Tuesday, February 1, 2011

game preview: Clemson

Date/Time: Wed., February 2, 9:00


History against the Tigers: 66-50

Last matchup: Clemson 72, UVA 49; 2/20/10; Clemson, SC

Last game: Wake 76, UVA 71 (1/29); Clemson 62, FSU 44 (1/29)

Opposing blogs: Block-C, Shakin' the Southland


National: UVA #136; Clemson #29
Offense: UVA #104; Clemson #51
Defense: UVA #188; Clemson #22

I don't know why they bother having basketball games on Signing Day, but there you go. The basketball team is on a losing streak, the recruiting meter is pegged at full-bore insanity as usual, and baseball season is still achingly far off. And it's snowing like a mother outside. (It's really weird how all the snow is going sideways and upwards and yet it still all ends up on my driveway.) It must be the bowels of February already. But. Clemson.


- Get Assane Sene going. Lord, I never thought I'd write these words. But Sene is officially our low-post threat these days. He's really dominating the boards and he's flashed a scoring touch. Shit, he's even displayed a low post move or two with the ball, instead of only ever scoring by putting back the occasional miss. Clemson is built in Oliver Purnell's mold - he wanted to run all the time, and big trees in the middle aren't suited to his style. As a result most of the biggest guys on the roster can't see over top of Will Sherrill. Essentially, whenever Clemson uses a center they're basically a more talented version of Jerome Meyinsse whenever he had to man the five. Sene, believe it or not, can bang those guys around. If he can start to be a mismatch for Clemson's forwards masquerading as centers, Brad Brownell will have to go to his bench for the little-used and offensively useless Catalin Baciu, who's 7'2" and is playing his way into Club Trillion - but does, at times, make appearances to defend players who are just too tall for Clemson's other guys. After a loss is no time to settle into tendencies, and I'd like to see some plays run for Assane on the block to see if he can work that way against the Tiger forwards.

- Assignment defense. This is one area where our defenders have plenty of room for improvement. Tightening up on assignments and not wandering. We got burned a few times against Wake because Gary Clark's man - and I said not to lose track of Gary Clark - wandered, and Clark of course knocked down the three. Clemson is not too remarkable at shooting three pointers (then again, we make everyone look like all-stars from back there) but they're very balanced and there's nobody who can't hurt you if you leave them be for too long. Double-teams should be employed judiciously and nobody should wander too much.


- Get overwhelmed down low. Unfortunately, the flipside of Clemson not having anyone especially large is that they have a lot of big guys that can get the job done. If I were them I'd throw out a lineup of Jerai Grant, Milton Jennings, and Devin Booker. They're big men who aren't totally lost on the perimeter - Purnell's mold, remember - and that kind of lineup would put Tony Bennett in a major personnel conundrum. Do you keep having Joe Harris try to guard them and hope he can make up for repeated pancakings with offensive heroics, or do you go with guys who can match their size but can't reliably score the ball?

- Freshman mistakes. Obviously. It has potential to be a big problem here, because Clemson is one of the more veteran teams in the league. Their freshmen aren't rotation guys, and the only sophmores are Booker and Jennings. Veteran guards are a recipe for beating anyone on any floor. Clemson's struggled on the road, but against much better teams than UVA. If it comes down to the wire, Clemson's experience gives them the advantage.


Probably badly, which is the default answer for every game following a loss to Wake Forest until such time as it's proven otherwise. Clemson represented the absolute rock bottom of last season: a hideous 23-point loss that followed two 19-pointers, one of which was to Maryland. Which came directly after the second loss to Virginia Tech. It was the ugliest sight to hit UVA basketball in a while. If we can avoid a repeat of that on national TV I'd sure appreciate it, but I have a bad feeling about which direction this season is spiraling.


I forgot to add that, tomorrow being Signing Day and all, you should definitely not look here for the most up to the minute latest recentest news on who signed when. If Curtis Grant announces for UVA I'll probably post "woohoo" or something totally unexpected like that. I'm not trying to sabotage my hit counter, but that's not my specialty. I can never do Signing Day Updates like the big boys. BUT. Once the madness is over, check back here in the evening. Football blogs are required by constitutional mandate to make some kind of a big deal about Signing Day, and there will be a comprehensive roundup posted sometime in the PM - before the basketball game is the goal.

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