Now that we've moved out of the cupcake portion of the schedule, where do we stand? Are we capable of winning 10 games in the ACC as we predicted before the season?
Going through the schedule, theres no reason why this team should have more than 1 loss going into Cameron Indoor after New Years for the start of ACC play. Illinois will come to Littlejohn, and the 76 Classic tournament is winnable.
Well we've got 2. The Illinois debacle is inexplicable and if the Tigers had not let up, the game would've been won. All credit does go to the Illini however, they are a young team that never quit and outhustled us.
We sit at #18/#21 in the polls, up from #24 where we started the season.
SOS: #174, projected #45.
Kenpom ranking: #16.
So how do we see things going so far?
Defense: Its been up and down, intensity-wise, but generally pretty good. The freshmen need to improve their defense. OP has shown a little more variety, in my opinion, in defensive strategy. More half-court and 3/4 traps, man/man zone, and the usual press. OP's M.O. is to press til the 10min mark in the 2nd and switch, and he's still doing that, but theres been good changeup in the strategy. I think that will payoff in ACC play. However, when the team goes cold from the floor, their defensive intensity slacks off, and vice versa.
More after the jump...
|PPG||61.6||56th Nationally||3rd ACC|
As you can see, rebounding needs to get better, particularly against bigger or physical teams like FSU. Clemson also has 71 blocked shots, good for 25th nationally, and forces 19.5 TOs a game. This turnover number will come down in ACC play but anything around 20 is pretty good. Clemson is the best in the ACC in steals and Top 10 nationally.
Ballhandling: Turnovers have not been a major problem so far, and it was last season. Still, we haven't played many great defensive teams. Butler is an offensive team, A&M did well, Illinois too but thats it. Clemson averages 15 TOs a game, and as long as this stays around this level, I think we'll be alright.
Shooting: average at times, but great when the defense is good. No consistent 3 point threat to take pressure off of Booker inside. 37.6% from the outside. Still, we havent played much when it comes to great defenses.
Free Throws: Bad. It'll lose us several ACC games. 62.6%, 11th in the ACC. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM!
Interior play: An alternative to Trevor may have been found in Devin and Jerai Grant. Both have shown flashes of ability so far this season. Trevor Booker has been inconsistent overall in his drive, but lately appears to have put things together offensively and his passing in/out has improved. I would prefer it if our offensive rebounding was better but we rank Top 25 nationally in the number of offensive and defensive rebounding.
Half-Court offense: Considering the competition faced, I'm not sure how to rate it. Against better teams its been bad. Against cupcakes, the usual motion offense seems to be doing fine. This discourages me the most about the Tigers.
|PPG||80.1||56th Nationally||3rd ACC|
The Freshmen: A key coming into this year was the play of the freshmen recruits. Have they panned out as well as most people thought? Certainly not as most hoped. I'm not expecting any of them to be a John Wall, but I had hoped one would develop into a consistent threat. Johnson and Jennings might continue to develop into scorers before the end of the season. The problem is that they'll be in the fire with the ACC, and thats not easy.
Demontez Stitt: Needs to work on ballhandling and turnovers, but his shooting is markedly improved over last season. He will also drive the paint, which I think he should be coached to do more often. Averaging 10.1ppg, with 4 assists per game.
Trevor Booker: Still seems to take days off in the paint. He puts the ball on the floor with the dribble inside when he shouldnt do so. His passing seems to have improved considerably but without a shooter outside, he'll be prone to turnovers in ACC play when he does it. Averaging 14.8 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.2 blocks per and is shooting 53.6% = should be shooting more often.
Jerai Grant: He shows flashes of being another Raymond Sykes and taking some pressure off TBook, but still too inconsistent. He should be better off the boards than he is. I would've thought his father would've made him far better at that. I honestly expect Devin to take more of his PT away unless he turns it up a notch. Averaging 5.5ppg, and 4 RPG, along with 1.7 blocks per on 62% shooting = should be shooting more often.
Tanner Smith: He's not the most talented player, but I'd take 4 more of him. He outhustles people, which you dont see in every player. If TBook or Stitt had this kind of hustle, I'd think we were Final Four-capable. Averaging 10.8 ppg, 4 rebounds and shooting 52%= should be shooting more often.
Andre Young: 2nd best PG in my opinion, but a good shooter who should take more shots from the arc. Happy with his defense. Averaging 8.8ppg with over 2 steals per.
Bryan Narcisse: 2nd only to Smith in hustle, and should get more PT than he does. Certainly not the most talented on defense or shooting, but I love the intensity with which he plays. I expect his defense to improve and he can certainly score more than Potter. Shoots 55%.
David Potter: Awful offensively, just downright awful lately. I dont know if he's pressing too hard, or his head is not right He's a liability on the floor because of his offense right now. Extremely disappointing performance this year., considering he should be the best from the Arc. Averaging 8.1ppg, 2.9 Reb, 1.5 steals.
Devin Booker: I think is the best freshman of the 4 at the moment. I believe Johnson and Jennings might be more talented, but Booker is playing at the highest level. I expect him to play the most of all of them in ACC play because of Grant not taking the inside spot. 5.6 ppg, on 65% shooting and 3.3 Rebounds.
Noel Johnson: Johnson hasn't made quite as much an impact as I expected honestly, nor Jennings. He has been tentative with shot taking and generally looks lost on offense and defense.
Milton Jennings: same as Johnson but slightly better, but both are getting more minutes on average than Devin, though this has changed a little as of late. Jennings has a shot, but wont take it. Both seem to prefer passing rather than taking an open look.
Donte Hill: has been a nonfactor. The worst of the 4 at the moment, and I don't see him getting many minutes in ACC play.