Lean Tigers To Take on Catamounts


by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - With Ray Henderson still a "relief pitcher," Clemson's perceived size advantage over some of its early-season opponents is just that - perceived.

The 6-foot-8, 250-pound sophomore forward/center continues to dress for games, but will only play under dire circumstances as he nurses a stress fracture in his left foot. His absence leaves the Tigers thin - literally - across the front line.

"We're not that big anymore," coach Larry Shyatt said following Friday's practice. "You used to think (of Clemson that way), but now we're very ordinary, really."

The starting front line of center Adam Allenspach (7-1, 265) and forwards Tomas Nagys (6-9, 235) and Pasha Bains (6-3, 205) assuredly will be one of the leanest in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Especially since Bains is really a guard in a forward's lineup spot.

Clemson does get a little extra bulk when freshman Chris Hobbs (6-7, 250) enters the rotation, but the other "big man" to see quality minutes this season is sophomore Dustin Braddick, all 6-5, 215 of him.

So not only is matching up against the tough, physical ACC going to be a problem, so can games like today's meeting with Western Carolina (1 p.m.) at Littlejohn Coliseum.

While the Catamounts have no one as tall as Allenspach, they do match up well with the rest of Clemson's front line, boasting the likes of center Todd Seibert (6-9, 220) and forwards Cory Largent (6-7, 204) and Willie Freeman (6-6, 239).

"They're very quick and very aggressive," Shyatt said. "They came in here a couple of years ago and gave us fits. I've got a lot of respect for their new coach (Steve Shurina). He's got some Vanderbilt ties, Davidson ties...he's going to be well organized and it's going to be a good contest."

Largent leads Western Carolina (1-4) in scoring at 14 points per game. He is joined in double figures by guard Casey Rogers (13.0) and Freeman (11.8). Freeman also averages 6.6 rebounds per game.

Notes:

- Will Solomon is expected to start and go full speed today after sitting out most of two practices recovering from the sprained ankle he suffered in Tuesday's win over Northwestern.

Solomon, who leads Clemson in scoring (21.5), was on crutches as a precautionary measure Thursday and participated only in shooting drills Friday. He went through a cardiovascular workout Friday evening.

"He's shown very good progress the last two days," Shyatt said. "We're going to plan on using him and hopefully winning the game, and we'll worry about progress of the ankle after the game."

Despite leaving the Northwestern game for nine minutes because of the injury, Solomon still scored 12 points to extend his double-figure scoring streak to 34 games. He is two shy of the Clemson record held by Vince Yockel.

- Henderson's foot is being monitored via MRI every 12 days to check the healing progress of his fracture.

"We're very helpful the next picture will show that white line, which clearly would indicate it's healed," Shyatt said.

- Today's game with Western Carolina is the eighth all-time between the schools. Clemson is a perfect 7-0 to this point, including six wins in Littlejohn Coliseum. The teams last met in 1999, Shyatt's first season, a game Clemson won 82-56.


Dan Scott is the sports editor of Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger.
His columns can be read at www.dailyjournalmessenger.com.

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