Following an 87-62 rout of UNC Ashville in the Rocket City Classic from the Von Braun Center in Huntsville, Auburn basketball head coach Bruce Pearl sent a strong message on the Tigers' biggest strength: their balance.
"I think this team has a chance, because it’s 10 or 11 guys, to have that kind of balance,” Pearl said after the December 13 win (h/t AL.com). “So, what are the challenges? The challenge is that Jaylin Williams is not going to have 24 and whatever he had every night. He’s not going to have the opportunity to be Player of the Week every week. Neither will Johni Broome. Neither will Aden Holloway. Neither will any of our guys. The question in that locker room is: Are they OK with it? How do they feel about it? Every player is going to want a double-double, but the way we have a chance to be the best team we can is to be able to share it like we’ve been sharing it. I think when you have 19 assists and seven turnovers on the heels of 25 and three, that’s indicating we’re sharing it.
"Obviously, it’ll put us in a situation where if we have an injury or we have some foul trouble, we’re going to be able to withstand that. It’s a long season."
Auburn basketball can advance past Round of 32 with full rotation participation
Pearl utilizing his full bench is not new, but getting the kind of full rotation participation he got from the second unit is not how things shook out in 2022-23; when Jaylin Williams and Johni Broome had to buoy the scoring in the paint due to a dearth of perimeter shooting.
If the Tigers are going to have two point guards capable of leading their attack -- made possible by Tre Donaldson's improvement, which has included three straight games of double-digit scoring efforts off the pine, alongside Aden Holloway -- then the Sweet 16 could see AU for the first time in half a decade this March.