No Cupcakes Here

CLEMSON - It seems like just yesterday the Tigers were putting the finishing touches on a deep run in the 2008 ACC Tournament.

WHAT: Clemson (0-0) vs. Hofstra (0-0)
WHERE: Carolina First Center (Charleston, S.C.)
WHEN: Friday, Nov. 14 (9:30 PM)
SPREAD: N/A
TV: CSS

LINKS:
* CUTigers.com Game Thread
* Charleston Classic Bracket
* Quick Notes
* Purnell Scouts Hofstra
* 2008-09 Roster
* 2008-09 Schedule
While the run to the championship game was indeed exciting, it was the consecutive losses to end the season, including one to North Carolina in the finals of the ACC Tournament and one in the first round of the NCAA Tournament against Villanova, that have the Tigers wanting even more this year.

And it all starts Friday evening against Hofstra at 9:30 PM in the opening round of the inaugural Charleston Classic in Charleston, S.C.

The Pride feature a three-guard lineup and return four starters from last year's 12-18 squad, including CAA Rookie-of-the-Year Charles Jenkins, who averaged 15 points a game.

"The more I have see of Hofstra the more nervous I get about the opener," sixth-year head coach Oliver Purnell said. "They return nine of their 10 top scorers and they have an outstanding trio of guards.

"We didn't get a great draw here if you are looking for a cupcake as a draw. This is not a cupcake."

Meanwhile Clemson has to replace three key components of last year's NCAA Tournament team in forward James Mays, forward Sam Perry and Mr. Do-everything himself Cliff Hammonds.

The good news is Tigers' free throw shooting should go up as all three players combined to shoot 55 percent (118-of-214) from the line a year ago.

The bad news is the core of Clemson's full court defense has to be replaced, not to mention four years of experience playing in the rough and rugged Atlantic Coast Conference.

Purnell even admitted several times during the offseason this year's team is better offensively than his other squads at Clemson, but probably not as good on defense.

Senior forward K.C. Rivers (14.7 PPG) returns for his senior season hoping to carry the Tigers to their second consecutive NCAA Tournament berth.
"Even though everybody in this room knows how we want to play, we might not be able to do that from day one," he said. "But we are going to start out that way and hopefully we will be able to go for 35 or 40 minutes playing the way that we want to.

"If we get in a situation where we have to pull back a little bit because of their outstanding guards, then we might have to play half court defense- may even see some zone out there. It is kind of like seeing snow this time of year."

Forward K.C. Rivers returns for his senior season as Clemson's leading scorer at just over 14 points per game.

A pair of double-digit scorers also are back for the Tigers in forward Trevor Booker (11.0, 7.4 RPG) and guard Terrence Oglesby (10.5 PPG).

"We are definitely ready to get the season started," Rivers said. "We had a lot of success last season in getting to the tournament for the first time and now it's time to take the next step."

If the Tigers beat Hofstra Friday night, they will play the winner of the TCU/Western Michigan game Saturday night at 8:00 PM.

The winner of that game will advance to the championship game Sunday at 4:00 PM.

Other teams in this weekend's Charleston Classic include East Tennessee State, SIU-Edwardsville, College of Charleston and Temple.

Purnell said he's hoping the Tigers will have a home-court advantage by playing inside the Palmetto State.

"We like seeing fans dressed in orange in other arenas besides our own. We believe that is Clemson territory down there. That is one of our highest attended Clemson club meetings and all of that stuff. I know those people are excited about having us down there.

"We get a chance to showcase our team and college basketball. This is a solid field."

And the Tigers are hoping for a solid start.

PROBABLE STARTERS
Clemson (0-0)
G #2 Demontez Stitt (6-2,175) - 8.8 PPG, 3.0 APG
G #22 Terrence Oglesby (6-2,190) - 10.5 PPG, 1.8 RPG
C #12 Raymond Sykes (6-9,220) - 4.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG
F #1 K.C. Rivers (6-5,215) - 14.7 PPG, 6.3 RPG
F #35 Trevor Booker (6-7,240) - 11.0 PPG, 7.3 RPG

Hofstra (0-0)
G #20 Greg Johnson (6-0,190) - 3.7 PPG, 3.5 APG
G #22 Charles Jenkins (6-3,220) - 15.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG
G #1 Nathaniel Lester (6-5,200) - 6.3 PPG, 2.5 RPG
F #21 Darren Townes (6-7,220) - 8.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG
F #50 Dane Johnson (6-10,265) - 6.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG

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