Tigers Look Forward to Challenge of NCAA Tournament, Michigan

by - Senior Writer -

The Clemson Tigers enter Thursday’s NCAA Tournament contest against Michigan having lost six of their last ten games, which included a loss to last-seeded Georgia Tech in the opening round of the ACC Tournament, but sophomore shooting guard Terrence Oglesby said the Tigers have used the time off to rally, something he feels can put the Tigers back onto their winning ways at the right time.

“Right after we lost to Georgia Tech, we had practice the very next day after the bus trip back,” Oglesby said. “We've had an abundance of team meetings, and, you know, I think we've really come together a lot more as a team and just being able to focus on our goal and establishing our goal and our goals to advance.

“And obviously, you know, we have to carry forward and, like I said, play as a team in order to get that, and I think that's one way you rebound is just getting the mental part back into focus.”

Junior Trevor Booker echoed Oglesby’s sentiments, but also added that Clemson has gotten back to having fun.

“I think we were a little down on ourselves after the Georgia Tech loss, but like Terrence said, we had a lot of meetings,” Booker said. “We got everything straightened out. We're having a lot of fun in practice the last couple of days. I think we'll rebound well. We lost our last, probably four to five games.

“So we were limping into the ACC Tournament, and I know a lot of people are saying we're limping into the NCAA Tournament, but we can't let that get in our minds. We've got to come out and play Clemson basketball, and we're looking forward to it.”

The Wolverines (20-13 overall, 9-9 in Big 10) are the 10th seed, while the Tigers (23-8, 9-7) are the 7th seed. The game will tip off at 7:10 p.m. at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, with the winner advancing to play the winner of 2nd-seeded Oklahoma and 15th-seeded Morgan St.

The Wolverines are making their first NCAA Tournament appearance in 11 years, and are led by sophomore wing Manny Harris (16.8 ppg) and junior center DeShawn Sims (15.7 ppg). However, all eyes will probably be on the matchup between Clemson’s offense and Michigan’s zone defense, which frequently sports a 1-3-1 look that offers better looks at 3-pointers than Clemson has seen lately.

Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell, cautioned, however, that Clemson will still have to be balanced in order to advance.

“We haven't dusted off our zone offense,” er Purnell told the media on Thursday. “We haven't seen a lot of zone since Christmas. We were talking to the staff maybe 20 possessions total and I think that's because people respect our ability, Terrence and KC's ability to shoot the ball from the outside. I think a good zone offense, everybody knows you want the make outside jump shot, but I'm definitely a proponent you've got to have balance.

“And you've really got a good zone offense when you're scoring on the interior with either dribble penetration or just simply posting up in there and/or you're attack being the offensive glass. Those are three ways that you can and should get the ball inside while attacking their zone.”

On defense, Tigers will have to contend with Michigan’s guard play, including Harris, and defensive specialist K.C. Rivers said the Tigers will have to play with effort on defense the entire 40 minutes.

“They go more of a four-out, one in movement,” Rivers said of Michigan’s offense. “Make you play for probably 30 seconds of the shot clock. Again, we're going to have to be sound defensively. Defense is going to be our main purpose coming into this game as far as trying to defend what we want to go do and beat us with their smaller guards, and we'll definitely have to make a conscious effort to sustain our effort on defense.”

Oglesby said that last season’s first round loss to Villanova is still fresh in Clemson’s minds, and with this being the second consecutive appearance in the Big Dance for the Tigers, it could be Michigan’s turn to let the big stage cause a stumble.

“It's tough to say because we're not in their shoes this year,” Oglesby said. “They have a great coach who has been there a lot and he has those guys ready to play every game. So, you know, it is a difficult situation rather than your conference tournaments and things like that, but, it's a new situation and selfishly, we kind of wish that they do have that kind of problem, but, we'll see on game day.”

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