Dogs hope to 'Pack the Mac' for Clemson

The Citadel's Mike Groselle is averaging 20.5 points and 10.5 rebounds after two games.

Bryan Oller

When someone floated the idea of a TV commercial to promote The Citadel's home game with Clemson tonight, Bulldogs coach Chuck Driesell knew exactly where to turn.

ESPN anchor Scott Van Pelt, like Driesell a Maryland alum, has starred in many of the network's funniest spots.

"I've always loved his commercials, and whenever I saw him we'd talk about them," Driesell said Tuesday. "So when we thought about doing that, I said, 'We've got to play off something they did.' "

The 30-second commercial, which has been playing on local TV and can be found on youtube.com, does have that wacky ESPN sensibility. Driesell is in his office, watching game tape with Citadel mascot Spike the Bulldog.

"Hey, where's that tape from Clemson?" Driesell demands. "I want to see that new tape from Clemson."

The office door opens to reveal Clemson's Tiger mascot, who hands over the tape.

"Oh hey, Tiger, thanks, this will help a lot," Driesell says as Spike shakes a finger in the Tiger's face.

"It was a lot of fun to do," said Driesell, in his second year at The Citadel. "But I really hope it works. We'd like to see a full house when they come in, and I haven't seen one since I've been here."

Tonight's game at McAlister Field House is Clemson's first game at The Citadel since a 71-54 victory in 1989, and only the fourth time an ACC team has visited McAlister since 1980.

"It doesn't happen that often, where a team like Clemson will come play a team like us on the road," Driesell said. "So we're excited about it."

That dynamic might be changing a little. South Carolina played Tuesday night at Elon's tiny 1,000-seat gym. Other Southern Conference teams will get visits from Virginia Commonwealth, Vanderbilt, Tulane and Tennessee this season.

"Some of that has to do with strength of schedule," Driesell said. "Teams that are on the borderline of getting in the NCAA tournament, they look at where you played. Did you take on the road, even to places like ours, rather than staying at home all the time? That's what the NCAA has tried to promote, and that's helped a little bit with scheduling."

Citadel players who remember last year's 69-54 loss at Clemson are eager to get a shot at the Tigers (1-0) at home.

"It's one of our biggest games of the year," said junior center Mike Groselle, who is averaging 20.5 points and 10.5 rebounds after two games. "Everyone on campus has been talking about it, and I think a lot of them will come out. It will probably be the biggest crowd we have all year."

Clemson has undergone major changes from last year's team, which won an NCAA tournament game.

The Tigers lost their top two scorers in Demontez Stitt and Jerai Grant, but return senior guard Andre Young and junior forward Milton Jennings of Summerville's Pinewood Prep. Young scored 19 points to lead the Tigers in their season opener, a 65-44 win over Gardner-Webb.

Tonight's game also will be the first chance for Citadel fans to see some of the changes at McAlister Field House, including a refinished and repainted court and new VIP courtside seats. The Bulldogs' locker room also has undergone renovation.

--Tonight's game will be live-streamed on ESPN3.com. Former Citadel announcer Darren Goldwater will do the play-by-play ... The radio home for Citadel basketball this season is 1450-AM, with Danny Reed at the mic.

TODAY'S GAME

Who: Clemson (1-0) at The Citadel (1-1)

When: 7 p.m.

Where: McAlister Field House

RARE VISIT

Clemson's game at The Citadel today is just the fourth time an ACC squad has played at McAlister Field House since 1980. The others:

Year Opp. Result

1989 Clemson Lost, 71-54

1991 Duke Lost, 83-50

1996 Wake Forest Lost, 86-52