Written by: “Mr.” Bill Bostic
Brad Brownell leads the Tigers over South Carolina 64-55.
1- This Clemson team won a game that it had to win. Three consecutive losses to some terrible South Carolina teams would have killed Brad Brownell ability to rally the fans around this program. Yes, it was ugly. Yes, at times it was an abomination to the game of basketball but in the words of Al Davis himself, “Just Win Baby”.
2- Devin Booker will be sorely missed next season…Booker deserves some credit for stepping up this year and actually getting vocal on the court as this team searches for a leader to replace Tanner Smith & Andre Young.
The younger brother from Union has received some criticism over the years for shying away from physical post play (and every year I cringe when he mentions how much time he spent on his perimeter play during the offseason), but once he graduates this team will have a large void for a true “big” player who can score & rebound as Sullivan/Smith/Nnoko are unfinished products.
3- South Carolina in my opinion is not a good team right now. This team will no doubt improve under Frank Martin’s watch, although it could require the use of Junior College transfers. Clemson needed to get their wins over Martin early before he can start to really build his program. he only thing that will keep the Gamecocks from improving will be Martin popping a blood vessel out of anger during this turnover filled season.
4- Learn the name Michael Carrera; he’ll be the new guy that Clemson fans love to hate over the next four years. Just when Chaz “call me Chase bro” MacFarland from Wake Forest and have a season of peace & serenity, Frank Martin has to go get one of “his guys” in Carrera.
Thankfully Clemson kept their composure and stayed above the fray as one of his roles is to get under the opponent’s skin and draw unnecessary technical fouls. There was a tense moment when KJ McDaniels gave him the death stare but credit Brownell for immediately benching McDaniels and keeping things under control. That’s good coaching.
5- Speaking of McDaniels, this guy is going to be damn good. I remember watching KJ during some of the early non-conference games last season and he defined the “deer in the headlights” look as a Freshman. About halfway into conference season the lights really turned on for McDaniels and you could really see the raw potential that Brownell saw in his game. You just can’t coach his jumping & shot block ability.
Devin Booker is poised for a big year.
The task for Brownell was then to develop and work on McDaniels weaknesses, which he obviously has as KJ has improved immensely as a shooter. It’s going to be fun to watch him improve even more over the next two plus seasons.
6- Keep an eye on Adonis Filer to show out around the half-way point of ACC play. Filer has already showed flashes of potential, but look for him to really put everything together and solidify a starting role around the middle of conference play. Last season it took about 20 games for players to really understand and grasp what Brad Brownell wants to do (see KJ McDaniels & Devin Coleman), so I look for Filer to become more comfortable driving to the basket and start to take more playing time away from TJ Sapp. This isn’t a knock on Sapp, but Filer is the more physical guy and having him on the court with Rod Hall gives Clemson 2 guys who aren’t afraid put their head down and make things happen around the hoop.
7- Despite preseason expectations, this Clemson team is better right now than the 2011 version…Smith & Young were great leaders of last year’s team, but the 2012 version of the Tigers has one distinct advantage in Sophomores (McDaniels,Hall,Sapp,Sullivan) who have already been through the first-year experience with Brad Brownell and know what he expects/demands out of the players.
These guys have learned first-hand of the adjustments that must be made coming out of high school and can pass this knowledge along to Filer/Roper/Nnoko/Smith to help speed up the learning process. My expectations coming into the season were that an NIT-berth would be considered a success…but don’t be surprised to find this team on the bubble in March given Brownell’s history to improve during the season.
8- Get out to Littlejohn Coliseum on Saturday night and support this Clemson team. With a Top 10 opponent rolling in and a night weekend game there are no excuses for Littlejohn to not be filled up and rocking come game time. So gather the family, hit up downtown Clemson for some dinner & Christmas shopping and come support the Tigers Saturday night. They may not win but you can pretty much guarantee this team will play hard and give 110%.