Aug. 2, 1999
For the record, this is Larry Shyatt’s second year as Clemson head coach and his fifth year with the Tiger basketball program overall. But, excuse him if he feels like he is in his first days with the program. After four years of familiarity with his personnel, Shyatt will have six new faces, over 50 percent of his roster, and just one starter returning from last year’s 20-win squad.
Gone are four seniors who were the corps of a class that won 79 games over the last four years, the second winningest senior class in Clemson history. For the first time in nearly 130 games, there will be no Terrell McIntyre running the show and leading the offense, no Tom Wideman defending the post, no Tony Christie to hit a deep three-point goal and no monster dunk from Harold Jamison.
“You hear a lot of coaches across the country who say they don’t have any idea on what their team’s strengths and weaknesses will be in the coming season,” said Shyatt, who set a Clemson record for wins by a first-year coach when he guided the Tigers to a championship game of the 1999 NIT. “I truly can say at this point in the offseason that I have no idea. I have no feel for how we will play as a team and won’t until we can start individual workouts in the fall.
“We have lost four terrific seniors and terrific young men from last year’s team. Plus we lost three other players who were contributors much of last year. We return just five players who have ever played in a game for Clemson and just one senior (Andrius Jurkunas), one junior (Adam Allenspach) and one sophomore who has ever started a game (Will Solomon).”
With such a young team, this will be a season to determine if Clemson’s program can stand the test of time. Clemson has been to a postseason tournament seven consecutive years, including three NCAAs in one NIT in the last four years. That is the longest postseason streak in Clemson history. Only Wake Forest and North Carolina have also been to postseason play seven consecutive years among ACC teams.
“One of our goals has been and always will be to show a consistent pattern of improvement and a consistent pattern in achieving excellence. We have shown that in the five-year period I have been associated with the program, but we still are not where we want to be. “
To continue Clemson’s run of postseason appearances Shyatt will have to receive leadership from untapped areas. “Any coach can choose a captain, but no coach can choose a leader, they evolve. Right now, the leaders are by class, by virtue of the numbers. Andrius and Adam are the leaders of their classes, they are the only ones in their respective groups.
“Fortunately, both Andrius and Adam both offer outstanding leadership by example academically and personally. They are pretty good basketball players who have been productive on a per minute basis. Both have outstanding balance in their lives and on the court.
“Will Solomon played in 34 games last year and certainly will be counted on among the younger players. Those three players have to carry a huge leadership role, at least early.”
At least Clemson has a key returnee at three key positions. That has been a hallmark of most successful ACC teams in recent years, the existence of three options from different areas of the court.
“We have three options among our returnees(Jurkunas, Allenspach and Solomon). Everything I have read about NBA expansion teams you hear about the general managers wanting to identify a lead guard, someone who is an inside threat and someone who is versatile, who can do a little inside and on the perimeter. “
Jurkunas gives Shyatt the versatility he is looking for. The 6-9, 230-pounder averaged 7.6 points and 3.8 rebounds a game last year. He has 105 career three-point goals and could become the ACC’s all-time leader in three-point goals for players 6-9 and taller. Allenspach is a 7-1 center who has shown steady improvement the last two years, climaxed by a 54 percent field goal mark last year. Solomon has experience as both a point guard and shooting guard.
Obviously, the six incoming scholarship players will have a major impact on Clemson’s succcess rate in the year 2000. Shyatt is hoping for a repeat performance of the large class he helped recruit in 1995. That group of seven players (which included Jurkunas, who red-shirted in 1997-98), took Clemson to a surprise berth in the NCAAs in 1996. There are comparisons to that class and the rookies of 99-00.
“This class reminds me of the group that entered four years ago. You can make comparisons physically player by player. Ed Scott is a point guard who is like Terrell McIntyre in that he was not highly recruited, but has a team first mentality. Ronald Blackshear is a scoring guard who reminds you of Tony Christie.
“Tomas Nagys has inside and outside abilities like Andrius. Arturus Javtokas is two years older than Tom Wideman was in 1996, but he is a very strong man and very dedicated like Tom. Ray Henderson is a power player much in the mold of a Harold Jamison. Pasha Bains had similar numbers to LeDarion Jones (now a senior at Wyoming).”
