Tigers Hope to Get Well at ACC Tournament


by - Correspondent -
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Following last Sunday's 9-3 loss to Florida State - a
loss which cemented a three-game Seminoles sweep and saw Clemson fall from
first to fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference - head coach Jack Leggett
challenged his players to recapture whatever it was that made them No. 1 in
the country for seven straight weeks.


Leggett especially challenged his veterans, hoping to kickstart the Tigers as
they open ACC Tournament play against No. 5 seed Georgia Tech at 10 a.m.
today in St. Petersburg.


Senior shortstop Khalil Greene, for one, was listening.


"If there isn't concern, there should be. We just dropped three games at home
and we didn't lose them by a close margin," he said. "I think we need to
reevaluate some things and go back to playing the way we're capable of
playing. If not, I think we're going to be in for a short term."


When Greene speaks, his teammates should listen. A leading candidate for
college Player of the Year honors, Greene has been the heart and soul of this
Clemson team all season, both on the field and in the clubhouse.


His unhappiness with the Florida State debacle was obvious, but Greene also
maintained a belief that reports of the Tigers' demise was extremely
premature.


"That's the good thing about it," he said. "It's postseason time, and
dropping those three games can be put away quick if we (come) to St.
Petersburg and win that tournament and come back and play a regional. The
slate can be wiped clean quite quickly if we go out and start winning some
games."


"You've got to go out there and play your game. Everybody's getting
challenged, but it's just a challenge to individually pick up your game and
perform to your capabilities. I think everybody as a whole needs to take a
step back, realize what happened, and then go forward."


Leggett, sleepless nights aside, agreed.


"We've been playing good baseball for a long period of time," he said. "I
would think we've got some positive things going for us. We (were) No. 1 for
a long period of time and we do have a good baseball team. We just got beat
(last) weekend. We got outplayed."


Clemson's fortunes in the ACC Tournament rest on doing the opposite of last
weekend:


The starting pitching must recapture it's consistency. The offense has to be
more aggressive, especially early in the count. And the defense - along with
the pitching - must find a way to keep the opposition from scoring multiple
runs after two outs in an inning.


And Leggett hopes someone - anyone - gets hot at the top of the batting
order. That alone can jumpstart a stagnant offense.


"All year long we've struggled with the leadoff spot on this baseball team,"
he said. "We knew that from the very beginning. We haven't had that Casey
Stone-type player that's a thorn in somebody else's side. But this is what
we've got. Somebody's going to have to step up."

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