KANSAS CITY - Clemson practically held open auditions for point guards this week in practice.
Greg Buckner tried his hand at the lead spot. So did Merl Code. Even hulking Iker Iturbe stood out at the top of the key and ran the offense a time or two.
No, Terrell McIntyre hasn't landed in Rick Barnes' doghouse. Quite the contrary.
It's just that with the NCAA Tournament starting today - 13th-seeded Miami of Ohio is the opponent - the Tigers (21-9) decided they had better do something to counteract all the extra attention McIntyre has been getting.
The trend has been building over the last third of the season. Tired of watching the 5-foot-9 dynamo blow through the middle with dribble drives, opponents have been shading an extra man in McIntyre's direction.
Then came last Friday's loss to Maryland in the first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
The Terrapins harassed McIntyre with double teams when he had the ball and vigorous denial once he gave it up. At times it appeared all five Maryland players were keeping an eye on the Clemson point guard.
"If it wasn't five guys, it sure felt that way," McIntyre said Thursday before Clemson's workout at Kemper Arena. "It was surprising. We weren't prepared for it."
The man called "Boogie" managed just nine points on 2-of-8 shooting and the befuddled Tigers suffered a quick exit.
It's hard to boogie when you can't even breathe.
If Miami tries the same approach today, the Tigers say they will be ready. McIntyre will simply slide to the wing and run his man through a maze of screens. His teammates have already been instructed to get him the ball.
"Coach Barnes is just trying to find a way for us to get Terrell more scoring opportunities," said Buckner, a 6-4 junior forward. "We've got so many people that can play the point. This way Terrell doesn't have the burden of taking the ball up against pressure all the time.
"This should make us more difficult to guard."
McIntyre remains Clemson's second-leading scorer (13.3 average) and top 3-point threat. But over the last 12 games he is shooting just 35 percent and his assist-to-turnover ratio (56-30) has suffered.
The switch isn't permanent. With 5-11 sophomore Rob Mestas likely to guard McIntyre, it may not even be necessary for today's game. But the next time somebody pulls a Maryland on them, the Tigers want to be ready.
"It will help in a lot of ways and it will hurt in some ways," Code said. "Terrell has been our main ballhandler all year long. He really gets us going on the offensive end. He scores for us, gets other guys the ball where they need it, when they need it.
"But at the same time, he's one of our better scorers. Whoever's playing point guard, we have to distribute the ball as he would if he were playing the point."
NOTES: Buckner, Clemson's leading scorer, suffered a sprained ankle Thursday morning in a light workout but his mobility didn't seem hampered Thursday afternoon. "He just rolled it over," Barnes said. "I know he's worried about it but I think he'll be OK. The tournament's the tournament." .°.°. Barnes, ever the spinmeister, said he had no concerns about his team taking the Redskins lightly. "Clemson should be the underdog," he said. "I don't think the seeds matter. Everybody says Clemson is pretty much done anyway."
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