Anderson making a difference

Senior walk-on Zavier Anderson typifies the team-first attitude that first-year coach Brad Brownell is trying to instill at Clemson.

Anderson, a 5-foot-9 guard who languished on the bench in each of his first three seasons, has become an integral part of this year's team.

The defections of guards Noel Johnson and Donte Hill earlier this season and the minor knee surgery that sidelined starter Demontez Stitt for a couple of weeks resulted in more playing time for Anderson, who has responded impressively -- so much so, in fact, that Brownell put him on scholarship last week.

"I just got on scholarship so it felt good to come out and help the team win," Anderson said after the 79-72 win over Miami on Jan. 8. "I'm just trying to provide as much energy off the bench as I can. I understand that's my role on the team."

He's been playing that role to the hilt.

During a 1 1/2-minute span late in the game, Anderson blocked a shot, grabbed a key rebound, then elevated among players a foot taller to tip-in a missed shot by Jerai Grant. Earlier in the half Anderson stole an inbounds pass and converted a quick layup.

"He's just a tough kid and plays with pretty good poise," Brownell said. "I said early on that we would see Zay in ACC games. I think people thought I was crazy ... but he's started some and is playing in the second half of an ACC game."

Stitt said he's not surprised by Anderson's newfound success.

"He's great in practice," Stitt said. "And I told him that if he ever grows into his shoes he's going to be about 6-4. His arms are longer than mine and his hands are bigger than mine and I'm 6-2."

WEDNESDAY NOTEBOOK: Jerai Grant is drawing rave reviews for his recent play, which has opposing coaches mentioning the 6-foot-8 senior as one of the league's top big men. "He looks like he's really improved," Miami coach Frank Haith said of Grant after an 18-point, 11-rebound performance.

"I really think he's one of the better post players in this league just because of how hard he plays. That's something our guys need to learn." Grant is averaging 16.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 blocked shots during Clemson's seven-game winning streak.

* "We've done a good job of making it difficult for people to score," Clemson coach Brad Brownell says. No kidding. The Tigers are pleasing their coach by showing a renewed commitment on the defensive end, and that has resulted in the team holding each of its first 16 opponents this season to less than 50 percent shooting. Clemson also now leads the ACC in scoring defense, allowing just 59 points per game through Jan. 8.

* Demontez Stitt and Andre Young are lighting up from long range. Young is shooting 43.0 percent from beyond the arc while Stitt is shooting 40.4 percent. Only once in Clemson history has the starting guard combination both shot at least 40 percent from 3-point range.

BY THE NUMBERS: 9 -- Straight games in which senior forward Jerai Grant has scored in double figures, through Jan. 8, the longest such streak of his career. Grant's recent efficiency has upped his scoring average to 12.7 and his field goal percentage to a team-best 63.8.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I told him that he needed to realize that he's at the point in his career now when we run plays designed for him." -- Clemson coach Brad Brownell on junior guard Andre Young. Top Stories