Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Clemson hones pressure for N.C. State

GREENSBORO - While some teams used Wednesday’s open practices for half-speed shooting drills, Clemson worked hard on its full-court pressure defense in preparation for Thursday’s ACC tournament game against N.C. State.

“We just believe in going hard and sharp the day before the game,” said Clemson coach Oliver Purnell. “The more you go harder and sharper, you have an opportunity for it to spill over into the game.”

That strategy has worked for Clemson all season. The Tigers have forced an ACC-high 17.4 turnovers per game, so protecting the ball will be a key for N.C. State in the 9 p.m. first-round game against N.C. State.

The Wolfpack did an excellent job of that in the teams’ first meeting, a 73-70 Clemson win on Jan. 16 in Raleigh. Both teams committed 11 turnovers in that game.

Clemson shot just 30.1 percent from 3-point range during conference games, so getting easy baskets in transition off turnovers is an important part of its offense.

“It’s all about pressure defense,” Clemson center Jerai Grant said. “The more turnovers the other team has, the better chance we have of winning.”

Ken Tysiac