Ford's Play Critical to Postseason Hopes

CLEMSON – In a season that has seen a great deal of highs and lows, <A HREF=[PlayerNode:1572650]>Sharrod Ford</A> has been on the few steady forces on the Clemson basketball team. <BR>

Ford, a senior, leads the team in scoring at 14.8 points per game and has led the Tigers in scoring in 12 of the team's 20 games. The forward also leads the Atlantic Coast Conference with 70 offensive rebounds, while ranking fourth in the league in blocked shots and ninth in field goal percentage.

However, even with the flashy numbers, Ford and his teammates have found the going tough. Clemson (10-10, 1-7 ACC) has come down to the final possession in three games to either win or send the game in overtime. And each time, the Tigers wound up losing.

"It's definitely been frustrating," Ford said. "We've been right there at the end so many times, but we couldn't get the job done. It hurts."

One common theme in the three tight losses is that the Clemson offense struggled to score points when it went away from giving Ford the ball.

"We know that everything starts and ends with Sharrod," said Tigers guard Cliff Hammonds. "We can't win without him."

Even before the season started, it was evident how important of a role Ford was going to play for Clemson.

"We're only to go as far as Sharrod takes us," Tigers coach Oliver Purnell said. "He's the key to our team."

But Ford can only do so much. His teammates have to step up and they know it.

"He can't do everything," said forward Cheyenne Moore. "If he's getting double-teamed down low, we have to be able to hit the outside shot. If we do that, then it opens things up even more for him."

However, when things don't go well for the Clemson guards from the outside, Ford isn't ripping them or screaming at them. He's always there for positive words of encouragement, which goes a long way with such a young and impressionable team.

And that fact hasn't gone unnoticed.

One NBA scout recently wrote on his report on Ford that "Has good low post moves with good feet and soft hands. He is a good leader that teammates listen to."

"You have to stay positive," Ford said. "Nothing good happens if you're down all the time. It gets frustrating at times, but you always have to think that you can turn things around."

And if the Tigers are to make a run toward the postseason, it's going to be those types of attitudes that help them do it.

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