For the first time since the 1960’s, Clemson basketball began their season with an ACC showdown. Unfortunately, the matchup with Virginia Tech ain Littlejohn Collesium didn’t go as planned, with the Tigers falling 67-60. The Tigers and Hokies battled for most of the night but redshirt freshman Landers Nolley II carried VT to a win on the back of his 30-point debut.
An inability to put the ball in the hoop cost Clemson down the stretch, especially after they cut the deficit to one possession multiple times late in the ballgame. Given that the team is missing starting point guard Clyde Trapp it’s understandable that the offense stagnated at times. On the bright side, freshman Al-Amir Dawes looked solid, chipping in 11 points on 11 shots in his place. Coach Brad Brownell will need to find a way to scheme consistent offense during his extended absence while recovering from an ACL tear.
Two stats that Tigers fans will need to keep an eye on in non-conference play will be rebounding and three-point shooting. Junior Aamir Simms, the Tigers’ lone returning starter, looked dominant at times hauling in 15 boards (a career-high), scoring 12 points and leading the team in minutes played, but Clemson as a team struggled on the glass. VT out rebounded the Tigers 44-36 and at times it was because of plain effort plays. They also went 1-14 from three in the second half.
In the end, the Tigers going cold down the stretch that cost them the game. They finished 34 percent from the field, 24 percent from deep, and 60 percent from the FT line (yikes). Additionally, the bench underperformed in today’s game producing just five points. In his season preview, Calvin mentioned that the teams depth could be an underrated strength this season; to win games, the bench will need to perform to a higher level, as Calvin projected they would.
Overall, it was a rough start to a season but that may have just been the result of an off night. Simms looked ready to be a leader on this team, John Newman III scored a career-high 15 points and if they gets some help this group has the potential to be a solid ACC team come conference play.