Tigers Avoiding Letdown

One of the more impressive aspects of the Clemson basketball team this year is that the Tigers haven't had any letdowns against lesser opponents. <br>

Against the likes of Hampton, UNC-Asheville, Charleston Southern and Norfolk State, Clemson has dominated from the start and not let up. There haven't been any games decided in the final minutes like other teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

North Carolina lost to Santa Clara, and N.C. State struggled to beat Manhattan and Louisiana-Lafayette. It appeared they took those schools lightly. The Tigers, meanwhile, have approached every team, be it good or bad, the same. The players believe they have to play well to win.

And even though Friday's game is against a Southern Conference team in The Citadel, Clemson coach Oliver Purnell is wary the same way he would be against a stronger team.

"This is a very dangerous game in a lot of ways," Purnell said. "They're obviously used to winning and will play with a lot of confidence and it's an instate basketball game, so they'll come in highly motivated."

Those sound like the same words used to describe his team's game against South Carolina.

The approach Purnell takes in games like this is that he wants to see marked improvements in his team's performance. He was disappointed the way the Tigers performed against Charleston Southern, even though they won by 18 points because he didn't believe the players tried their hardest.

"I thought we improved in the Norfolk State game from the Charleston Southern game," Purnell said. "The next step for our team is to become consistent. Yet at same time, we are going to be a team that has spurts because of way we play. We're going to have some scoring spurts and some dry spells. We've got to keep that in mind as well, but we want to become a more consistent basketball team."

And just like every game, he has goals and places he wants to see his team improve.

"There are a lot of areas, but I call them the little things," Purnell said. "I think there's some fundamental little things that we aren't doing well or aren't doing consistently. It kind of falls under that theme of consistency. What is that? That's not letting guys drive the middle, rotating to take charges, blocking out every time it's appropriate. It's not dribbling through control, not throwing jump passes. A lot of those little things that we harp on almost every day are showing up in games now. We're at a point where we need to see those things disappearing. It makes you a more consistent team. You're not constantly doing little things that gift wraps things for the other team."

Babalola Update
Clemson forward Olu Babalola, who has suffered a series of sprained ankles the last two seasons, including a high-ankle sprain Tuesday, practiced a bit on Wednesday. It's still unclear whether or not he'll play Friday.

"(Thursday) we'll find out how much he can do in terms of Friday," Purnell said. "He was limping slightly (Tuesday)."


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