Before we start its important to remind ourselves that this 8-win streak has not been against good competition. Georgia Tech and Miami are not good teams. Its also important to remind ourselves that we didn't get our asses kicked in the 4 losses either. We may not have looked good in them, but we stayed with the opponent in each loss.
A few weeks ago I said that I felt like we would see whether this team was well-coached by how they progressed through the season and we have said here several times that those jumping on Brownell this early are not being realistic. I felt like we were seeing a classic case of "Cloudy minds = slow feet", because they just seemed confused and not yet sold on what they were being taught to do. Now they are picking it up. If guys can gain confidence, they'll start hitting some shots.
What I see out there is better basic fundamentals, shot selection, ball screens, and guys that are progressing in their mental toughness. Andre Young now takes that wide open shot that is setup for him. Jerai Grant is becoming the level of player that I felt was within his reach.
I'm still doubtful of an NCAA-bid just because I think future opponents are going to exploit our lack of talent and depth, but if Brownell can do such a thing with this team, even with a relatively-weak ACC, you have to be excited about where he can take us.
Some more random things:
- How the hell does Paul Hewitt have a job as anything but a recruiter on someone else's staff?
- Jerai Grant has not scored less than 10 points since the Michigan game. He's scored less than 15 just once in the last 8 games (13 against Citadel). He averaged just over 7 ppg last year. He's had 7 or more Rebounds in the last 4 games and has had 3 double-doubles in the streak. His FT shooting has come up, which is crucial for ACC play (10/12 tonight, 10/13 against ECU, 6/8 Miami). How many times have we killed ourselves with the inability to hit FTs when other teams pound us inside?
- As a team it seems we are improving from the FT line. Statsheet shows we've had our ups and downs this year though. 50% against Citadel a couple weeks ago. 55% against UNC-G last month. 19/23 against Miami, 17/20 against FSU, and 22/26 tonight is encouraging.
- Tonights shooting went down in history as one of the best Clemson efforts....ever. 27/39 FGs = 69.2 %. We hit 17/20 in the 2nd half. 11/14 from 3 pt range. Shot selection there was better, aided by some bad defense from GT. 22/26 from the FT line.
- 18 assists. Clemson was finding the open man and hitting him.
- Two bad things: Offensive rebounding and turnovers. GT caught 17 offensive rebounds to our 5. We didn't have a whole lot of chances since we rarely missed, but GT should not have that many 2nd chances. Much of it was in the 1st half. Clemson turned the ball over 10x in each half, that has to come down.
- Nuke Hopkins looked totally lost to me out there. If this is a short-term experiment, its not going to work. Unless he really picks it up soon, he is only hurting himself by playing basketball. He needs to put on 10-15 lbs (at least) by next football season and this will not happen with him playing and practicing roundball. He can play in the NFL if he progresses, basketball is just for fun.
- In the last 3 games, Stitt has put up 16,17, and 16. He's missed only 2 FTs and hit 9/15 from 3. 7 assists tonight. Thats right where he needs to be for us, but he can do better than that.
What I'm seeing from the staff X's and O's wise is not the motion offense I thought I'd be seeing now. I see set plays and other quick hitters that are designed to get the ball to a specific player. We didn't see much of that under Purnell. We barely saw any half court execution from his teams, and that is partly why we fell apart in ACC play.
We believed our D would have to carry us for awhile until the offense figured things out, but they've held it together while raising their offensive play. I was worried that our defense would suffer because of the emphasis in practice on offense, but its been just as good as it ever has in my opinion. Guys are contesting every shot and making every possession important, which we did not do with the Press.
Right now, I still expect to lose to UNC and Maryland in the next couple games on the road. We don't have the talent or the luck in Chapel Hell. We'll probably end up with Karl Hess in one of them. Steal one, then hold it together at home and we have an outside shot to go to the Dance. We should know how things will end up after the next 4 games or so.