The Opposing View features our own Niemo interviewingÂ 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 features an interview of Odum, clemson c/o â€˜99.Â He also wrote a previous Opposing View for us two years ago: First clemson Opposing View
Niemo: Tell me about this year’s clemson team.Â What are their strengths and weaknesses?
Odum: This year’s Clemson team looks a lot like last year’s version, even though we did lose three key seniors from last year’s team (starters James Mays and Cliff Hammonds, and Sam Perry).Â The most noticeable loss is Mays at the point of the press.Â We have put Trevor Booker there this year, as much to keep him out of foul trouble as anything.Â He has done a pretty good job playing interior defense in the half-court and leads the team in blocked shots.Â Down low with him is Raymond Sykes, a guy who is 6′-9″ but on the thin side, and very much a raw player.Â Sykes isn’t a big threat with the ball in his hands, but he’s a good rebounder and gets a lot of put back points.Â
At point guard, we’ve got a second year player in Demontez Stitt.Â He’s a slasher by nature, and is very good when he takes it to the basket strong, but he’s not that much of an outside threat.Â Terrence Oglesby is still a threat to shoot it from anywhere on the court, but he’s actually gotten a lot better at putting the ball on the floor and creating his own shot; and, he’s improved as a passer this year.Â The other starter is K.C. Rivers who can be a tremendous scorer at times, but he tends to disappear for large stretches.Â Not coincidentally, our offense suffers when he’s not scoring – it’s critical for us for him to have a big game.Â
The bench is deep, and you’ll see our second five before the halfway mark of the first half.Â Jerrai Grant is another big guy who has played well lately and he’ll get plenty of minutes in relief of Sykes and Booker.Â Andre Young has played well at the point, and Tanner Smith and David Potter are both 6-5 wing players who have been giving quality minutes.Â Brian Narcisse (6′-9″) will also play some.Â
Overall, we’re going to try to use the defense to force you to play out of synch.Â VT can be prone to turning the ball over, and we’ll need that to be successful.Â We’ll need to start out strong offensively, and we need to establish Booker on the inside.Â On the defensive end, we have to limit your open looks from outside and slow your guards down if they break the press.Â As usual, our team free throw percentage is marginally lower than the felony conviction rate for your incoming football recruits, so we need to make the most of our opportunities there, too.Â [Niemo: Wow!Â Their FT% is below 4%?!]
Niemo: The tigers currently sit at 17-2 after starting 16-0.Â We’ve seen this song and dance before – clemson comes out hotter than Seth Greenberg’s daughter,Â only to fall apart more than Lindsay Lohan in a VIP room once the ACC slate starts up.Â Will things be different this year?
Odum: Isn’t Greenberg’s daughter like thirteen?Â [Niemo: I was thinking of Paige, who's in college and plenty legal, but I guess this sick-o likes eye-balling the younger one... perv!] Â As for what we’ll do this year, who knows?Â I’d say that this team appears to be mentally tougher than some in recent memory, in spite of losing those three seniors from last year.Â I don’t think losing to Wake and UNC back-to-back is a harbinger of a collapse.Â Â Don’t forget that included in this team’s undefeated start are road wins at Illinois, Miami (by 19) and South Carolina (by 11) and a neutral site win over a decent Temple team, so it’s not like we’ve just feasted on cupcakes.
Niemo: Dwayne Collins of miami owned VT on Sunday. Trevor Booker is no Dwayne Collins… he’s better. Can VT stop him?
Odum: Yes, it almost appears the most effective way to handle Booker is to just let him do what he’s been doing lately. After establishing himself down low in some key games in December, he has chosen to shoot a lot of fadeaway jumpers recently, and he hasn’t been effective at all. He reached double figures against GT because he made seven free throws. He can be very effective if he’ll be assertive and take the ball right at Jeff Allen and try to get him into foul trouble.
Niemo: What about Virginia Tech scares you in this game?
Odum: Now that Deron Washington’s (and his mom) ugly mug is gone, nothing really… Well, my golden retriever trembles a little at any mention of VT. Seriously, your team’s overall athleticism is impressive, but it’s their guard play from the last two games that worries me the most. With our full-court pressure defense, we sometimes have a tendency to leave guys wide open once the ball advances past half-court. If we do that with Vassallo or Delaney, we’ll be in trouble.
Click ‘Read more…’ to see the rest of the interview.
Niemo: In four full ACC basketball seasons, the Hokies have earned three first round byes in the ACC Tournament. clemson has gotten just one (last year). What do you attribute to VT’s success?
Odum: When VT entered the league, it had a great core of players who had all come into school together the year before, and they rode those guys for the next few years. You’ve recruited good athletes who’ve bought into Greenberg’s system, and I think the coach and his staff have them really well prepared. It also helps when you can go into Durham and Chapel Hill and win.
Niemo: Do you think VT or clemson can be consistently good in basketball being “football schools”, or will they just have pockets of success similar to what both are enjoying now?
Odum: Both schools have the right coaches in place to have some sustained success, but obviously neither basketball program will ever supplant football.
Niemo: Not sure if you heard, but Thursday is a BLACKOUT! Are you shaking in your knees already?
