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Barbee wants national program

Auburn basketball coach Tony Barbee said Monday he plans to build a national program at Auburn and to play a national schedule. But he said he it can’t be done overnight.

Auburn coach Tony Barbee looks for big improvement in his second season

“I don't think scheduling here at Auburn is hard at all from what I've seen so far,” Barbee said Monday on the Southeastern Conference’s spring teleconference with basketball coaches. “We've had plenty of opportunities to add some quality opponents to our schedule. We're in the process of doing that. Our schedule is not complete, but I think scheduling is a science just like recruiting is. You've got to be creative in ways to get the kind of schedule that you want given where you are in the growth of your program.

“ For us, it might be little different than say where Kentucky is in terms of what they are trying to get done scheduling-wise, but at the end of the day here at Auburn we're going to try to build a national program, and the only way I think you do that is building a national schedule. But at the same time, I've got to be smart about it in terms of where we are in the genesis of the program."

Barbee’s first Auburn season was a struggle. The Tigers, faced with injuries and defections, finished 11-20 overall and 4-1`2 in the SEC. But the Tigers took some of the SEC’s best to the wire. With the return of Frankie Sullivan, who missed most of last season with a knee injuiry, and the addition of transfers Varez Ward and Noel Johnson, Barbee sees better days coming.

“I'm also excited about the incoming freshman class,” Barbee said. “I think they are going to fill out the roster and give us great balance and better depth than we had last year. I wish the season was here tomorrow, but obviously we still have the rest of the dog days of summer to finish up."

More from Barbee:

On the possibility of July recruitiung period being eliminated:

“I've said for a while now one of the biggest issues with the NCAA is the third-party presence in recruiting, whatever that means. I think that horse has long been out of the barn, and I don't think whether we eliminate July, cut down July, change the calendar in any way I don't think that it is going to change that type of influence in the recruiting game.

"I think the one thing that needs to be looked at in terms of when you talk third-party presence and then how that influences the high number of transfers we've had in our game over the last five to 10 years, I think a big part of that is the access that they give us to the prospective recruits and more than that the access the NCAA gives us coaches to our own teams in the summer. If you're not around your guys in the summertime since you can't work with them on the floor, well they're working with somebody and talking to somebody, and it's probably somebody we don't want them talking to.

“It all goes back to we're limited in the access we can have to our own guys in the summer. I'm for more access to recruits in terms of phone calls and evaluations. The more we're in front of them as college coaches, maybe that will eliminate some of the third party presence. Obviously, I think we need to have more access and more opportunity to work with our own guys in the summertime to continue to grow those relationships and help them develop as young men and players. I think that will go a long way to eliminate the amount of transfers we're having and some of the third-party presence that is big issue with the NCAA, so I don't think eliminating July I don't think that's a benefit to anybody."

On SEC eliminating divisions in basketball

"I think it was time to look at the change of divisions. We're still going to schedule in the division format similar to what the Big 12 has always done before their turnover. They've always scheduled in the north-south kind of football conference kind of way, but they just didn't advertise it in that way in terms of two separate divisions. I think perception issue in this league that we've almost had two separate leagues, and that hasn't benefited the league as a whole, so I think now that we're going to one we're going to be one league it's going to benefit us in terms of perception.

"I've said this: There's no way that an Alabama team that if we were one division last year or one league one conference last year that would have finished second in the standings behind Florida with their record, I'm still not convinced they would not have been in the NCAA Tournament coming in second place in the SEC if you would have looked at it in that format. So, it's time to see if that will help us get more teams in the NCAA Tournament, which is the ultimate goal.

“In terms of adding more (SEC) games. it's something that we're going to study as a league to really determine what the benefit is of keeping it at 16 games, going to 18 or possibly 22. I really don't have a thought on that yet because I really haven't looked at it yet and studied the benefit of it. I do know, if it's going to be 18 games, adding two more games against teams in this league can probably do nothing but benefit because of the strength of the basketball programs in this conference."

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