At the time, the 13th-ranked Tigers (39-17) figured after they closed out the season on Saturday, they would stay over in Raleigh that night and then head to Durham on Sunday to get ready for the ACC Tournament which began Wednesday and is being played at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The only problem, Clemson had no idea at the time it was going to have to
wait five days and five games into the ACC Tournament before they would
see their next game.
Turns out the No. 3 seeded Tigers finally get to play tonight
when they take on sixth-seed Virginia at 8.
"We didn't find out until (Sunday) night around six or seven o'clock that
we were not playing until Thursday night," Clemson coach Jack Leggett
said. "That made it a little bit difficult by then to pack things up and
come on home because we have a coaches meeting and we have to practice on
the field Tuesday."
There was also a mandatory players' banquet the conference held on Tuesday
as well, another reason that forced the Tigers to take an unwanted
vacation in the North Carolina Triangle.
"Coming back home was surely something you think about," Leggett said.
"You get to come back and sleep in your own bed for a few nights and come
back on Wednesday and play Thursday. That might have been something that
made sense, but we are up here."
To top things off, the Tigers will have to open the tournament against the
only team they did play this year - No. 15 Virginia (39-12-1).
"It will be a good challenge for us," Leggett said. "If you play someone
you have seen before you kind of know what to expect, but I'm sure it is
difficult for them as well because they have not seen us pitch, hit and
field and all of those things.
"It will kind of be a new experience for both us and we just know that
they have been playing well and they have a good solid team so it is going
to be a good challenge for us."
And since Clemson has a lineup that starts two freshmen and four
sophomores, the majority of this year's Tigers were not around when
Clemson played the Cavaliers in late April of 2007.
"It is the same for both teams," Leggett said. "We have played them in the
past, though a lot of kids have never played Virginia."
Virginia is averaging 8.3 runs per game and is hitting .336 with 50 home
runs. Jarrett Parker leads the team with a .380 average which includes 18
doubles, six triples, 15 home runs and 58 RBIs, while Dan Grovatt is
batting .372 with six home runs, 45 RBIs, and 13 steals.
Tyler Cannon is hitting .366 with 16 stolen bases and Phil Gosselin has
tallied a team-high 59 RBIs and 19 stolen bases as well.
The pitching staff has a 3.30 ERA and has thrown 477 strikeouts against
156 walks. Sophomore right-hander Kevin Arico has a team-high eight saves
along with a 2.72 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 49.2 innings.
"They are real solid ballclub," Leggett said. "Offensively they have three
or four guys that I think are all-conference caliber players. They have a
freshman that that had a freshman of the year type season so it is going
to be a challenge for us."
Because of the wait and the level of competition in the field, this year's
ACC Tournament will be one of the biggest challenges Clemson has had in
this tournament in recent years.
"It is going to be a good challenge because the other teams have a
four-day period to get it done and a day's rest in between and somehow we
don't play until the sixth game of the tournament so it is going to make
for a more difficult road," Leggett said. "So we will have to stay focused
and just go one game at a time.
"It's almost like playing for Omaha where you sit around for three or four
days and you just hope you don't lose your rhythm and timing and all of
those types of things that you have been gathering over the last couple of
Tigers finally get to play
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