So...they meet again.
Clemson took the first matchup in their own Littlejohn Coliseum, but without starting PG Demontez Stitt. Maryland will be looking for revenge and another ACC win on Wednesday back in College Park, this time against a full-strength Clemson squad.
These Tigers are very similar to who they were last time. They still have a monster of a post player in Trevor Booker - you should know my love for him by now. They've improved slightly in 3pt% if my memory serves, but not enough to make any major difference. Their issues with handling the ball and turnovers still remain, too. And they're still a great defensive team that will force a lot of turnovers.
Two major things have changed for this one. Much like the Florida State game and the North Carolina State game before it, perhaps the more important one is the location of the game. Instead of being played in somewhat raucous Littlejohn, it gets moved to the more raucous and more Terp-friendly Comcast Center. Much of Maryland's issues the first time around had to do with, as some have put it, forgetting how to play basketball for a night. That might happen again, but the intimidating environment might have had that kind of effect, and the cozy Comcastle confines should give Maryland a boost.
The other major difference is the return of Stitt, Clemson's starting PG. He's their second most important player, provides a steadier presence in the halfcourt and another okay outside shooting threat. Without him, they lacked much of their halfcourt game and decided to go at a higher pace. Maryland plays at a quick pace, but not as fast as Clemson played in the last matchup, so the Tigers slowing down might actually be a good thing. Providing another outside shooting presence, however, is not - Clemson only went 5-22 the last game, many of which were open looks. Knocking those down opens up a new door.
Since returning from injury, though, Stitt has struggled at times. His first two games back, he combined for 11 points, 1 assist, and 6 turnovers. He does appeared to have righted the ship, though: his last two games, he combined for 20 points, 10 assists, and 6 turnovers. Either way, it's worth noting that he hasn't been flawless.
When you look at the last game, though, Maryland lost becuase Clemson played an ultra-high pressure defense and Maryland couldn't handle it - can't win with 26 turnovers and a 34% shooting percentage. Even though the Tigers now have Stitt, it's very possible they try that route again. If they do, it'llprobably be another ugly game, but it's very difficult to dictate the pace of the game to the home team and be successful. The hope is that Comcast would be helpful enough to grab a win,
If they decide to slow back down, closer to what their real pace is, it'll be more of a straight-up matchup that will depend on how much better Greivis Vasquez and Eric Hayes can be than their guards, how many turnovers Maryland force and capitalize on, and how much Jordan Williams can limit Trevor Booker.
Regardless of whether or not they slow the pace, they'll keep the high pressure defense - maybe they'll tone it down a little, but the trap is a staple of their defense. So either way, Maryland will need to control the ball better than they did last time, and they can expect a slight challenge.
I do apologize for the oversimplification of the game, but I'm busy today with the real world and yet still needed to get this post out there because tomorrow will be busier. For more on Clemson, see our coverage from the last time they played (to get just us, go to the Testudo Times tab on the right).
Early thought on it: Maryland is at home, but this isn't a walkthrough of a game. I fear that pressure defense and Stitt's presence, but the idea that Maryland played terribly last time and still almost won is rather comforting. I'm feeling a somewhat comfortable Maryland win right now, actually.