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Clemson Basketball: Richmond Preview

This isn’t your normal preview...I’ve got a few things I need to say about this team.

Clemson v Virginia Photo by Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

Richmond (5-5) vs Clemson (8-3)

Greenville Winter Invitational

Saturday, December 17th - 7 PM EST

Bon Secours Wellness Areana - Greenville, SC

TV - ACC Network

A Change of Format

Normally I give y’all stats, things to look for on offense, defense, and X-Factor and a prediction.

I’ll returned to your regularly scheduled preview next week.

I got some stuff to say about this team.

Now or Never

What we have here is a high stakes game in December involving Clemson and (checks notes) a 5-5 team from the A-10. I would say that Clemson is the prohibitive favorite in what amounts to a home game, but I won’t get sucked into that trap again.

Clemson is coming off the biggest joke of a performance I’ve seen in a long time. Sure, we’re familiar with Brad Brownell teams losing games, but it’s usually in the “play hard, completely fall apart in the last 2 minutes” type of game. The loss to Loyola-Chicago was the most give up I’ve seen in a Tigers team since the Larry Shyatt era. The Ramblers are not good, but Tigers didn’t win a single 10 minute quarter of the game. This wasn’t a case of a team jumping out early and holding on, this was total domination by the 140th ranked team in the nation (according to KenPom).

I don’t see a way forward for Brad Brownell after this season, but if he wants to keep his team from battling it out with Louisville for worst P5 team in the nation, it behooves him to put a team interested in playing basketball on the court tonight. Problem is, he’s pretty much stuck with the starting 5, because this team has kiddie pool depth. Ian Schiefflin is functional, but after that...nothing. Godfrey looks like a player, and may be one in the future, but he’s lost most of the time, and he’s the best of the rest.

I’m not sure why Clemson is paying a coach 2.75 million dollars to put together a 6 man roster, and then not have them show up against a Missouri Valley team that was bodied by Tulsa (85-66), Boise State (70-48), and Texas A&M (67-51). They struggled to get out of the 50s against the two power conference teams they played before putting up an easy 76 against the Tigers. Like every Brownell team, this team will be hot and cold on offense, but giving up 76 points is nothing but lack of effort and pride in the jersey you’re wearing.

I don’t expect good basketball at Clemson at this point, but I expect effort. I’m not setting a high bar here fellas.

Who Steps Up?

If Clemson shows up, they (probably) win this game.

I thought Chase Hunter would be a break out star for this team, instead, he’s an OK player that disappears for long stretches for time. He played 34 minutes against Loyola, and it felt more like a 20. There are 14 minutes of game time that I can’t account for, but I assume he was doing something on the court during that time. He led the team in scoring with 13 points but had more turnover than assists. That’s a good performance for a freshman, not a junior expected to lead the team from the point guard position.

I was excited when Hunter Tyson announced his return, only to get 10 points and 6 rebounds in 34 minutes against a team he should theoretically dominate. When things don’t go well, you need your veteran players to step up and refuse to lose. Instead Tyson went 0-5 from 3 and made no appreciable attempt to take control. He can drive the ball and get to the hole when his shot isn’t dropping, but only managed 2 free throws. I expect more, Tyson is a good player, but I was fooled. I thought his consistency issues were behind him. They are not.

Clemson needs to figure out if P.J. Hall is healthy enough to play or not. He didn’t look like a guy that should be on the court against Loyola-Chicago. I refuse to believe that even a 75% Hall only put up 7 points and 4 rebounds in 24 minutes against the Ramblers. The only sliver of a hope Clemson has in the ACC is if Hall is 1st team All-Conference, and yet, they’re going to keep running him out on a gimpy knee because they need his offense to beat teams like Towson and Loyola. I feel bad for P.J.

Alex Hemenway played 35 minutes in a game, scored 3 points, on 1-3 shooting, including going 0-2 from 3. The only reason he’s playing is because he can shoot the ball, and yet, he refuses to shoot the ball. The fact that Clemson has nothing better to toss out on the court when their designated shooter isn’t shooting should tell you all you need to know about this team, and the utter mismanagement of the roster.

I’ll say this for Braden Galloway, he’s a decent player and puts out the effort. There is a reason he started 5 games for a 13-20 Boston College team. He was second on the team in scoring and hit 2 of Clemson’s 3, 3 pointers on the afternoon (stares at the 3-21 effort from the last game, shakes head). If you give him 30 minutes, he’s going to get into double figures, that’s his ceiling. The Tigers are getting what he’s got, but it’s not enough. That’s not his fault.

The Game Plan is Simple

Clemson needs Chase Hunter to play like a highly touted junior point guard instead of a timid freshman.

They need Hunter Tyson to lead, and get down and dirty in the paint when his shots aren’t dropping.

They need P.J. (or the trainers) to figure out his his knee is healthy enough to play. Having a 1 legged center try and tough it out isn’t good enough. If he’s injured, he shouldn’t play. If he’s not injured, he needs to play better. His rebounding struggles this year (3.6 p/g) show me that he’s afraid to mix it and get bumped while going up for a board.

Alex Hemenway needs to shoot or get off the court (no idea who replaces him though).

Braden Galloway is fine. He needs to keep doing what he’s doing and hope he ends up as the 3rd leading scorer.

If Clemson gets some combination of this improvement, they beat Richmond. If not, they lose.

I have no idea what Clemson team (or if a Clemson team) shows up tonight. That’s coming from a starting 5 of nothing but juniors and seniors, and a coach in his 13th season and should be unacceptable.