Clemson improved to 2-0 with a road victory over the Citadel. The 73-50 win was the 14th straight for the Tigers in the series with the Bulldogs. Clemson was led in the scoring department by Devin Booker, who finished the game with 14 points.
I wanted to do a recap of the entire game, but ESPN3 decided to crap out on me once the 2nd half started. I was hoping that I could watch a replay of the game and catch the 2nd half action, but apparently there is a 1-day delay or something like that before ESPN puts the game online for replay. Even if the game was originally broadcast on ESPN3, you have to wait a day to watch it again on ESPN3? Anyways, I guess all my thoughts will pretty much be confined to the 1st half.
So the Tigers started off by giving their fans a lot to be happy about. And also a lot to be grouchy about. A great example of this was Devin Booker. He picked up his first foul only 48 seconds into the game. He did make the game’s opening basket, but his second shot was atrocious. After making his first bucket, Devin decided to take a 3-pointer. He missed. I don’t know why Devin keeps attempting these long shots. And it’s not like this is one-time thing. He did the same thing in the Gardner-Webb game, taking multiple shot attempts from way outside. I just don’t understand why he insists on taking the outside shot. Devin did go on to have a couple more points in the paint on a nice feed from Rod Hall, but he also picked up his 2nd foul at the 11:08 mark in the first half. This was his second foul, meaning that he sat for the rest of the game. Apparently he played really well in the 2nd half. He finished the game as Clemson’s leading scorer after only getting two buckets in the first half. I did get to see a nice jam from baby Book in the early part of the 2nd half, but that was all I got to see out of him before ESPN3 lagged out.
When Devin Booker was in, the defense was a real force. When Devin went to the bench with just over 11 minutes left in the half, the Citadel was sitting with just five points, with only a Cosmo Morabbi 3 and a fast break deuce. Basically the defense was dominant. The zone didn’t let the Citadel in the paint for even a second, forcing the bulldogs into taking low-percentage outside shots. The Citadel settled for a lot of outside shots in those first nine minutes, and only a single one of them fell through the hoop.
I don’t want to praise the defense too much, though. I found it odd that the Tigers could play such good defense but also allow so many offensive rebounds. I didn’t get a tally on the Citadel’s offensive rebounds in the first half, but I do remember that on one of the first possessions of the game, the Citadel was able to get back-to-back offensive rebounds in a single possession. The only reason they didn’t score is because they shot themselves in the foot with an atrocious turnover.
Once Devin Booker left the game, the Citadel was able to score some points in the paint. There’s simply no one on the team right now that can replace the presence of Book in the paint. Milton Jennings and Bryan Narcisse are really good at complementing Book down low, but they can’t be the it guy themselves. And obviously Bobo is not ready for that role. I think that goes without saying.
It being established that he’s no Devin Booker, Bryan Narcisse actually looked pretty good, notching three blocks in the first half. Milton continued to be his schizophrenic self. His first touch ended with some Tiger points, but before you could even pat the guy on the back, he went and committed a foul. Another Milton moment came just a few possessions later, when Milton stole the ball out of the hands of the Citadel player only to go on to miss the layup on the other end of the court. Classic Milton moment. I just hope that he can keep improving and not be too hard on himself after glaring gaffes such as missed layups.
I was really impressed with the play from the guards tonight. He led the Tigers in points at the half with 11. And he got a dunk. I absolutely love it every time Tanner gets a dunk. Another one of his baskets came on a phenomenal no-look pass from Sapp, who had a really good game, especially when you remember that this is only his second game as a freshman. I loved his pass to Tanner, and his three-pointer was obviously exciting as well, but what really excited me was his ability to drive to the hoop. With Stitt gone, we are in need of a player that can drive the lane. We might have found one in Sapp, whose most impressive play came around the eight-minute mark. He was able to drive to the basket on back-to-back possessions, and then capped things off with some stifling defense that forced a Citadel airball.
Sapp wasn’t the only guard that showed the ability to get to the basket, thought. Andre and Tanner had a few drives to the hoop of their own. But Andre’s driving ability won’t really help us much against better opponents; his just isn’t tall enough. Tanner and Sapp will have to continue to drive to the hoop.
Rod Hall had a pretty good half as well. Yes, he continued a disturbing trend, joining B-Nice, Tanner, and Bobo on the list of players that missed their opening free throw attempts of the season, and yes he missed a pretty easy open look at the halftime buzzer, but he looked pretty good otherwise.
Bobo got more action tonight than he did against Gardner-Webb. But he didn’t exactly wow me with his play. He settled for the tough shot too often, which is ridiculous considering that with his size, he should at least attempt to handle opponents down low. He also was called for a travel and two fouls in the half. But he did capitalize on some opportunities. And then there was the possession that saw him miss it three consecutive times from two feet out. But with the lack of depth for us in the frontcourt, Bobo will continue to get his chances. And he has improved considerably since his freshman year. But he needs to continue to improve if he wants to become a real contributor on offense.
Before I wrap this up, I have to mention the ESPN3 announcers. They said some ridiculous stuff. The color analyst actually called Bobo "our best inside presence." They also described Bobo’s foot work on a drive to the basket as a "crab walk." Pretty funny stuff. Also, another thing about ESPN3: if you check the game out on replay, check out the halftime show. The announcers got to interview Lefty Driesell, who was at the game because his son Chuck is The Citadel’s head coach. Anyways, it was a cool interview with a college basketball legend. Check it out.
All in all, a great performance by the Tigers to lead by 18 at the half after Devin sat for the final eleven minutes. The defense was strong throughout, especially when Devin was in the lineup, but they need to stop allowing so many offensive rebounds. I came away impressed with the offensive play of Andre, Tanner, and TJ Sapp. With the lack of talent in the frontcourt, those three will have to continue to create things for themselves, especially when Devin is not on the court.