The Student News Site of Clemson University

The Tiger

The Tiger

The Tiger

Women’s basketball has positive outlook on season: Lady Tigers look to make NCAA Tournament

The Clemson Tigers women’s basketball team will be seeking to do what the program has not done since 2002 by reaching the NCAA Tournament this season. Boasting its best chance to do so in quite some time, the Tigers sport a deep roster coming off of a year in which much promise was shone and a brighter future was paved. 

After compiling several quality wins despite a multitude of injuries last year, the 2017-2018 Tigers are poised to surprise the doubters by making their mark in the ACC.

Entering her sixth season at the helm of the program, Clemson head coach Audra Smith saw her hard work of recent years pay off over the summer, as she was rewarded with a contract extension through the 2020-2021 season, indicating that Clemson Athletics, as a whole, had bought into Smith’s philosophy.

“Our women’s basketball team improved both on and off the court last season,” Athletic Director Dan Radakovich said when speaking on the extension. “Coach Smith has her program positioned for continued success in the near future.”

Having landed several quality recruits in recent years, Smith has a solid roster at her disposal this year, hoping to build off of the 15-16 showing from last season that included an 11-2 nonconference record. Not helping Clemson’s cause is the injury to senior wing player Nelly Perry. Perry, arguably the most consistent, proven player on Clemson’s roster, suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the offseason that required surgery.

However, with four of five starters returning to the fray, Clemson should be able to successfully spread the ball around in order to make up for the loss of the reliable scoring presence that Perry presented. 

Danielle Edwards, in particular, will be looked upon to commandeer the Clemson offense. The junior guard’s 9.7 points per game mark from the previous season should conspicuously rise.

Perhaps the most versatile player on the floor for Clemson this season is Ivy Atkism, a dangerous post player with the potential to take control of games through her dominant play on both ends of the floor. Atkism, a senior, should combine with rising superstar forward Kobi Thornton, a sophomore, to make Clemson’s play down low among the best in the ACC.

Along with Edwards, the backcourt for Clemson features senior guard Alexis Carter, a spark plug playmaker, and Aliyah Collier, one of the top rebounding guards in the conference. Jaia Alexander, a promising sophomore with a knack for scoring, is also part of the action in the backcourt and yet another example of a star in the making on the Clemson roster.

With the presence of skilled defender Sirah Diarra in the frontcourt, as well as three talented freshman who could make an impact in Tylar Bennett, Jenise Strover and Destiny Thomas, Clemson’s roster is very well-rounded and teeming with talent this season. Tall and versatile, Clemson is certainly capable of earning several quality wins in conference play this season, especially behind the combined play of Atkism and Thornton under the basket. 

Fast and defensive-oriented, Clemson showcased just how imposing it can be this year by limiting Kennesaw State to just 28 points in its season opener last week, not relenting whatsoever on the defensive side of the ball. On the flip side, there were offensive issues for Clemson in that contest, likely the result of the absence of reigning leading scorer Perry. However, those issues could certainly work themselves out as a fairly young, inexperienced Clemson roster learns to play together in the coming weeks.

Hungry for success, Clemson is fueled by the drive to establish itself as a prominent program once again and to follow through on its hot start to last season. During the course of conference play last year, several key players suffered nagging injuries, leading to a late-season slide by the Tigers that prevented them from capitalizing off of their early-season success. Now, with a chance at redemption, the Tigers have a great opportunity to make the most of their gradual ascension during the Smith-era.

“You have to be patient,” Smith recently said when explaining her philosophy toward basketball. “You have to coach. You have to get the kids in your program that believe in your philosophy and are going to work hard for you. You have to keep moving forward and stay positive.”

Several opportunities loom in which the Tigers can prove themselves to the college basketball world, including a spot in the San Juan Shootout and the FIU Holiday Tournament. 

With a long season ahead, the young Tigers will assuredly face some ups and downs along the way. But, if the deep, talent-laden lineup continuously improves, jelling a little better each and every game, by March, Clemson could very well have itself positioned as an NCAA Tournament-caliber team.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The Tiger

Your donation will support the student journalists of Clemson University . Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Tiger

Comments (0)

All The Tiger Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *