The OP Stat of the Game: Jerai Grant 18 pts., 12 reb, 5 blocks
Given the following, I would have been less than optimistic, and truthfully would have have expected a solid loss.
1. Stitt not playing
2. D. Booker broken nose
3. T. Booker Flu
4. Lost three in a row
5. 31.9% shooting
6. Trevor Booker 2-16 shooting, no FGs until late in the game
But, the Tigers surprised me, Maryland, and maybe themselves.
They started strong, were able to resist the comeback, and continued to play strong defense.
Defense and rebounding are what won the game last night. The Tigers pressed, played zone, pack it in the paint, and made MD work for every basket. And while they out-shot the Tigers based on %, the Terps took 17 fewer shots. This is because of the eye for the basketball the Tigers had tonight. They rebounded well, winning on the boards 46-41.
Andre Young, hopefully, has played through his nerves. If he plays like he did tonight when Stitt comes back and Trevor Booker returns to form, he might be the third person we need to spread the team offense.
I really thought, after the steal, then big dunk by Milton Jennings, that tonight was going to be it. I was wrong. Maybe he is just ballin' in practice. Who knows? But we need him to develop some muscle and court vision. I don't know if he is playing out of his position or what. Noel Johnson, once his shot falls, will be solid. They have both been working on their defense, as has the entire team.
Of the defense last night, OP said, " I thought our team did a good job of adjusting to who we are. If we continue to rebound and defend like that, we’ll be awfully good. We have to be a better defensive team than we had been coming into tonight. We came up with some big plays in the second half to preserve the win. You have to guard to have a chance to win the game, and we were an excellent defensive team tonight."
Gary Williams agreed,"Clemson’s defense was good tonight. We just got out-rebounded. Neither team shot the ball well and offensive rebounding was a factor. They turned the ball over less than we did. Clemson just played hard and rallied without Stitt."
Of course, Gary Williams appreciates what a solid PG brings to the floor, unlike say, Vasquez, who questioned Stitt's ability before the game. And not to turn this into an anti-vasquez post, but that guy sucks. He is everything that is wrong with Maryland basketball. I dislike him on a level beyond that of a Duke or UNC player. That level of hatred connects to ability and circumstance. If Clemson had many of the past or current Duke/UNC players, I would have probably liked, no loved them. For Vasquez, I would rather Shyatt still be the coach than to have him on the team- enough.
Next up is a mini-break before an away game against VT in Blackburg on Saturday, 2/6.
Nice win Tigers. Time to get healthy. Time to start the second half of the ACC season.