Solid First Half For Neal
Clemson’s frontcourt was no bigger or taller than any other that Maryland had faced this season. But unlike previous opponents, the Tigers were intent on feeding the ball into the post from the game’s outset and leaving the Terrapins to deal with the consequences.
Early dunks by Trevor Booker and Jerai Grant served as the most direct results of Clemson’s game plan, but there were several others, some of which actually were beneficial for the visiting team.
Clemson’s repeated entry passes eventually became predictable, even for senior forward Dave Neal who entered the game averaging .58 steals per contest.
With just less than five minutes to go in the first half, Neal denied a pass intended for Clemson forward Raymond Sykes and took off on a one-man fast break. Neal spun to his left to avoid an oncoming defender and missed his lay-up attempt. He then grabbed an ensuing miss by Adrian Bowie and was fouled on the putback. Neal sank both free throws.
Neal tallied a pair of steals by halftime (he finished with three on the night) and was crafty enough in the first half to help semi-negate Clemson’s inside presence. He finished with 11 points and five rebounds.
On Monday, Williams commented that Neal is effective in large part because he realizes his own limitations, be they in terms size- or talent-wise. Williams said a player like Neal has to learn all aspects of the game, since he cannot rely on one strength to carry him through.
And so, there was Neal, listed at 6-foot-7, 263 pounds, draining a three from the top of the key. There he was, pulling up in transition and draining a long jumper.
There he was, sidled up next to Booker (6-foot-7, 240 pounds) near the free throw line with 40 seconds remaining in the first half, prodding his opponent, nudging him farther and farther from the basket.
Exasperated, Booker finally slapped away Neal’s hands and yelled, “Get off me!”
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