CLEMSON - While most of Clemson's attention will be locked into Saturday's football game at N.C. State, a much smaller group will be intently focused on Littlejohn Coliseum.
Saturday is the first day college basketball teams can practice, and Larry Shyatt's Tigers will be on the court twice that day and every day through next Tuesday, then settle into a once-a-day routine.
The work begins as Clemson tries to improve on a 2-14 Atlantic Coast Conference record (12-19 overall) from a year ago, and does so without its best player from that team, high-scoring guard Will Solomon.
Solomon is gone to the NBA, a second-round draft pick of the Memphis Grizzlies. Also gone are three other members of last year's squad, all of whom transferred: Dustin Braddick, Chucky Gilmore and Pasha Bains.
In their place are five first-year players: Center Steve Allen (6-foot-10, 235 pounds), forward Olu Babalola (6-6, 245), guard Chey Christie (6-4, 170), forward Sharrod Ford (6-9, 210) and forward Jemere Hendrix (6-8, 215).
That group comprises Clemson's most highly regarded recruiting class in some time. Add to them sophomores Tony Stockman (All-ACC Rookie), Chris Hobbs (All-ACC Rookie) and Dwon Clifton, and a dynamic young nucleus appears to be developing for Shyatt's Tigers.
Leading that nucleus on the floor will be junior point guard Ed Scott, named Clemson's captain over the summer. Forwards Ray Henderson, Jamar McKnight and Tomas Nagys also return.
"Because of our personnel, we'll be changing up our offensive scheme," Shyatt said Tuesday. "We'll be running as much as we did last year, if not more, but once we set up we want to run more motion and not be as predictable.
"We lost the 33rd best player in the country (Solomon), and now we have to adjust. We ran this offense in Wyoming and had a lot of success with it. Basically we're looking for better teamwork and more aggressiveness than our opponents."
For the first time in two seasons, Shyatt's team enters practice with no major injury worries. Hobbs, who suffered a heel injury a month ago, was cleared for full workouts Monday.
The only other concern is for the oft-injured Henderson, who routinely comes up with feet and knee ailments. But Henderson has lost over 25 pounds in the off-season, and appears to be in the best shape of his Clemson career.
Clemson will have exhibition games at home vs. Marathon Oil (Oct. 31) and the California All-Stars (Nov. 12). The regular season opens Nov. 17 at a tournament in the Virgin Islands, where the Tigers face Morris Brown.
2001-02 Clemson Men's Basketball Schedule
Date Opponent Time TV
Oct. 31 MARATHON OIL (Nike) 7:00 PM
Nov. 12 CALIFORNIA ALL-STARS 7:00 PM
Nov. 17 *Morris Brown 8:00 PM
Nov. 19-20 *at Paradise Jam TBA
Nov. 24 WOFFORD 4:00 PM
Nov. 27 at Penn State 8:00 PM ESPN-Plus
Nov. 29 COASTAL CAROLINA 7:00 PM
Dec. 2 at Duke 8:00 PM FSN
Dec. 5 APPALACHIAN STATE 7:00 PM
Dec. 8 SOUTH CAROLINA 8:00 PM FSNS
Dec. 15 ELON 4:00 PM
Dec. 18 WINTHROP 7:00 PM
Dec. 22 CHARLESTON SOUTHERN 4:00 PM
Dec. 28 at %Hartford 9:00 PM
Jan. 2 YALE 7:00 PM
Jan. 5 at Georgia Tech 12:00 PM RSN
Jan. 8 VIRGINIA 7:00 PM RSN
Jan. 12 at Wake Forest 2:00 PM RJ
Jan. 15 NC STATE 7:00 PM RSN
Jan. 20 at Maryland 6:30 PM FSN
Jan. 24 at Florida State 8:00 PM RSN
Jan. 27 NORTH CAROLINA 3:00 PM RJ
Feb. 3 DUKE 8:00 PM FSN
Feb. 6 GEORGIA TECH 7:00 PM
Feb. 10 at Virginia 3:30 PM RJ
Feb. 13 WAKE FOREST 9:00 PM RSN
Feb. 16 at NC State 4:00 PM RJ
Feb. 20 MARYLAND 9:00 PM RJ-Split
Feb. 23 FLORIDA STATE 12:00 PM RSN
Feb. 27 at North Carolina 9:00 PM RJ-Split
Mar. 7-10 #ACC Tournament TBA
# at Charlotte, NC
* at Virgin Islands
% at Norwich, CT
All times are Eastern