The 2009-2010 basketball season is slowly drawing closer. Every Tuesday and Thursday this fall, Crazie Talk will preview each of the twelve ACC teams in order of conference standings – from the bottom up.
Today, we’ll take a look at the Clemson Tigers.
2008-2009 Record: 23-9 (9-7 in ACC)
Postseason Record: 0-1 in ACC tournament, 0-1 in NCAA tournament (lost to Michigan in First Round)
Projected Starting Lineup: Demontez Stitt (Jr.), David Potter (Sr.), Milton Jennings (Fr.), Jerai Grant (Jr.), Trevor Booker (Sr.)
The Good: Trevor Booker is a beast in the paint. Clemson’s only declared captain for the time being, Booker is the most dangerous threat on both ends of the floor. As a junior last season, he led the ACC in both rebounding and field goal percentage–the first player to do so since Tim Duncan. This year, Booker is a serious candidate for ACC POY honors, as Clemson’s success will ultimately depend on his performance. The Tigers should pray his broad shoulders can handle the load. Also, Oliver Purnell managed to land one of Clemson’s best recruiting classes of all time. 6’9” super-freshman Milton Jennings (#23 by Scout.com) is the highest-rated recruit to enter Clemson during Purnell’s tenure and the school’s first All-American to commit since Sharone Wright in 1991. A long and versatile forward with the ability to step back and shoot, Jennings has the ability to produce right away.
The Bad: Clemson lacks experience. After losing K.C. Rivers, Terrence Oglesby, and Raymond Sykes, the Tigers return only two of last year’s starters and 55% of their scoring. There is simply no magic fix for suffering this type of blow.
The Crazie: Clemson has ranked in the top 25 teams of the final AP poll each of the last two years–a feat only Duke and North Carolina can also claim among ACC schools. However, the Tigers lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament both times. Last season, the team was ranked as high as #9 in the USA today poll and spent fourteen consecutive weeks in the AP poll. Despite becoming a program marked by impressive statistics and recent success, Clemson simply hasn’t been able to make their mark when it truly matters. Purnell must find a way to break the trend of underachievement.
We Love to Hate… Terrence Oglesby. Despite an inexcusable 27-point loss at Littlejohn Coliseum last February, Blue Devil fans took solace in watching Oglesby botch this gem of a dunk, which single-handedly reaffirmed the stereotype that white men can’t jump. On a more serious note, we won’t miss his deadly 3-point stroke. Oglesby made ninety-two buckets from beyond the arc last season, which accounted for 62% of Clemson’s 3-point scoring. It’s a good thing he’ll be idling away in the Italian pro league, but Dukies will still remember him and his wannabe JJ Redick swagger.
The Bottom Line: Clemson is young and unproven. If they’re going to win, Purnell’s freshmen (namely Jennings) will need to step up big time to support captain Trevor Booker. The Tigers better hope the Division 1 learning curve isn’t too steep for these young kids. With the departure of Oglesby, this season’s team also lacks a genuine outside threat to stretch opposing defenses. Expect Clemson to slip into the bottom half of the ACC. However, the combination of Purnell’s proven leadership and Booker’s remarkable talent could push the Tigers into the NCAA tournament come March.
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Crazie Talk’s ACC Rundowns: