers have a full week to prepare for their SEC basketball opener on Saturday evening at South Carolina.

The Tigers head into conference play riding a seven-game winning streak, the longest of the Lebo Era at Auburn, and the coach says that a pair of newcomers at guard have helped make that happen.

Juco transfer Tay Waller is Auburn’s third leading scorer with his average of 12.3 points per game. He has made 39 of Auburn’s 103 three-point field goals and is shooting a team high 80.6 percent at the free throw line.

Frankie Sullivan, a freshman guard, is averaging 8.4 points per game, which is fourth on the team, and is chipping in with 2.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per contest.

Both players have good quickness and have helped the Tigers with their pressure defense in both full-court and halfcourt trap situations.

“I have been pleased with both of them,” Lebo says. “Tay Waller gives us a legitimate outside threat. You have got to realize that even at times when he doesn’t score you have to defend him so differently. People are face-guarding him and staying close to him. That opens up a lot of opportunities for some other people whether it is inside people or other backcourt players.

“He is a constant threat out there,” Lebo adds. “What I like about Tay is when he is on, he can make tough ones and he can all of the sudden make four in a row and take game where you are maybe down two and be up 10 real quick.

“I think the one area where he needs to get better is he needs to be able to get to the foul line a little bit more and mix in his pump fakes with getting to the basket because he is a very good athlete--you just don’t see it with the way he plays,” Lebo points out. “The other area where he has got to get better is defensively, where he has made improvements.”

Frankie Sullivan

Frankie Sullivan drives for the Tigers.

Commenting on Sullivan, Lebo says, “Frankie has just been a great kid to coach. He has wanted to learn and I think he is learning about playing at this level and playing with other good players.

“He is taking better shots coming down the stretch and he is playing better defense,” Lebo notes. “I think the biggest thing for a freshman is defensively being accountable all of the time. In high school, you can take a possession off or you can make mistake. In college at this level, you have got to be prepared to play every night. He is learning about that, especially on the defensive end, but he is one of my best shooters and one my best foul shooters. His energy and his leadership abilities are really strong for a freshman kid.

“He is getting a lot of valuable minutes early,” Lebo adds. “Those two guys have been important to us.”

The Tigers, who are 10-4 overall, will face a South Carolina team that is 11-2 following a 78-61 victory over Wofford on Monday night. Auburn played on Saturday taking a 78-53 victory vs. Tulane.

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