April 29, 2009
Clemson, SC – As announced at the beginning of last season, Clemson will be one of eight teams playing in the third annual 76 Classic in 2009. The 12-game, three-day tournament will be played Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 26, 27, and 29) at the Anaheim Convention Center, which is adjacent to Disneyland. Tournament pairings and game times will be announced at a later date by ESPN Region Television, Inc., a subsidiary of ESPN.
The 76 Classic field for 2009 includes eight teams from eight conferences: UCLA (Pac-10), Texas A&M (Big 12), West Virginia (Big East), Long Beach State (Big West), Clemson (ACC), Butler (Horizon), Minnesota (Big Ten), and Portland (West Coast).
“Once again, an outstanding field will represent conferences from around the country,” said Pete Derzis of ESPN Regional Television, when the teams were announced last November. “The Anaheim tournament showcases quality competition and an outstanding off-court experience for the student-athletes, coaches, and staff.”
Clemson is coming off a third straight 20-win season, and two straight bids to the NCAA Tournament. The Tigers, under the direction of Head Coach Oliver Purnell, finished the season with a 23-9 overall record and #24 ranking in the final Associated Press poll. It marked the fifth straight season the Tiger basketball program improved its winning percentage.
Clemson will return three starters next season, including leading scorer (15.3 ppg) and rebounder Trevor Booker (9.7 rpg). The rising senior was a second-team All-ACC selection this past season and was a midseason candidate for the Naismith Trophy. Terrence Oglesby, a double-figure scorer each of the past two years, and Demontez Stitt, the Tigers’ starting point guard for two seasons, also return as starters off last year’s squad.
Clemson has had good success under Oliver Purnell when it comes to regular season tournaments. In 2005, his team defeated Akron in the championship game of the San Juan Shootout to claim the school’s first eight-team tournament championship since the 1980 Rainbow Classic. In 2006, the Tigers again defeated three teams in consecutive days at the four-team Cox Classic, culminating with a 74-70 win over Old Dominion. Last year, Clemson got its season off on the right foot after defeating Temple in the championship game of the inaugural Charleston Classic.
The Tiger program has played two of teams in the 2009 field in the last three seasons, with both coming in 2006-07. Clemson defeated Minnesota by a score of 90-68 at Williams Arena in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. West Virginia topped the Tigers in the championship game of the 2007 NIT, thanks in large part to 20 points from rising Mountaineer senior Da’Sean Butler.
Six of the eight teams that make up the 76 Classic field advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 2009, while seven of the eight teams overall posted winning records. Here is a closer look at the seven opponents Clemson will potentially face in the tournament.
Butler Posted a 26-6 overall record in 2008-09 and won the Horizon League regular season title Earned a #9 seed for the NCAA Tournament, falling to #8 seed LSU in the first round Brad Stevens is the reigning Horizon League Coach-of-the-Year Return all five starters off of last year’s team, including the Horizon League Player-of-the-Year (Matt Howard) and Newcomer-of-the-Year (Gordon Hayward)
Long Beach State Posted a 15-15 overall record in 2008-09, 10-6 in the Big West Conference Coached by Dan Monson Return two regular starters and two part-time starters off 2008-09 team Leading returning scorer is rising senior Stephen Gilling (11.0 ppg)
Minnesota Posted a 22-11 overall record in 2008-09, 9-9 in the Big Ten Conference Earned a #10 seed for the NCAA Tournament, falling to #7 seed Texas in the first round Coached by Tubby Smith Return all five starters off of last year’s team, including leading scorer Lawrence Westbrook (12.6 ppg) and Ralph Sampson III, son of former Virginia standout
Portland Posted a 19-13 overall record, 9-5 in the West Coast Conference Eric Reveno is the reigning WCC Coach-of-the-Year Return all five starters off of last year’s team, including leading scorer (16.0 ppg) and rebounder (6.5 rpg) Nik Raivio Raivio is the brother of former Gonzaga star Derek Raivio
Texas A&M Posted a 24-10 overall record, 9-7 in the Big 12 Conference Earned a #9 seed for the NCAA Tournament, falling in the second round to Connecticut Coached by Mark Turgeon Return as many as four starters off last year’s team, losing top scorer Josh Carter to graduation Bryan Davis, Chinemelu Elonu, and Donald Sloan all declared early for the NBA Draft, but did not hire agents, thus potentially retaining their collegiate eligibility
UCLA Posted a 26-9 overall record, 13-5 in the Pac-10 Conference Earned a #6 seed for the NCAA Tournament, falling in the second round to Villanova Coached by Ben Howland Return one definite starter, possibly two depending on the decision of Jrue Holliday, who declared for the NBA Draft after one season at the school (he did not hire an agent, leaving open the possibility of returning to school)
West Virginia Posted a 23-12 overall record, 10-8 in the Big East Earned a #6 seed for the NCAA Tournament, falling to #11 seed Dayton in the first round Coached by Bob Huggins Return four starters, including leading scorer (17.1 ppg) Da’Sean Butler and rising sophomore star Devin Ebanks
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