Tigers sit in snowbound Blacksburg and wait

by - Senior Writer -

Clemson basketball head coach Oliver Purnell and his Tigers are sitting in Blacksburg, Va., right now, watching the snow fall wondering if they will have a game on Saturday and wondering how they will get home.

Purnell spoke with the media Friday morning, shortly before the Tigers were to hold a practice, and said snow was continuing to fall in Blacksburg, Va., where the Tigers are scheduled to tip off against Virginia Tech at 4 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at Cassell Coliseum.

The Tigers were not supposed to leave for Blacksburg until today, but the weather forced Purnell and the Tigers to catch a plane late Thursday evening in an effort to beat the snowstorm. The team practiced in Littlejohn Coliseum yesterday afternoon, then caught a bus to Greenville-Spartanburg, arriving in Blacksburg around 10 p.m. Thursday night.

"So we needed to either bus up yesterday or fly," Purnell said. "I asked them to try to track down a plane, and after a couple of hours they did."

Up to a foot of snow is forecast for the area, and Purnell said at this point he assumes the Tigers and Hokies will play on Saturday, given the track record of the ACC.

"Usually with an ACC game, if the teams are here they're going to play the game," Purnell said. "That's just been my experience over the last seven years that they're going to get the game in as long as the teams are there, and as long as there's no threat to the safety of the team traveling in. And we're here."

Purnell said that normally, the Tigers would leave Blacksburg to head home immediately following the game, but as of Friday, had no plans for getting back to Clemson.

"We haven't even really thought about that yet," Purnell said. "We're just up here preparing for the game. I don't think it makes a whole lot of sense for us to be thinking about getting out of here. Let's go play the game and then worry about that."

Clemson (16-6, 4-4 ACC) are coming off Sunday's 62-53 home victory over Maryland that broke a three-game losing streak in the league. Virginia Tech (17-4, 4-3) defeated North Carolina 74-70 victory Thursday night in Blacksburg and will be playing on one days’ rest.

Purnell said that junior point guard Demontez Stitt, who has missed the past two games with a sprained left foot, went at about quarter speed on Wednesday and half speed on Friday, and the intention was to push him a little harder today. Purnell said he would be “thrilled” if he could 15-20 minutes out of Stitt on Saturday, but is still in wait-and-see mode.

“If he can get through today without too much pain and that kind of thing, we hope he's going to be available tomorrow."

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