Another day, another loss. Playing their 2nd straight game without K.J. McDaniels, Clemson dropped their 4th straight Saturday night to last place Virginia Tech by the score of 69-61. They've now lost 7 of 8 overall. At this point I could think of a lot of things that I'd rather do than write another recap after a Clemson loss. A root canal comes to mind. It's bad enough that I spent my Saturday night watching that crapfest, but I think it is compounded by the fact that I have to relive it through these words.
I find it difficult to come up with words to describe what we're seeing without sounding like a broken record. I guess I'll start by stating the obvious: This is not a good basketball team. I watched a lot of basketball today, and a lot of it was well played. This game was not one of those. When I watch other games I constantly find myself thinking things like "we don't have anyone on our team that could do that" or "these guys are so much better than us". And this is where I get repetitive. Our team is severely deprived of talented basketball players.
It all comes back to point guard play for me. I believe it's the most important position on the court. At this point, Clemson is playing short-handed on the offensive end when Rod Hall is on the court. I like Rod Hall. I think he gives 100% effort every night, so I don't want this to come across as an anti Rod Hall article. But I don't believe he is talented enough to dig Clemson out of the ACC cellar. If you aren't a threat to shoot the basketball, and you can't finish around the rim, then you are handicapping your basketball squad on the offensive end. Hall can work on his shooting as much as he wants, but he's never going to be a great shooter. If he were a stellar ball handler and passer he could perhaps make up for his other deficiencies, but that's not the case. He's not a great ball handler and he doesn't have great vision. 5 ppg and 3 assists/game just isn't enough production from the PG position.
Milton Jennings may have been a bit harsh when criticizing the guards after Thursday nights game, but his comment about our guards not taking guys off the dribble when they are being pressured was 100% true. You've gotta be able to beat your man 1-on-1 and make something happen when he's trying to check you 40 feet from the basket.
The good news is that Filer had a very good game tonight. I think if Clemson is going to do anything next year he needs to overtake Hall in the starting lineup. He's far from a finished product, but he can at least keep the defense honest because he's a threat offensively. He has better mechanics on his shot, so I see potential for improvements. Be he also does a good job of taking his man 1-on-1 if he's pressured. Once he's able to grasp the mental side of the position, including making smart decisions and finding open teammates, I hope to see him take the reigns.
And it's not just Rod Hall that hinders this offense. It's no wonder that Clemson has difficulty scoring the basketball when at times they trot out a 3-guard lineup of Hall, Filer, and Harrison. None of those guys can shoot the basketball. It's usually 50/50 whether or not Harrison will even catch iron. It's been said enough already, but Clemson needs to recruit better shooters. Roper is the only quality shooter Clemson has on the roster. Rooks projects as very good shooter as well (I think he can be a 40% shooter from 3), so I look forward to seeing him provide some support in this area.
As Clemson's season wraps up here in the next 2 weeks I'll start to put together a few basketball recruiting articles. I'll start by focusing on our remaining targets with my evaluations of each target. The general thought when things go bad is to look to the future, so we'll do that and see if help could be on the way. In the season recap article I'll provide my thoughts on Patrick Rooks and Austin Ajukwa and how I believe they'll fit into Clemson's plans next year. Lastly, when the class is finalized in May we'll have another article detailing all our recruits, much the same way DrB does for our football classes.