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How has Oliver Purnell turned the Tigers around?

A couple weeks ago, after a very disappointing loss to Virginia Tech, many people started to give up on our chances. I personally thought 7-9 was a likely finish to the ACC slate. Our half court sets were abysmal during our slide since the UNC game and shooting was terribly inconsistent. We knew going into this 3-game homestand that this was the most crucial point in the season: either we'd fall apart like other years, or put it together and make the NCAAs. Well, we got the 3 wins we desperately needed, but how?

To put it simply, we've shot better.

The half-court sets are not really better or more advanced these last couple weeks, we're scoring our points off of the same in-out game on offense and off turnovers, just like we always have. The defense has definitely had its moments, and has been good on the whole, but I wouldn't call it smothering.

Some stats to put it in perspective:

  • In 5 games prior to this homestand, Clemson shot 113/304 = 37%. The only good game out of that was the 50% shooting performance against Boston College, that we lost. For the 3 game homestand, Clemson shot 67/141 = 47.5%, and 44% against one of the ACC's best defensive teams in FSU.
  • In 5 games prior to this homestand, Clemson shot over 70% from the FT line exactly 0 times, the best being a 9/13 (69%) performance against Duke. Since BC, where we were 50%, it has consistently risen in every game. During this homestand, we shot over 75% in every game, 66/82 = 80.5%.
  • Since ACC play started, Clemson has not shot better than 40% from the 3 point line.  We have not shot over 30% from the arc but twice, Game 1 vs BC (35.7%), and NC State (40%). In each game of this homestand, Clemson has shot 35% or better in every game and 23/58 = 39.6% for the 3 games.
  • No defensive statistic shows this drastic a change over the homestand. We aren't defending percentagewise any differently, and other than UVA today (2/13) we actually did a worse job at defending the 3. We didn't force that many turnovers (15, 14, 12) though we did get 11 steals against FSU. Our own turnovers don't show a noticable trend over the last 8 games.
  • Other than a day off 2-pt performance against FSU, Jerai Grant has really stepped up his production on offense since the Boston College loss. He put up over 10 points just 5 times until BC, but has had 5 games over 11 points since, 2 double-doubles and nearly a 3rd after having just 1 all season. He's finally turned into the offensive threat at the 5-spot that we needed to take some pressure off Booker going forward, averaging 12.3ppg over his last 6.

But why? Well Andre Young has certainly picked up his game since Stitt's injury. His assists have gone way up along with his production. Demontez Stitt has come back to full health slowly, and until today's blowout his minutes have been going upwards. David Potter had been trending upwards until Miami, where he again fell off the map offensively (3/13). Trevor Booker's stats havent shown a real trend either, he actually got close to 20ppg from the first Duke game until Maryland, and since the flu he's been down offensively in part because his minutes have been lower. Over the 3 game set he put up 13, 18, and 14 points in 25 minutes today.

So its really not just one player that's carrying us, we've just shot better as a team and hit those much-needed baskets and layups in transition and off the steals we have gotten. Its been different guys to step up in each game.