on January 28, 2010 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Tigers’ offense continues to sputter

By Eric Sprott

The Journal

CLEMSON — On Tuesday night, Terrence Oglesby could be found spotting up behind the three-point line and doing what he does best.

Unfortunately for the Clemson basketball team, he was in the Walhalla High School gym instead of Boston with the Tigers, where they sure could have used his help against Boston College.

Home from Europe and horsing around after watching his brother, Paxton, and the Razorbacks pick up a runaway win over Emerald, Oglesby flashed the skills that helped make him one of the most dangerous deep threats in Clemson history before leaving the team last year to pursue a professional career overseas.

Meanwhile, the Tigers (15-6, 3-4 ACC) dropped their third straight game with a 75-69 loss at the hands of the Eagles, which included a 3-of-16 showing from behind the arc.

With Oglesby’s early departure and the graduation of K.C. Rivers, the Tigers faced an obvious uphill struggle to replace those deep threats in their halfcourt offense, and that situation has only been exacerbated since Demontez Stitt sprained his foot on Jan. 16 at N.C. State.

Stitt managed to play in the Tigers’ next two games but sat out the Boston College loss, as it’s easy to point out the Clemson offense has gone into a tailspin since his injury.

“You can always look at a couple of games and say that, but I have a tendency to look at our team in total and look at both ends of the floor,” Clemson head coach Oliver Purnell said this week. “What I have said from the beginning is offensively we probably won’t be as good a shooting team.”

While a drop-off was to be expected, it’s hard to believe Purnell could fathom the Tigers going a combined 5 of 29 from long range over their last two games, dating back a 60-47 loss to Duke that marked Clemson’s lowest scoring output of the season.

Since ACC play opened, the Tigers are shooting a paltry 25.6 percent from long range. Their top deep threat, Andre Young, went just 1 of 7 from three and 2 of 11 from the field against Boston College as he made his first career start in the place of Stitt.

With Stitt unable to create penetration off the dribble since his injury, perhaps the biggest key to the Clemson offense has been taken away, as only Trevor Booker has played at a consistently high level.

The senior is playing some of his best ball of late, as he’s shooting 64.2 percent from the field over his last three games, averaging 20 points a game during that stretch.

All told, Booker has led Clemson in scoring in each of its last six games, scoring no fewer than 19 points a night.

Otherwise, the offense has been largely stagnant, with starting forward David Potter particularly struggling.

Through the Tigers’ Dec. 6 meeting with South Carolina, Potter had hit 21 of 36 three-point shots, good for a 58.3 clip.

Since then, Potter has gone 6 of 37 from behind the arc, including 3 of 20 in conference play, while he hasn’t made more than one shot from the field in any game since ACC play opened.

In perhaps a bit of foreshadowing, Potter tied a season low with 16 minutes played at Boston College, while freshman Noel Johnson stepped in with nine points and a career-high five assists in a career-best 25 minutes played.

Potter, a senior, hasn’t registered more than nine points since November, and hasn’t had more than three assists in a game this season.

With all that taken into account, the Tigers can only hope to have a healthy Stitt back in the lineup on Sunday, when they host Maryland at 5:30 p.m., as they look to get back to some level of respectability on offense.

“Hopefully by Sunday I’ll at least be 85, 90 percent, but I think we just have to see how the healing process goes,” Stitt said.

Tigers’ game against FSU sold out. The Clemson athletic ticket office announced Wednesday that the Feb. 10 game against Florida State has officially sold out.

No tickets remain for any of the Tigers’ final five home games of the season, as Clemson has sold out 10 games for the 2009-10 season, including all eight conference home games.

eric@dailyjm.com | 882-2385

Clemson's Tanner Smith (5), David Potter (15) and Trevor Booker walk off the court following the Tigers' loss last week at Georgia Tech in Atlanta.