Clemson 2009 NCAA Tournament Preview
Clemson Tigers (23-8, 9-7) - Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
Seed: #7 - South Region
Big Wins: 11/16 vs Temple (76-72), 12/2 at Illinois (76-74), 2/4 Duke (74-47)
Bad Losses: 2/15 at Virginia (81-85), 2/25 Virginia Tech (77-80), 3/12 vs Georgia Tech (81-86)
Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, First Round loss to Villanova
Coach: Oliver Purnell (0-4 in 4 NCAA appearances)
Probable Clemson Starters:
Demontez Stitt, Sophomore, Guard, 8.9 ppg, 3.7 apg
Terrence Oglesby, Sophomore, Guard, 13.5 ppg, 1.8 apg
K.C. Rivers, Senior, Guard, 14.2 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.7 spg
Trevor Booker, Junior, Forward, 15.3 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 2.0 bpg
Raymond Sykes, Senior, Center, 7.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.0 bpg
Key Clemson Roleplayers:
Jerai Grant, Sophomore, Forward, 4.7 ppg, 3.1 rpg
David Potter, Junior, Forward, 5.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg
Tanner Smith, Freshman, Guard, 3.7 ppg, 1.1 apg
Andre Young, Freshman, Guard, 4.2 ppg, 2.1 apg
Why The Tigers Can Surprise:
Clemson plays tough, hard-nosed defense and that is why they have been so successful under Coach Oliver Purnell. Because of their toughness, the Tigers generate a ton of turnovers. Just about everybody on the team is good for a steal or two and, making matters even worse for the opposition, Clemson has a trio of shot blocking threats.
Trevor Booker leads the way on the defensive end, tallying 2.0 blocks per contest.Booker is also the team’s leading scorer, a dominating presence in the paint and has the ability to step outside and hit the long ball. Raymond Sykes and Jerai Grant are the other two shot blockers. Sykes, a 6-9 senior, has also emerged as a solid scorer in the paint. He is the physically largest presence under the basket and between him and Booker, the frontcourt has a two very capable scoring options.
Why The Tigers Can Disappoint:
Even with the quality big men, Clemson often gets outrebounded. Booker does a solid job on the glass, as does wing K.C. Rivers, but the Tigers defensive scheme often leads to poor rebounding. The other major issue, besides free-throws, is turnovers. The turnover numbers are not too awful, but point guard Demontez Stitt is a young player who can make some mistakes. Stitt has emerged as a solid passer and a decent scorer, although his outside shooting needs a little work. However, if Stitt and the rest of the team keeps committing turnovers they will not make it very far in the tournament.
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Who To Watch:
Rivers is much more than a rebounder. The 6-5 wing is a consistent outside shooter, a solid defender and the best perimeter scorer on the team. On any given day Rivers can score over 20 points and Clemson has only lost two games when Rivers scores more than 15 points. Terrence Oglesby is the other big time scorer in the backcourt. Oglesby knocks down 2.9 three-pointers per gameand has turned into one the Atlantic Coast Conference’s most dangerous shooting threats. Unlike Rivers, Oglesby is pretty much a pure shooter, but when those two are hitting their outside shots the Tigers are tough to beat. If the opposition has to worry about Rivers and Oglesby, it frees up space under the basket for Booker and Sykes and suddenly the Tigers offense is unstoppable.
Clemson By the Numbers:
- Scoring Offense: 78.9 (16th in nation, 3rd in conference)
- Scoring Defense: 67.6 (167, 4)
- Field-Goal Percentage: 46.7 (47, 4)
- Field-Goal Defense: 42.8 (141, 9)
- Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 8.0 (31, 1)
- Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 38.0 (38, 2)
- Free-Throw Percentage: 68.8 (171, 10)
- Rebound Margin: 2.0 (110, 9)
- Assists Per Game: 14.9 (67, 4)
- Turnovers Per Game: 14.4 (213, 7)
Joel’s Bracket Says: First Round loss to Michigan
By Joel Welser
CollegeSports-fans.com Senior Basketball Writer
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