28 March 2007


Although the wheels nearly fell off the bus in the final few seconds, the basketball team was able to swallow down what would have been a huge choke and beat a very skilled and scrappy Air Force team. "We're just trying to drive ESPN's ratings up," Purnell joked afterwards. I believe that our boys showed more heart and desire to win a game last night since losing to Duke in Cameron earlier this year. O.P. commented, "All of our guys made big plays down the stretch to hold them off...I thought we really showed some mental toughness and the desire to win this thing." What really made me beam was that we actually had some smart fouls and weren't afraid to be rough when Air Force tried to stick us with picks and double screens. The refs did let a lot of things fly, mainly the elbows we were throwing and the moving picks that Tim Anderson kept making, although to give him credit, he did a great job getting away with them.

K.C. Rivers tallied 19 points including a few very clutch free throws in the final minutes to keep the Tigers in a comfortable lead. He also shot the three like we were used to seeing him shoot it. Trevor Booker also added 13 points, but wasn't as impressive as he usually was, but did show tremendous power inside and made some great passes. I was disappointed when he turned the ball over after accidentally breaking a piece of his elbow off into Nick Welch's face. Cliff Hammonds and his funky "elbow sticks out like a turd in a punch bowl" shot racked up 11 points and made some lights out threes along with Rivers. Although he did terrible with his free throw attempts, Vernon Hamilton played all out and gave a very good effort for our team. James Mays continues to play like he's in a church league and we definitely don't need that in Madison Square Garden.

I didn't like the announcers one bit. First of all, they did the ol' "Clemzin" thing again. Secondly, one of the announcers couldn't pronounce a "-ice" or "s" sound without it sounding like "-sh". I know that's trivial, but it really got annoying after the first hour. Lastly, it was damn obvious who they wanted to win. That was definitely not Clemson. Ok, yeah, they did the cutesy steal the towel boys mop and help wipe up thing, and the obligatory senior player breaks his face in what could be his last game as a collegiate player and makes a "heroic" comeback, but c'mon. Their acting performance throughout the entire game was impeccable. Especially during the last few minutes when Vernon Hamilton was just posting up and barely touched Matt McCraw and the guy did a somersault on his own then got up as if Vernon had just clotheslined him Hulk Hogan style. I know it's great that they're in a service academy and I respect them for making the decision to commit part of their time after college graduation to serving our country, but I don't need to hear about it through the entire game. And I don't appreciate the fact that the announcers kinda made the Tigers out to be the bad guys of the game.

The last thing I'd like to touch on is that Oliver Purnell has had trouble controlling game tempo and calling time outs at appropriate times all season and he finally pegged it in this game. Not only did we control the tempo for the majority of the game, but I believe we led the entire time if memory serves me correctly, even having our lead extended to 13 in the second half.

I would like to congratulate Air Force coach Jeff Bzdelik (had to check it like six times) for three things. First, for having an impossible last name. Secondly, for looking like a human genome experiment between Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney. And lastly, for turning around what has to have been one of the worst basketball programs in the NCAA for the past two or three decades.

Our guys will face West Virginia this Thursday at 7pm. Let's just hope we can show up for just one more game and once again solidify that the State of South Carolina is the home of average basketball (excluding Winthrop).

Only two teams remain, let's hope we're not the one that crashes and burns.