Well, that was a disappointing loss. Clemson kept it close throughout and had a chance down the stretch, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Clemson is going to struggle to score this year. I think that much is obvious. And losing to South Carolina stings whether we are talking about basketball or badminton. But there were some positives to take away from their 64-60 loss to South Carolina. Lets start with the positives.
Clemson fought hard to win this game. In the Michigan game they seemingly laid down when Michigan went on an early run and were never really in that game. There was no fight in that team. In the first half of this game they could’ve easily laid down again when South Carolina went on an early first half run. But, Clemson responded by fighting hard on the offensive glass to keep the game within 3 points at halftime.
I also thought that Coach Brownell’s move to use Demontez Stitt primarily as the 2-guard and Andre Young as the point guard was the right move. Clemson essentially has two 2-guards with point guard bodies. But, Stitt is the best playmaker on this team. Letting him play off the ball allows him to be aggressive offensively and play based off of his instincts rather than worrying about running an offense and getting back on defense. Brownell needs to turn Stitt completely loose and let him create plays for both himself and his teammates. Every team needs a go-to player, and I think Stitt can be that guy. Clemson needs to try to build off of Stitt’s assertiveness.
Now the negatives. First, Clemson had untimely turnovers down the stretch. Tanner Smith and Andre Young both struggle to hold onto the ball. The ball seems lathered in oil when these two get their hands on it. Since Clemson struggles to score, they have to help themselves by not giving away possessions. These guys need to get stronger with the ball. Secondly, Clemson missed only 5 free throws, but all 5 of those came in the final few minutes. Clemson had a chance, but the turnovers and missed free throws allowed South Carolina to ice the game. And lastly, Devin Booker was invisible for the second straight game. I saw his offensive talents earlier this year, so I know what he is capable of. But it seems as though he has a passive demeanor, and Clemson could really use him to step up and take charge.
I don’t want to harbor too much on Clemson’s talent level, as I already touched on that after Clemson’s loss to Michigan. But the truth is that South Carolina has better developed talent right now. South Carolina has a budding star at point guard, shooters and slashers on the wings, and athletic big men down low.
I know some of you have seen Clemson’s last two games and assume this team is going to struggle to win another game all year. Well, I’ve got news for you. The ACC is WAY down this year. I’ve watched every team in the ACC play this season. My expectation hasn’t changed too much. I still expect Clemson to finish in the top half of the conference this season. I expect them to get better as the season goes on, as they are still learning Brownell’s system.