OPENING COMMENTS: First of all I want to thank the guys that were here today and participated in the golf tournament. It's always a lot of fun. The great thing is when you are a bad golfer you can really have fun out there and we did. It's just amazing to me that this is the seventh season that we've been here. It's been a tremendous climb. It's certainly been tough in the ACC getting our team into the top 25 but it's fun too. Certainly we want to continue to have fun and continue to climb. We've got a lot left to do with our program and with this team.
About a week from now it becomes really fun to be a basketball coach. This could be the most talented group that we've had to this point. That's certainly not surprising. Every year you certainly want to get a little better from a talent standpoint. It's real simple what you want to do in the ACC- is get your recruiting going and let those guys grow up. You teach them how to win games and your team gains confidence. We are at the point now in our program that every game we go in we expect to win. That doesn't mean that you win every one of them. But the thing I'm proudest of is improving our winning percentage every year and that's one of our goals this year - to win at a higher rate that last year.
We do have experience, but we only return two starters. We do have talent, but we lose an awful lot of offensive fire power in K.C. Rivers, Terrence Oglesby and even Ray Sykes. We have some holes to fill and we have questions to answer but with Trevor Booker coming back as our leader- as a tremendous emotional leader, and he's obviously exciting on both ends of the floor ... he is perhaps the best player returning in the league. As a basketball coach that's a nice place to begin.
We do have some experience in the point guard position. It wasn't as consistent as I would have liked last year but you have to gain some experience there in the ACC. Demontez Stitt has started a bunch of games for us the last two years. As a point guard he's won a lot.
Andre Young- really impressed with his contributions as a freshman. He won for us at the point guard position.
Jerai Grant was our most improved player last year and our expectations for him are high. David Potter has played a lot for us and he's another young man we are counting on a lot. Both of those players will be vying for starting positions.
Our recruiting class is arguably the best in Clemson history. All of those young men bring something different to the table. Donte Hill has tremendous instincts and ability at 6-foot-4. You look at Milton Jennings - 6-9 who offensively can shoot it from the outside and score inside and block shots. Noel Johnson - a late pickup who was certainly one of the top prospects in the country. He's offensively talented. Then Devin Booker- he reminds you a lot of Trevor as a freshman.
A young man also we are expecting big things from him is Tanner Smith. He's probably our best presser by the second half of the season last year.
A lot of opportunity for Bobo, Caitlin Baicu. I've been impressed with the way he's gotten up and down the floor. He's done well and he'll be fighting for playing time as well.
I look at this year's team- I think we have to be better defensively ... and should be. Ray Sykes gave us a lot of length, and K.C. Rivers fit in and Oglesby got better [last year], but the guys that are coming in, we should be better defensively.
We probably have to score the ball better in different ways. We have to be a better running team and we won't depend on the three-point shot as much. The main thing there is K.C. was the leading three-point shooter in the school. On paper we aren't as good shooting the ball from deep. But I think our ability to run, our ability to defend will give us the ability to be better.
I think the ACC is wide open. North Carolina is the defending National Champion. Duke is Duke. Georgia Tech - love their recruiting class and love their returning team. Florida State, even though they lost Toney Douglass, they have a great returning team. Virginia Tech returns a lot of guys- Delaney and Allen are back once again. There are so many good teams.
Our preseason schedule allows us to gauge our team early in Anaheim. We'll find out where we are pretty early playing Texas A&M with West Virginia and UCLA in our bracket. It's probably the toughest schedule we've played but we are ready to tackle this slate.
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