The Shriners Children’s Charleston Classic tips off tomorrow. Clemson’s preseason tournament is missing traditional powers, but the folks in Charleston have put together an intriguing group of competitive teams this year. There is no clear cut favorite, but I don’t see many walk-over games either. This is the perfect opportunity for the Tigers to kick the tires on 2021 team and figure out where they stand.
The 8 team field features the following teams
Clemson vs Temple - Thursday - 11/18 - 4:00 PM - ESPN 2
St. Bonaventure vs Boise State - 11/18 - 2:00 PM
Marquette vs Ole Miss - Thursday 11/18 - 7:00 PM
Elon vs West Virginia - Thursday 11/18 - 9:00 PM
After the Opening Round
Winners of the first round advance in the winners’ bracket. Losers of the first round game face each other in the losers’ bracket on Friday.
The winners of the winner bracket face off on Sunday for the Championship. The winners of the losers’ bracket face off on Sunday for...something other than the championship. The losers of the winners’ bracket also play Sunday. As do the losers of the losers’ bracket.
Basically, everyone gets 3 games. It takes 3 wins to win the tournament.
Clemson vs Temple
You can’t win 3 straight without winning the first game, and the Tigers have a tough matchup with Temple to get things started. Stats don’t mean anything this early in the season, but this is the quick and dirty on the Owls thus far.
Record: 1-1 (72-49 W vs Maryland Eastern Shore, 71-76 L vs USC [the good one])
Basically, the Owls blew out their cupcake and gave the highly touted Trojans a run for their money. I’m not going to get too technical with this preview, because beating Temple comes down to checking one thing...containing star Temple shooting guard Khalif Battle.
Khalif Battle - #0 - 6’5”, 175 - Sophomore
3 PT%: 50% (8/16)
FG%: 54.8 (17/31)
Battle, a transfer from Butler, has been on fire this season. He’s provided Temple with the majority of their offense. Against USC, his 26 point performance (including 5/9 shooting from deep) helped rally the Owls to make the game close after heading to the half down 19. The rest of the roster is decent, but Battle makes it go. If Clemson can shut off his water, they should be able to handle the rest of the roster. If Battle goes off for the third game in a row and breaks 20 points, it’s going to be an uphill battle for the Tigers to score enough points to win the game.
He’s a slick, lanky guard that could give the shorter Tiger back court issues. Look for David Collins to shadow him around the court and try to move him off his spot with strength. I’m going to say this a good bit this season, but Collins can’t get in foul trouble. He’s Clemson’s only real “wing” capable of locking anyone down. Collins has to stay disciplined and not help off Battle. When Battle gets hot this year, he stays hot, and giving him an easy look from 3 is a great way to get him hot. Once one shot falls, he can score in bunches, regardless of the defense.
Clemson Key to Victory
3 Man Offense
It’s a 3 man show for the Tigers this year. P.J. Hall, Hunter Tyson, and Al-Amir Dawes have to score for the Tigers to win. If all 3 score, this is a dangerous team. If 2 of the 3 score, they’ve still got a decent shot with their defense. If only one of the 3 get off, they can’t score enough points to win.
Stay Out Of Foul Trouble
If P.J. Hall gets in foul trouble, Clemson has no answer at center. The best they can muster is 6’6” bruiser Naz Bohanon, but he’s much better at the 4 than the 5 (for obvious reasons). This could change later in the season if freshmen Ian Schieffelin or Ben Middlebrooks figure it it out (Schieffelin is showing signs early) but that’s not going to help against Temple.
Much like Hall, there isn’t much behind Tyson. Bohanon provides some relief, but he’s a totally different type of player than the inside/out threat provided by Tyson. The Tigers need the mercurial Tyson to find his groove and be good every night, not just occasionally. He’s currently leading Clemson in scoring at 15.3 points a game, and it wouldn’t be a bad thing if he led the team in scoring at the end of the season.
I mentioned Collins earlier, but the transfer from USF is crucial for the Tigers. He’s not going to score like he did at South Florida, but he’s a true wing capable of drawing fouls and locking down the opposition. If you haven’t seen Clemson play yet this season, I think you’re going to like his game. He’s probably the 3rd best rebounder on the squad behind Hall and Bohanon.
Back Court Options
What Clemson lacks in front court depth, they somewhat make up for with back court depth. Brad Brownell has 5 guards at his disposal, and once the season gets rolling, he’s going to have to pick up the tempo on offense, especially if Tyson or Hall get in foul trouble. He essentially starts 2 point guards in Dawes and Nick Honor, and combo guard Chase Hunter (who Clemson desperately needs to live up to his recruiting expectations) can also play some point. Throw in the afore mentioned David Collins and sharp shooter Alex Hemenway, and the Tigers have plenty of options when it comes to back court/wing scoring.
Dawes is obviously the key, but I feel like he’s the most interchangeable out of Clemson’s 3 man offensive attack. If Dawes has an off night, Collins and Honor can pick up the slack. In fact, if Honor gets hot, he’s more than capable of leading the way. The same can’t be said in the front court.
If Clemson Wins
If the Tigers win, they more than likely face tournament favorite in #22 ranked St. Bonaventure. The Bonnies return all 5 starters from a team that won that A-10 and added in a couple impact transfers to help with depth. They think this is their year to put together a run.
They’re a bit like the Tigers. They rely on 3 guys to get the scoring job done. Luckily for Clemson, those 3 guys are guards. In fact, they like to play 4 guards most of the time. I think the Tigers are going to struggle against size this year, for the reasons I mentioned above, but should do be fine against more guard oriented teams. The Bonnies will be the favorites, but Clemson should be able to hang, if not knock off, this squad.
If Clemson Loses
They’re probably going to end up playing Boise State. The Broncos are 1-1 on the season with an ugly loss to UC Irvine. If Clemson loses to Temple and Boise, it’s going to be a looong ACC schedule. I think they beat Temple and don’t get a chance to lose to Boise, but you never know.
If they do end up playing the Broncos, it could be the rock fight to end all rock fights. Basketball could be set back decades. In fact, the entire sport could cease to exist as we know it, because Boise can’t score, and they know they can’t score. After a season of watching Clemson’s offense struggle to get out of its own way, I’m not sure I can take a basketball game played in the 50s. I know I’m not a perfect person, but I don’t think I deserve this sort of cosmic basketball justice.
In the Championship Game?
I kinda want Marquette and Shaka Smart. I don’t think the Golden Eagles make it to the finals, but they’re coming off a win against Illinois, so it’s possible. This would be another match up of guard heavy teams. It will also be Brad Brownell vs Oliver Purnell’s protegee, which I know will get Tigers fans worked up into a tizzy...but we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves here.
The Tigers need to knock off Temple tomorrow to play for a championship (although the juicy Marquette match up is more than possible, even with a loss).