Two seasons ago, the Clemson basketball program was in the middle of a season that would see them finish 25-10 and 11-7 in ACC play. They went on to make one of their rare NCAA tournament appearances under Brad Brownell, advancing to the Sweet 16. With the core of that team returning, the fan base was energized and Brownell received a new 6 year $15M contract. You know what they say about hindsight?
That senior laden team was never able to replace the production of Gabe DaVoe, had no depth, and finished 20-14, 9-9 in ACC play, and failed to make the NCAA tourney. The season ended with a dud, when Wichita State came into Littlejohn and knocked off the Tigers 63-55 in the second round of the NIT.
Coming into this season, anyone that followed the program knew it was going to be a transition season. Brownell needed to replace four starters, including big man Elijah Thomas. When you have nothing but a couple of 6’10 power forwards to replace him with, that’s a problem. Seven footer Tre Jemmison is on the roster, but he’s still young and very raw. He is nowhere near ready to be a contributor at this level.
When they face a team with any size, it puts them at a severe disadvantage, and that has shown on the court over the teams first 12 games. It was on full display in today’s 54-45 home loss to Yale. The Tigers had no answer for their big man Paul Atkinson, as he scored 20 points on 8-10 shooting. Yale out-rebounded Clemson 35-27 and outscored them 28-20 in the paint.
If this team had anyone that could hit shots from the perimeter consistently, they could offset the lack of size in some instances. Against Yale, the team shot 20 three point shots and hit on just 4 of them. They were 0-9 from three in the 1st half. They had almost as many turnovers (13) as they did field goals (15). It was the type of performance the fan base has become all to familiar with under Brownell.
This team just got outplayed, plain and simple. By an Ivy League school on their home floor. The offense looks like it’s become nothing more than passing it around the arc, then heaving up a three that bricks off of the rim. With out of conference play over, this team now gears up for ACC play. Things look to get worse before they get better. The only question is, how much worse?