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Clemson Cruises by Presbyterian, 77-44

Gregory Shamus

Clemson started the season off with a very comfortable win over Presbyterian. Presbyterian was picked 11th out of 12 team in the Big South Conference, so getting a W was never really a question. The biggest question was how would the young guys mesh together this early in the season.

This game served as a great scrimmage, as Presbyterian gave Clemson many different looks. They played a lot of 1-3-1 zone, but also mixed in man-to-man. Zones will typically throw off an offense because in practice Clemson will be going at each other man-to-man. So for a young team to dissect PC's zone so easily early in the season is signs of a very well coached team.

I caution people not to get too caught up in the boxscore against a team like PC, but rather focus on the execution. Because of Clemson's more physically talented than PC, I'm more interested in how they get their points. If our offense is stagnant and we are getting a lot of garbage points I'd be very concerned. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the execution on the offensive end, particularly the young guards. Ball movement was crisp, they were patient, and they were rewarded with good looks at the basket. Jennings and Booker were the recipients of a lot of easy looks inside thanks to team-wide unselfish play. Clemson only had 6 turnovers on the night, which is a great indication of how clean the game was played by the Tigers

Another thing to take away from this game is the amount of guys that can score. Last year Smith and Young had to carry the team each night, and when they were taken off the court we would go long stretches without scoring. This team has a lot more guys that can put the ball in the basket. Booker and Jennings got theirs tonight, but you also saw expanded range from K.J. McDaniels. Jordan Roper seems to be as talented offensively as everyone has been telling us, scoring with an array of offensive moves. Adonis Filer seems like he can get into the paint any time he wants. And Demarcus Harrison has a very versatile offensive game that includes a smooth stroke from deep. This team is still lacking a go-to scorer, but they have more scoring options on a nightly basis than they've had in the past.

One area for concern was our interior defense. While PC may have lacked the type of height we'll face in the ACC, they had some big bodies down low. And one of those big bodies, Joshua Clyburn, ate up Jennings, Booker and Nnoko inside. Jennings and Booker are not nearly as physical as they need to be down low. Clyburn was getting to his spots on the court and overpowering them once he received the ball. You've gotta move that man off the block and force him to catch the ball away from the basket. And while we did a good job of boxing out, we weren't physical enough. You don't just put your back to the man, you gotta clear him out of the paint. If Clyburn is able to impose his will down low against us, what's going to happen when we go up against James McAdoo, Richard Howell and CJ Leslie, Mason Plumlee, and Alex Len? There are a lot of good big men in this league and we need to get a lot tougher or we're gonna be abused down low.

Overall, though, there wasn't too much to complain about. This team needs to continue to use these cupcake games early in the season to get the young guys more acclimated and confident heading towards ACC play. But if you are in the Clemson area, make an effort to get out and watch this team play. It's a more exciting brand of basketball this year, as they are going to get up and down the court much more than years past. Next up is Furman on Friday night.