Wizards

Clemson heads into bye with momentum and skeptics

201210061915693109500-p2.jpeg

Clemson heads into bye with momentum and skeptics

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Quarterback Tajh Boyd has been around Clemson long enough to know that he isn't only going to hear praise and optimism even with the No. 16 Tigers at 5-1 going into an off week.

``At the end of the day, there are always going to be skeptics and things of that nature,'' Boyd said after Clemson's 47-31 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday ``Now we're coming off a bye weekend, and they're (worried that we are) not going to be prepared for that game.''

For the past decade, people have almost expected Clemson to fall apart after success. Last season, the Yellow Jackets beat the Tigers, ending their 8-0 start and leading to three losses in four games. If not for a weaker-than-expected Atlantic Division, Clemson might have even missed the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.

And that's just the most recent example. In 2000, the Yellow Jackets ended another 8-0 start by the Tigers, who then lost three of four. In fact, Clemson has gone through a stretch of losing at least three out of four games in all but two seasons since the turn of the century.

Despite Saturday's win, Clemson still fell one spot in The Associated Press Top 25.

But the Tigers still have plenty to play for. Florida State's loss Saturday to North Carolina State means the Tigers are back on track for another ACC title game appearance with one more loss by the Seminoles. And with five wins already, Clemson has a chance to get back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time since going 10-2 four straight years from 1987-1990.

Coach Dabo Swinney thinks this year's Tigers are different from some recent Clemson squads.

``I know there's a lot of people out there that believe in voodoo or something, we can't win here - we don't buy into all that stuff,'' Swinney said. ``I hear it all the time.''

Clemson's offense is leading the ACC and is tenth in the nation at nearly 526 yards a game. The Tigers gained 601 yards against Georgia Tech, marking the fourth time in six games they have gained over 500 yards.

Boyd threw for a career-best 397 yards and two touchdowns Saturday, giving him 51 passing TDs for his career, passing Charlie Whitehurst's Clemson record of 49 scoring passes. DeAndre Hopkins caught seven passes for 173 yards and is ranked fifth in the country at more than 129 yards receiving a game.

Even so, center Dalton Freeman thinks the offense isn't exactly where it should be. Clemson punted just once against Georgia Tech and converted 13 of 19 third downs. But three of them they missed were on third-and-goal, leading to field goals.

``There was a lot left out there,'' Freeman said ``Until we score every drive, we're not going to be satisfied.''

And the Tigers get their open date at an opportune time - right at the middle of the season. Freeman said the team has some nicks and small injuries that should heal up before the Virginia Tech game in two weeks. Swinney said his team has earned some time off next week.

``They don't let me have any input on the schedule, but the schedule gods are looking down upon us this year,'' Swinney said. ``Last year, we had about nine games or something before we had an open date. That's a grind.''

Boyd, who is taking an athletic leadership class this semester, said the bye week provides its own challenges,

``It's another test for us, ``Boyd said. ``How do we respond from the bye week. It's a serious question - how do we practice?''

And Swinney knows there is still more work to do as well. He has been impressed with his offense and thinks his defense is getting better, but there is still a lot more to do to reach the goal of finishing the regular season 10-1.

``We're not a great team or a great defense or a great offense yet,'' Swinney said. ``But I think we've got a chance to be.''

Quick Links

Remember Ramon Sessions? Wizards set bring back familiar face, sources confirm

Remember Ramon Sessions? Wizards set bring back familiar face, sources confirm

For the Wizards, with a tough stretch coming and with John Wall still sidelined, depth and health is of the utmost importance.

With the team set to begin the second half of the 2018 NBA season on Thursday night against the Cavaliers, Scott Brooks and company decided to make a move to shore up their backcourt depth, a commodity the team cannot have enough of.

Veteran guard Ramon Sessions, who spent the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons in Washington, D.C., has been signed by the Wizards to a ten-day contract, NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller confirms.

RELATED: NBCSW'S MIDSEASON NBA AWARDS

The news was first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN . Sessions played in 110 games for the Wizards over the course of his two seasons, playing in all 82 games during the 2015-16 season.

He joins the Wizards again having been waived by the New York Knicks on Jan. 13. Sessions averaged 12.8 mpg in 13 games for the Knicks.

Sessions is rejoining a former team for the third time in his career, having played in Milwaukee and Charlotte on two separate occasions.

 

Quick Links

Wizards at Cavs: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards at Cavs: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle LeBron James, George Hill, Larry Nance, Jr. and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:

WASHINGTON WIZARDS AT CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Where: Quicken Loans Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: TNT (pre- and postgame coverage on NBC Sports Washington Plus)
Live stream: TNTdrama.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Back in action

The Wizards return to the court after a week-long layoff due to the All-Star break. Add in the fact that they had three days off before their last game and this will be just the second game for the Wizards in the last 12 days. What is this, football?

The Wizards will try to overcome the rust to keep their momentum going. They entered the All-Star break having won seven of their last nine games. Though the time off was needed due to a wide array of injuries, the Wizards had a good thing going and will aim to recapture that against a good Cavs team.

PODCAST: BIGGEST STORYLINES COMING OUT OF ALL-STAR BREAK

Tough stretch

The Wizards come back with a game against the Cavs, a difficult first assignment after such a long layoff. But this is just the beginning of what will be a very difficult part of their schedule. In their next 17 games, the Wizards will play 15 times against teams currently holding playoff spots. That includes the Warriors, Celtics, Spurs and Raptors.

The schedule is tough beyond their opponents. Four times in the next three weeks they will play back-to-back games and they have five games in the next seven nights. Hopefully the players recharged their batteries because it won't be easy.

RELATED: BEAL IMPRESSED BY LEBRON AT ALL-STAR GAME

New-look Cavs

The Wizards and Cavs have played twice this season already and Cleveland took both of those matchups. However, that was all before the trade deadline when the Cavs overhauled their roster. They have won all three of their games since and look rejuvenated with younger players.

Now surrounding LeBron James are a host of new faces like George HIll, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. It will be interesting to see how the Wizards match up with this new group.

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS