Can the Entire Clemson Team Fit on Trevor Booker's Shoulders?

He's 13th in the conference in scoring. 8th in rebounding, 5th in field goal percentage, and 7th in blocked shots. So it's natural to ask, what's wrong with Trevor Booker?

You see last season, Booker led the ACC in rebounding and field goal percentage, and was second in blocks. And it's not like the rest of the conference just improved; if he put up last year's numbers this season he'd still be near the top of those categories, and we haven't even hit the meat of the schedule yet. No, there's been a drop off in performance for the guy one vote shy of being a unanimous preseason All-ACC pick. Is it him, or is it his team?

Mostly the latter. Clemson lost most of it's other shooters to graduation (K.C. Rivers, Raymond Sykes) or the lure of Italian basketball (Terrence Oglesby). And their game has change because of it. There's a lot less three point shooting and a lot more reliance on points in the paint, which makes it easier for defenses to get a handle on Booker. Also, he's now sharing the frontcourt with his freshman younger brother, Devin, who isn't the threat Sykes was. Trevor Booker is far and away the brightest talent remainging on this team, and his opponents are well-focused on slowing him down. It doesn't help that the easiest way to stop the Brothers Booker is to simply hack them; Trevor is only slightly better from the line then the field with a 55.8% free throw rate, his brother has yet to crack forty percent.

All in all, Clemson and UNC are playing similar styles this year. Both teams are young and turnover-prone, with underclassmen running the backcourt. They both try to push the tempo but rely primarily on their interior players to get them points and depend on rebounds to get their offense going. The one place where Clemson excels that UNC doesn't is their full-court press. Demontez Stitt and Andre Young are steal-generatng machines, and with UNC's turnover problems, if the Tigers are going to win this will be where it happens. There, and Trevor Booker will have to push the UNC interior defenders around. Which, to be fair, would not be the first time that's happened this season.  If the Heels keep their hands on the ball and win the war in the paint, they'll live Littlejohn with a win. They don't, and it will be a rough evening.

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