Tigers Better on Offensive End with Improved Play of Stitt and Grant

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON - Sunday night’s win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets was far from perfect, but definitely a step in the right direction for the Clemson Tigers.

The Tigers came into the contest with a two-game ACC losing streak, and had struggled offensively in both of the losses and a few of the wins before that, but Sunday’s 73-59 win over the Jackets showed improvement in several areas.

Of notable improvement were:

*The play of point guard Demontez Stitt, who had come under fire because of lackluster play in recent outings. Head coach Oliver Purnell has said that the Tigers are a better team when Stitt is driving and the dishing to open teammates. Against the Yellow Jackets, especially in the second half, he was coming hard off ball screens, which opened the floor for his teammates. He was also 6-for-6 from the free throw line, but continued to struggle from the field.

*Trevor Booker struggled again against bigger opponents, scoring just 11 points, but did pick up 11 rebounds, part of a huge rebounding effort as Clemson out-rebounded Georgia Tech 40-36. Of note were the 12 rebounds Clemson picked up on the offensive end.

*Sophomore Jerai Grant had perhaps his best game, scoring 10 points, grabbing five boards and also blocking two shots. Grant started the second half in place of Raymond Sykes, and actually played more minutes. Purnell said after the game that he likes what Grant brings to the table, and as long as he continues to produce in practice, his floor time will increase.

There are still things that need to be worked on, as guard Terrence Oglesby, who had 18 points to lead all scorers, mentioned after the game. Oglesby as disappointed in the fact that he missed several shots he felt he should have made, and made no effort to hide that disappointment.

”I wasn’t hitting the shots,” Oglesby said. “I’m getting a lot of open shots and it’s discouraging because it’s that close (to going in). I’m rimming in and out, but it’s going to get better as time gets on.”

When asked would be a good night for him, Oglesby was quick to quip “I don’t miss 10 shots. How about that?”

Stitt, however, said his performance was simply a case of taking Purnell’s advice to heart and being more aggressive with the ball in his hand.

”I talked to coach and a couple of the players, and they told me that we are a different team when I am attacking,” Stitt said. “ I know I have to be aggressive, and I was mad at myself at halftime because I came out in the first half and was very tentative. But I came out in the second half ready to play.

”I know it’s not all about looking for mine, but trying to get the others involved, and if the inside is not open, the driving and kicking to T.O. or K.C. I just had to try and get into the lane and the ball to open guy, and I did that in the second half.”

Grant said that being out on the floor to start the second half helped with his intensity in the second half, but also said that he has benefited from his experience in coming off the bench.

”It made me more comfortable being able to start fresh, and not have to warm into the game,” Grant said of the start. “I was able to start out with that excitement and that intensity. I know that it is not about my offense and getting my shot, but it’s about seeing the open man and getting every rebound.

”That frees up everybody else. But I have gotten a lot of experience, and I’m starting to feel more comfortable. I get experience just going at Book and Sykes every day in practice. In all, I am just feeling more comfortable out there.”

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