Clinch keeps young Jackets buzzing

BC bounces back after starting 1-2

ACC notebook

December 06, 2006|By Heather A. Dinich | Heather A. Dinich,Sun reporter

Last spring, after losing to Maryland in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, Georgia Tech guard Lewis Clinch did everything he could to improve as a basketball player.

Every day, he took between 800 and 1,000 shots, ranging from three-pointers to midrange jumpers and one-dribble pull-ups. He did drills in the sand at a campus volleyball court to improve his vertical jump, worked with cones to improve his defense, and simultaneously dribbled two weighted basketballs to strengthen his ball-handling skills - in addition to attending mandatory weightlifting sessions three times a week.

"I really took all that serious, really trying to push myself to the limit as hard as I could go, even when I was tired," he said. "That's the only time you're going to be able to prove yourself in the offseason. As the season goes on, you really don't have time to work on your game."

Clinch, a sophomore, has emerged as one of the most consistent players for the Yellow Jackets (6-2, 0-1 ACC) this season, despite being somewhat overshadowed by a talented freshman class and the return of versatile wing player Anthony Morrow. Clinch has started all eight games this season and scored in double figures in each. He has scored at least 20 points in each of the past three games. It's something he said he expects from himself, but added that his play shouldn't take away from highly touted freshmen like Javaris Crittenton and Thaddeus Young.

"Those guys are very talented," said Clinch, who is averaging 18 points and shooting 57.5 percent from the field. "They need to be talked about. They came in and helped out our program big time. The way they caught on, they deserve to be talked about. They're hard workers."

Eagles adjust

Losing two of the top players in the league in Craig Smith and Louis Hinnant was a big adjustment for Boston College, which lost two of its first three games before winning three straight.

Senior forward Jared Dudley has finally adjusted, and is ranked in nine of the ACC's 13 individual statistical categories to prove it. He ranks third in the league with an average of 19.0 points and leads the ACC with 9.5 rebounds per game heading into today's 7 p.m. game against Fairfield.

"Anytime you lose two players who started four years in a row, it's going to be a huge transition. That's why we struggled early," Dudley said. "People weren't ready for that. I feel like slowly but surely we have gotten it. We've figured out how we want to play, and people have become smarter basketball players."

The return of 6-foot-10 junior center Sean Williams, who missed the first two games for a violation of team rules, also has helped the Eagles. Williams is averaging 6.8 blocked shots through four games. He had a career-high 12 in a loss at Providence, and made seven against Rhode Island.

The surprise, though, has been Williams' average of 10.3 points, more than seven points better than last year (3.1).

Tigers' grand reserve

Clemson (10-0, 0-0 ACC) has won three consecutive games on the opponents' home court for the first time in 10 years, and part of that can be attributed to former Oak Hill Academy star K.C. Rivers, who has scored in double figures every game despite coming off the bench.

Rivers set a Clemson record for consecutive double-figure scoring games off the bench when he scored 22 points at Minnesota on Nov. 29, his eighth straight double-figure game. That broke a record set by Dale Davis in 1988-89. Rivers extended the streak to 10 with 10 points at South Carolina and 18 last night against Wofford.

Speaking of streaks, last night's game against Wofford was the Tigers' last until after exams, a 13-day stretch without a game. It's the Tigers' longest break during a season since December 1967, when Clemson did not play between Dec. 5 and Dec. 28..

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