Tony Barbee

Tony Barbee

Kentucky promotes former Auburn coach to assistant coach

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Kentucky had a spot to fill on its coaching staff with the departure of Barry “Slice” Rohrssen to St. John’s and promoted special assistant Tony Barbee to be an assistant coach late this week.

Barbee, a former head coach at UTEP and Auburn, served as head coach John Calipari’s special assistant last season and will now have a hand in recruiting and other elements as a full assistant on the Wildcat staff.

Coming from the Calipari coaching tree, this is a natural hire for Kentucky, since Barbee played for Calipari at UMass and has also been either a graduate assistant or assistant coach for Calipari for nine years.

As a head coach, Barbee owns a 131-127 career record in his two stops. He will get a chance to recruit at a high level and be apart of one of America’s best programs. Barbee has spent time as an assistant coach at UMass, Wyoming and Memphis before his head-coaching jobs.

Charles Barkley danced with Mike Epps at Auburn’s Midnight Madness (VIDEO)

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Auburn might have set a record for the number of special guests that they had at their Midnight Madness celebration on Friday night.

Charles Barkley showed up to take part in the festivities while Ludacris performed and comedian Mike Epps acted as the emcee.

“Getting Mike Epps and Ludacris was big just to bring the energy to the building, and they definitely did that,” Barbee said. “Mike was funny and obviously Luda is a great performer. On top of it the fans got a chance to get an early glimpse of the team. It was a celebration of The Jungle too. Our student section has been the best since I have been here. This was an opportunity for me to give back to them because I know they are fans of both Mike and Ludacris. All combined I think it was a win for everby body. I think it was a great night.”

“I loved it. It was a celebration of Auburn basketball.”

Those last five words are the key. When was the last time anyone celebrated anything about Auburn basketball? The most relevant the Tigers have been during Barbee’s tenure was when a home loss to Ole Miss resulted in this jersey-popping GIF of Marshall Henderson.

But today, you’ll see these videos up on the college hoops blogs all the big networks. You’ll see people talking about the Tigers. You’ll see Auburn getting some positive preseason publicity.

And that, in the end, is why Barbee made sure to bring those three big names in.

After all, Barbee’s job may be on the line this season.

Charles Barkley says Tony Barbee will turn Auburn around

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Auburn head coach Tony Barbee has Hall of Famer Charles Barkley in his corner. The former SEC Player of the Year was on hand for Auburn’s Jungle Jam on Friday night, and told the more than 7,300 in attendance that he had faith in Barbee leading the Tigers.

“Coach Barbee is going to turn this program around,” Barkley told fans on Friday night, according to Brandon Marcello of AL.com

“It’s huge because, again, I’m a big fan — obviously we’re friends — but he’s behind me all the way and that’s a good feeling,” Barbee added. “I know all the former players are. I know these students are. I know our fans are. I think this is a team that’s going to make everybody proud.”

Through three seasons at Auburn, Barbee is 35-59 (12-38 SEC). This past season was his worst, with only nine wins — down six from the previous season — and finishing last in the conference. The Tigers ended their season dropping 11 straight. In mid-March, Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs issued a statement of support. Barkley is behind him now, but Barbee will need to strides this season, relying on returners Chris Denson, Allen Payne and Virginia transfer K.T. Harrell in an improved SEC.

2013-14 Season Preview: Top 10 coaches on the hot seat

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source: AP

All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of our preview lists, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

As the 2013-14 college basketball season begins, we have a new batch of coaches sitting squarely on the “hot seat”. Although “hot seat” is probably an overused cliché sports term at this point, it still applies as long as there are coaches that need to win and make changes in their respective programs in order to keep their jobs. This year’s top 10 features some familiar names and some coaches that have accumulated tremendous amounts of success in the past, only to fall on recent hard times.

1. Rick Barnes, Texas: Mack Brown isn’t the only veteran Longhorn head coach on the hot seat. After missing the NCAA Tournament last season, accumulating his first losing record in 15 seasons in Austin, and not posting a winning record in the Big 12 since 2010-11, Rick Barnes is feeling the heat at Texas. Roster turnover has been high this offseason as well and top recruits in the state of Texas have recently stayed away from Barnes and the Longhorns. With Monday’s announcement that Texas Athletic Director — and long-time Barnes supporter — DeLoss Dodds is retiring, it only makes the speculation grow.

2. Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest: When your own fan base is taking out front page ads calling for your dismissal like Demon Deacon fans did in March, it isn’t a very good sign. Bzdelik is only 11-42 in the ACC in his three seasons in Winston-Salem and with the ACC only getting stronger, that record isn’t going to improve very easily any time soon. Bzdelik needs to win over the fan base and win some games to save his job. But for now, websites like FireBZ.com live on.

