The Opposing View is written by guest columnists who are alums, or at worst, Super Fans of Virginia Techâ€™s upcoming opponent. Enjoy the perspective from the other side, and donâ€™t be afraid to post your rebuttal in the Comments section at the bottom of the article.
This edition of the Opposing View is written by:
Odum, clemson c/o ’99
THE ORANGE STORY
Scenario: Clemson team starts out of the gate pretty strong. All the pundits on all the talk shows talk about how good the team is, about how this time, with this Clemson team, things really are looking up. Then there’s an ambush on the road against a good team (that’s currently struggling a tad) and all of a sudden, things just go downhill fastâ€¦
What I’m alluding to, of course, is the plight of Clemson’s football team. That the Clemson basketball team is fading fast in an eerily similar fashion doesn’t come as a surprise to people like me who have long been aware of one painful truism: Clemson athletic teams assuredly exist for the sole purpose of inflicting unrelenting pain on the people who’ve chosen to give their devotion to the Tigers.
Okay, I suppose you get it that I’m used to disappointment. So now, on to the game, which I’m already convinced we’re going to lose in spectacular fashion.
The Tigers come into the contest after an overtime win against Miami on Wednesday night; the win improved the Tigers’ overall record to 20-9 and the conference mark now stands at 6-9. The team is led in scoring byÂ K.C. Rivers, who comes in averaging 13.0 points, mostly in a sixth-man role. The last three games, though, he’s been a starter to give him more touches, as Coach Purnell figured out that the team’s win-loss record seemed to pretty closely resemble Riversâ€™ shooting performance (in five of our six conference wins, he’s been the either the leading scorer or second-leading scorer). It goes without saying that his shooting dropped off a little over the last few weeks.
That Rivers only averages thirteen points (or two less than the average age of a Marcus Vick sexual conquest) shows a dearth of scoring talent on the team, although there are a few guys who can light it up on occasion. One is starting off-guard Cliff Hammonds, who comes in averaging 11.2 but has led the team in scoring five times (only two of them were wins), and also boasts one of the best turnover-assist ratios in the league at 3:1. These low scoring averages speak to the depth of the team, as the Tigers have nine players who average double-figure minutes per game. In a few close losses, though, Clemson has led games late and gone on scoring droughts of over five minutes down the stretch (UVA, Wake, GT, and BC). I don’t even want to discuss how bad our free throw shooting is, but let’s just say that our point guard is at 48 percent in conference games.
Rebounding has been a big problem of late for Clemson and has cost us big time in the two games that we lost that will (probably) ultimately keep us out of the NCAA Tournament — the UVA and Wake games. Both were games where Clemson led most of the way, only to lose on tip-ins in the final seconds due to no one putting a body on a man following a shot. Honestly, it just hurts to know that your Big Dance hopes might have been dashed by Jason Cain and some loser who transferred from Presbyterian College for lack of playing time. Our leading rebounder is 6-9 power forward James Mays, followed by 6-7 center Trevor Booker, a freshman. Mays is pretty athletic and is the point man on our press, and Booker’s a banger down low, who, strangely enough only seemed to get in foul trouble against Duke and UNC (did I mention that Josh McRoberts played 38 minutes in our first game with them and picked up no fouls?).
I’d expect VT to come out in man defense like they usually do — they’ll want a frenetic pace to try to stick a dagger in Clemson early. If you make Clemson play catch-up, we’ll have a tough time doing so with our outside shooting. We’ve had teams build small leads and just sit in a 2-3 zone and dare us to shoot over it (and it’s mostly worked). Conversely, Coach Purnell (who did just become only the seventh active coach to lead four different schools to 20-win seasons) will try to make it a slugfest and slow things down. We might press right out of the gate just to see how VT handles it, but we’ve had problems running it effectively against athletic teams. Dowdell is going to get his points (look for him to be guarded by Hammonds, who is Clemson’s best defender), but we need to focus on not allowing Washington to get into his own personal dunk contest like he did for the HokiesÂ against BC — he’s a matchup problem for Clemson (he’s also ugly as sin, but that’s another column). Also, we have tendencies to leave guys who are good spot shooters open (like Scheyer for Duke) so we have to keep the A.D. Vassallo from getting open looks. I think the x-factors for this game on the Hokie squad are the seniors Coleman and Gordon. Neither guy scares me much this year, except that your team plays so much better at home, and it’s each guy’s last game there.
Clemson has played with its back against the wall for the last couple weeks and has buckled under the pressure. The Duke game was a perfect example — we were fighting for our first ‘signature’ win of the season and the team came out jittery and got down by twenty-one at the half — and that game was at home. Then, we led Boston College midway through the second half and gave up a run and never regained it. We simply can’t afford to do that again, especially against a team still fighting for something (seeding) as well.
Hey, I like the Hokies. I wish I could fill this thing with a lot more caustic jabbing at you, but I’m glad to see you come in and upset the North Carolina power structure in the one sport where they have always reigned supreme. The Hokies’ early success is frustrating, though — just take a quick look at Clemson’s record in the Triangle and you’ll quickly see why (here’s a hint: this year alone, you’ve bettered our number of wins in Chapel Hill). It’s also good to see the enthusiasm y’all have found for basketball, because I don’t care what many of you will insist, it sure as hell wasn’t there even three or four years ago. In fact, I remember constantly chiding a moderator of this board for pulling for DUKE in spite of being a fervent VT football fan back when I lived up there in Richmond. The truth is, I’ve always felt a lot of common ground with the Hokie Nation, and I wish you luck throughout the post season, but not in this one. Personally, I’m hoping the whole damn DZ house pays the basketball team a late night visit and completely wears their asses out. It’s all about the first ten minutes of the game, I think. If we can sustain your inevitable early run, we might be okay. Surrender that run, and the game, and our NCAA hopes are probably history. I think we keep it close for thirty minutes and then fade at the end.
VT – 72
CU – 57
beautiful Charleston, SC