In the post with Mike Winiecki

CLEMSON - CUTigers begins an exclusive look inside Clemson basketball with a lengthy discussion with assistant coach Mike Winiecki.

Mike Winiecki has a new nickname for senior center Catalin Baciu. The 7-foot-2 Romanian big-man, once known as 'Bobo', has officially been dubbed 'Beast'.

The Tigers' second-year assistant has even gone so far as to change Bobo to Beast on his cell phone contact list.


Clemson assistant Mike Winiecki works with Catalin Baciu before last year's second round NCAA Tournament game against West Virginia.
"The last individual workout of the spring I said, 'We had a death in the Tiger family. Bobo, rest in peace.' Baby Beast was born," Winiecki recently told CUTigers.com during a one-on-one interview. "He's up to, maybe, adolescent now. He needs to be a beast by season."

As a senior at Veritas Christian in Fletcher, N.C., Baciu was ranked by Scout.com as the No. 55 player in the class of 2008.

During his first three seasons at Clemson, Baicu has averaged 1.3 points and 1.4 rebounds a game. He's logged 163 minutes in 44 appearances off the bench.

"We need him to be successful this year. He needs to provide himself for us. I think he's excited about it," Winiecki said.

Part of that excitement stems from the summer when Baciu travelled to East Asia with Athletes in Action.

"He had a great experience in China, where he averaged 20-25 minutes a game. That's great for his confidence," Winiecki said. "That was a great experience, basketball-wise, culturally-wise. He came back with a little more bounce in his step. I think he's close to almost 260 pounds now."

Winiecki will have three other veteran bigs to work with when coaches are allowed to begin conducting individual workouts with players later this month.

Back are senior forward Bryan Narcisse and junior forwards Devin Booker and Milton Jennings.

Narcisse, who had 188 minutes of experience during his first two seasons at Clemson, logged 428 in 2009-10. He scored 2.9 points and grabbed 1.6 rebounds a game, but averaged 3.5 and 1.9 during ACC play.

"I think Bryan flourished a little bit with his energy," Winiecki said. "He's a hybrid guy [perimeter and low-post]. With different lineups this year, I think he's going to be a little bit of both with some matchups, non-conference especially, and some of the smaller front lines in the ACC.

"I think he's really improved his shooting. That's what we really wanted him to work on during the summer."

Last season, Booker averaged 8.1 points and 5.5 rebounds and started all but one game at forward. The 6-foot-8 forward/center was first on the team with a 86 percent free-throw clip during ACC play.

"Devin was good from the start, for us," Winiecki said. "He has a really high ceiling. He developed, I think, with our first year, and showed flashes.

"We want him to be more consistent. That's what he's going to be doing this year. He needs to score inside [and] outside, have a face-up game from the low-block, score with his back to the basket and get to the free throw line more -- I think that's going to be a huge key."

Jennings averaged 8.3 points and 5.2 rebounds a season ago. He appeared in all 34 games [four starts].

"Milt has to keep on staying low. He has to cut down on some turnovers. He knows that," Winiecki said, "Just become more aggressive, stronger, which I think he has this summer. He's looking good. I know he's working forward to, hopefully, that starting role that he wants."

New to the group is former four-star Bernard Sullivan, who arrived to Clemson from Gastonia, N.C. earlier this summer.

"Devin was good from the start, for us," Winiecki said. "He has a really high ceiling. He developed, I think, with our first year, and showed flashes."

"I think he has a good basketball IQ. I think he'll be a good motion four-man, kind of stepping away from the basket. He can make a 3. He has to be more consistent with it," Winiecki said. "He's athletic, a little under-sized. He has to be a good rebounder for his size. I think he can be a face-up match-up. He can put [the ball] down some...athletically, he's going to help in the front-court."

Most of the low-post help is expected to come from the two remaining members of the four-man 2009 class.

Winiecki said Booker and Jennings need to reach double-figures in scoring and rebounding on a consistent level this winter.

"Both those guys have great opportunities. They showed glimpses of that last year. Now it's time to show it even more and be more consistent."


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