DePaul Blue Demons vs. #15 Clemson Tigers - Friday, December 21st, 2:00 p.m. (Central) – San Juan, Puerto Rico
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Many questions surrounded the Blue Demons as they entered the San Juan Shootout this week. They are off to a slow start at 2-6 and things could get even worse as DePaul faces nationally ranked and undefeated Clemson on the second day of the shootout.
Clemson is currently ranked 15th in the country in both the AP and Coaches Poll and come into today's game with a 9-0 record. They opened the tournament with what was an easy 90-73 win over host Division II Puerto-Rico Mayaguez.
The main question for the Tigers will be the health of star player James Mays. Mays, a 6-9 senior has missed the last four games with a hip injury after severely bruising it and spraining it against Gardner-Webb on November 24th. Mays says that he's about 60% and that lateral movement is his biggest problem, according to CUTigers.com, which means if he sees any action it will be limited. However, Clemson coach Oliver Purnell hopes that Mays can test his physical limits with some minutes in each game so don't be surprised if Mays sees some game time.
Without Mays, the Tigers are led by a balanced scoring attack that is led by junior K.C. Rivers. Rivers is putting up 15.9 points, and 7.4 rebounds per game, and is playing big with Mays out of the lineup. Although Rivers is only 6-5, he is playing forward quite effectively and is a great rebounder for his size. K.C. is also a threat to drop a three pointer as he has 18 of them on the season.
Also playing very well for the Tigers is forward Trevor Booker. Although Booker is undersized at 6-7, he pulls down rebounds in bunches (10.5 per game) and is also a very good shot blocker (2.6 per game). Trevor also does a good job of staying out of foul trouble, as he has reached four fouls in only two of Clemson's games this year. DePaul will need to attack the inside like they did against Vandy's A.J. Ogilvy in the first half and hope to get Clemson's interior in foul trouble.
Clemson is also led by Cliff Hammonds, the team's do-it-all guard who leads the team in three-pointers, assists, and steals. Also in the Tiger backcourt is Demontez Stitt, who helps Hammonds with the backcourt burden, but has problems sometimes with turnovers. Raymond Sykes is Clemson's remaining starter with Mays out of the lineup. The 6-9 Sykes will be counted on to fill some of what Mays contributes defensively and on the boards.
Leading the Tigers off the bench are three point threats Terrence Oglesby, and David Potter, and freshman forward Jerai Grant, who is the nephew of former Chicago Bull Horace Grant.
Clemson's biggest burden last season was their abysmal free throw shooting. DePaul fans may cringe when the Blue Demons go to the line, but Clemson fans have reasons to feel ever worse. Clemson last season shot 57.8% from the line (second to last in the nation!) but have improved to 62.6% this season. DePaul on the other hand is only shooting 60.8% from the charity stripe for the season and need to improve their team percentage and make some shots in clutch situations to compete.
Other questions for DePaul come in the form of point guard play. With nobody stepping up and assuming the leadership role, the Blue Demons have sometimes stalled on offense and need somebody to give them some consistent play with the ball.
It will also be interesting to see if Jerry Wainwright will go with a shortened rotation against a solid team like Clemson in order to build some chemistry. The Demons played only eight deep against Vanderbilt and saw some success in the first half only to falter.
Finally the question of defense comes into play. DePaul has done well looking out for the opponent's primary scoring option but at the same time forgot about the rest of the team. The Demons kept A.J. Ogilvy in check for most of the game but gave way to a career best performance by Alan Metcalfe. Against UIC, DePaul also managed to hold Josh Mayo in check for the most part but saw backup freshman guard Robert Kreps go off for 19 points. If DePaul is going to defeat a team as balanced as Clemson, they have to remain focused on stopping all five guys on the floor for the entire game.
Notes: Blue Demons freshman point guard Mike Bizoukas is not expected to play in San Juan due to illness. Bizoukas had been recovering from a bout with mononucleoisis.
Junior forward Matija Poscic sat out Thursday's game with a hip pointer.
# Name Ht./Wt. Pos. Year Hometown Major
1 K.C. Rivers 6-5/215 G/F JR Charlotte, NC Sociology
2 Demontez Stitt 6-2/170 G FR Matthews, NC PRTM
4 Jonah Baize 6-6/200 G/F FR Evansville, IN Pre-Business
5 Zavier Anderson 5-9/160 G FR Greenville, SC Computer Science
12 Raymond Sykes 6-9/220 C/F JR Jacksonville, FL Sociology
15 David Potter 6-6/205 G/F SO Severn, MD Pre-Business
22 Terrence Oglesby 6-2/185 G FR Cleveland, TN Communication Studies
24 Matt Morris 6-5/200 F SR Georgetown, SC Marketing
25 Cliff Hammonds 6-3/200 G SR Cairo, GA Architecture
32 Sam Perry 6-5/215 F SR Greenville, SC Sociology
35 Trevor Booker 6-7/240 C/F SO Whitmire, SC PRTM (Sport Management)
40 James Mays 6-9/230 F SR Garner, NC PRTM (Sport Management)
44 Jesse Yanutola 6-4/215 F SR Tega Cay, SC Computer Engineering
45 Jerai Grant 6-8/215 F FR Bowie, MD English
55 Karolis Petrukonis 6-11/260 C SO Trakai, Lithuania Language & International Trade
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