Booker ready to back up trash talking against Heels

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – The trash talking has already started, but Clemson’s Trevor Booker said he would rather win the war on the court rather than the war of words.

Booker said on Tuesday that he has been trading text messages with UNC senior forward Deon Thompson all week, but he is ready for the trash talking to be over and for Clemson to claim its first win over the Tar Heels during the Booker era.

“Definitely,” Booker said when asked if he was ready for a win over the Heels. “It’s about that time. I have been talking junk with Deon Thompson all week, so now I gotta back it up. Just been talking about how bad we are gonna beat them tomorrow. He just talks junk back, and brings up the past, and says we won’t win.”

The Heels have beaten the Tigers in 10 consecutive games, with the last Tiger win an 81-72 decision during Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell’s first season, and Booker said a win over the 12th-ranked Heels would mean a lot to him and to the team.

“It would mean a lot,” Booker said. “I haven’t beaten them since I have been here. I know it has been a while. I know it would mean a lot for everybody.”

North Carolina is one of the bigger teams the Tigers will play this season, and Booker was asked if he thinks the Tigers will have trouble with the taller Heels.

“They are a big team, and we are practicing for that right now,” Booker said. “If we get the ball down low tomorrow night, we should be just fine. They have a pretty good shot blocker in Ed Davis, but if you pump fake him, he will go for it.”

Purnell said that Clemson just needs to play Clemson basketball and not worry about the Heels’ size.

“We are coming off of what I thought was a really good performance for us against Boston College,” Purnell said. “We need more of the same and perhaps a bit more [against UNC]. One of the areas we cleaned up in the second half was our defensive rebounding. We need to have that going for us from start to finish against Carolina’s big front line. Their guards are also long. They have really good size, so we have to do a good job on the backboards. I think it is really important that we play Clemson basketball.

“We don’t do anything fancy and not a lot of trickery. Just play Clemson basketball, and play it well. When we have done that this year we have been a pretty good basketball team. The few moments we haven’t done that, we’ve struggled. We just have to make sure we bring Clemson basketball…and that means having a defensive mindset with no letup, and offensively playing as one. Even if we don’t do it well, we have to continue to try to do that throughout the game, because we feel like we will be okay if we do that.”

Purnell then said he didn’t think North Carolina’s size meant added pressure for Clemson’s guards to try and score.

“No, I don’t think so,” Purnell said. “I think that we probably played the smallest team in the ACC in Boston College and the rest of them are bigger and stronger than we are, so we made a commitment to playing the game a certain way. We have played some big, strong teams and we have been good at times and we just need to stay with that. I think our speed and quickness is an advantage if you utilize it.

“If you make one pass and drive in among the trees, then they are going to block your shot. If you don’t block the big, long guys off, then they are going to hurt you on the boards. Those are things that we have to be aware of and in order to make our speed and quickness an advantage then we have to stay aware of it.”

In addition to being a critical game in the ACC race, Purnell said the game will also serve as a measuring stick for his Tigers.

“I think it is exactly a chance for us to see where we are,” Purnell said. “The way things look like they are setting up, a team with four of five losses may win the ACC regular season. Right now, nine out of 12 teams have one loss two games in. It looks like it will be very balanced and a fight every night. Home courts are going to be very valuable and if you can steal one on the road, it is three times as valuable. We are on our home court against one of the top teams in the league and we want to try to defend that and see where we are and if we can win the game.

“We also want to see where we are if we are not able to win the game, it is not the end of the world. We are looking forward to the challenge. It is exciting when you are playing a top-10 team early in the season, which happens to be the defending National Champions, on your home court. It is exciting stuff.”

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