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ClemsonTigers.com Exclusive: Lady Tigers Look to Improve in Season Opener

Nov. 10, 2011

CLEMSON, SC – Itoro Coleman saw a lot of things she liked in last week’s exhibition win over St. Augustine, but the second-year Clemson coach also saw some things she wants her young team to improve on when they host Davidson Friday (5:30 p.m.) at Littlejohn Coliseum.

“In the first half, we had a lot of jitters and it took us a whole half to calm down,” she said. “Now that we have that out of our system, we definitely want to put two halves together.”

There were a lot of jitters because the Lady Tigers played five true freshmen in the exhibition, each of which played at least eight minutes. The same can be expected in the season-opener. Two freshmen, guards Chelsea Lindsay and Nikki Dixon, will tip off the 2011-2012 season as starters, along with sophomore Chanice Dunn and seniors Lindsey Mason and Shaniqua Pauldo.

Also look for freshmen Natiece Ford, Kelly Gramlich and Deja Hawkins to see significant playing time.

“We had a lot of nervousness, and as we move forward with this young team, that is going to happen,” Coleman said. “But, we competed a lot better in the second half and that is always encouraging to see.”

It was very encouraging because Dixon scored 14 points and shot 6 of 13 from the field to go along with nine assists, while Gramlich scored nine points, while knocking down 3 of 6 shots from behind the arc.

Dunn was 7 of 13 from the field and scored 14 points as well, while producing seven assists.

“That was really good to see,” Coleman said. “We had balance all the way down and that is good. If you have an open shot, we definitely want them to take it. I felt like (Dixon and Dunn) both did a great job at times.

“Kelly was ready. She is a shooter and she knows that is her role along with some other stuff, but that is an asset she brings to this team.”

Mason and Pauldo also did a great job controlling the inside and getting rebounds, especially in the second half. Mason had four blocked shots to lead the team, while Pauldo scored 12 points. Their aggressiveness is something Coleman wants to see out of her two seniors for the full 40 minutes, though.

“I think our effort is always there,” the Clemson coach said. “We played extremely hard, just not efficient. The second half we settled down a lot more. We were able to get a lot of looks inside to the post because that is what we wanted to take advantage of.

“We need to do a better job in the post and not try and block every shot, but be in position to allow them to shoot the ball into our hands so we can go the other way.

“(St. Augustine’s) had too many offensive rebounds. Moving forward that is definitely something we have to fix.”

From a defensive standpoint, the Lady Tigers can’t get much better. They held St. Augustine to 57 points, while forcing 20 turnovers. St. Augustine shot just 24 percent from the field.

“Defense is what we live by,” Coleman said. “If we defend and we compete, we will always give ourselves a chance to win. When you can hold a team to less than 60 points, it’s a great defensive effort.”

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