By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- After coming off a huge win in their ACC opener against Florida State, senior Tanner Smith knows what it will take for his team to be successful on the road against a young Boston College team Thursday.
“Well I think we need to know what got us the Florida State win and it was the energy and defensive stops that we were able to get,” Smith said. “We stopped them 11 times in a row in both halves, that’s something that we have to bring on the road as well. Bringing our intensity on the road, having a good week of practice, we’ve had a good couple of practices and keeping the momentum that we have rolling through this week.”
Why is it so difficult to win on the road in this league?
“I think their stadiums are tough atmospheres, teams are used to playing at home,” Smith said. “Especially a team like Boston College that’s good at shooting the three, they’ve been shooting in that gym for months on end now so they know where their comfort zones are. We have to do a good job of getting them out of their comfort zones and doing what we need to do to get a win.”
Boston College lost a lot of players to graduation, but it’s the young talent they’ve brought in that stands out to Smith.
“They’re young but at the same time they’re very talented,” Smith said. “They were down 9 to North Carolina at their place and last night you saw just how good Carolina is with how they played against Miami. They have guys that can really score, they’re coached very well, so we’ve got to do a good job of doing what we do to get them flustered and have their youth show a little bit.”
Smith sees the trip to Boston College as one of the harder road trips of the season because of the travel time. Most ACC schools are south of the Mason Dixon line and therefore the travel time isn’t as severe.
“It’s a different trip because it feels like most of the ACC teams are southern schools but BC is a northern school,” Smith said. “It’s a longer plane ride but I’ve always liked playing up there, Boston is a very good athletic town, they love their sports so going up there is always fun and enjoyable.”
Senior forward Bobo Baciu had a big game for the Tigers against the Seminoles on Sunday, something that Smith hopes will continue to happen on a regular basis.
“With Bobo’s size, his ability to alter shots at the rim can be very big for us,” Smith said. “I think you saw his position against Florida State was great, he wasn’t necessarily moving around and blocking a bunch of shots but his position caused them to alter a lot of shots and he put guys in difficult positions to finish around the rim. If Bobo can continue to do that, finish plays and get angles he can be very good for us. We’re very excited for him, he’s paid his dues at this school, worked hard and so when he’s able to go out and play the way he did it gets guys like myself very happy.”
Baciu seemed to really relish the contribution that he made to the game, was it the confidence boost that he needed?
“Absolutely,” Smith said. “Like I said he’s had one of those careers where people have been doubting him thinking that maybe he wasn’t what they expected him to be here but with the coaching staff and the guys on the team, we’ve always had confidence in him. We’ve seen him work out and practice and it was good that he was able to show the fans and nation what he’s capable of. We’ve got to make sure that his head doesn’t get too big and keep him working hard.”
This time last year was when the Tigers turned their season around and made their push toward the NCAA tournament, and Smith believes that this team also has the capability to make that kind of run.
“We definitely have the capability but we have to continue to work hard,” Smith said. “We’ve got to keep some momentum going, can’t have any let ups, I think we’ve learned the lessons this year that we needed to learn. Knowing now that the ACC schedule is one of the most exciting times is key for our younger guys but I think they saw against FSU that the atmosphere and energy is different. Hopefully we can bring that atmosphere and energy up to Boston even though we don’t have our home crowd behind us.”