I would like to thank the basketball team tonight, for reminding me what it feels like to enjoy watching a Clemson game. After the football team's recent performance and the losses to Coastal and CoC, I think I'd forgotten what it really meant to truly enjoy watching a Clemson sporting event. This team may not be going to the NCAA tournament--heck this team may not be going to any postseason tournament, but that performance tonight was fun to watch.
Everyone was raining down 3s tonight. Andre actually started off slowly but finished 5-6 from long range. Sapp had a breakout game, knocking down three treys on six attempts. Even Devin got in on the action, knocking one down from the top of the key. Heck, even Bryan Narcisse, who was 0-4 on the season, knocked one down.
The Tigers tonight finished 11 for 21 from beyond the arc. That's over 50%. If it wasn't for Tanner's abysmal 1-5 night and Milton's boneheaded shot (he finished 0-1), the Tigers would have finished 11 of 16 from long-range. Simply put, Andre Young is a beast. And Sapp looked really good tonight as well. Couple the Tigers' hot shooting with Iowa's ice cold shooting performance, and you end up with one of the bigger disparities I've ever seen out of a post-game 3-point state line. Clemson finished the game 11-21 from 3. Iowa finished the game 3-11, and they started off 0-8, meaning they didn't make a single basket until the game had already been decided.
Sometimes it doesn't matter who has more depth or who commits the least amount of turnovers. Sometimes one team just simply outshouts the other one. And that's what happened tonight. More after the jump.
Tonight's game was supposed to show how good this team was. But all it did was show how good this team was when it is shooting lights out. Games like this don't happen very often, and relying solely on the long ball doesn't win you games in the long run. And relying solely on the long ball is exactly what we did tonight, as we continued to struggle with the same things we've been struggling with all year.
Milton looked like Milton. He had a great looking drive in the lane in the game's opening possession, but he couldn't finish and missed an easy layup. And less than two minutes later, he over pursued on his defender, opting to go for the steal instead of playing solid defense, allowing an easy Iowa layup. On the ensuing in bounds play, he threw a terrible pass that was easily picked off by Iowa, prompting an early timeout call from Brownell. And he didn't score a basket until well into the 2nd half. His final stat line: 1 rebound, 1 assist, 1 block, 2 points, 5 turnovers. He also managed to pick up 3 fouls. It's well known that Milton has confidence issues, and a stat line like that one is certainly not going to help with his confidence at all. Hopefully he can just revel in the big victory and put this performance behind him, because play like that coupled with a cold shooting night from the guards spells doom for this team.
Devin played better than he has in some recent games. He sat on the bench in foul trouble for much of the 2nd half, but was able to pick up 12 rebounds and 9 points, and his dunk off of a nice assist from Milton was one of the highlights of the night. But with his size and the lack of any other viable options in the front court, Devin needs to be dominant, not just pretty good. He's going to have to do a better job of staying out of foul trouble.
Tanner was his usual self as well, making a lot of bad decisions with his passes. He finished the game with just 2 turnovers, but a lot of his passes weren't crisp and many were tipped out of bounds by Iowa players. He was once again a force on the boards, though, as he pulled down a team-high 14 rebounds.
Going into the game, I thought that the Tigers needed to improve in several areas. They had to have Milton and Devin attack the basket more. They needed to turn the ball over fewer times, and they had to take less outside shots. Well, it turns out that they didn't do any of these things. Milton and Devin struggled in the paint, we ended up with 18 turnovers, and we took 21 shots from beyond the arc. And yet, we won by 16. Shooting as hot as we did tonight can make up for pretty much any other problems, and while I hate to see the team struggle in all those other areas, I must admit I really enjoyed watching us blow out a team on the road.
With Milton struggling mightily and Devin in foul trouble, we got to see some minutes from McDaniels and Sullivan in the 1st half. Neither contributed much offensively, but it was good to at least see them on the court. It's becoming increasingly apparent that this is a ten-man team (Carson Fields and Devin Coleman didn't see any action until the final minute, even with Clemson holding a comfortable lead for most of the 2nd half), and such a small roster means that the more minutes we see out of McDaniels and Sullivan, the better for the long-term outlook of this team.
Bobo was his usual awkward self for most of the night, but he was actually able to force an Iowa turnover simply by positioning himself at the top of the key. Yes, he somehow got himself trapped under the basket in the ensuing Tiger possession, and yes, he missed a layup, but all-in-all he didn't have a terrible game, finishing with 8 points. He still has eons to go developmentally, and I don't see him contributing much in ACC play, but it was fun to see some success from him tonight.
Rod Hall really impressed me tonight. After Sapp got the start in the first couple of games, I thought it curious that Hall got the start at point in the last few. Tonight Hall showed me why Brownell is starting him. His defense on Iowa's Matt Gatens was great. Gatens came into the game leading the team with over 16 points per game, but hewas completely shut down for most of the night. He finished with 8 points, but most of those came after the game had already been decided.
Tonight's win is one of those games that you simply just have to sit back and enjoy. Yeah, the team struggled in many of the areas that is has been struggling with all season long (turnovers, poor play from the front court, etc.), and it doesn't look like those things are going to be improved any time soon, but damn was it fun to watch the Tigers win on the road by 16.