10 Years Ago...

With Wednesday's night win over Miami, the first victory over a team ranked inside the RPI Top 25 this season, the Clemson basketball team has all but clinched a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

And it's been a while since any Clemson basketball fan could make that kind of statement.

A long while.

In fact, you have to go back to the 1997-98 season to talk about the Tigers reaching the big dance. That's 10 long years.

Putting it in a different perspective ... think about it like this:

  • 10 years ago, right about the time the Tigers were getting ready to play in their first round NCAA Tournament game against Western Michigan, "Titanic" was the No. 1 movie at the box office.

  • 10 years ago the average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline in the United States was $1.07. Say what?

  • Bill Clinton was nearing the end of his second term as President.

  • Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go, a Robert Thorne favorite, topped the billboard music charts.

  • Seinfeld was the No. 1 television show at the time, edging out ER, Veronica's Closet and Friends as the highest rated show in America.

  • The Denver Broncos had just won their first Super Bowl after beating the Green Bay Packers, 31-24. RB Terrell Davis was named MVP.

  • Michael Jordan was still playing basketball.

  • 10 years ago Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa would captivate the country by smashing Roger Maris's 1961 home-run total. McGwire hit 70 while Sosa hit 66. Even if they had help doing it, baseball became a national pastime again.

  • 10 years ago it was players like Terrell McIntyre, Greg Buckner and Iker Iturbe that meant the difference between a win and loss for Clemson basketball.

  • Rick Barnes was still the head coach at Clemson ... but not for long. Shortly after the Tigers were upset by Western Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, Barnes bolted for Texas. He was officially hired in Austin on April 12, 1998.

  • Tommy West was about to begin his final season as Clemson's head football coach. He ended the year 3-8 after defeating South Carolina in his final game. One month after the season ended Tommy Bowden was hired from Tulane.

  • 10 years ago Clemson was a basketball school, sort of.

  • A little-known linebacker out of Atlanta, Keith Adams, signed with the Tigers over offers from South Carolina, Boston College and Ole Miss.

  • Oliver Purnell, then head coach at Dayton, was named Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year after leading his team to a 21-12 record and an appearance in the NIT. It was the Flyers' first postseason appearance since the 1990. He would guide Dayton to four more postseason appearances in the next five years, including two trips to the NCAAs before being hired at Clemson in 2003.

  • The ACC was still composed of nine schools - Clemson, Duke, N.C. State, North Carolina, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Florida State and Wake Forest. Expansion wasn't even a thought back then.

  • 10 years ago current Clemson assistant basketball coach Shaka Smart was playing for Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.

  • 10 years ago I was beginning my first senior year at Clemson in Computer Engineering. (Yeah, I had two junior years and two senior years if memory serves me correct, and sometimes it doesn't.)

    So, yeah, it's been a while. A long while in fact.

    Wednesday's night win, the 20th of the season for the Tigers, should be the final punch needed to get the Tigers back in the Big Dance since 1998.

    While there is still work to be done, namely improving seeding in the tournament and there's this little thing called the ACC Tournament as well, it's still nice to talk about.

    It will be especially nice to tune in to the 8,593 "bubble watch" reports the next few weeks and not have the Tigers mentioned- because they are already in, not because they have no business being mentioned in the same breath as the NCAA Tournament.

    10 long years Clemson basketball fans have had to wait for this moment.

    And it couldn't come soon enough.

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