3. Herb Sendek, Arizona State: Arizona State has made one NCAA Tournament in Sendek’s seven seasons in Tempe and the expectation will be to make the tournament this season after an NIT bid last season and the return of Pac-12 co-Freshman of the Year Jahii Carson. With eight newcomers and a dramatic increase in offensive tempo, will Sendek’s new-look Sun Devils rise to the occasion and potentially save his job?

source:  4. Johnny Dawkins, Stanford: Before Dawkins’ tenure, the Cardinal had made the NCAA Tournament in 13 of 14 seasons before missing out on the Big Dance in all five seasons under the former Duke assistant. Dawkins has made the postseason in three of five seasons at Stanford — winning the NIT in 2011-12 — but he’ll need to make the tournament to keep his job.

5. Tony Barbee, Auburn: There have been as many players that have left the Auburn program — 12 — as Barbee has SEC wins in his three-year tenure. When you throw in a point-shaving scandal to boot that isn’t a very good sign. The Tigers lost 16 of their final 17 games in 2012-13 by an average of 12 points.

6. Craig Robinson, Oregon State: It’s tough to win in Corvallis, but the Beavers have never finished at or above .500 in Pac-12 play under Robinson and haven’t shown any signs of significant improvement.

7. Ken Bone, Washington State: The Cougars finished 13-19 and 4-14 in the Pac-12 last season and lose their best player in all-conference forward Brock Motum. Bone has never made the NCAA Tournament in four seasons in Pullman and things don’t appear to be getting better very quickly.

8. Mark Fox, Georgia: Despite having the SEC Player of the Year in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the Bulldogs finished with a losing record in 2012-13 and Fox has made the Tournament once in four seasons in Athens.

9. Ben Braun, Rice: Conference USA has grown significantly weaker the last few years and the Owls have still continued to struggle. Rice finished 1-15 in league play last season and Braun is 19-61 in the league in five seasons at the helm.

10. Oliver Purnell, DePaul: DePaul is only 30-64 and a horrific 6-48 in the Big East under Purnell, but with a new Chicago arena becoming the focus of DePaul’s administration and with four more years remaining on his seven-year contract, Purnell should be safe for at least another season.

Auburn to bring in Mike Epps, Ludacris for Midnight Madness

2013 BET Experience - Comedy Stage: Mike Epps
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Midnight Madness events have become about much more than just the basketball.

It’s an event, and when it’s done right, it includes everything from a dunk contest to a dance-off to a concert.

Some of the biggest name programs have brought in well-known performers in recent years. Georgetown’s had Wale and Doug E. Fresh. St John’s had Chiddy Bang. Syracuse had Meek Mill. Memphis would have brought in Rick Ross if he didn’t have a seizure. Drake performed at Kentucky.

The list goes on and on and on.

Auburn is now getting in on the festivities, as it has been reported that the Tigers will not only be bringing in Ludacris to perform at their Jungle Jam, but the school will also be bringing in Mike Epps to MC the event.

“We saw those schools doing that and wanted to do something at Auburn,” associate AD of sales and marketing Jon Sirico told The Sporting News. “We’re not historically a big basketball program but we’re trying to change the culture here, trying to create some buzz for the program to take it to the next level.”

“I think the players are excited. They feel like there’s a cool buzz around the program and people are kind of excited and looking forward to the event.”

Midnight Madness is an important recruiting tool. It’s a chance for the program to bring in recruits and let them experience what the atmosphere can be like. Auburn hasn’t exactly filled their arena in recent years, but that should change with Ludacris and Epps coming to town.

At the very least, it will be one heckuva party. I’d be excited if I went to Auburn.

Auburn’s Tony Barbee: delusional or prophetic?

Tony Barbee
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I’ve interviewed plenty of coaches. Some at the top of the profession, some in the middle, and some who seem mired in the doldrums. Typically, a coach in a difficult situation will try to strike a balanced tone when discussing the upcoming season: walking the line between rah-rah jingoism and monotone defeatism. Nobody wants to set expectations too high or too low.

Almost nobody, that is. Tony Barbee, the John Calipari disciple who took over at Auburn two years ago, has endured more than his fair share of hardship at the BCS level, but he’s still spittin’ fire about his team’s chances in the stacked SEC next season.

“This will be the most talented team I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Barbee told the Birmingham News last week during an interview in the men’s basketball offices. “Other people might be saying, ‘Well, we lost this guy, we lost that guy.’ Well, the players we brought in are better than the players that left. That’s why our program is moving in the right direction.”

Barbee’s passing mention of ‘lost this guy, lost that guy’ is code for a series of departures that rocked the program this offseason. The butcher’s bill currently stands at eight players gone: three in benign fasion as graduates, three more suspended and another two transferred out of the program. It’s not exactly the recipe for a healthy program.

Barbee says his team is becoming longer and more athletic in the bargain, with four freshmen and two transfers coming in. That may be true, but eventually, some form of team chemistry must emerge, or this team — just 9-23 in league play since Barbee’s arrival — will continue to go nowhere.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.