Saturday, March 15, 2008

Clemson is on the radar now

In the midst of Clemson’s on-court celebration after its 78-74 victory against Duke in the ACC tournament semifinals Saturday, there was Tigers forward Sam Perry dancing across the floor with his jersey pulled off.

Perry went looking for cameras while shouting out a message.

“I was saying, ‘Look at us now. It’s not the same old Clemson,’” Perry said, still chattering in the Clemson locker room.

No, it’s not.

Forget all the years when the Tigers showed up for one game and fans from other schools waited for them to lose in hopes of buying their tickets when they left.

This Clemson team is different from the one that played much of the year.

It made free throws when they mattered Saturday.

Guys who almost never make free throws – otherwise excellent players Cliff Hammonds and James Mays – made them one after another.

Even when those guys are on, they’ve tended to only make free throws occasionally.

Because of it, the Tigers are the ACC championship game for only the second time in the league’s 55-year history.

Perry, for his part, was talking the talk about his team.

“We were watching ESPN (Saturday) and they were previewing the Duke-North Carolina championship game,” Perry said. “I guess they forgot we were playing Duke at 4:17 this afternoon. And we weren’t mentioned in the newspaper until the 12th page today.”

Everybody’s talking about the Tigers now.

“We’re playing with a chip on our shoulders,” Perry said. “That’s our motto – ‘1, 2, 3, chip!’”

--Ron Green Jr.