Clemson Basketball: That ‘Other’ Sport.

In year’s past, Clemson Basketball, for most fans, didn’t begin until after football season ended.

It’s not that Clemson fans don’t care about their the team, it was just a matter of priority. With Clemson being a “football school,” it makes sense.

This year, with football fortunes having turned in a different direction, it makes for an easier, if not late transition, to Tiger hoops. I thought, I’d introduce myself and everyone to Brad Brownell’s 2021-2022 Basketball Team.

First, The Tigers have six scholarship players returning:

G – Al-Amir Dawes (9.0 ppg)
G – Nick Honor (8.1 ppg)
G – Alex Hemenway (4.7 ppg)
G- Chase Hunter (2.9 ppg)
F – Hunter Tyson (7.5 ppg)
F/C – PJ Hall (3.5 ppg)

New Additions: G-Josh Beadle, F- Ian Schieffeln, F-Ben Middlebrooks, G/F-Parker Fox, G-DavidCollins (Graduate Transfer), G- Devin Foster, G- Jack Nauseef, F- David Nauseef, F- Naz Bohannon (Graduate Transfer)

Last season Clemson finished 16-8 (10-6) and earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament as a No. 7 seed. Clemson’s best wins came early in non-conference play as they beat Purdue, Maryland, and Alabama on their way to a 5-0 start.

They’d get to 9-1 before losing three of four. They had another great stretch going a perfect 5-0 in February, including wins over North Carolina, Syracuse, and Georgia Tech. Unfortunately, they lost steam in March, going 1-3 during the season’s most critical month. They lost to Miami in their first game of the ACC Tournament and then fell to No. 10 seed Rutgers in their first game of the NCAA tournament. The poor finish tarnished an otherwise good season.

Clemson now looks to build off the success rather than take a step back, but they have several personnel losses to overcome. Most notably, star player Aamir Simms. Additionally, Jonathan Baehre, who joined Clemson as a transfer from UNC-Asheville left to pursue a professional basketball career in Europe. Cylde Trapp is using his extra year of eligibility (COVID waiver) at Charlotte. John Newman (Cincinnati), Olivier Maxence-Prosper (Marquette), and Lynn Kidd (Virginia Tech) also left via the transfer portal. Replacing the production of those losses might prove an extremely difficult task. That’s huge, especially for a team that, for the lack of better words, is predominantly of a defensive mindedset.

Currently the Tigers are 6-4 after winning their first four, but are just 2-4 over their last six. However, they are coming off a 90-80 overtime win over a solid Drake team in Atlanta.

While many yell the usual chorus, “Fire Brownell,” I understand, to a point. However, right, wrong or indifferent, Clemson has a huge, long-term investment in Brad Brownell. Factor in the obvious losses in production, some believe it’s too early to be calling for his head this year.

I say, just be patient. With the annual rivalry game against South Carolina coming up and a game against Miami (OH) tonight rounding out the non-conference slate, the Tigers start to get into the meat of the ACC schedule after dropping their first league game on the road at Miami.

This year, the ACC will try to recover from a down season as No.2 Duke and unranked UNC, FSU and Virginia look to take their usual place in the Top-10. Miami and Virginia Tech will also make an effort to return to the top 25.

Needless to say, Brownell and this team have a huge task before them. They always do. Traveling up and down Tobacco Road, it’s always been a tough road to navigate.

We offer no predictions, no suggestions for coach and team except to play hard and proud. Everyone that’s ever followed Clemson Basketball understands it’s limitations of being a basketball team at a football school. Hopefully, this year with a few upsets and consistent play, this team could do quite well.

Who knows what the rest of the season holds for this team. Whatever their fate, it’s a rare, bittersweet occurance, with football ending sooner than usual, to focus all energy towards hoops.

Hopefully, this 2021-2022 season will be the Tigers’ year. Stranger, more bizarre things can happen and it’s always good to remain hopeful. Sometimes, even with basketball, hope may seem to be the only thing you have. Believe and be hopeful, what’s there to lose?

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