Only time will tell if the six newcomers for 1999-00 can approach the significant contributions made by the seniors of 1998-99.
The Backcourt For the first time in four years and 129 games, opposing coaches won’t have to devise a special defense to stop Terrell McIntyre. The 5-9 dynamo ended his career as Clemson’s all-time leader is assists and second in scoring. Only Phil Ford (North Carolina) holds a top two ranking in both of those categories among ACC schools.
“We saw two years ago when he suffered a foot injury that life without Terrell McIntyre was not a lot of fun,” said Shyatt, who personally recruited McIntyre out of Raeford, NC. “But, unlike that season, we know going into this year, that he is would be playing professionally and won’t be available.”
Shyatt’s top returnee in the backcourt is sophomore Will Solomon. The 6-2 native of East Hartford, CT averaged 6.3 points per game in 34 contests last year. He started six contests and had some brilliant performances against top flight competition. In his first college start, Solomon scored 19 points and handed out three assists against number-one ranked Duke.
A week later, he had a season high 20 points at Georgia Tech. In the return match at Duke he tallied 17 points in a head to head meeting with William Avery. His 15-point performance at Rutgers was also important in Clemson’s drive to the NIT championship.
“Will enjoyed some quality minutes last year and right now he would be considered our lead guard. He has the versatility to play both guard positions and he certainly will be a big asset to the other young guards.”
Also returning in the backcourt will be sophomore letterman Dustin Braddick. The native of the Charleston area also had a breakout game against the Blue Devils with a season high 10 points. For the year, Braddick averaged 2.6 points and 1.7 rebounds in 23 games off the bench. He had eight points and six rebounds, including five offensive, in just 12 minutes in the victory over Florida State at Littlejohn Coliseum.
“Dustin has the competitiveness that we need. He shows the fire on the defensive end of the court. We are going to have to find a stopper on the perimeter, a charge guy. Hopefully he can be that guy.”
That is the rundown of returning letterwinners in the backcourt, just 272 total points and 61 total assists in 1998-99. Shyatt will obviously count on major minutes from freshmen Ed Scott, ronald Blackshear and Pasha Bains.
Scott appears to be well suited for the point guard position, although he played the shooting guard with scoring distinction his sophomore and junior years. In 1998-99, Scott averaged 17 points and five assists for Lower Richland High. He led the team to the South Carolina State 4-A championship and finished with a record of 28-3 record and a number-15 final ranking in USA Today.
“Ed has experience at both the point and the wing, but I would identify him much closer to a true point guard. He is a very humble young man who takes a lot of pride in trying to lead and trying to be a part of a winning program. I am not against starting a first-year freshman at the point. We have seen a lot of ACC teams start freshman point guards in recent years, in fact three did last year. The preparation he received in his high school program on and off the court will give him and edge when we start preseason practice.”
Blackshear averaged 25 points and five rebounds per game for Mitchell Baker High School in Georgia. The 6-4 freshman is the highest rated of Clemson’s six newcomers. “Ronald comes in very highly regarded with the reputation of an outstanding outside shooter. Obviously that is something we need on the wings. He plays with great confidence.”
Bains is a newcomer, but he has more experience with the Clemson program than the other newcomers. The native of Canada is a transfer to Clemson from Wyoming last January and was able to take part in some limited practice after a shoulder injury healed. A Shyatt recruit to Wyoming originally, Bains averaged 38 points and eight rebounds per game in high school.
The Frontcourt Clemson has three returning veterans in the frontcourt. In addition to Andrius Jurkunas and Adam Allenspach, Chucky Gilmore also will be a returning letterman on the inside whose role will change significantly.
Jurkunas is the unmistakened leader of the Clemson team. The fifth-year senior started 24 games at the small forward last year and finished the year third on the club in scoring with a 7.6 average. He was back to his old self when it came to shooting the three-point goal, hitting 51 of 135 for a 38 percent accuracy. He enters his final season with 105 career three-point goals. He is Clemson’s returning leader in scoring, rebounding, blocks, free throw percentage, steals and three-point goals.
