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Previewing Clemson

Clemson Scouting Report

The offense...

Clemson Offense 05-06Four FactorsPercentNat'l RankeFG%49.1177Turnover Rate20.6111Off Reb Rate37.148FTM/FGA20.2300
Clemson's offense is scoring about 1.01 pts/possession, which ranks last in the ACC and 150th in the country. Of note from the scouting report are Clemson's respective field goal percentages from inside and outside the arc. Despite making threes at a rate that puts them in the bottom ten of Division I-A, Clemson still attempts a lot of threes. Their 3FGA/FGA ratio is second only to NC State among ACC teams.

With the possible exception of Akin Akingbala, the Tigers haven't had a consistent threat in the frontcourt (this is one of the areas where the injury to James Mays has been detrimental), and as a result they've relied on their guards to generate most of the offense. Vernon Hamilton, Shawan Robinson and Cliff Hammonds are 1-2-3 on the team in field goal attempts, and they take a significant portion of Clemson's threes. This would not be a problem were they shooting like they did in 2005, but they aren't--Hammonds and Robinson have seen their 3FG% drop precipitously.

After making 40.4% (67-166) last season, Shawan Robinson is making just 29.2% (31-106) of his threes in 2006. Hammonds's three-point shooting has dipped from 35% (55-157) to 24% (25-104). Hamilton is the sharpshooter of the bunch (he's hitting 35.3% this year), but he has attempted half as many threes as the other two.

Fortunately, the Tigers are good offensive rebounders and do a decent job of protecting the ball. Turnover rate is one of their biggest areas of improvement from 2005 to 2006.

Probable Starters:

Vernon Hamilton (6-0, 195) -- Still can't hit a free throw to save his life, but after a pretty abysmal 2005, Hamilton has dramatically improved his efficiency. Among other things, his eFG% is up from 44.9% last year to 53.6% this year, and his TO% has dropped from 31.3% to 21.7%.

Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 197) -- Averaging 12.9 pts/40 and 4.3 asts/40. He's shooting 44.4% from the free throw line to go along with his ugly 3FG%. He (like Hamilton) is good at stealing the ball, though.

Sam Perry (6-5, 208) -- Has the highest O Rtg among Clemson regulars, and he's another player who has improved his efficiency a lot this season.

Akin Akingbala (6-9, 240) -- Akingbala's impressive eFG% stands out; his 1.18 PPWS is the best among Clemson regulars. His usage is about average and there are four other Tigers with more FGAs than him...maybe they should give it to the big man a little more often.

Julius Powell (6-7, 190) -- Seems like there is one uncertain slot in every team's starting lineup, and for Clemson, this is it. Powell is a threat to shoot from outside, but (I think you know where this is going...) he's made only 24.6% (14-57) of his threes.

Bench:

Shawan Robinson (6-2, 180) and KC Rivers (6-5, 210) generally come off the bench but both play extensively. Robinson is a much better shooter than his 2006 struggles indicate, and he is actually a reliable free throw shooter (OMG).

Here's a fun fact for the kids: Shawan Robinson and I were in the same 5th grade class. For an anecdote of questionable entertainment value featuring Shawan, please send $50 to:

Steven @ Section Six
123 Fake Street
Raleigh, NC 27607

Steve Allen (6-10, 250) is the only other Tiger who has appeared in every game this season.

The defense...

Clemson Defense 05-06Four FactorsPercentNat'l RankeFG%47.598Turnover Rate26.212Off Reb Rate30.6100FTA/FGA35.1152
The Tigers allow 0.89 pts/possession, which ranks second in the ACC and 23rd nationally. NC State's defense, meanwhile, has been sliding into mediocreville lately.

With four guys ranking in the top 100 in %Stls, it's not surprising that the Tigers are forcing opponents to turn the ball over at a high rate. Last weekend, they helped Georgia Tech commit 27 turnovers (TO% = 36.7%), 16 of which were Clemson steals.

The keys for the Wolfpack:

1) Force Clemson to take outside shots and hope it doesn't backfire.

2) Limit Clemson's second chances. The Pack's performance against SHU was pathetic in a lot of ways, and rebounding was no exception. SHU is a good-but-not-great offensive rebounding team that shouldn't have had the success it did. Clemson isn't a good shooting team, so limiting them to one opportunity will go a long way toward hurting their effectiveness.

3) Be selectively aggressive. State is pushing tempo more than ever this season, but this will play into Clemson's hands if we're not careful. We will probably out-shoot them (percentage-wise) and we don't want them to make up possessions via a positive turnover margin.