Getting lost amid all the football chaos is a Clemson basketball team that just wrapped up the non-conference portion of their schedule. Before Clemson takes on Miami Saturday, lets take a look back at how we’ve faired to date.
Clemson has yet to play any world-beaters, but none of their losses were shocking and none can be considered bad losses. ODU, Michigan, USCe, and FSU are all average to above average teams. Clemson handled the rest of their non-conference slate (which wasn’t very impressive) and easily beat the teams they were expected to beat.
The most disappointing loss to me was the Michigan game. It was at home, on national TV, against a high profile team. I expected Clemson to come out with a lot more energy and win that game. Instead they came out flat and were beat somewhat soundly in the worst game they’ve played this year. Something didn’t seem right with this team, and after the game Noel Johnson and Donte Hill decided they wanted out. Does that explain the disjointed, unenthusiastic nature of Clemson’s play? Possibly. Johnson was not playing well and was obviously unhappy with his role. When a player becomes unhappy with his role it can be like a virus and spread throughout the team. And although I don’t always feel this team plays with the necessary emotion and passion, watching them has become easier on the eyes since that game. They are playing more like an organized team and less like a team in dissension.
Considering Clemson is breaking in a new coach who runs a completely different system, has limited talent, and only 9 scholarship players on the current roster, I feel satisfied with where Brownell has them right now. If you are expecting a 10-6 conference record, you are more than likely going to be disappointed. Brownell needs time to implement his system and recruit his own guys. The guys on the current roster lack basic fundamentals because Purnell wanted athletic guys that could get up and down the court to play in his pressing, run-n-gun scheme.
As for the game this Saturday, Clemson faces a Miami team with the same record. The Hurricanes recently lost their first conference game by double digits to the best team in the country, Duke. They also lost close games to very good Memphis and UCF teams. They’ve suffered one bad loss to Rutgers. Miami is a team that I feel has more talent than Clemson. Malcolm Grant and Durand Scott are very good guards and Reginald Johnson is a load inside. Johnson’s problem is conditioning, and as a result he doesn’t get the minutes that he would if he were in better shape. That being said, I don’t believe Frank Haith is a good coach. He is a good recruiter, but does not do a good job of developing talent and getting them to play well as a team. This should be a good game and a good test for Clemson.