With the departure of Tom Wideman and Harold Jamison for the professional ranks, Jurkunas’s role might change a bit this year. “Andrius will have to be more of an inside guy,” said Shyatt. “He will have to spend some additional minutes in the post compared to the past. But, that is where Andrius is so effective, he can do both. He will have more balance to his game.
” We want him to get to the foul line more and you do that from the inside. He might have gotten fouled once on is 135 three-point goals last year. He was a 70 percent free throw shooter last year, so we need to get him to the line.”
Adam Allenspach is a 7-1 center with two varsity letters on his resume. He is a veteran of 66 games, 10 as a starter. His 4.8 scoring average could double this year along with his minutes. He is the top returning field goal percentage shooter on the team off his 54 percent mark last year, including 59 percent against the ACC. He also pulled in 3.5 rebounds and shot 68 percent from the foul line a year ago. He will be a member of the NIT All-Star team this summer.
“Adam really came on strong the last third of last year. His maturity level and his intellectual level are his biggest assets. You talk about the ideal Tiger when it comes to the game of life and the academic world, Adam has great balance in his life. We have a 7-1 center who is blossoming in front of our eyes.”
Chucky Gilmore played in 27 of the 35 games last year and scored 29 points and pulled in 46 rebounds, including 19 offensive. A post defender and rebounder as a first-year freshman, Gilmore will play more than the 6 minutes he played per game a year ago. “Chucky has been working hard and with the graduation of Wideman and Jamison, knows there is an opportunity for qualify minutes this year. He can and will be a productive power player for us the next three years.”
Like the backcourt, three newcomers will have an opportunity to play quality minutes in the frontcourt this year. The largest and most experienced of the group is Arturus Javtokas. The 6-10, 260-pounder is a junior college transfer from Western Nebraska Junior College where he played for former Clemson assistant Soupy Campball.
Javtokas averaged 15 points and nine rebounds a game last year and also made 55 percent of his field goal attempts. Joining him upfront with be first-year freshman Ray Henderson. The native of Charlotte, NC averaged 16 points and 15 rebounds for East Mecklenburg High. He had some strong performances against North Carolina signee Jason Parker.
“We have always prided ourselves on having a physical presense on the inside. Art and Ray will continue that tradition. Along with Adam and Andrius, Art and Ray will give us a bit more balance when it comes to scoring on the inside. They will do more than just screen and play defense in the box. They will show more versatility offensively than what we have had on the inside in recent years.”
Tomas Nagys is a younger version of Jurkunas. Like Javtokus and Jurkunas, a native of Lithuania, Nagys averaged 14 points and 14 rebounds a game last year at Catholic High School in Montgomery, AL. He is 6-9 and 215 pounds, the same physical stature Jurkunas had when he entered Clemson five years ago. “Tomas has the best combination of talents on the inside and out among the new players.”
Clemson does not have a returning double figure scorer and in fact, just 30 percent of its scoring from last year returns. Shyatt realizes his team will probably be picked near the bottom in the ACC preseason polls. “There is not a player on our roster that anyone in our league is concerned about. We just have to hope that we have a Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid type of team. When we leave at the end of the night we hope the opposition asks, ‘Who were those guys.'”
The Schedule The final official schedule for Larry Shyatt’s second Clemson team will not be released by the ACC until August, but the Tiger mentor has announced the list of non-conference teams Clemson will face this year.
The list includes home games against South Carolina and George Washington and a road trip to Penn State. That contest with the Nittany Lions will take place on December 1 as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Clemson will also play host to Appalachian State, East Tennessee State, Wofford, South Carolina State, Charleston Southern, and Winthrop during the upcoming season.
Clemson will play four games in the BiLo Center this year. Clemson will meet Furman in late December at the facility, while Clemson will also participate in the SoCon BiLo Classic over Thanksgiving weekend (November 26-28). Clemson will join teams from Central Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina State, Oregon State, Furman, Old Dominion and Wisconsin-Green Bay.
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