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Catching up with Clemson

Clemson (19-7, 7-5 ACC) will enter Comcast Center on Wednesday night riding a three-game winning streak. The Tigers are 3-1 since defeating Maryland, 62-53, on Jan. 31 and now are playing with a healthy Demontez Stitt.

Stitt (6 feet 2, 175 pounds), the team's junior point guard, sat out the last game against Maryland with a sprained left foot. But Stitt is back in the starting lineup now and is working his way back into form.

"I think he's very important," Maryland Coach Gary Williams said of Stitt Monday on the ACC coaches' teleconference. "I've always liked the way he's played because he can advance the ball quickly down the court. I think anytime you can put pressure on a defense, whether it's after you get a rebound or after the other team scores, it's to your advantage because it's harder to set up your drop-back defense. I think he gives them that initially, and then he has the ability to score. Plus he's a savvy defensive player. He knows how to play defense in terms of helping Clemson's pressure, but also their drop-back situation."

In conference play, the Tigers are ranked No. 2 in the ACC in scoring defense (64.2 ppg allowed), No. 1 in three-point percentage defense (23.8 percent allowed) and No. 1 in steals (7.8 spg). They are one of three teams in the ACC (Maryland and Georgia Tech being the other two) that still use full-court pressure defense as a consistent weapon.

Forward Trevor Booker (6-7, 240 pounds) remains Clemson's top offensive asset. He is averaging 15.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He also is leading the ACC in field goal percentage (50 percent) in conference play.

Forward Jerai Grant (6-8, 220 pounds) is leading the conference in blocks (2.3 per game) in ACC play. Grant had a huge game against Maryland in late January, tallying 18 points, 12 rebounds and 4 blocks.

Clemson could use a quality road win to boost its NCAA tournament resume, and snatching one at Comcast Center certainly would qualify as such. The Tigers are 1-4 thus far on the road in ACC play.

By Steve Yanda  |  February 23, 2010; 10:34 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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First to say, this will be a close game...with Maryland edging out a victory in the last few minutes of the game.

Posted by: Havemercyplz | February 23, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

We saw what happened when the best scoring defensive team played the Terps. It took Tucker's magic (and yes he's still gonna have my baby). Of course it didn't help that on the play prior to that (when Tech went ahead with 3 seconds left) that we did a horrible job of boxing out. So I think this will be another close game and I'm not quite sure how well MD will handle the full-court press for extended periods. We can't let Grant grab 12 rebounds again if we expect to win.

As for petecard I completely agree with him when he said this,

" My personal preference is to have a top, or elite program. Gary got us to that point, but surely we lost that. Some fans will blindly follow Gary and the team and live off of the thrill of our one championship. We don't have to be great every year, but we should be better than we have been on a consistent basis."

However, I do want/expect us to be great every year. Yeah, yeah, unrealistic, blah blah.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | February 23, 2010 1:47 PM | Report abuse

The problem with complaining about Gary is that changing coaches every time they have a couple of down years isn't the path to consistent greatness. That's particularly true when there are explanations for the down years that aren't the coach's fault.

Seriously, there are only a handful of coaches who you could reasonably expect to have a consistently better program at MD.

Posted by: acebojangles | February 23, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Stitt may be a key for Clemson, but let's not overlook Tanner Smith, the 6'5" sophomore.

He caused major problems with his defense at the point against GV and his perimeter defense in general.

Looking for a better game from our ball handlers this time.

Posted by: petecard | February 23, 2010 3:05 PM | Report abuse

Poopy, just to be clear, it's your words that say... "However, I do want/expect us to be great every year. Yeah, yeah, unrealistic, blah blah."

As for myself, I want us to be great every year but I don't expect it. I'm looking for excellence most years.

It would be fun to get to the point where we could expect it. But every once in a while everyone slips...

Posted by: petecard | February 23, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Am I wrong Poopy? I couldn't find my post with that last comment and since the quotation marks end above that I assume they are your words....

Posted by: petecard | February 23, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Yeah pete, I forget how long ago it was but I said something along the lines of wanting to be great, elite every year, win it all every year and was shouted down for being unrealistic, having too high of expectations, etc.

So that's where it came from, not from anything you said.

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | February 23, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and:

"Hi, I'm Greivis Vasquez. You might remember me from such telethons as 'Out with Gout '88' and 'Let's Save Tony Orlando's House.'"

Posted by: Poopy_McPoop | February 23, 2010 3:29 PM | Report abuse

It would be fun to get to the point where we could expect it. But every once in a while everyone slips...

Posted by: petecard | February 23, 2010 3:09 PM | Report abuse

And when they do slip everyone once in a while (3 NITs in 16 years), I will use that as an excuse to demand the coach be booted from the school!

Posted by: Barno1 | February 23, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Barno, 6 years of drought is more than a slip.

Posted by: petecard | February 23, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Petecard, we slipped in 3 of those 6 years. You really go no satisfaction out of winning the ACC tourney in 04, or winning 25 games in 06/07? You really didn't get any enjoyment out of last year's team? Or this years? We had 3 mediocre years. 3 in 16.

Posted by: Barno1 | February 24, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

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