Clemson's win over Wake rare bright spot for Shyatt

Upset in double OT may not save job for Tigers coach, though

ACC notebook

February 15, 2002|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

It might not be enough to save his job, and it surely will not be enough to get his team into the NCAA tournament, but Clemson coach Larry Shyatt at least could bask in a huge victory for a change.

Like the rest of the bottom half of the top-heavy Atlantic Coast Conference, where Duke and Maryland rule and everybody else is falling by the wayside, Clemson's season basically had slipped away in the grip of a losing streak. The Tigers had lost eight consecutive games and tumbled into the league's basement with North Carolina, Georgia Tech and Florida State.

Then came the revival that nearly brought Shyatt to tears on Wednesday night, when the host Tigers blew an 11-point lead with a little more than a minute to play, limped into overtime against No. 19 Wake Forest, then regained momentum and escaped with a 118-115 victory in double overtime.

"If there was ever a time for a group of young people to give in, this was it. But they did not," Shyatt said after the game while holding back tears. "I really, really mean this from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate everybody that came."

Clemson's stable of young players, led by sophomore guard Tony Stockman, sophomore forward Chris Hobbs and especially junior point guard Edward Scott - he had career highs of 30 points and 16 assists against Wake - have been wildly inconsistent, especially during the past nightmarish month.

The Tigers (12-13, 3-9), after humiliating Virginia in Charlottesville, began their losing streak with a 41-point loss at Wake. Clemson was dangerous enough to put a scare into Maryland with its three-point shooting at Cole Field House, but awful enough to lose at home by 22 points to North Carolina and 24 points to Georgia Tech.

Shyatt might be able to buy one more season at Clemson since he is fielding such a youthful squad. But he probably needs to finish the regular season with a flurry. Pulling off an upset against visiting Maryland on Wednesday would help.

Wake misses Howard

If Wake Forest is to recover quickly after losing back-to-back games to Cincinnati and Clemson, the Demon Deacons probably need junior swing forward Josh Howard to get healthy in a hurry.

Howard suffered a high ankle sprain in practice eight days ago. He sat out against Cincinnati and played just 18 minutes against Clemson, scoring two points. Before getting injured, he had averaged 20 points in his previous four games.

Howard, 6 feet 6, might be the most valuable player on the Demon Deacons' roster. No one hits the boards at both ends like he does, as almost half of his 7.8 rebounds a game are at the offensive end.

He ranks fourth in the conference in field-goal percentage (.521), 10th in scoring (14.9), seventh in rebounding and eighth in steals (1.7). He also is Wake Forest's most versatile defensive player, with the ability to cover smaller backcourt players as well as bigger people down low.

Smith good fit for Terps

It would make sense for the Maryland Terrapins to use their fifth and final scholarship for next year's incoming class of recruits on Allegany sophomore forward Jamar Smith.

First of all, Smith is one of the top players in the junior-college ranks. He is leading Allegany (22-2) in scoring (17.5) and rebounding (12.5) and is shooting 50 percent from the field. And at 6 feet 9, 235 pounds, he has the ability to play either forward position.

Smith has drawn feelers from about a dozen schools, including several in the ACC, North Carolina among them. But Smith is said to be ready to sign with Maryland in April.

Smith's versatility could be a valuable commodity in College Park next fall, especially if 6-10 sophomore forward Chris Wilcox finishes the season strong and decides to enter the NBA draft. Sources at Maryland say Terps coach Gary Williams is concerned about the possibility of Wilcox leaving.

If Wilcox leaves, Smith could become a starter at power forward, alongside fellow Allegany alum Ryan Randle, who will be a senior, at center. Tahj Holden and incoming freshman Travis Garrison would be backups. If Wilcox stays, the frontcourt would be that much deeper, and Smith might spend more time at the small-forward position with incoming freshman Nik Caner-Medley.

Going to the dogs

As if the season hasn't been brutal enough for North Carolina, Tar Heels coach Matt Doherty can't even make a joke without getting into trouble.

After a recent loss, Doherty quipped that he needed to buy a dog so he could take it home and kick it. That tongue-in-cheek remark produced a negative reaction from animal lovers and other corners.

"Sometimes people take things too seriously and need to lighten up and have a sense of humor. How else to get through a tough situation?" Doherty said.

Maryland statistics(Through Wednesday's game)

Player G Min FG FG% 3FG 3FG% FT FT% Reb. At. TO BL ST Pts.

Dixon 23 32.9 148-332 .446 57-152 .375 88-97 .907 4.9 65 56 6 72 19.2

Baxter 22 28.1 122-230 .530 0-1 .000 96-162 .593 8.3 20 46 41 17 15.5

Mouton 23 27.6 96-198 .485 11-38 .289 59-84 .702 4.9 45 34 4 20 11.5

Wilcox 23 23.2 102-209 .488 0-0 .000 49-95 .516 7.7 34 36 37 14 11.0

Blake 23 32.0 55-147 .374 29-81 .358 37-41 .902 3.7 171 75 10 30 7.7

Nicholas 23 20.5 55-106 .519 22-54 .407 30-41 .732 2.5 57 26 12 10 7.0

Holden 23 20.6 45-106 .425 14-30 .467 42-54 .778 2.7 31 22 29 17 6.3

Randle 21 9.9 37-70 .529 1-1 1.000 15-27 .556 3.7 0 12 9 8 6.3

Collins 16 4.1 12-18 .667 3-7 .429 2-3 .667 0.5 15 9 0 3 1.8

McCall 13 4.8 5-14 .357 3-8 .375 2-4 .500 0.9 2 5 1 3 1.2

Grinnon 11 2.0 2-6 .333 1-4 .250 2-2 1.000 0.3 3 1 0 0 0.6

Badu 9 2.1 1-3 .333 0-1 .000 0-4 .000 0.2 5 1 0 0 0.2

MARYLAND 23 680-1439 .473 141-377 .374 422-614 .687 42.4 449 324 149 194 83.6

OPPONENTS 23 583-1478 .394 136-443 .307 303-447 .678 38.1 302 354 88 163 69.8

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