Brad Brownell continues to look for the answers for his young Tigers.
1. The Tigers showed good intensity from the opening tip, something they have failed to do multiple times this season as the defense held Duke scoreless for the first five minutes of the game. Credit Brad Brownell for changing things up and holding a more “spirited” practice session the day of the game. The guards stayed in front of picks to prevent Duke from getting many open looks in the early going, and as a result Duke was off on their early shooting. Eventually things would change as offensive woes put too much pressure on the Clemson defense.
2. Unfortunately you have to score points to win in the game of basketball, and this year’s Clemson team just doesn’t have anybody outside of Devin Booker who can do this on a consistent basis. Only scoring 10 points in the first half was brutal to watch, and once Duke started to get rolling the younger Tigers began to panic and force up some bad decisions. Watching this team it’s hard to get a read on what offensive identity the Tigers want to form, but I have to believe that Brownell would have been better served to keep feeding the ball to Booker the entire half. Yes, the senior big man has some issues finishing around the basket, but at this point I believe giving Booker the ball around the post gives Clemson their best chance to score. Milton Jennings continues to be too inconsistent to depend upon. KJ McDaniels has issues driving and finishing around the basket. Bernard Sullivan and Damarcus Harrison struggle to score. Rod Hall can finish around the basket, but has no outside shooting threat to keep defenders honest. Adonis Filer & Jordan Roper have shown potential but are still learning the college game. It’s time to hitch this wagon to Devin Booker and see how far he can carry this team.
3. Speaking of offense, how nice would it be to have Devin Coleman and Jaron Blossomgame available right now? Coleman really began to show a strong offensive game towards the end of last season before suffering an Achilles injury during the offseason and Blossomgame was the prize recruit of this year’s class. Could TJ Sapp have provided help on the offensive end? Donte Hill, who transferred after the 2010-2011 season, is currently Old Dominion’s 2nd leading scorer. Point is Brownell has suffered some setbacks out of his control due to injury & transfers that are really starting to take a toll on this team.
4. On the subject of Milton Jennings…it’s obvious after 3.5 years at Clemson that the hype surrounding the McDonald’s All-American was blown out of proportion and unrealistic expectations were set as a result. But as the only upperclassman outside of Booker, averaging only eight points over the last five games is just not getting the job done. Jennings has flashed potential with some big games over the years and if Clemson wants to have any success in the ACC he has to step up into a larger scoring role.
5.. A positive note to take away from the game was the hustle and physical play provided by the underclassman throughout the game. Brad Brownell’s teams may not light up the scoreboard, but they consistently play tough defense and his past two recruiting classes appear to be continuing this trend. During his first two seasons Brownell proved his coaching ability, so before everyone begins bailing ship I believe he deserves some more time to see his recruits evolve and continue building his program. But as a warning to Tiger basketball fans…be prepared for some more ugly losses this season before things improve in the future.
Five Key Stats:
[b1.[/b]. 9.1%...Three point shooting for the Tigers on 1 for 11 from outside the arch. The made three of the game came from Jennings after Duke had things under control.
2. 15…Rebounds by Devin Booker, two more than the rest of the team combined against Duke. My concerns about who will rebound the ball next season remain.
3.. 75%...Shooting from the field by sophomore Quinn Cook who torched the Tigers for 27 points. Hopefully this guy doesn’t become the Blue Devil’s version of Wayne Ellington.
4. 4…Minutes played tonight by Bernard Sullivan. Clearly Brad Brownell does not feel comfortable with Sullivan’s ability to contribute at this point vs. ACC competition.
5.. 0…Foul differential between Clemson & Duke who both had 12 team fouls. The talent gap in this game was so large that even ACC officiating can’t be contributed as a factor in the loss.
The Tigers return home for the next two games to take on Virginia (Sat. at Noon) and Wake Forest (Next Tuesday night at 7:00 pm). Failing to defend home court could result in a big hole to start ACC play as Clemson will follow the home stand up with road trips to NC State and Florida State.