Tigers' Press Must be Effective

Anyone who knows anything about the NCAA Basketball Tournament knows all too well about the never ending upsets that takes place with a No. 5 seed versus a No. 12 seed.

In fact, the No. 12 seed wins nearly a third of the time, although last season was the first year it hadn't happened since the field expanded 64 teams 23 years ago.

Many are pointing to this year's game between No. 5 Clemson and No. 12 Villanova as one of those potential upsets.

The reason being, the Wildcats come from a very tough conference and are battled tested, but more importantly, they believe Villanova's three solid guards will present problems for the Tigers and their press.

"It's a bad matchup," CBS basketball analyst Billy Packer said Tuesday on Primetime with the Packman radio show. "Of all the lower seeds, that's probably the worst one for Clemson."

Tigers coach Oliver Purnell said he is fully aware of the potential problems trying to trap and press three guards can create.

Against teams with three guards like Miami and Florida State, the press had little effect. But Purnell said he's not changing his style.

"My philosophy on style of play is to adopt the style of play that gives your players the best opportunity to win," he said. "We made the decision to go back to the press here at Clemson because I felt those were the kinds of athletes that we would be able to recruit to win in the ACC.

"There aren't any pressing teams in the ACC. I thought if we could adopt an unorthodox style, recruit long, athletic players that could play that style that we could win in the ACC. We didn't press nearly as much our first or second year here because those weren't the kind of players that we had."

"We know it's going to be a difficult matchup. But that's our style. We can't change nor do we want to change."

Wildcats coach Jay Wright said he also fully expects to see Clemson's press and that how his three guards handle it will be the key to the game.

"They never stop," he said. "They really come at you. But I like our players. They've been here before and know what to expect."

Clemson guard Cliff Hammonds, who is labeled as one of the best guard defenders in the ACC, will draw the assignment of trying to slow Reynolds down.

It's a move that Wright anticipated.

"Hammonds is tough, but he's bigger and just as quick," he said. "That's nothing unusual. Scottie in the Big East always draws the other team's toughest, biggest guard. He's going to see that again in Hammonds. It's going to be another one of those games where he gets banged and pushed."

CUTigers.com Top Stories