CLEMSON, S.C. -- Clemson coach Jim Davis said he may have had a "weak moment" when he scheduled the Lady Tigers season-opening game at South Carolina's new arena Friday.
"I'm a little concerned about our youth going into that environment and how well we keep our composure," Davis said Tuesday.
The game will be the first public event at the 18,000-seat Carolina Center in Columbia and tickets will be just $1.
Usually Clemson, which has won eight-straight against South Carolina, doesn't face its rival until a few games into the season.
"I guess I had a weak moment when I agreed to that," Davis said, adding he doesn't regret his decision. "I think it's great for the game that they're opening the new arena with women's basketball."
Last year, the Lady Tigers finished with a 17-12 record and fourth in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Clemson placed fifth in the conference tournament and barely made the NCAA tournament as a No. 11 seed, losing in the first round 78-68 to Arkansas.
Still, Davis described the team as "overachievers."
"We had to play people out of position," Davis said. "I think it's a credit to our ladies ... what they achieved last year."
But Davis said expectations are high for this year, even if the team is still young. "Our depth is so much better, especially on the front line."
Senior Leah Roper and junior Maggie Slosser are probable frontcourt starters on Friday. Both were among the team leaders in rebounding last year, averaging about five a game. They'll be joined in the middle by 6-foot-4 freshman Amanda White.
Davis said crashing the boards will be important because opponents outrebounded the Tigers last year.
"We have to be better at rebounding than we were last year," Davis said.
The offense will look to senior Chrissy Floyd, who averaged more than 18 points and almost two steals a game last season. Floyd led Clemson in scoring 15 games last season and led the team in steals with 53.
The Tigers have just four seniors on the roster but matchup Friday against a South Carolina team that lost stars Shaunzinski Gortman and Teresa Geter in the first round of the WNBA draft.
"They lost some tremendous players," Davis said. But "I don't know how many first-round draft choices they have left in the program."
Davis knows the opener is important. The Lady Tigers won't start conference play until Jan. 2 when they host Virginia.
"It's something that we have to be prepared for. They're going to go all out," Davis said. "It ought to be a great game. I know the atmosphere is going to be great."
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