Repair, Reset or Rebuild? The Tremendous Task Facing Clemson Basketball

“These are the times that try men’s souls; the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and women.” Thomas Payne, wrote these words almost two hundred fifty years ago and he had to have been writing about Clemson Basketball.

Despite a victory over the weekend against Pitt, this team now stands at 11-8. Looking ahead and being very generous, the best scenario, as I see it, is to finish the regular season at 17-14 but just as likely, they might end up at 15-16. Will that be enough to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament or even the NIT Tournament but who knows? God? Thomas Payne?

Most of us were taught as children that “if you can’t say something nice then, remain silent.” I realize my words aren’t glowing or upbeat but they are a true representation of the state of Clemson Basketball as many see it.

There will be those that read my words and shout, “find another team to root for” while that’s understandable, I can’t, I love this University. So much so, I’m willing to take the angry consternation of the Sunshine Patriots and Summer Soldiers and try and create a meaningful dialogue about change.

Those are the perfect descriptions, sunshine patriots and summer soldiers for one type of Clemson Basketball supporters, the well meaning, Sunshine Pumpers. Never allowing the questioning of anything Clemson. They believe to do so is blasphemous.

For all the right reasons, they ignore or just aren’t willing to see the painful realities that lay before them. The other type of Tiger Basketball supporter is emotionally spent, mentally exhausted and physically ill from a lifetime of having to choke down another season of disappointment. As I’ve written in several previous articles, being involved in a relationship with Clemson Basketball is disappointing at best, demoralizing at worst.

The definition of insanity, in its simplest form is, “the continuation of doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.” It’s maddening, for my entire 60 years on this earth, absent a few seasons, that’s been the hallmark of Clemson Basketball.

Unfair assessment? No, not at all. To be unfair would be to ignore greatness and harp on a few momentary stumbles. That’s not the case, there is little greatness surrounding this program except for one proud exception. The greatness of spirit, of effort and of loyalty exhibited by the young men representing Clemson on the court of play.

My heart goes out to those young men burdened with being one of a few constant, ACC’s sacrificial lambs. That designated fate rips at the very fabric of Clemson Basketball.

We can see proof of this by the yearly exodus of talented players, all leaving in search of the same thing even Clemson Basketball fans desire, a fresh start. They want a better opportunity to showcase their talents. Then, in the wake of their departure, the team is left to hit the portal and try to start from scratch, again.

I confess, my writings concerning Clemson Basketball have been nothing short of schizophrenic. They’ve been all over the place. Even going as far as asking “does anyone really care about Clemson basketball?”

I’ve said to be patient, to be understanding and supportive, and to believe. I’ve surmised there are many reasons for the state of Clemson Basketball. In actuality, there is little hope that can be offered to entice others to follow, to be positive, to expect anything from basketball. To do so just means only more disappointment, more frustration and more heartbreak. To pretend otherwise, while noble and certainly is one’s own prerogative, is nothing short of futile.

Until the athletic department and it’s new director, Graham Neff, shows even a modicum of inclination to rebuild the program from a new foundation, set a new course, nothing of any substance will ever change. I believe change is way overdue. Not just a change in leadership but a substantial change in the philosophical perspective, the mindset, of the program.

It’s times like these, that awful, incendiary word that was once attributed to Clemson Football, “Clemsoning” is now being whispered openly about Basketball. Imperatively, change has got to happen but will it? Ignoring past behaviors to the contrary, I’m inclined to say it’s possible but heck, I am just a silly dreamer.

This isn’t totally on or about Brad Brownell, this madness has been enabled and accepted since, forever. Unfortunately, to ever reach much joy, one must go through much pain. It can’t be just a whitewashing of the facade of the program but a total rebuild from the inside out, top to bottom. It’s time.

With the make-up contest between the Tigers and No. 6 Duke next on the the schedule, I’ll be watching with hope that this team can do the seemingly impossible but it’s unlikely. Especially with an injured PJ Hall.

Fallback position has always been, regarding Clemson Basketball, just keep it close as to limit the embarrassment and then quietly move on. That sums up these unfortunate but familiar times as a Clemson Basketball fan. One day soon, a change is going to come. When? Only God, and maybe Thomas Payne know.

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