With the Virginia Tech Hokies hosting the Clemson Tigers Saturday afternoon, Gobbler Country and Shakin' the Southland, the Clemson blog on SB nation, exchanged six questions each concerning the game.
This is what Shakin' had to say about the game, which is set for tip-off at 4 p.m. Saturday.
Gobbler Country: The Tigers seem to struggle more against teams that play very good half-court defense. The Hokies have made a living off of forcing turnovers in the half-court this season. Clemson is fourth in the league averaging 15 turnovers per game. How will the Tiger backcourt hold up against the Tech defense?
Shakin' the Southland: Clemson has played very sloppy in half court sets this season and have committed quite a few unnecessary turnovers this season. Clemson thrives when it can create turnovers and score in transition. When the Tigers actually have to buckle down in a half court set, Clemson loses any fundamentals it had. Clemson does not run motion too well and really does a poor job setting screens (as we have complained about all season over at Shakin’). Clemson also has not shot the ball well all year, thus allowing teams to focus on stopping Trevor Booker. If Virginia Tech can keep Clemson in a half court set (especially with Stitt still hurt) I expect more sloppy play out of Clemson here.
GC: In 2008-09, Terrence Oglesby made 92 three-point shots. With only eight games left this season, the leading three-point scorer for Clemson is Andre Young with 34. How difficult is it for the Tigers to find an outside shooter on a nightly basis?
SS: Plain and simple, Clemson does not have a consistent outside threat. Young can shoot the ball but has not shown that he will be able to carry this team from the perimeter. Once again, with Stitt out, Clemson has struggled with no answers shooting the basketball (which makes inside scoring more difficult also).
GC: Clemson has made a name for themselves for starting seasons red-hot, then falling apart down the stretch in ACC play. After losing three of their last four, how pivotal is Saturday’s game for the Tigers and their hopes of a strong postseason resume?
SS: Clemson really needs to score some wins over the next couple weeks. Clemson travels to Blacksburg before hosting FSU, Miami, and Virginia, then heads up to College Park. We think that all of these games are winnable, but Clemson really needs to win 4 out of 5 to position themselves for the postseason. A road ACC win would do a lot for this team and I think that Clemson has a better chance of pulling this off this weekend than it will at College Park. Thus, holding serve here and avoiding dropping to 4-5 in league play is very important and will set the tone for the month of February. If Clemson loses, they will really need to press to get to what we believe is a necessary 10 ACC wins on the season.
GC: If Trevor Booker is not on the floor (foul trouble, injury), who is Clemson’s go-to option on offense?
SS: With Demontez Stitt injuried, the Tigers really have trouble getting things going. Jerai Grant had a nice game against Maryland, but really scored most of his points by purely hustling. Trevor's brother, Devon, plays for Clemson and is starting to get more quality minutes. If anyone, I would expect Andre Young to be the most likely player to step up for the team. Andre will need to make things happen off of the dribble and find a shot, but does have good ball handling abilities.
GC: Oliver Purnell has made Clemson a high-pressure defensive team, gambling that his team will force more turnovers in the backcourt than it will allow fast break/transition points. If the Hokies prove they can beat the full-court press, what does that do the Tiger’s chances?
SS: Clemson's chances are deminished when other teams break the press. Duke was successful and beat Clemson out of the gym. If the Hokies beat the press, they will be in good shape to pick up some easy points. Further, this will negate Clemson's ability to score their easy points off turnovers in transition. The Tigers are a poor half court offensive team and can really use all the "easy" points they can get.
GC: After breaking a three-game losing streak Sunday against Maryland, then having to wait six days to play again, how do you think it will affect the psyche of the Clemson players?
SS: The extra time really helps the Tigers as they try to get Stitt healthy. Hopefully his ankle will be healthy enough that he can give Coach Purnell and the Tigers some quality minutes both Saturday and down the stretch. Clemson also really needed the win over the Terrapins Sunday. This win snaps a three game skid and hopefully will set Clemson in motion for a strong finish. Hopefully utilizes this time to learn how to play in half court sets, set proper screens, hustle continuously, and shoot free throws.