The Stretch 4: No Sleep Till Brooklyn
After learning a lot about itself during the first week of the season, Auburn basketball is gearing up for a high-profile set of games in NYC.
(Steven Leonard/Auburn Tigers)
On paper, it says that Auburn basketball’s two games this week will be at a neutral site.
But Bruce Pearl knows better.
Auburn will open its time at the Legends Classic in Brooklyn on Thursday night with a game against Notre Dame — the first-ever meeting between the two programs, which have also never met in football.
Notre Dame, with its massive national fan base, should have the crowd advantage at the Barclays Center. The same would go for Western New York’s own Saint Bonaventure, which is a potential Friday night matchup that depends on the Bonnies’ result against Oklahoma State.
“Playing Notre Dame in New York is like a home game for them because of their fans in the east and alums,” Pearl said Monday. “And St. Bonaventure is, obviously, in New York. We knew that, while it would be a neutral site, there would be a chance that we could also be in a hostile environment.
“And that's some of the steps of trying to develop our team.”
Auburn scheduled this non-conference slate in the hopes of remaining relevant in the college basketball landscape. Going toe-to-toe with an elite program like Baylor in South Dakota on ESPN last week was part of that. So is traveling to NYC to play at least one neutral-site game that will feel like a road environment.
Pearl said Monday that in this Legends Classic, program icons such as Charles Barkley and Marquis Daniels might be involved in some of the festivities “as this Auburn basketball team tries to make its own history.”
To do that in Brooklyn, the Tigers will need to build on the positives and improve on the negatives from their first week of the season — a tough but encouraging loss to Baylor and a high-scoring but uneven win over Southeastern Louisiana.
In this edition of The Stretch 4, let’s take a closer look at one of Auburn’s biggest issues from the first week, along with the Tigers’ incredibly deep rotation, the opening matchup against Notre Dame and the (potentially) big effects of a rule change that Pearl doesn’t exactly love.
PG Aden Holloway (Steven Leonard/Auburn Tigers)
Fixing the second-half defense is a top priority
Pearl did not sound overly pleased with his team Friday night after the 86-71 win over Southeastern Louisiana.
After rewatching the film over the weekend, he might have softened his tune somewhat.
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