Hey, the women beat UConn.
OK, on to business.
Today simply has the potential to be one of those days. You beat the team to beat for the first time in a quarter century. Now you’re playing a Clemson team on the rise, at Clemson, just two days later. The term trap game gets thrown around way too much for my tastes, but let’s face it with this one. At the 1980 Winter Olympics, the U.S. men’s hockey team defeated the Soviet Union in the Miracle on Ice. But to win the gold medal they had to beat Finland next (and almost didn’t). The moral of the story is that I like hockey, and something about trap games.
Clemson is playing a much more aggressive and full court defense under new head coach Amanda Butler and it would seem her team is adjusting well. Graduate guard Simone Westbrook leads the ACC in steals at 3.4 per game while Clemson leads the league in opponent turnovers at 21.4 per game. The problem? Clemson leads the league in committed turnovers at 19.5 per game. Perhaps they’re being egalitarian. In any case, ball handling will be a key for Cardinal victory. It’s a good thing that Louisville is on the opposite end of the spectrum, committing only 13.3 turnovers per game.
Paint It Orange
Clemson is quite middle of the road in terms of average scoring, and most of their scoring is done by committee. Either they’re going to turn you over and get a quick fast break layup, or they’re going to pound it into the paint and use their size and strength. Patrolling the interior are sophomore Tylar Bennett and junior leading scorer Kobi Thornton with her 15.6 points and 7.8 rebounds per game. Limiting turnovers can mitigate second leading scorer and guard Simone Westbrook’s impact, but strong post defense and rebounding are required to counter Clemson’s points in the paint. Sam Fuehring, Jazmine Jones, and Bionca Dunham all had amazing defensive nights against UConn. A repeat performance would easily secure a Cardinal win.
Clemson fired previous coach Audra Smith after going 52-99 over five seasons while winning only nine ACC games. In her first season, new head coach Amanda Butler is already halfway to that goal with five conference wins. Clemson was picked to finish dead last in the ACC, and midway through conference play is 5-3 and 14-7 overall. Two of those losses were bad, coming at the hands of <100 RPI Alabama and Davidson. But they were early, and adjusting to Butler’s new and more aggressive style of play could easily have been a factor. With conference wins against Miami and Florida State under their belts, it’s safe to say this is a team that needs to be taken seriously.
- Louisville beat UConn on Thursday
- Dana Evans is playing lights out basketball
- The Cardinals seem to have solved their rebounding issues, but today will be another test on the boards
Date: Saturday, Feb. 2
Time: 2 p.m. ET
Site: Littlejohn Coliseum – Clemson, SC
Radio: WKJK-1080 / Video: ACCDN-WatchESPN