2008 NCAA Tournament Capsule: Clemson
by Joel Welser
Big Wins: 11/15 at Mississippi State (84-82), 11/27 Purdue (61-58), 2/27 Miami (79-69)
Bad Losses: 1/9 Charlotte (72-82), 2/19 at Florida State (55-64), 3/6 at Georgia Tech (75-80)
Last NCAA Appearance: 1998, First Round loss to Western Michigan
Coach: Oliver Purnell (0-3 in 3 NCAA appearances)
Cliff Hammonds, Senior, Guard
K.C. Rivers, Junior, Guard
Sam Perry, Senior, Forward
James Mays, Senior, Forward
Trevor Booker, Sophomore, Center
Demontez Stitt, Freshman, Guard
Terrence Oglesby, Freshman, Guard
David Potter, Sophomore, Guard
Raymond Sykes, Junior, Center
Why They Can Surprise:
The Clemson defense can be brutal on indecisive or inexperienced guards. The Tigers will press at almost every opportunity and they have a couple great defenders in guards Cliff Hammonds and K.C. Rivers. When not in man-to-man, James Mays will use his lanky 6-9 frame to amass steal after steal at the top of the zone. As a team, Clemson averages a great 9.8 steals per contest.
There is no single dominating scorer spearheading Clemson’s high powered offense. Instead, the Tigers have five players who average double digit scoring. K.C. Rivers, Cliff Hammonds and Terrence Oglesby are all very dangerous long range shooters. They each hit at least two three-pointers per game and shoot over 40 percent from long range. It would be impressive with one player who shoots that well, but having three makes it extremely difficult to defend.
Why They Can Disappoint:
The turnovers can spell the end of the Tigers, but if that does not do it, the horrid free-throw shooting probably will. Freshman Demontez Stitt commits nearly three per game on his own. Stitt will be the point guard of the future and his starting experience this season will certainly help in his development, but during the tough times in March he may find himself on the bench a little more often. No one player gets to the charity stripe that often, so the poor free-throw shooting is pretty much a team effort. Hammonds, who shoots 47.9 percent from the floor and 41.4 percent from behind the arc, only shoots 41.5 percent from the free-throw line. It does not make any sense, but that epitomizes Clemson’s problems at the line.
Who To Watch:
The frontcourt has plenty of options with do-everything Mays, fearless sophomore Trevor Booker and defensive specialist Sam Perry. Mays is a superb offensive rebounder and Booker has developed into a great scoring option either inside or out to about 18 feet. Perry will occasionally earn the starting nod, depending on the competition, but he will not play too many minutes. But having him and Raymond Sykes available gives Coach Oliver Purnell plenty of options in the frontcourt.
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