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What Clemson basketball must do to take it to the next level

In watching us play against Duke, I wasn't terribly disappointed, but disappointed nevertheless. We lost to a team on the road and at home, so they are the better team and deserving of their ranking. Duke's defense was stifling, but ours was not awful either, so I take solace in that. However I have thought about the game and this team and there are things that have to happen for Clemson basketball to become an elite level team.

  • Any team that forces Clemson to execute in the half court is going to give us considerable trouble and will likely beat us. If we don't run up and down the floor, be prepared to lose. I don't have alot of faith in what we do, X's and O's wise, in the half court sets. The high-low game is decent, but we turn it over far far too much on entry. Everything else is just bad. Oliver Purnell must improve the execution and become more varied on offense. I was happy to see, at the midpoint of the 2nd half, that we went "4 out 1 in" and tried to spread Duke out, that was a good change to our motion offense. I want to see more of it. We are going to go through exactly what this is in another post later over the weekend.

Our guys generally appear clueless on how to react to motion. We screen by just walking out there and not doing so with purpose. We must be the highest ranked team in the country that can't set a proper screen. It drives me nuts. Do you see the screens set by Potter for Stitt on the perimeter? David Potter might be the most useless player we have; the people that hate Oglesby for his lack of defense should also be screaming at Potter for his lack of anything on offense.

  • We are only effective on offense when the ball can go inside-out. The pitiful screens set for Stitt on the perimeter by Potter dont free him up for a dribble drive/dish. When we score points, its because Booker is posting up and we're decent enough outside to keep the defense from collapsing on him. However, if I was a Coach, I wouldn't even worry about anyone hitting it outside more than maybe 2 shots a game, and I'd collapse on Booker every time it goes in no matter what. With Stitt hobbled, we are a fully one-dimensional offense.
  • As I've harped on many times, this team needs a scorer, not just a shooter. We must have people who will attack the basket and are going to get points no matter what, that is what ignites a rally and stops a drought. Tanner, Potter, Devin, Grant, Jennings and Johnson put up 8 points together against Duke. What I wouldn't give to have a guy like Will Solomon on this team....

Thats not to say we don't need a pure shooter either. Oglesby might not have gone 7-8 from the arc every day, but he was always a threat if he got his stroke. As an opposing coach, you would have to always respect that ability and not leave him wide open looks. You will always live and die by the 3, as you see shooting teams like Duke always have shot poorly when they lose, for the last couple of decades, but having the consistent threat outside offensively is something you have to have.

  • The press is a good defense, I don't question that it is our style of play defensively, and I've always preferred the press/man defense over pure zones (as in Shyatt's 2-3, we acknowledge that the diamond is a zone pressure). However, the press can only go so far, you have to have guys that can put out on offense to match their pure athleticism. Purnell has recruited guys that can run his system, but he has to continue to upgrade the offensive talent while retaining his defensive style. I think he started with the athletes and built his defense over the last few seasons, and has upgraded the raw talent, but I don't think the offense will come together this season, and we might be looking at 2 years from now to really threaten an ACC championship.

There are teams that will always matchup better against us athletically, and some, like Duke, are so well coached and so good at fundamentals that they'll beat the press. Additionally, when you run into teams that have good guard play to go with some size, you are going to have a tough night no matter what defense you play. They won't collapse under the pressure, so you must execute in the half court.

I haven't forgotten how far Oliver Purnell has brought us, but we have a long way to go.