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Oakland at Clemson Basketball Preview, Brownell Discussion

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Clemson drags themselves back home to wrap up non-conference play with two home games against KenPom sub-195 opponents. Up next is Oakland at 7pm Monday.

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Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

After an embarrassing road loss to South Carolina, Clemson comes back home to host 4-8 Oakland. Oakland University is in Michigan, not California, and their defense is even worse than their weather. The Grizzlies allow a whopping 1.097 points per possession (allowed 101 points to Arizona). In contrast, Clemson is only scoring 1.004 point per possession. Oakland does not do a good job blocking shots, stealing the ball, or forcing turnovers. If Clemson's offense can't solve this one, then it would be appropriate to hit the panic button. You can probably smash it a few times if that happens.

One matchup to watch is Landry Nnoko vs. Corey Petros. Petros is a 6'10" senior center with a beautiful Ortg of 110.8. He is averaging 15.9 PPG and 8.4 RPG. If I'm Oakland Head Coach Greg Kampe, I attack the paint and see if I can coax Nnoko into some early fouls. Oakland has an impressive 34.8 3P% (Clemson 3P%: 28.3) so Clemson cannot afford to pack the paint and allow open three-point shots. Nnoko will have to defend responsibility.

Preceding the Auburn game, we talked a lot about what Landry Nnoko would do against their 6'7" center, Cinmeon Bowers, and Nnoko he was outplayed. He followed that up with a brutal game against South Carolina where he posted an Ortg of... zero. Exactly 0.0... We'll see if he can bounce back in this one.

A loss in to Oakland would essentially eliminate Clemson from NIT contention before the hardwood Tigers even enter ACC play. Clemson currently has six wins, and is projected by KenPom to get six ACC wins. If we project more optimistically and say they can get up to eight conference wins (which I'm not necessarily suggesting), then they likely need to win these last two non-conference games to go 8-4, 8-10, and then 1-1 in the ACC tournament to reach 17 wins and the NIT. KenPom was spot on with their 16% win likelihood against South Carolina. Let's hope he is also right about our win likelihood against the Grizzlies, which he estimates at 79%. Oakland took Pittsburgh to OT on Saturday so let's hope their tired and unfocused.

Please hang out with us in this thread during the game. Now, I'd also like to talk about Brownell's contract and the future of this program.

Brownell is in his fifth year as Clemson's head coach, and in the first year we made the NCAA tournament and won a Round of 68 game. We then had a poor year where we didn't make the NIT. We followed that up a very poor year where we didn't again make the NIT. Last year they had a historically good turnaround, and made a deep run through the NIT. The turnaround earned him a large extension with a sizable buyout. We have previously broken down the extension at length, but it's worth re-examining.

If Brownell is fired this season or next season, Clemson would owe him $5,000,000. Frankly, you can take that possibility off the table. That's just too much money (and pride) for our AD to swallow. If you agree with me on that point, then that takes a Brownell-led Clemson team into their first season back in the new Littlejohn Coliseum.

That's a team (2016-17) that will boast a handful of upper classmen: senior Avry Holmes, senior Austin Ajukwa, junior Donte Grantham, senior Jaron Blossomgame, and senior Sidy Djitte. In addition, Ty Hudson and Legend Robertin will be sophomores. This should be Brownell's best roster - at least of those that he can call his own. Results from that season should clearly tell Dan Radakovich if Brownell has brought in the right players for his system and if he can be successful at Clemson.

Year Total Remaining on Contract (Deal Minus Paid Cash) Clemson Buyout Agreement
2014 - 15 $ 9.05 $ 5.00
2015 - 16 $ 7.40 $ 5.00
2016 - 17 $ 5.70 $ 3.50
2017 - 18 $ 3.90 $ 3.00
2018 - 19 $ 2.00 $ 3.00
2019 - 20 $ - $ -
Total $ - $ -

As you can see from the chart above, it is also during this first season back in the new-look LJC that Brownell's buyout drops from $5,000,000 to a more reasonable $3,500,000. So what does all this mean?

Go ahead and buy yourself one of these, and make your peace with Brownell as the coach through the 2016-17 season. If he can't break through that year though, it'll be time to get on your soap box and start yelling, and I won't hesitate to join you (and you can throw this post back in my face if needed). Let's hope this program can improve and avoid that fate.

It's also amusing to look back at reaction from those outside the program. Toward the end of last season Gary Parrish of CBS Sports published a list of coaches on the hot seat that included Brad Brownell. Nine of the 15 coaches he listed are no longed with the same employer, but Brownell was actually extended.

For now, let's see if this offense can get right against a weak defense and if the defense can slow a fairly strong Grizzly offense. Go Tigers!