Defense Keys Strong Start
With all the bitterness surrounding the football team this week, two impressive outings to start the season for the men’s basketball team has been overshadowed. So far it appears Oliver Purnell has made impressive strides in his second season.
Hampton nor UNC Asheville are likely post season participants, but Clemson dominated both games. Around the ACC, Florida State lost to Texas A&M C.C., Miami lost to South Carolina St., and Georgia Tech and Duke both survived scares. This team has handily won its first two contests.
The four freshmen have been as good as advertised. James Mays is an athletic of a big man Clemson has had since Larry Nance. Cliff Hammonds has played the most minutes of the freshmen. Hammonds has been impressive running the point and has shown an ability to hit the mid-range jumper. Cheyenne Moore and Sam Perry have added length and athleticism at the small forward position.
In the first two games, the Tigers have truly been an up-tempo team. Purnell has been able to implement more of his style with the addition of the freshmen. Now, the team is playing with basketball I.Q. and a lot of aggressiveness. It will be interesting to see how the team responds when an opposing team matches their athleticism.
As for the veterans, Shawan Robinson and Vern Hamilton have improved greatly. Robinson is 9-12 from beyond the arc thus far. Akin Akingbala is the most improved player on the team. Akingbala along with Sharrod Ford gives two legitimate shot-blockers on the inside.
This team may not be ready to punch a ticket to the NCAAs, but the improvement being shown in year two under Purnell gives reason for enthusiasm. Purnell will be the first to say that this team is a long ways from being a title contender in the ACC. This Friday the team travels to take on Boston College. The Tigers upset an NCAA bound Boston College team last season in Littlejohn. Friday night will be a good measure to see how far along this team really is.