Clemson silence marks Gray's absence

CLEMSON, S.C. — CLEMSON, S.C. -- Until Sunday's game against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C., Devin Gray was having a pretty good sophomore season for Clemson. He was the team's leading scorer. He had tied a p,14l school record for steals in a game.

But something happened to Gray in the first half at the Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum. Maybe it was the frustration of four straight ACC losses. Maybe it was the 16-point deficit to the Demon Deacons. Or maybe it was that Gray wasn't getting the ball enough.


After taking four shots in the first 20 minutes, Gray said something either to one of his teammates or to Clemson coach Cliff Ellis on the way back to the locker room. When the Tigers returned to the court for what would be a 74-56 defeat, Gray didn't.

"There are some players who are thinking too much about individualism and aren't thinking about team-oriented goals," Ellis said later.


Though Ellis didn't single out Gray by name, the 6-foot-7, 230-pound forward from Baltimore was the only player in the team's regular rotation who didn't play in the second half. A starter for 12 of the team's 14 games, Gray is expected back in the lineup when Clemson plays Maryland here tonight.

"It was a coaches' decision," Gray said Sunday. "I shouldn't say anything because if I say anything, I'll look like the bad guy."

Gray declined all interview requests yesterday, and a school spokesman said Gray asked to wait until after tonight's game before talking about what happened.

Ellis, who also declined to discuss the matter, said, "There's a lesson he should learn from not playing the second half."

After averaging 10.9 points and 5.1 rebounds while splitting time at forward with former Meade High star Corey Wallace, Gray has emerged this season. Wallace is sidelined for the remainder of the year after recently undergoing shoulder surgery.

Gray is averaging a team-high 15.9 points on 54.8 percent shooting, but his rebounds have dipped to 4.4. He has scored 20 points or more five times, including a career-high 25 in a 110-67 loss to Duke two weeks ago. His seven steals against The Citadel tied a school record.

"I set some goals this season to make all of my numbers possibly better than last year," Gray said in a recent interview. "I'm scoring much better, but my rebounding isn't what it should be. I've got to work harder in that area."

Coincidentally, Gray's picture will appear on tonight's program cover.