Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Timing error at Duke a life lesson for Tigers?

Clemson coach Oliver Purnell didn’t protest loudly over the clock problem when the Tigers lost 68-66 on Jan. 25 at Duke.

The ACC later acknowledged that a timing mistake occurred before Duke’s court-length play led to Dave McClure’s winning basket as time expired. Replays showed that the Blue Devils should have been given about 2.4 seconds rather than 4.4 seconds to complete a winning play after a Vernon Hamilton 3-pointer tied it for Clemson.

Purnell said ACC officials informed him that a mistake had occurred, but that he didn’t complain about the error.

“I wanted it to be a lesson to our players,” he said. “Sometimes you’re dealt a disadvantage or setback in life, but you’ve got to move on and take care of what was currently in front of you and take care of your business.”

The forward-thinking lesson didn’t help the Tigers win as they moved forward. Heading into Thursday’s rematch with Duke at Littlejohn Coliseum, Clemson has lost five of six – a streak that started with the controversial finish at Duke.

Purnell said he didn’t want to get into a “woe is me” mentality after that finish, and he continues to reject that frame of mind entering a game with a resurgent Duke team that has won two in a row and has won 20 in a row in the series with Clemson.

“They’re playing pretty well, playing inspired basketball,” Purnell said. “We simply have got to match that inspiration.”

Inspiration is something the Tigers probably won’t lack Thursday. Whether Purnell dwells on it or not, the timing error will be on virtually everybody’s mind at Littlejohn.

– Ken Tysiac