I'm going to honest, I'm still upset at the officiating tonight, and I'm a little distracted while writing this because I'm fully engaged in cheering on OSU, hoping that the ACC presidents and Swofford see that their basketball conference plans just aren't going to cut it.
It's hard to know just where to start with this one, so let's start at the very beginning. First of all, I continue to be disappointed by Clemson fans in general, and the students in particular. I know I shouldn't expect anything different, but we were flat out embarrassed by the Purdue faithful tonight. Their section was packed, and I guarantee you that most of them traveled all the way from Indiana for this game. But Clemson fans barely filled a third of the rest of Littlejohn. Absolutely pathetic. I know this is a young team, and Clemson is a football school, but we can't expect Clemson to beat teams like Purdue, let alone Duke or UNC, if the most loyal fans are old farts who nap during the game and get angry if the people around them are cheering too loud. HELL, the halftime performance got a stronger reaction from the fans than our team did (to be fair, Red Panda is the best halftime performer you will ever see).
That's enough ranting about the peripherals. Milton Jennings needs to get his shit together. I almost want Brownell to drop his ass, but, unfortunately, we sorely missed Jennings' production tonight, especially since his backup went 0-2. It will be a miracle if Jennings stays out of trouble for the rest of the season (if Coach doesn't cut him before he has the chance, decision coming later this week), so we can only hope that whoever plays in his place steps up next time.
Clemson definitely lost this one, but Purdue also did their thing on the way to victory. D.J. Byrd was a maniac tonight. It is very rare to see a guy hit that many three-pointers, especially when it's out of the blue like tonight. There honestly wasn't anything Clemson could do about it, because he was hitting everything, even with a hand in his face from the edge of the center paw. Finally Rod Hall started attacking the ball when he went to shoot, but it was too little too late.
The Tigers also had no defensive pressure and rebounding was nonexistent. Once again, Jennings would have helped us out significantly with our rebounding woes (compared to who played in his place). Don't get me wrong, Brownell mixed it up well, using the zone effectively and at crucial points in the game, and Clemson held their own, but they were just overmatched compared to the size and aggressiveness of Purdue. I would have liked to see the press earlier after seeing how successful it was, but being short-handed and young means we don't have the depth to sustain pressure for very long. If Brownell had pulled out the press after Byrd's 2nd or even 3rd made three, it might have been a different game, but Purdue hammered the nails in early and Clemson didn't have what was needed to come back.
I'm sure we're all thinking it, so I'm just going to say it. I try not to complain about officiating in most games since I recognize that fandom has a way of hurting good judgment. But good Lord! This was one of those rare games when the shit piles up and you can't help but complain about the stench. The worst part is, there were several points where Clemson was building momentum, finally putting it together and getting the crowd into it, and then an official would make an absolutely brain-dead call and shut 'er down. Just speculating here, but it would have been a much closer ball game if the officials had not been worthless. In the end, Clemson would have likely still lost for other reasons, but it would have been less ugly.
Ultimately, Clemson lost because they couldn't rebound, the threes weren't falling, defensively they came out flat, and we still suck at free throws. On the other side, Purdue had a fired up D.J. Byrd, their big guys played big, and they were aggressive on both sides of the court. I was impressed with how tough our young squad played, and how they stuck with it in the 2nd half, but ultimately it was too little, too late, and we end up with a lot to gripe about.
One thing I do know: the Boilermakers used up all their luck winning tonight, which means our odds just got better to win the Powerball Jackpot.