Odum: Acutally, I’m just shaking my head. The guys who keep thinking these _____OUT things are cool couldn’t be [bleep]er if he were tapping his foot in an airport bathroom stall next to Larry Craig. It makes no sense – black isn’t even a part of VT’s color scheme. Just settle on a PINKOUT and you’ve got it covered. [Niemo: I kind of have to agree with him on this one, though it is still better than the tie-dyed t-shirts the students wore last year. And Odum should probably be careful with the pink jokes with Yow's passing, but hey, he was on a roll, why worry about being PC.]
Niemo: Game prediction?
Odum: A close first half, but our depth wears you down in the second half, and we start getting some drive and dish inside buckets.
Tigers: 78-70 [Niemo: That would be the largest margin of victory (by three) since VT joined the ACC. The previous six games have been decided by 12 points total. Don't see Tech getting beaten by this much on their home floor, especially against a weak FT shooting team.]
Niemo: Virginia Tech has three ACC football titles in five years in the league. clemson hasn’t won (or even tied) for one since 1991. [Not really a question, just thought I'd point that out.]
Odum: Not much I can say, really. It’s hard to argue with VT’s success on the field (not to mention manhandling Clemson in all three league matchups). I’m not like low-level SEC fans who tout their conference above their school, so I don’t really give a damn what the rest of the conference does, but I’m glad y’all won the Orange Bowl and brought the league a little respect. You should probably call Admiral Bottomtooth and the rest of the UVa athletic department and thank them for holding out so you could get in the league. [Niemo: I agree with Odum, I never root for other ACC schools... mostly because I hate them all except miami for various reasons.]
Niemo: If clemson fans rated their passion for football a ’10′ on a scale from 1-10, what would you rate their passion for basketball?
Odum: I’m going to give us an ‘eight’ as a collective fan base for basketball, only because I am disappointed that we haven’t had capacity crowds in a couple of weekend games this year. The next three at home are all sold out, though. I was in school during the Rick Barnes years, and I know that the passion can be there, and will be there, as I think Oliver Purnell is a much better coach and program builder. For what it’s worth, most of us are pretty passionate baseball fans, too (that’d be a ‘ten’). If you can find enough Hokie fans who care about baseball, I’ll be glad to preview that series as well when the time comes (April 17-19). [Niemo: LOL... an 8? I would bet the fans AT the games wouldn't rate their passion an eight, let alone the general fans who only attend one or so games a year. If clemson is an eight, what is unc and duke? And I'd certainly put our fan base ahead of theirs in terms of basketball passion.]
Niemo: Is there an on-campus “Orange Overalls-R-Us” store or do you have to go off-campus to pick those ugly things up?
Odum: Well, I know you VT guys are used to picking up ugly things on campus, but our folks have to go off-campus for the overalls (which, for the record, I’ve never owned). [Niemo: I'd have to give clemson the edge on hotter chicks... mostly due to the fact they are a public school in SC so you basically only have to have a pulse to get in.]
Niemo: Personally, I’d like to thank clemson for hiring Dabo Sweeney over Bud Foster. While I’m not sold on Foster as a head coach, I do know losing him would have pretty much ruined our football team. What were your thoughts on the hire?
Odum: I don’t know anyone associated with Clemson who actually wanted Bud Foster to be our head coach, and I know that he was never in Clemson’s final three candidates, in spite of his lobbying for it. I like Foster, but he wasn’t the guy for Clemson, since I think they needed someone to energize the fan base after ten years of Tommy Bowden. Frankly, my desire was for Clemson to go out and hire a proven head coach, no matter what the cost. My belief is that Clemson went for a low-budget choice because we allowed Tommy Bowden to renegotiate his contract the previous year and he left us holding the bag when he ‘resigned.’ I’m cautiously optimistic, but not really expecting too much this year.
Niemo: You knew this was coming… clemson is 0-54 all time at unc. What would breaking this streak mean to you? How much do you hate it?
Odum: That’s just plain mean. I got to witness the game last week inside the Dean Dome – I guess I picked a bad year to go. The streak is terribly embarrassing, and we’ve had good chances to break it – last year up by fifteen in the second half, for instance. Not that officials cost teams games or anything, but did you notice last year that the free throw disparity was 36-7 in their favor even though they trailed throughout the game? I’m not convinced that I’ll be alive to see us actually win one up there. Did you hear about the time we committed forty-one fouls and finished with four guys on the court? [Niemo: I can only imagine how Odum would celebrate when they finally win. I know "Weekend Warrior" and "wearing pants" could not be used in the same sentence if VT ever broke an 0-54 streak. Hmm... maybe when Tech finally wins at nc state?]
Niemo: What school do you hate the most in the ACC?
Odum: All of you are pretty annoying in some way, and there’s not enough room here for me to go into it fully. In spite of your last three questions, I definitely don’t hate VT: my incarcerated business partner’s [bleep] [bleep] niece went to Tech.
Niemo: We’d like to thank Odum for another strong effort and insight. And good luck to you guys after Thursday. Maybe you will finally win a meaningful game in a sport people care about.