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Mustapha Farrakhan may need to be an extra ball-handler against Clemson.
Following four straight losses things don’t get any easier for the Cavaliers on Saturday as they face another strong, athletic, defensive-minded team away from home. The Clemson Tigers present some rare match-ups and challenges and while they don’t run the type of scheme that has given UVa difficulties lately, the Tigers do present a look and style that the Cavaliers haven’t seen all season.
Normally I would designate a separate section for offense and defense but in the case of Clemson the two are so intertwined that it’s better to discuss them together.
Clemson wants to put pressure on its opponent by increasing the speed of the game and forcing teams to play its style of basketball. This all revolves around the Tigers’ press, which is the key to everything they do. Clemson will use a number of different press looks, though it does an excellent job of targeting a press to the weakness of an opponent and then sticking with it. The most basic press the Tigers use is a match-up man-to-man press. Watching Clemson efficiently shoot through this defense is one of the more impressive acts of communication you’ll find in college basketball as the Tigers are able to defend both an area and the man in that area. Many teams run match-up zones in the half-court and this is no different except when the opposing team is that spread out the need for discipline increases greatly and the margin of error is reduced. Clemson will usually bring a player up (who is assigned to the inbounder) to double team the opponent’s best ball handler on the inbounds pass; once the ball is inbounded the players will retreat while covering the opponent that is closest to their designated part of the court. When an opponent cuts across the floor, Clemson’s players will communicate and trade off players so that each defender is able to remain in their area of the court but still keep all players guarded. This press is excellent to set a tone and slow the opposing team down. Clemson doesn’t turn...
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