Clemson didn't help it's NCAA tournament resume as they were thoroughly dominated at Coastal Carolina by the score of 69-46. After playing Top 10 teams Arizona & Gonzaga close earlier this year, there is simply no excuse for the type of beat down we saw in Myrtle Beach tonight.
The Tigers were up out-hustled and out-executed by a poor Chanticleer squad (3-5 record entering the game. including a 30 point loss @ Boston University) that came out ready to play and had this game circled on the schedule. I don’t know if the problem lies with Brad Brownell or the players, but Clemson has to bring more intensity early and anticipate that they will be getting the best effort from in-state mid major programs, if they don’t then we will continue to see more loses to lesser opponents.
What went Right
1. Landry Nnoko made both of his free throws in clean up duties. Devin Booker played a solid game.
What went Wrong
1. The Tiger defense continued to give wide open 3 point looks, and Coastal Carolina took advantage by shooting 39.1% from behind the arc and making 9 three-pointers…five more than their season average. Clemson appeared to dare the Coastal guards to make the shots, and give Anthony Raffa & Warren Gillis for taking advantage. You just can’t afford to allow any players at the Division 1 level to keep shooting wide open threes.
2. Another slow start had the Tigers behind early and really put them in a hole, as the best way to win vs. mid-majors on the road is to come out rolling and put the game away early. The longer you let these teams hang around the more confidence they get, and this proved true with the way Coastal was able to close out the game. In the past Brownell’s teams have done a good job from the opening tip, so I’m going to chalk this one up on the youth and inexperience of this team, but it’s up to the head coach to find something that will inspire this team to play better from the start.
3. Games like this really expose the lack of leadership on the 2012-2013 Tiger squad. Last year’s team had the combination Andre Young & Tanner Smith to help the current Sophomores when traveling on the road, but the current group of Devin Booker & Milton Jennings haven't shown the same leadership on the court thus far. Booker has more of a quiet personality (and he played well tonight) while Jennings was inconsistent. All you need to do is look at Clemson’s opponents (Raffa for Coastal Carolina and Mark Lyon for Arizona) to see the value of senior leadership. For this team to improve during the season one of the younger guys will have to step up and become the floor general for this team. Who will accept the challenge?
The Tigers play five of their next six games at home with two more non-conference tune-ups (SC State, Citadel) before starting conference play vs. Florida State. The game tonight showed there is a lot of work to be done, but Brownell has proven in the past that he can improve his teams during the course of the season. Can he do the same with this group?