Auburn Basketball: Start the Sophomore and the Senior in the Backcourt

Here we discuss the alternate starting rotation as posed by my father, Chris Roush, and the route that Auburn basketball should be taking.

Last week, the other writer on — who happens to be my son — argued that the Auburn basketball team starting an all-freshman starting five would give the team the best chance to win.

Based on the last two games, I’d say that’s hogwash.

In fact, a senior and a sophomore in the starting backcourt are sorely needed on this team. Putting senior Ronnie Johnson and sophomore Bryce Brown on the court with three freshman — Austin Wiley, Mustapha Heron and Danjel Purifoy in the front court — would bring stability and a sense of calmness to the offense, two qualities sorely needed.

Johnson is a senior who played two years at Purdue and one year at Houston, and he’s a pure point guard. In his two years with the Boilermakers, he averaged 4.1 assists and 3.7 assists per game, respectively. Both of those would lead the Tigers this year, by far.

In the last two games with Auburn, Johnson has had eight assists in each game. In the Texas Christian win, he had six assists. He’s shown a natural talent for running the offense, and his drives to the basket force defenders to help, resulting in easy baskets for Auburn’s big men when he dishes them the ball.

Against Ole Miss, Johnson also had four threes and a season-high 18 points.

Meanwhile, Brown has regained his shooting stroke from behind the line, hitting 11 out of 15 in the last three games. When he’s on, Brown is the one reliable shooter from behind the line. He’s got a year of experience, so he knows the SEC grind that the team is currently facing.

Auburn has a lot of talent on its team, but too much freshmen talent on the court at one time ends up with everyone wanting to take the shot. The second half against Ole Miss degenerated into one-on-one play. The same can be said for parts of the second half against Mississippi State.

Mix up the lineup. The freshmen need to see what it’s like to perform under pressure from Johnson and Brown. It would also give freshmen Jared Harper a chance to get his game back.

Only then should all five of them be on the court at the same time.

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