More than happy to be back

CLEMSON - Landry Nnoko spent last Saturday doing what a number of his fellow Clemson students were probably doing -- laying in bed, writhing pain. But he wasn't nursing a hangover.

Nnoko was sidelined with the flu and temperatures of over 100 degrees. He would have much rather spent the afternoon battling in the paint with Virginia's Mike Tobey.

"It was awful. It was terrible just watching the game from home, not even being able to be there for my teammates, to help them out and encourage them," Nnoko said. "I felt like we came out really hot and we fought hard, so I was really proud of the guys."

His absence was noticeable in the Tigers' 63-58 loss.

"It was my first-time missing a basketball game ever, it was difficult. I just had to deal with it and watch from my bed," Nnoko said.

Three days later, he bounced back with a nine-point, six-rebound and three-block effort in the win over N.C. State.

For the season, he's averaging 5.8 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. All of the numbers are up from his freshman campaign, when he averaged 1.0 points and 1.4 rebounds.

Associate head coach Mike Winiecki, who serves as the team's big-man coach, was credited for the improved play.

"[Winiecki] really pushes me," Nnoko said. "He's always trying to tell me what to do. He just keeps coaching me and pushing me hard."

The 6-10 center from Cameroon pointed to a number of aspects that have led to some improvement in his game.

"I would say my feet, my movement and physically, just the way I move now, I feel like I get a lot wider. I used to play super small and was skinny," Nnoko said. "I've tried to improve my angles when I try to make my moves, and using my body."

Confidence plays a big part in all of that.

"It builds up. Going to practice every time against guys like Sidy [Djitte], Josh [Smith], Ibby [Djambo] and Jaron [Blossomgame], it helps a lot," Nnoko said. "We push each other a lot, so when we're in the game, we feel like we've already come across that kind of competition, so it makes it easier in the game."

Blossomgame think Nnoko "does a lot" for Clemson in the low-post, particularly on the defensive end.

"I was talking to a couple of my teammates and we were talking about his presence on the court does a lot for us," Blossomgame said. "His presence there lets us know that we've got a guy that can defend, rebound. On the court, that really helps us out with the mental part of the game." Top Stories