Monday, January 5

Clemson moves up in both polls

KC Rivers (from the Greenville News)

With the myriad teams losing this week, the Tigers moved up to 12 and 11 in the AP and Coaches' poll respectively.

Congratulations Tigers. The Crimson Tide is up next. To help you get ready for Alabama and the ACC, check out this photo gallery from the Greenville News.

Also, this week's episode of the Oliver Purnell Show is up on the internet tubes.
(You need to register to watch, though.)
The video features highlights, including Sykes TB dunk at USC, OP interviews, and an interview with Andre Young.

Before the game tomorrow, read this pre-UNC-loss column from the WWL which includes the following concerning the Tigers:
Oliver Purnell: Clemson fans have gotten very good at holding their breath, waiting in fear for the other shoe to drop, the sky to fall and the world to come crashing down on their heads. Two great starts, two average finishes. There's no doubt Purnell is doing a good job with the Tigers, but until Clemson's hot start matches a fast finish, Tigers fans will turn blue.


Player to watch: K.C. Rivers. The senior is one of just three players in school history to top 1,400 points, 600 rebounds and 200 assists.

Circle the date: Feb. 4 vs. Duke. You won't be getting a ticket. The Tigers athletic department already announced the game as a sellout, so might as well settle in with a beverage (may we suggest Hoegaarden?) and some popcorn and decide for yourself if this Clemson team is for real. There's a very good chance the Tigers could be -- at worst -- 18-2 at tip-off.

Good sign: The Tigers were down 12 points to Miami, a bad omen in the league opener. Instead of wilting, Clemson rallied with a 16-0 run that left the Hurricanes weakened. If the Tigers can stay mentally focused, their scrappy defense makes them a very difficult team to play.

Bad sign: This is all too familiar. Two seasons ago, the Tigers started 17-0, finished the regular season 21-9 and ended up in the NIT. Last year it was a 10-0 start that drizzled to a 10-6 mark in the league that re-emerged as a run to the conference tourney title game and ultimately ended in a first-round loss to Villanova in the NCAA tournament.

Why you should care: Reasonable people are reserving judgment on the Tigers, bitten twice by early-season success and midseason swoons, so Clemson is flying slightly under the radar. But the Tigers are older and wiser -- Rivers is a senior, Trevor Booker a junior -- and could pull off some in-league surprises.

NCAA outlook: Barring a disaster a la the 2006-07 season, the Tigers are in the tourney and appear to have the mental fortitude to advance.
Now it's time to welcome the students back to Littlejohn for the Alabama game tomorrow night.

Go Tigers!

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