2009-2010 Basketball Game Preview: Clemson at Virginia Tech

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(home games)
  • Date: Saturday, February 6, 2010
  • Time: 4pm
  • TV: Raycom (check local listings)



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Fresh off a big 74-70 win over UNC, the Hokies will barely have time to catch
their breath before they have to play Clemson on Saturday at 4pm. This is a big
opportunity for the Hokies. They have a chance to earn their first top 50 RPI
win of the season.

Clemson is 16-6 on the season, with a 4-4 mark in ACC play. They are #32 in
today’s RPI, according to RealTimeRPI.com. The Tigers are a good basketball
team, but they’ve suffered recently thanks to the injury to starting point guard
Demontez Stitt.

Stitt is suffering from a foot injury, and he’s missed Clemson’s last two
games. In the first game without Stitt the Tigers were upset on the road at
Boston College, but managed to defeat Maryland 62-53 in their most recent game
thanks to 26 Terrapin turnovers.


Before the win against Maryland, Clemson had lost three consecutive games. However, this is still a very capable basketball
team. They have victories over two top 50 teams, Butler and Maryland. They are
coming off yet another NCAA tournament appearance under Oliver Purnell, who has
done a great job with that program.

The Virginia Tech-Clemson series has been very tight through the years. All
eight meetings in ACC play have been decided by five points or less. The road team
has won five of the last six meetings, including both games last year. Clemson
defeated the Hokies 86-82 in Blacksburg, but Tech returned the favor on the road
by knocking off the Tigers 80-77 later in the year. Clemson had won four in a
row in the series until last year’s win by Tech, and now the Hokies will be
looking to start a streak of their own.

Clemson Starting
Lineup
Pos. Name Ht. Wt. Yr. PPG RPG

G

Andre Young

5-9

170

So.

8.1

2.2

G

Tanner Smith

6-5

220

So.

10

4.3

F

David Potter

6-6

215

Sr.

6.5

2.5

F

Jerai Grant

6-8

220

Jr.

6.7

4.2

F

Trevor Booker

6-7

240

Sr.

15.8

8.6

Demontez Stitt (6-2, 175, Jr.) is Clemson’s floor general, and he averages
11.2 points per game. However, he is questionable for this game. Some articles
have indicated that he is expected to miss the game, while others have said he
will play but not be 100%. Clemson does not list him as a starter in their game
notes.

If Stitt can’t go, Andre Young will start in his place. Young is only 5-9,
but he scores pretty well for a player his size. However, that size is somewhat
of a limitation. He has more turnovers than assists (15 to 13) in ACC play, and
that’s not something that Oliver Purnell wants out of his point guard.

With the exception of Young, Clemson is physically a very similar team to
Virginia Tech. Tanner Smith and Dorenzo Hudson are both 6-5, David Potter and
Terrell Bell are both 6-6, Jerai Grant and Victor Davila are both 6-8, and
Trevor Booker and Jeff Allen are both 6-7. This teams mirror each other in many
ways, so it should be a very even matchup.

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The other starters on the wing are Tanner Smith and David Potter. They are
both solid, rangy players who are good fits for Oliver Purnell’s pressing style.
They can both knock down open shots, though they’ve struggled in ACC play
shooting the basketball. In fact, Clemson as a team has been in a major shooting
slump as we’ll see later in the statistical comparison.

The strength of this team is their length in the backcourt and the rock solid
Trevor Booker in the frontcourt. Booker is the best inside player in the ACC,
despite his lack of height. He has great hands and a very strong body, and can
establish position on anyone in the conference. He is extremely difficult to
push out of the lane, and he finishes well under the basket.

Booker is a tough guy to double team because he is also the best passing big
man in the conference. He has 52 assists on the season, which ranks second on
Clemson’s team. Booker is also a guy who can step out and knock down open
jumpers from the outside, though he prefers to do all his work in the paint.

Jerai Grant scored 18 points in Clemson’s recent win over Maryland. He is
steadily improving. Grant has scored in double figures in each of his last two
games. He’s a very athletic player who is active around the rim.

Clemson will also bring three talented freshmen off the bench who fit in well
with their team concept. Milton Jennings (6-9, 225, Fr.), Noel Johnson (6-6,
190, Fr.) and Devin Booker (6-8, 235, Fr.) are all tall players who fit in well
with the Oliver Purnell scheme. Devin Booker is the brother of Trevor Booker,
and they appear to share many of the same traits.

Team Comparison, ACC
Games Only

Category
Clemson VT
Stat Rank Stat Rank

Scoring Off.
65.4 10 70.1 3

Scoring Def.
64.8 3 70.3 9

FG%
41.20% 10 40.80% 12

FG% Def.
42.70% 6 46.70% 12

3Pt.%
25.20% 12 30.30% 9

3Pt.% Def.
22.70% 1 31.10% 6

FT%
67.10% 10 73.90% 3

Reb. Margin

-2.8
10
-1
8

TO Margin

+2
5
+5.14
1

Assist/TO Ratio

0.8
10
1.0
5

Average
7.7 6.8

Statistically, Virginia Tech comes out on top. Believe it or not, but Virginia
Tech is the #3 scoring team in the ACC, despite being dead last in field goal
percentage. The Hokies are first in turnover margin, so those extra possessions
certainly help.

Clemson is good with turnovers because their fullcourt press creates many
mistakes by the opposing team. However, the Tigers can be sloppy with the
basketball as well. They turned it over 21 times in their recent win against
Maryland.

Clemson shot the ball well earlier in the season, but they have struggled
from the field in ACC play. Their field goal percentage is basically no
different than Virginia Tech’s, but where they have really struggled is from
three-point range. The Tigers are barely connecting on 25% of their outside
shots.

The most concerning thing about this game is that Clemson had the entire week
off to prepare, while Virginia Tech played a 9pm Thursday night game against
North Carolina. The Hokies have just one full day to prepare for Oliver
Purnell’s fullcourt pressure defense. Erick Green will likely see plenty of
minutes in this game, as Seth Greenberg generally likes to get an extra ball
handler on the court against the Tigers. How the freshman handles the press
could be the difference in the game.

This would be a good matchup for Hank Thorns, if he was still in the program.
The miniscule Thorns broke Clemson’s press with no difficulty last year, and it
will be interesting to see how Greenberg elects to handle it with Tech’s only
other point guard being a freshman.

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