War Ready—The Basketball Tournament’s Auburn alumni team—plays its opening game of the 2021 TBT July 18 at noon eastern on ESPN.
War Ready will take on ETSU’s alumni team, the Bucketneers.
While the Bucketneers are a mid-major alumni team, they sport an impressive roster that includes five players from the 2017 SoCon Tournament Championship team, two Atlantic Sun Player of the Year winners in Courtney Pigram and Mike Smith, and 2020 SoCon Tournament champion Tray Boyd.
Most members of Auburn twitter are familiar with War Ready’s roster, but it consists of several members of the Final Four team—Malik Dunbar, J’Von McCormick, Bryce Brown and Danjel Purifoy—in addition to other former Auburn players.
War Ready is coached by Auburn alum Frankie Sullivan, who is assisted by Jeremy Calzone, and the team is managed by Matt Moschella.
According to Malik Dunbar, War Ready’s chemistry picked up right where it left off at Auburn. He thinks it’ll give them an advantage in the tournament.
“It was wonderful getting to play with these guys. Great chemistry,” Dunbar said after War Ready’s July 15 exhibition. “It’s good to be with this group of guys. A bunch of Auburn alumni and guys I never got a chance to play with.”
Dunbar said it isn’t just the players who were on the same Auburn teams connecting, it’s the entire War Ready squad.
“Some of us never even got to play with each other, but we’re all one team now,” added Dunbar. “We got to see how the atmosphere was before and see how they set the tone before we got to Auburn. We got to reinvent and reunite with those guys.”
Auburn fans became accustomed to watching the teams Dunbar was on play an unselfish brand of basketball, and he said that’s another similarity fans can expect from this year’s team.
“Our ego is not getting in the way. Everybody just wants to win. Nobody cares about starting, nobody cares about minutes, everybody just cares about one thing and that’s winning.”
However, Dunbar still pointed out a couple of improvements War Ready needs to make after the exhibition game against the Georgia Kangaroos.
War Ready got beat in transition a few times and the Kangaroos went on some runs, but War Ready pulled away for a comfortable 15-point win on an Elam Ending game winner from TJ Dunans.
“I love our team. We have a couple of hitches we have to fix, a couple of things on defense, but all in all, I think we’re gonna do alright,” said Dunbar.
Another similarity to Dunbar’s Auburn teams will be the amount of threes attempted. Dunbar, in addition to TJ Lang, Dunans, Kareem Canty, McCormick, Danjel Purifoy and others, knocked down threes in the exhibition and shot at high rates.
Defense will be important against ETSU, as the Bucketneers played a high tempo style consisting of a lot of threes and a lot of transition opportunities.
War Ready’s roster:
0 – Bryce Brown
1 – Kareem Canty
2 – J’Von McCormick
3 – Danjel Purifoy
4 – TJ Dunans
5 – Cinmeon Bowers
7 – TJ Lang
8 – Malik Dunbar
10 – LaRon Smith
11 – Isaiah Williams
13 – DeSean Murray
23 – Josh Dollard