Spotlight on Hamilton Against 'Canes

CLEMSON – Vernon Hamilton is praying to the basketball gods that Wednesday night's game against Miami will be the last one he ever plays in Littlejohn Coliseum.

What: Miami (11-17, 4-10 ACC) at Clemson (19-9, 5-9 ACC)
Where: Littlejohn Coliseum
When: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday
TV: None

Hamilton, who is the lone senior on scholarship and will be honored before the final home regular season game, is hoping that the Tigers can win the final two games of the season and make a run in the ACC Tournament, which might be just good enough to keep him and his teammates out of the NIT and a likely home game against another below average team.

"That's exactly how I feel," Hamilton said. "I can't honestly say that I would be happy or satisfied if we played another one here in the NIT."

Two weeks ago, Hamilton said it would be "a disgrace" if Clemson had to play in the NIT and not make it to the NCAA Tournament after starting 17-0.

Does he still feel that way?

"I still do. It would be a disappointing season, especially with the way we started out," Hamilton said. "Our goal from the beginning, before the season even started, was to make the tournament. To start the way we did and not finish it would be very disappointing."

Head coach Oliver Purnell said he disagrees with is point guard. But, considering the way things have gone the last six weeks, he doesn't have a choice.

"I think that basically what Vernon is saying is that in his senior year that he would like to go to the NCAA Tournament," Purnell said. "We set a goal to go to the NCAA Tournament, and I still think that's possible. But to say that it would be a disgrace … that would be pretty strong for me to say that."

Junior forward James Mays sides on that of his teammate. In fact, he says the entire team feels the same way Hamilton does in regards to postseason play.

"It definitely would," Mays said. "That's how we feel. We started the season 17-0 and pretty much played ourselves out of the tournament. It really will be a disgrace."

Mays, who hasn't started the previous two games and who only played 15 minutes in Saturday's loss at Boston College, will once again start. He will take the place of Sam Perry, which means the team's top five scorers will start for the first time this season.

Also, Miami sophomore guard Denis Clemente was suspended Tuesday for the remainder of the season by head coach Frank Haith for violation of team rules.

Clemente averaged 9.8 points and 3.3 assists per game.

Regardless of who plays guards for the Hurricanes, the guard that will be center stage is Hamilton, who has matured, grown and improved as a player and person over the course of his four years at Clemson.

He'll also leaves as the school's all-time steals leader.

"It hasn't quite sunk in yet like I know it's going to Wednesday night when I walk out (on the court)," he said. "It's been a good four years."

He just hopes that it gets better.

Miami (11-17, 4-10 ACC)
G 33 Jack McClinton (6-1, 185) 16.1 ppg, 2.5 rpg
G 12 Anthony Harris (6-2, 187) 9.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg
F 21 Dwayne Collins (6-8, 232) 8.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg
F 32 Brian Asbury (6-7, 214) 11.7 ppg, 5.5 rpg
F 44 Keaton Copeland (6-5, 245) 2.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg

Clemson (19-9, 5-9 ACC)
G 3 Vernon Hamilton (6-0, 195) 12.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg
G 25 Cliff Hammonds (6-3, 197) 11.3 ppg, 4.1 apg
C 35 Trevor Booker (6-7, 215) 9.8 ppg, 6.3 rpg
F 40 James Mays (6-9, 222) 13.1 ppg, 6.7 rpg
F 1 K.C. Rivers (6-5, 210) 13.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg Top Stories