The Acc

November 18, 2005|By HEATHER A. DINICH

Coach: Oliver Purnell, third season at school (26-34), 18th overall (282-225)

2004-05 record: 16-16, 5-11 (ninth in ACC; NIT first round)

Returning starters: Sophomore G Cliff Hammonds, senior G Shawan Robinson, junior G Vernon Hamilton

Sun prediction: Losing record

Why it will happen: The Tigers lost two of their starting big men, including third-team All-ACC center Sharrod Ford, the team's leading scorer. His absence will force Purnell to take a more guard-oriented approach. That's been tricky since point guard Troy Mathis had knee surgery in the spring to remove cartilage and it's uncertain when he'll be 100 percent healthy. There are high expectations for freshman guard K.C. Rivers, a graduate of Oak Hill Academy who scored 19 points in the team's first exhibition game.

Why it might not: Although Clemson is young, four freshmen earned significant playing time last season and learned quickly. Last season's freshmen accounted for 68 starts - 31 more than any other ACC school. Hammonds earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors four times as a starter. He averaged 10.6 points and set a school record with 31 starts and 30.3 minutes per game.

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