Last nights' tense win provided some relief after the SC game hangover as, the Tigers showed more heart and determination than- well in a long time.
From the outset, it seemed they would roll over, quit, and perform and encore of the Texas A&M loss, which in hindsight after Texas A&M’s win over Minnesota doesn’t look as bad. Nonetheless, Trevor Booker stepped it up in the endgame. He had been pounding and getting pounded inside all game. A cheap make-up call after a non-foul call with about 2:00 minutes left on Booker, seemed to set a fire under him and he moved like he hadn’t all game. He wasn’t playing with frustration, but rather with purpose and drive. It was because of the play of Stitt and Booker that last night’s win occurred.
Of Booker, OP said, "I was worried if was going to make in through the first half at one point," Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. "Trevor said he was feeling weak so I just tried to nurse him. I think his competitive juices really started to kick in."
Tanner Smith continued his solid tournament play with 8 points. Andre Young again impressed with a 12 points on 4-6 3pg. Potter, while not as hot as he has been, turned in a respectable 8 points. Milton Jennings demonstrated his ability, but is showing some growing pains. He will develop.
While Booker locked down on defense, Stitt sealed the deal offensively with a drive toward the basket with 5 seconds remaining. He was fouled with 3.3 remaining, Tigers down by two. Stitt, who apparently has decided to drive, dish, and score after starting the season with lukewarm play, made both FT to put the Tigers ahead by one. The ensuing in-bounds play was a long pass, followed a block shot that sent the ball out-of-bounds on the left side by Trevor as time expired. An official review showed .5 seconds left. The side in-bounds pass was knocked away by Booker, and the Tigers won.
I usually don’t include near complete narrative recaps of events, but last nights’ final seconds showed more about this team than the LBST win following the Texas A&M loss; it showed this team has a will and determination that many of the previous teams did not. Hopefully, this drive is channeled and captured for the remaining of the season and into March.
Per the game, Butler, like LBST, was able to break and breakdown the press. While I don't know if the win was a result of the cumulative effect OP talks about or not, it was nice to see the team adjust a little on defense. Still they need to rotate, help on the weakside, and protect the baseline. Butler lived on rotation and we were a step behind on many of their shots.
Solid win Tigers!
Stitt: B+; for resilience and stick-to-tiveness
T. Booker: B; lacking some consistency in his desire and drive.
Smith: A, he plays with hustle and desire on every play.
Narcisse: B, he came out of nowhere and played with raw energy.
Young: B+, I think our best team is on the floor when he is out there.
Grant: C, even with 105 degree fever, MJ ruined it for all sick athletes.
Jennings: C+, showed nice development, needs to be more comfortable during the game.
D. Booker: B-, has some skills, needs to keep them under control.
Noel Johnson: C, played limited minutes, but needs to seize those opportunities.
Baicu, Baize, Petrokunis, Hill: INC, need to see more floortime in order to make a sound judgement, thanks for making the trip.
Up next, Illinois