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Clemson Loses to NC State, Falls to 6-6 in the ACC

Well, what is left to say.  We are what our record says we are, a 6-6 team in the ACC.  Clemson is an average basketball team.  Average basketball teams deserve to play in the NIT and not the NCAA.  And that's where Clemson is headed after losing to NC State.  This game felt all too familiar to most of our other road contests this year.  Play just well enough to keep ourselves in the game, but fall apart down the stretch. 

The fact of the matter is we don't know how to finish games.  The end of the game is when focus and attention to detail are needed and we don't focus on these details.  It's the little things that win or lose games down the stretch, like hitting free throws, playing sound defense, and boxing out.  We don't do any of these things.  We start playing with poor fundamentals and a lack of focus.  

Here are the last 4 minutes or so in a nutshell.  

  1. Stitt misses the front end of a crucial 1-and-1 and then later missed 1 out of 2.  
  2. To compound the missed free throw, Stitt picked up a cheap foul by getting lazy and handchecking instead of putting his face in his man's chest and moving his feet.  Granted the refs started calling it real tight, but the players knew that and should've adjusted.  
  3. Nobody puts a body on CJ Leslie after Javier Gonzalez's miss (and after Gonzalez's blatant traveling that the refs swallowed the whistle on).  Leslie's offensive rebound led to 2 made free throws and the nail in the coffin.
These are all focus related mistakes and they seem to happen in every close game.  6 out of 7 of our road losses were games that I consider winnable games going into the final minutes.  The lone exception is the South Carolina game.  Each of these games slipped out of our hands late and in most of them you could point to a missed free throw, defensive lapse, or missed defensive rebound that ended our chances.  We simply aren't a talented enough team to overcome mental mistakes.  

Off Topic Recruiting Note:  A few people have had questions regarding recruiting.  Since we lost 2 scholarships at the beginning of the season and are losing 3 more after this season, some of your have raised concern with us only brining in 3 recruits this cycle.  I know that Brownell is still looking to bring in 2 more guys, if he feels they fit his system.  One kid in particular to keep an eye on is JaQuez Motley out of Georgia.  He is a lightning quick, but very slender point guard.  I believe this would be a good pickup, as we lose 2 guards after this season and currently don't have a true point guard on the roster.