Well, I must confess. I did not think too much of Clemson's chances of advancing to Friday in this years ACC Tourney. Thursday night's game versus Florida State held about as much excitement to me as watching re-runs of The Golden Girls. But Larry Shyatt and crew caught my attention with solid play and, most of all, a win. I saw bleak glimmers of hope in Edward Scott and Thomas Nagys. This is the future of Clemson basketball, and I must say that I was pretty impressed.
Friday vs. North Carolina saw more of the same. At times, Clemson looked very competitive with the Tar Heels. Fatigue and lack of quality depth eventually led to the Tar Heels pulling away at the end. But, it was hard for me to fault the effort and quality of play the Tigers and Coach Shyatt showed in Atlanta. It does beg the question…why did Clemson not play at the level it did in Atlanta throughout the year? Good question…and I don't have an answer.
Shyatt vs. Doherty-Act I
Matt Doherty is a big old wuss. Here is a guy that took a team into Littlejohn Coliseum with an 18 game winning streak and the number one ranking in the both polls. And by some minor miracle, Clemson was able to not only get their biggest win of the year, but maybe their biggest win since 1980s' victory over then number one Duke.
And not only did Doherty whine and moan about Clemson's exorbitant celebration that night, he held the grudge long enough to create a minor verbal scuffle with Shyatt after UNC's victory over the Tigers on Friday. Seems Doherty said he, and UNC, had more class than to call a timeout with 5 seconds left in the ACC Tourney and celebrate like the Tigers did in Littlejohn.
Did you ever wonder why UNC, which is maybe the second most successful program in college basketball history, only has two national championships? It's because of that "woe is me" attitude exhibited by the entire blue belly community. News Flash---The world does not revolve around Carolina Blue. The Tar Heels are soft….always have been….always will be. Their poor old feelings get hurt too easily, and that is why they don't win the national titles you would think they would with their storied tradition. So, when you are making your bracket picks this week, don't pick the Tar Heels to win it all. Why? Because you can't be soft and win titles. And Matt Doherty (aka Vanilla Ice), needs to quit worrying about Larry Shyatt "disrespecting" him by calling a timeout with three seconds left…and start asking himself why in the heck he even coached his team to a loss vs. the woeful Tigers in the first place.
Play In Game
So the Play In game is back. #8 vs. #9 at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday with the winner earning the right to play the #1 seed at 12:00 noon on Friday. Seems unfair to the #8 and #9 teams? Darn right. I like the Play In game because it allows for four games on Friday. But you have to reward your top teams by giving them the most benefits of rest throughout the tourney. Playing at 12:00 on Friday allows the #1 seed almost 24 hours recovery time before their next game on Saturday. Does playing at 12:00 hurt the chances of the #8 vs. #9 winner after they played a night game the evening before? Absolutely. But that is what you get for stinking it up throughout the year. Don't want to be given an unfair disadvantage…don't finish #8 or #9. Finish #1 in the regular season and you will get all the good advantages.
I like the idea of rotating the ACC tourney outside the state of North Carolina. There is much more to do in Atlanta than Greensboro, not to mention tickets are much easier to get in the 40,000-seat Georgia Dome. But don't let the ACC people fool ya. Even though they are rotating the games around, the tourney will still be in the state of North Carolina six out of the next ten years. Progress is slow here in ACC land.
I absolutely love the folks who stand at the portals waiting for the losing teams' fans to exit the building. Are they standing there to rub victory in or help console defeat? No. They want tickets. And where better to find tickets than the losing teams portal?
Expectations? Let me be the first to say Will Soloman should return next year. With Will, Clemson should contend for an NCAA tourney bid. If Will decides to go to the NBA, the Tigers are a bubble team that should still be able to contend for an NCAA spot. And what if the Tigers finish 4-12 in the ACC next year? Let's not even go there…
You can reach Scott Rhymer at firstname.lastname@example.org.