Considering the competition, this game was nothing to write home about, but overall the Tigers had a good showing in a 77-44 victory over PC. There are still a lot of unanswered questions concerning this young squad, but tonight provided a glimpse into what this team could become in the months and years to come. Even though I don’t want to read too much into the team’s performance tonight, it will be helpful to briefly mention some of the strengths, weaknesses, and gray-areas that showed up throughout the competition.
First of all, not enough can be said in praise of Brownell’s coaching ability. The overall grasp of fundamentals by the team, the strength of offensive and defensive game plans, and the in-game adjustments/game management all point to high-caliber coaching. It remains to be seen just how much of an impact his coaching can have this season on a still very green group, but at the very least we can expect the team to improve.
Offensively, they had a solid outing. Ball movement around the perimeter was consistent and the players did a decent job of slipping from the paint to the perimeter and vice versa, setting picks, and rolling off of screens. Early on there were not too many Tigers fighting for inside position following the shot, but it started to happen more often as the game progressed. No single player stood out in the scoring line, but this may work to their advantage, as no one or two players will be stuck carrying the load.
Defensively, the Tigers did a good job of each playing his man and forcing turnovers. There were a few mix-ups and dumb fouls, but overall the Tigers put it together nicely. The only big question mark was down low, as PC’s big man Clyburn was able to push around the forwards and generally have his way in the paint.
Jennings had a commendable outing, racking up 15 points with a couple of 3s thrown in the mix. Unfortunately, Jennings also continued to make dumb mistakes, like shooting a 3 (while covered) on a one-pass possession and getting emotional after mistakes which led to ill-advised risks. Similarly for Booker, he had good contribution all night, but there were a lot of times that he looked bored or lazy on both defense and offense. I don’t want to pick on them too much, but the bar is set much higher for their last season, and if Clemson is going to finish the season above .500, the two seniors need to step up and start playing with more consistency and aggressiveness, no matter who the competition is. There is still a visible void of leadership which one or both of these men could fill, so hopefully this missing piece is filled in soon.
Rod Hall is a player. Although he only had 6 points, he had 3 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 nasty block, and he took a clean charge. If he stays consistent, he will be an important part of what Brownell is trying to put together. Really, all of the players made good contributions when on the court. Roper scored 11 points coming off the bench, Filer had good leadership at point, showed he was an outside threat, and had good penetration to the basket, McDaniels, Sullivan, and Harrison were all aggressive and showed great athleticism/fundamentals. Even Nnoko, who didn’t produce as much per minute, still showed a lot of talent and athleticism that will help in the future. He still needs a lot of work on fundamentals, but for a center, he’s fast and has quick feet, which will come in handy if he continues to improve.
In the end, it was a satisfying season opener. It was a well-attended game in Littlejohn, compared to season openers of years past, and there was a lot of excitement in the seats and on the court, excitement that was missing for much of last season. The Tigers will have plenty of stiff competition when we enter into the conference portion of the schedule, but with the amount of talent and quality of coaching, this Clemson team can be competitive in the majority of their match-ups, and we can only hope that they show consistent improvement from game to game.
How about you guys...what did you think about Clemson's opening performance? Which player(s) stood out to you?