Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tudor's Take: Cause for concern

The way Clemson played Thursday against Georgia Tech, you would have thought the Tigers were in Chapel Hill rather than in the opening round of the ACC basketball tournament in Atlanta.

When a No. 12 seed defeats a No. 5 -- regardless of where or when -- the No. 5 deserves as much blame as the No. 12 gets all due credit. That certainly was the case with the Tigers.

After reaching the championship game and giving North Carolina a test last year in Charlotte, Oliver Purnell's reverted to the kind of dysfunctional execution that marked the school's 13-55 all-time record in the ACC postseason event.

After an timid start, the Tigs added to their troubles by failing to check Tech's Lewis Clinch outside and Gani Lawal inside. And defense supposedly is Clemson's long suit.

While the upset should bode well for No. 4 Florida State Friday against the Jackets, it has to create concern for Purnell and his team. At 23-8, the Tigers likely will still be seeded among the top four in an NCAA regional (maybe in Miami's American Airlines Center along with FSU). But during the next week, Purnell needs to do a lot of fixing on that half-court defense. -- Caulton Tudor, (Raleigh) News & Observer