2008 Clemson Tigers Basketball Preview
In 2007-2008, The Tigers of Clemson (24-10 overall, 10-6 ACC) finished third in their conference, posting a winning record for the first time in five seasons and making it to March Madness. The seemingly perennial NIT team looked destined to make a run in the NCAA Tournament but fell in round one to Villanova 75-69. Coach Oliver Purnell, now starting season six, has done yeoman’s work in turning this club around.
With forward James Mays and his 10.7 PPG and 6.8 RPG gone, the frontcourt has lost half of its one-two punch. Forward/center Trevor Booker (26.6 PPG, 11.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.5 APG, 55.5 FG%, 57.3 FT%), the other half of that duo, returns. The six-foot-seven junior will be a force on the court. Six-foot-nine senior forward/center Raymond Sykes (14.5 PPG, 4.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 0.4 APG, 57.3 FG%, 50.0 FT%), who looked improved last year, may be a potential big-time contributor. Freshman Catalin Baciu, who towers above opponents at seven-foot-one, offers some good moves, but needs to bulk up his 230-pound frame in order to gain a true advantage over opponents. Sophomore Jerai Grant (8.3 MPG, 2.1 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 0.4 APG, 46.3 FG%, 37.5 FT%) showed promise and has folks wondering if he can deliver consistently.
Despite the fact that super-guard Cliff Hammonds (11.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 3.9 APG) is gone, the backcourt still looks good. Athletic guard/forward K.C. Rivers (30.5 MPG, 14.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.8 APG, 43.8 FG%, 67.7 FT%) returns as the team’s highest point maker, while guard Terrence Oglesby (18.5 MPG, 10.5 PPG 1.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, 38.1 FG%, 85.1 FT%) is deadly from the three-point arc and from the free throw line. Guard Demontez Stitt (22.8 MPG, 8.8 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 3.0 APG, 40.8 FG%, 76.1 FT%), now a sophomore, showed some flashes of fine play last season and could become a real contributor in 2008-2009.
The Tigers look good again this season. But defensive loses could
prove to be this club’s undoing. A winning season and fourth
or fifth-place finish are attainable and a trip to the tourney is
certainly likely. However, getting to the ACC Tournament Final,
like they did in 2007-2008, will be very tough to do.