Leading up to tonight's game, I spoke with the guys from Shakin the Southland about Clemson's coaching change, their somewhat surprising success this year, and the immortal Ray Dungeon. I answered a few of their questions here.
1.) What are the differences between Brad Brownell's Clemson team and Oliver Purnell's?
Brad Brownell is a much better X’s and O’s guy than Purnell. This is pretty easy to tell by watching Clemson in any half set this season compared to last. Under Brownell, Clemson is under control,moves better without the basketball, and shows some semblance of a set offense. Conversely, Clemson does not rely as much on full court pressure and pure athleticism as the Tigers have in years past.
2.) I'm curious about what y'all expected from the Tigers this season. With the coaching change, with Trevor Booker graduating, did you think this team could win 8-9 conference games and challenge for an NCAA tournament bid? For lack of a better phrase, it seems to me that this team has been greater than the sum of its parts.
I thought that this season would be a transitional season for several reasons including the coaching change and the loss of Booker. I also expected the ACC to be more competitive this year than what we have seen to date, so I will admit that I am surprised by the relative amount of success this team has enjoyed this season. I personally had little hope that Clemson would make the Big Dance because of the losses since Spring ’10. I am also encouraged by Brownell’s ability to turn a, for lack of better terms, street-ball team into a group that has a defined offensive strategy. You definitely hit the nail on the head with my preseason expectations and by your description of this team’s success to date.
3.) What have been the keys to Clemson's success this season?
Clemson has been shorthanded all season especially following the mid-season transfer of Noel Johnson, so I would say getting maximum performance out of all five starters is a must due to simple lack of numbers. The Tigers have looked to all sources including the football team for quality minutes, pulling DeAndre Hopkins onto the team following the Car Care Bowl on New Year’s Eve. Clemson needs its team leader, Demontez Stitt, to perform well each and every night. The Tigers have gotten more production from Milton Jennings and quality minutes from Tanner Smith. Andre Young is capable of taking some pressure off of Stitt and Jeri Grant has shown improvement inside. Overall, though, Clemson has focused more on establishing a legit half court attack this season.
4.) In the first meeting, NC State played surprisingly well early and built a huge lead before it all fell apart. What did Clemson do to turn that game around, and how do you expect them to use what they learned in that game on Thursday?
This team has more offensive confidence than it did a year ago. Clemson was able to weather a big run from NCST a few weeks ago and was not discouraged by the early hole it got itself into. This gave this team confidence that it could overcome a large deficit by staying under control and focusing on core fundamentals regardless of the situation. This is an average team that will hopefully draw upon that experience down the stretch when it is faced with adversity. Specifically for the Wolfpack tonight, the Tigers know that they have taken the Pack’s best shot and were able to fight back and win under tough circumstances. This should give them a psychological advantage heading into the game in Raleigh.
5.) If you rearrange the letters in Andre Young's name, it spells Ray Dungeon, which is a way awesomer name if you ask me. What comes to mind when you hear the name Ray Dungeon? I like to think of him as sort of a studied adventurist, like Indiana Jones.
This name makes me think of an old-school NWA wrestler. I picture this guy coming to the ring with some sort of medieval torture device and using a finishing move similar to Lex Lugar’s torture rack. This is probably the coolest anagram since Mr. Mojo Risin'.