CLEMSON, SC -- Clemson basketball coach Larry Shyatt is well aware of the pit
his basketball team has fallen into.
A team that less that three years ago was ranked No. 2 in the nation is now
ranked No. 280 by one of those computers that can do some fancy math and
rank every team in the country that plays basketball.
Clemson, just 40 places from dead last in Jeff Sagarin's computer ranking,
is keeping company with teams that were never in Creampuff Cliff Ellis'
Sagarin ranks 319 teams. That puts Clemson (3-5) at No. 280. It doesn't help
that Clemson has a strength of schedule that ranks No. 310.
Stony Brook of New York is ranked six spots ahead of Clemson with a strength
of schedule that kicks dirt in the face of the Tigers. Quinnipiac (a college
of 6,000 students in Hamden, Conn.) is 58 spots ahead of the Tigers.
It would be redundant to tell any of this to Shyatt. He's been to the games.
He's not in a position to argue with the rankings. He also knows that
Clemson isn't going to climb over St. Peter's and Rider in one week.
"There's a lot of things I would like to get straightened out, some I do and
some I do not have control over," said Shyatt.
South Carolina (5-2) comes to Littlejohn Coliseum Thursday night (9 p.m.,
Fox Sportsouth) smelling its first win against Clemson in anything other
than an blood drive in nearly three years. Clemson last lost to South
Carolina in basketball in 1994. A win over South Carolina would be nothing
short of miraculous.
"Rather than lock ourselves into discussing or even wasting time even
discussing those things that we have no control over, we definitely have to
find ways to be more prod on both ends," said Shyatt. "Because of our let
down on the defensive boards, we will start on the defensive end."
Shyatt is struggling to find practice players. Forward Adruis Jurkunas broke
his thumb two weeks ago and is still wearing a cast, although he is playing.
Forward Chucky Gilmore did not practice earlier this week due to a
concussion sustained in practice last week. Early this week forward Arturas
Javtokas suffered a bruised back after he was elbowed in practice.
Guard Ed Scott's foot is improving, though. And Shyatt is able to play Pasha
Bains, a guard who had to sit out Clemson's first eight games after
transferring from Wyoming.
Clemson's problems involve more than just injuries. Guard Dustin Braddick
has more rebounds than 7-1 junior center Adam Allenspach. Allenspach is
averaging nearly 11 points a game, but Clemson's offense has revolved around
Solomon's ability to create a shot from the perimeter.
"It's as if we're digging ourselves a ditch in terms of getting the ball
inside," said Shyatt.
Shyatt can see better times ahead. "There's an old expression: If you're
going to enjoy the truly good times and truly appreciate them, you not only
have to endure but analyze what goes into the losing or the tough times," he
Clemson Tigers (3-5, 0-0)
G # 1 Will Solomon (21.5 PPG, 4.3 RPG)
G #10 Edward Scott (8.8 PPG, 2.6 RPG)
C #55 Adam Allenspach (10.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG)
F #24 Dustin Braddick (6.4 PPG, 7.8 RPG)
F #32 Arturus Jatkovas (5.0 PPG, 3.8 RPG)
South Carolina Gamecocks (5-2, 0-0)
G # 5 Aaron Lucas (10.6 PPG, 3.7 PPG)
G #14 Herbert Lee Davis (10.6 PPG, 2.6 RPG)
C #12 Marius Petravicius (7.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG)
F #33 Damien Kinloch (5.0 PPG, 5.9 RPG)
F #35 Antonio Grant (8.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG)