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Recapping '05 and Lookin' Ahead -- C-L-E-M-S-0- ... N!

Bless you, Oliver Purnell. You left a good gig at Dayton for the chance to coach in the ACC, even if that meant coming to Clemson--the hair-graying, shots-by-the-bunch-missing, turnover-committing doormat of the ACC. It's been two years for Purnell at Clemson...I wonder if he longs for the ol' A-10.

It was another difficult and frustrating year for Clemson, though they did manage a non-losing record. The Tigers (16-16, 5-11) played good basketball in the ACC tournament, beating Maryland easily and coming very close to knocking off North Carolina. They earned an NIT berth but lost in the first round to Texas A&M.

The season did at least mark a step forward from the 10-18 campaign of the year prior. They're still a ways from legitimately competing for an NCAA bid, however.

I like to think of the Tigers as the poster childern for offensive inefficiency, though I suppose that honor technically belongs to some other team.

Clemson did have some strength(s)...its offensive rebound rate (37.8%) ranked among the best in the ACC.

Unfortunately, Clemson shot just 60% from the free throw line. While the Tigers did a serviceable job of getting to the line, they were among the worst in the ACC in the FTM/FGA category. Only three Clemson regulars--Shawan Robinson, Vernon Hamilton, Cheyenne Moore--made at least 70% of their free throws. Moore led the team at 86% but had just 28 attempts.

Sharrod Ford was the usual suspect at the line, racking up 181 FTAs (26% of the team's total attempts). Had Ford been able to make free throws at a rate closer to 70-75% instead of his actual 59%, he'd have been even more dangerous in the post. As it was, opponents were more inclined to make him work for his points at the line.

Clemson's offense was also hindered by a boatload of turnovers. Clemson was the most turnover-prone team in the ACC, giving the ball away on 25% of its possessions. Vernon Hamilton's individual turnover rate was 32%.

Explanation of the numbers in the table.

Tigers 2004-2005PlayerO Rtg% PossMin/GPPGFG%3FG%Floor %Pts Prod/GPPFGASharrod Ford10526.6%29.115.351.3%00.5314.41.08Shawan Robinson10820.9%26.110.840.9%40.4%0.4410.41.12Cliff Hammonds10817%30.310.142.4%35%0.469.91.10Olu Babalola9820.1%206.936.6%25.4%0.467.00.94Vernon Hamilton8818.3%25.56.742.1%25%0.427.30.98Cheyenne Moore9320.2%19.46.535.7%28.9%0.386.50.96Akin Akingbala10020%15.55.859.2%00.515.51.18James Mays9416.7%15.84.347.2%100%0.494.40.96Sam Perry9218.7%14.74.148%00.474.50.98

[note: stats do not include Texas A&M game, as Clemson's athletics website hasn't seen fit to update the basketball team's season stats]

Graduates/Transfers: Sharrod Ford (Sr.), Olu Babalola (Sr.), Jimmy Hudson (transfer)

Ford's offensive rating took a hit from his FT shooting and the high percentage of possessions he used. In this case, Ford didn't have much help, so there was nothing detrimental about his use of 26.6% of the team's possessions. The Tigers certainly wouldn't have wanted Hamilton or Babalola using more possessions.

The Tigers will miss Ford dearly next season, as Ford carried the scoring and rebounding loads for the Tigers. He was the team's best rebounder and was responsible for about 25% of the team's offensive rebounds. He was the only Clemson regular with a turnover rate below 20%. And he averaged 3 blocks/40 minutes. I think the loss of Ford's rebounding could be particularly damaging next year.

Shawan Robinson was excellent from beyond the arc (and he was a very good FT shooter), but he's got to shoot better from inside the arc. Improvement in that area will make his O Rtg look quite good.

Hammonds was also a serviceable jump shooter...the rest of those guys had little business shooting the ball from deep. Hammonds was a freshman this past season, so that's encouraging for Clemson.

It is important to note that Clemson had seven freshmen this past season: Hammonds, Jimmy Hudson, Troy Mathis, James Mays, Cheyenne Moore, Matt Morris, and Sam Perry. That's a lot of inexperience, and it was apparent on many occasions. Clemson's prospects depend on how those guys mature. Hammonds has a good season under his belt...the rest of those guys, well...

The ACC will be weaker next season; of course, that doesn't mean the road will be any easier for Clemson. Replacing Ford's contributions and simultaneously making the offense better looks to be a difficult task.