On the defensive

CLEMSON - Defending won't be an issue for Devin Coleman.

The freshman guard from Philadelphia, Pa. did plenty of that his prep career at Friends' Central High School.

"In high school, that's one thing that I had to do a lot of times -- stick the other team's best player. That's something that I'm used to doing," Coleman said. "This, obviously, is going to be a little more difficult, playing against the level of competition we play against."

When the 2011-12 Clemson basketball season opens with an exhibition against Queens a week from Saturday, the 6-foot-2 guard expects to get the bulk of his minutes to be at shooting guard.

"I'm kind of undersized to play 2, so ball-handling and point guard skills are something that we've been working on, something I'll have to continue to get better at as we go along," Coleman said.

Much of that individual skill work came during the weeks leading up to the start of full-team workouts, which began earlier this month.

During those individual and small group sessions, each freshman paired with an upperclassmen. Coleman was matched up with Tanner Smith.

"[The freshmen] kind of got to learn [from the upperclassmen] along the way, which was good," Coleman said.

With several months of college life now under his belt, he feels comfortable, both on and off the court.

"It's been a learning experience, just coming into something new, being out on your own," Coleman said. "We got a good look at what everything would be like during the summer when we came for summer classes. I feel like the rest of the freshmen and I adjusted to it pretty well. It's definitely a lot to learn."

On the floor, conditioning was the biggest adjustment from the high school game.

"In high school, you work more on your skills. I feel like conditioning is kind of lost within that. We definitely get after conditioning here," Coleman said.

Less than a week after the exhibition against Queens, the regular season opens with an 8 p.m. tipoff against Gardner-Webb. ACC play starts with Florida State on Jan. 7.

"I just want to get on the floor and help out in any way, whether that be scoring, rebounding," Coleman said. "Coach always says the easiest way to get on the floor is to defend.

"That's definitely going to be one of my focuses, just to lock down the guy I'm guarding, be in good help position, things like that."

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