CLEMSON - If there's one trait which has remained true above all others where this year's Clemson basketball team is concerned, it's the ability remain confident in the face of adversity.
No matter the situation, regardless of any previous loss, the Tigers - to a man, from head coach Oliver Purnell on down - have tackled every "next game" with the same type of enthusiasm they displayed during the preseason. True, the confidence hasn't always yielded the desired result.
But the mere fact that Purnell has been able to keep the confidence level high has been a testament to his rebuilding efforts.
That's why players like senior Sharrod Ford can meet the press after a 30-point loss at North Carolina and be convincing when he says he believes Clemson can bounce back tonight and beat Maryland in College Park.
"We're always confident we can win games." Ford said. "I don't think confidence is ever a problem. The games are winnable. We've just to come to play in those games in order for us to win."
The fact that Clemson has already beaten the Terrapins once this season is enough to provide some inspiration.
But that was in Littlejohn Coliseum, where the Tigers have been good for at least one such major upset almost every year. To turn the trick on the road, however, has been a different story.
Clemson is 1-5 on the road inside the ACC, having missed golden opportunities for wins at places like Virginia Tech, Virginia and Miami. To expect a win in College Park might be a bit much to most people.
However, Purnell isn't most people.
"This group has been resilient," he said, referring to the North Carolina loss. "I expect we'll bounce back and play better."
It would be difficult to play much better than the Tigers did in the 88-73 win over Maryland back on Feb. 1. Ford dominated the inside, tying his career high with 25 points. Shawan Robinson added 22 off the bench, and Clemson trailed just one possession all night.
The Terps chose to play Ford straight up instead of doubling him inside, allowing the senior center to score at will. Defensively, the Tigers - led by freshman Sam Perry - put the clamps on Maryland star and leading scorer Nik Caner-Medley. Caner-Medley didn't score in the first half, and finished with just nine points.
But Purnell expects Maryland to play much better at home tonight, and expects they'll make a number of adjustments.
"They did not double Sharrod Ford the last game. I expect them to double him more this game," he said. "They're playing better, a little different combinations. They're playing smaller some. They're obviously energized on their home court, with NCAA aspirations.
"Whoever ventures in there this time of year, it's going to be tough."
- Ford went over the 700 mark in career rebounding in the loss at North Carolina. He now has 702 for his career and needs just six to move into ninth place on the all-time Clemson list. Ford has played some of his best basketball on the road this year. He has scored in double figures in every road game this year and 13 of 14 over the last two years;
- Clemson is 2-6 on the opponent's home court this year. Seven of the eight games have been decided by nine points or less;
- Clemson freshman Cliff Hammonds has scored in double figures in six of his last seven games and has a 10.2 average of the season, second best among ACC freshmen.
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Messenger and TigerNet. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.