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ACC Preview # 7 - Clemson

Adam Allenspach 7-1 265 Sr
Pasha Bains 6-3 205 So
Dustin Braddock 6-5 215 Jr
Dwon Clifton 6-4 195 Ft
Chucky Gilmore 6-8 255 Jr
Ray Henderson 6-8 250 So
Chris Hobbs 6-7 250 Fr
Walker Holt 6-3 190 So
Jamar McKnight 6-5 195 Jr
Tomas Nagys 6-8 235 So
Edward Scott 6-0 180 So
Will Solomon 6-1 185 Jr
Tony Stockman 6-1 165 Fr

Uva
| NCSU
| Wake
Forest
| Maryland
| UNC  | Duke

When we first considered Clemson's upcoming season, we admit to thinking:
poor, poor Clemson.  And that's easy to understand after the disaster that
was last season, when Clemson was losing to the likes of Wofford, Winthrop, and
other assorted embarrassments, Clemson did as much as anyone in the ACC to
damage the conference's reputation.  We don't have a schedule from last
season handy, but those are the types of schools they lost to at any rate, if
not the specific schools, and it hurt, without question.

Part of the problem was an injury curse which really was fairly
devastating.  Another problem was what Rick Barnes left behind, which
wasn't much.

As much as he liked to brag about his Slab 5 class, which did well (and while
Shyatt's first season was a disappointment, it was a respectable season for
those seniors if not the one they wanted), Barnes left Shyatt saddled with a
team of almost entirely slow big men and mediocre little men.  Now, much
more quickly than we had realized, Shyatt has stocked his roster with smaller,
fleeter players.  Will Solomon comes to mind first of all, but then Ed
Scott, who was injured most of last season but who had a good rep coming out of
high school, JUCO transfer Jamar McKnight, and freshmen Tony Stockton and Dwon
Clifton are all supposed to be pretty good athletes.  Next season continues
the trend, with Chey Christie coming in and Olu Babalola, and Sherill Ford, and
all of a sudden he's gone from the ugly, overly physical Barnes look to a
sleeker, faster, well, more Tigerish look.

Look at that again - next year he'll have (we assume) Will Solomon, Ed Scott,
McKnight, Stockton, Clifton, Christie, Babalola, and Ford.  That's a pretty
good bunch of athletes.

And this year he has a few big men who may surprise a bit. Adam Allenspach is
a known commodity, a 7 foot guy who doesn't really like to play under the basket
so much.  Chucky Gilmore, who is the last Barnes-type player on the team is
out with an injury.  Supposedly Roy Henderson has worked very hard to get
into better shape, and they also have Chapel Hill's Chris Hobbs, a kid we
respect immensely for being a hard worker and a straight shooter. 

Non-Conference
Hartford
Seton Hall
The Citadel
Northwestern
Western Carolina
Winthrop
South Carolina
Wofford
Florida Atlantic
TBA
TBA
Charleston Southern

They also have Tomas Nagys, Dustin Braddock, and who knows if Pasha Bains
will pan out.  But without question, the elements are there for a vastly
improved Clemson team.  Now vastly improved may translate into 14 victories
since the rest of the conference is also vastly improved.  But this is a
team with some intriguing possibilities:

Shyatt told the ACC Handbook he might go with a three guard offense.  If
Pasha Bains gets his shot back and can play in the ACC, along with whoever else
starts, he would be capable of opening up the inside for either Solomon
penetration or gruntwork underneath by Hobbs or Henderson.

Chances are though that Solomon, Scott, Stockman, and McKnight will take most
of the minutes underneath.  Regardless, Solomon, who forced double and
triple teams last season, will still require great defensive diligence, but now
you can't slack off as much as before.  Stockman, by all accounts a clever
passer, can exploit the double teams.  McKnight and Clifton can take the
ball to the rack, and even if Allenspach never develops a truly impressive
lowpost game, he gives them options either out of the high post (though that
seems unlikely) or essentially flipping roles to some extent with Hobbs and
Henderson.

Is this going to be a great team? Probably not.  But what it should be
is a hungry team, a bunch of guys who are ready to make up for last season's
disappointment, and with a healthy infusion of talent, they may be able to do
it.

It's worth considering this: how many assistants have taken over at an ACC
school and radically reshaped the program's philosophy?  Bucky Waters? Ok,
but it didn't work out very well  Bill Guthridge? Not really. Jeff Jones? Not especially.  If
Shyatt can pull of the transition he's clearly attempting, going from the
lumbering, ugly teams Barnes put together to an increasingly swift and athletic
team - that's pretty interesting. We'd sure be fascinated if we were Clemson
fans. Actually, we are. It's going to be fun to watch, even from a distance. The
Tigers have a shot at being the most interesting team in the ACC this season.
Not the best, but quite possibly the one people end up talking about.