Tigers to Take on No. 10 Seton Hall

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON - Larry Shyatt looks at Seton Hall's starting lineup and sees potential NBA talent at each position. In his own team he sees a promising future which will be reached only by suffering through growing pains common with youth and inexperience.

So is it better for Shyatt's Clemson Tigers to face the No. 10 Pirates early in the season, when maybe they can catch the Big East power by surprise? Or perhaps play them later in the year after Clemson has more game experience under its belt?

Posed that very dilemma following Monday's practice, Shyatt smiled and shook his head.

"Unfair question, but I'm going to answer it's better now because we scheduled in now," he said with a laugh. "Quite honestly we did that on purpose. We knew we going to be extremely young and we knew they were going to be a top 10 program...I like it. We're a program that's quite obviously going to play 15 such teams this year...Why not get one early?"

Early comes tonight, when the teams meet at 7:30 p.m. at Littlejohn Coliseum.

Clemson is fresh off an 86-67 season-opening victory over Hartford last Saturday. Seton Hall opened a day earlier and dropped a 104-76 whipping on Rider.

Tommy Amaker's Pirates start three freshmen, a sophomore and a junior. All three of the first-year phenoms scored in double figures vs. Rider, paced by Eddie Griffin's (6-foot-9, 212 pounds) 22 points and 14 rebounds. Junior Darius Lane (6-4, 208) led Seton Hall with 25 points. Freshmen Andre Barret (5-8, 159) and Marcus Toney-El (6-6, 197) and sophomore Samuel Dalembert (6-11, 265) round out the starting lineup.

"(They) have tremendous ability at every position," Shyatt said. "They have the Twin Towers inside, so we're going to have to block out well and rebound from every position. They have youth, but they have a very, very good combination at every position in terms of altheticism and, seemingly, very good basketball intellect, as well."

Seton Hall playing smart basketball should come as no surprise. Amaker played for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, then coached under him there for a number of years. The Pirates, much like Amaker's Duke teams, play high-pressure defense in an attempt to force the opposition into mistakes.

How well Clemson handles that pressure likely will determine the outcome tonight. The Tigers had 22 assists and just 10 turnovers against Hartford, but the Hawks' athletic ability pales in comparison to what Clemson will see from the Pirates.

"We'll be successful a lot of nights this year if we can do that (assist-to-turnover ratio) each time," Shyatt said. "We'll have to handle their pressure and get a shot each attempt, rather than a turnover. When you have great talent like (Seton Hall) you can afford to pressure well."


- Clemson's Ray Henderson (hairline fracture in his foot) and Chris Hobbs (swelling behind his knee) have done little more than shooting drills during practice in recent days.

Henderson is scheduled to have his foot examined again later this week, and could be cleared for full workouts at that time. Hobbs, the freshman from Chapel Hill (N.C.), could be at full speed in the next few days, as well. The swelling is behind the same knee in which he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament during his senior year in high school.

- Tonight is just the fifth time a non-ACC top 20 team has played at Littlejohn Coliseum. The last such opponent was then-No. 6 South Carolina in the 1997-98 season, a game Clemson won 62-57.

- Amaker is 0-1 as a head coach vs. Clemson, and was on the losing end of his last three games at Littlejohn Coliseum as an assistant at Duke. Clemson is 2-1 all-time against Seton Hall.

- Clemson is 14-10 all-time vs. Big East teams, including wins it its last five games vs. the conference.

- Will Solomon needs just 143 points to reach 1,000 for his career.

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