Tale of the tape: Wake Forest at Clemson

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by Paul Casey Gotham

Setting:  The Demon Deacons pay a visit to Littlejohn Coliseum for a Top Ten matchup between undefeateds as #2 Wake Forest (15-0 / 2-0) takes on #10 Clemson (16-0 / 2-0) in an ACC battle.

Plots:  On paper the teams boast similar resumes.   Both average over 80 points per game.  Wake Forest is 51.2% from the field including 34.1% from the arc and 69.9% from the line.  Clemson finishes 48.9% from the field – 37.3% from long range and 67.8% from the charity stripe.  The Deacs grab 45.7 rebounds per game and have a rebound margin of 7.9 (tied for 12th in the nation) while the Tigers grab 40.3.   Clemson swipes 10 steals per game (10th in the nation); Wake Forest gets 9.3.  Wake Forest blocks 5.9 shots per game; Clemson sends back 7.0 per game.

Sub-plots:  In their triumph at Chestnut Hill on Wednesday 83-63, the Deacs proved their win over UNC was more than an upset.  Those looking for Wake Forest to suffer from a hangover instead saw a focused club beat a Boston College Eagles squad that had already shown a penchant for the upset when they toppled the Heels 85-78.

Clemson is in search of a signature win to provide the substance to their record that will propel up the rankings.  The Tigers have knocked off Temple, South Carolina, NC State, Miami, and Alabama, but none of these teams are ranked.  A win today gives the Tigers resume fodder.

Flashback: Overtime has been needed to decide three of the last four meetings between these ACC rivals.  The other game was decided by a deuce.  Wake holds the all-time advantage 95-52.

Foreshadowing:  Clemson travels to Winston-Salem for the final regular season game on March 8th.

Conflict:  How do the Tigers simultaneously contain Jeff Teague and the front line of Wake Forest?  Teague has shown he can be effective in transition and in the half-court set.   WF has three guys 6’11” or bigger averaging more than 10:00 per game – David Weaver, Tony Woods,  and Chas McFarland.   How will 6’7″ Trevor Booker handle the Wake Forest size?  Booker leads the Tigers with 15.4 ppg and 9.1 rpg.  6’5″ K.C. Rivers will need to provide support inside for Booker.

Clemson’s defense will give a variety of looks but their bread and butter is the 2-2-1 press.  Sometimes they deny the inbound; other times they give the inbound and move quickly into traps.  Considering Wake’s size the Tigers will want to avoid allowing them into a half-court set as much as possible.

Could the Tigers use their press in synch with the shot clock?  Instead of looking for steals early will Clemson force the Deacs into rushing in the half-court set?  This could be an effective tact early in the game.  Rather than exposing themselves at the outset the Tigers could play a patient game that slows down the Deacs.

What will Clemson do on the offensive glass?  When a shot goes up, will they search for Teague and deny the outlet?  Or will they send four to the glass?  Or will they drop off and play defense?

Climax:  If Teague and Wake Forest establish their offense, it is over.  Clemson needs to disrupt Wake’s rhythm.  Terrence Oglesby who hits 41% from long range needs to get hot for the Tigers.

1st Team All-Casey

PG Jeff Teague Wake Forest

SG Kyle McAlarney Notre Dame

SF  Dionte Christmas Temple

PF Blake Griffin Oklahoma

C  Tyler Hansbrough UNC

2nd Team All-Casey

PG Stephen Curry Davidson

SG Jodie Meeks Kentucky

SF C.J. Anderson Xavier

PF Luke Harangody Notre Dame

C Chas McFarland Wake Forest

11 Responses to "Tale of the tape: Wake Forest at Clemson"

  1. Rey   January 17, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    I’d love to sit in on one of Oliver Purnell’s practices. After a defensive rebound, his guys were able to get into his press and continue to pressure the ball handler from behind with the point man in that press. Love this team, but unfortunately he does not have the front court depth that many other ACC teams have. 20-16 Clemson right now.

    Christmas on your first team? Slighty biased pick, Casey 🙂

  2. Casey   January 17, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Biased? At one point did I start liking Temple? Hasn’t happened. The kid is friggin good. Not only is he more than capable of killing an opponent from deep, but the other he sliced up LaSalle with back door cuts for lay ups. He knows how to play that position better than anyone in the country. Now if you were to make that same claim with Anderson… 🙂

  3. Rey   January 17, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    Whoa…calm down there. Take a deep breath. I was kidding around because of your only Temple experience being Christmas’ season high thus far.

    You’re getting awfully snippy in your old age.

  4. Casey   January 17, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    You did notice the smiley face?

    Whaddya want a winkie face? 😉

  5. Casey   January 17, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Is it just me or are the Deacs – especially McFarland – settling for shots?

    I am happy to know that Jerai Grant watches Desperate Housewives. Yeah right.

  6. Rey   January 17, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    They are. Like McFarland’s 19 foot 2-pointer. My favorite kind of shot by a post player who should be reversing the ball. “The guy isn’t open yet, so what the heck. I’m just chucking it up.” If Clemson can convert these turnovers, they’re right back in it.

  7. Casey   January 17, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    Dare I say Wake Forest is Final Four good?

    Illinois is up at East Lansing late in the 2nd.

  8. Rey   January 17, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Steve Lavin mentioned that Wake is the best passing team, open court or half court, he’s seen. Couldn’t agree more. In an age of basketball when it is so tempting to take a guy like Teague and spread the floor and let him create, Dino Gaudio has these guys buying into a complete team concept.

  9. Rey   January 17, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    Oh – without a doubt they are Final Four good.

  10. Wally   January 18, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    Two Notre Dame guys on the All-Casey Team, yet the Irish can’t win a &^$&$@#% road game. Hard to argue with K-Mac and ‘Gody, so we are left to conclude that the rest of the roster is SOFT (are you listening Luke Zeller) and/or Mr. Mock Turtleneck ain’t gettin’ the job done. Very easily coulda won the L’ville game before it went into OT, but they screwed up the last possession.

    Yes I’m ticked.

  11. Casey   January 19, 2009 at 10:36 am

    Wally
    Can understand your frustration, but the Irish faced a Syracuse that was whacked in their previous game by Georgetown. Boeheim lit into several of his players during that game. Mix in a raucous crowd at the Dome and you have a loss.

    As for the defeat in Freedom Hall – argggghhhhh! Finish the game please.

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