Monday, January 7, 2008

SO, THAT’S HOW IT’S GONNA BE…

#1UNC 90, #19 CLEMSON 88 OT

Clemson University police, Clemson city police and Pickens County sheriff deputies surrounded and stopped the bus carrying the 2005 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Champions, the University of North Carolina Tar Heels, as they exited the Littlejohn Coliseum parking lot after the Heels’ 90-88 OT victory last night.

The UNC players, coaches and managers were all hauled off the bus and arrested for grand larceny theft as a direct result of stealing – and we do mean STEALING – the ACC opener for both schools.

Clemson controlled much of the game with tough defense before losing a game they simply should have won. Undeterred by his brutal missed last second shot against Georgetown in the NCAA tournament, Tar Heel sophomore sharp shooter Wayne Ellington fired up the winning three pointer which kissed the bottom of the net with just .04 remaining. Ellington had 36 points on the night.

Clemson’s 6-9 double team reduced Tyler Hansbrough’s effectiveness and the rough and tumble style of play led to 11 blocked shots by Clemson with minimal foul trouble. That style, and the refs’ consistency in calling it that way, paid dividends for UNC on the final play of regulation.

Hansbrough ended up with a double/double 12/14 and made a few key plays down the stretch. Clemson’s defensive pressure only allowed the two time All-American 7 shots from the field.

Don’t be fooled, when Stepheson and Thompson aren’t in the game, UNC’s front court isn't very big by major college backetball standards. They measure 6-9 (Hansbrough), 6-5 (Ginyard) and 6-5 (Green). That’s not very big, and teams with big front courts (BYU, Clemson) are going to give UNC trouble. Clemson came at them with 6-9, 6-9 and 6-7 and it made the Tar Heels change their style a bit.

UNC’s fast paced racehorse basketball depends on out rebounding the other guy. Clemson hung with the Tar Heels only losing the rebound battle 44-43.

Clemson's tough defense was instrumental in causing UNC's 19 turnovers.

We’re sure other coaches will notice how this worked.

LITTLE PLAY THAT CHANGED THE GAME: Clemson’s Booker played great (14 points, 11 rebounds) and fouled out late. He was replaced by sophomore David Potter who added six points. Unfortunately, for the Tigers, Potter went for a game saving steal on the last play. He missed, and that gave Ellington a clear look on the winning shot.

Here’s what we learned:

1) The Heels aren’t as good without big man Alex Stepheson (in CA with ailing father) or injured Bobby Frasor. Also semi-injured point guard Quinton Thomas was awful losing the ball on three turnovers on three straight possessions. None of this was lost on Ty Lawson who appeared to be pressing most of the game. Luckily for the Heels, most of the time, his wide open style results in good plays.

2) Clemson is big, strong, fast and athletic. They can run, shoot, defend and rebound with Carolina. They should probably be ranked higher, but no doubt the national media is afraid of another regular ACC season swoon, and (like everyone) both terrified and befuddled by how bad the Tigers are from the charity stripe – 51% last night.

3) Clemson is better than they were last year with the addition of freshmen point guard Demontez Stitt and guard/forward K.C. Rivers can flat play (he had 24 points).

4)The Tigers still are lacking at crunch time – they had two shots to win as time expired in regulation,

and,

5) They are still studying that “Shaq On Free Throw Shooting” DVD.

North Carolina's Wayne Ellington (22) reacts after making the winning three pointer while Clemson's James Mays slams into the wall after trying to block the shot. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

North Carolina coach Roy Williams reacts to the officials' call during the first half. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

North Carolina's Wayne Ellington (22) shoots as Clemson's Demontez Stitt, left, tries to block the shot during the first half. (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

Clemson's K.C. Rivers shoots over North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough, right, and Marcus Ginyard, left, as they try to block the shot . (AP Photo/Mary Ann Chastain)

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