clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Previewing Clemson: The modern college basketball offense as confused basketball-hurlin'

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

How to watch or listen to the game

Tip time: 9 p.m. ET

TV: ACC Network (Bob Rathbun, Mike Gminski)

Online streaming: ESPN3

Radio: Sirius 102, Wolfpack Sports Network (affiliates)

Clemson vitals

Record: 11-8 (3-4)
Pomeroy ranking: No. 124
RPI: No. 99
Wins vs. Pomeroy top-100: 3
Best win: LSU (No. 35 in Pomeroy Ratings)
Worst loss: Winthrop (No. 212 in Pomeroy Ratings)

Adjusted tempo: 61.7 poss/40 minutes (ranks 323rd)
Adjusted offensive efficiency: 100.2 (ranks 193rd)
Adjusted defensive efficiency: 96.5 (ranks 82nd)

Clemson @ StatSheet
Clemson roster
Clemson schedule
Clemson 2015 stats

The Clemson offense and starters

Clemson Offense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2013-14 47.4 (260) 18.3 (169) 33.8 (92) 36.2 (284)
2014-15 46.3 (266) 18.8 (135) 34.1 (76) 39.0 (132)

If Brad Brownell's tenure at Clemson eventually comes to an unfortunate end, it's likely that his inability to construct a decent offense will be the primary reason. Right now Brownell has job security, with an extension through 2020 in hand after narrowly missing the NCAAs last season. What he doesn't have is an evident long-term solution to his big problem--that whole scoring-points-efficiently thing.

Brownell's best Clemson offense was his first, when he was working with the pieces left behind by Oliver Purnell. The Tigers had reached the NCAAs in each of the three years prior to Brownell's arrival, and they were again good enough to make it back in his first year. They've not been back since.

Clemson ranked 64th in offensive efficiency that season, but as the recruiting efforts by Brownell largely brought modest returns in the years to follow, the Tigers began a decline they are still trying to turn around. If their position this season holds, and there's no reason to think it won't, Clemson will finish with an offense that ranks outside the top 120 for the fourth consecutive season.

Even with a legitimate NBA talent in K.J. McDaniels last year, Clemson wasn't scaring too many folks. The supporting pieces simply weren't there, and it's no surprise that a year later, nobody has emerged to lead the Tigers in a more encouraging direction.

They have a lot of experience in the backcourt, where Rod Hall and Damarcus Harrison have combined to play in more than 230 games at Clemson. Hall has made more than 90 starts. They can be solid contributors, and the Tigers have gotten a little more out of frontcourt players like Jaron Blossomgame and Landry Nnoko. It's just not enough.

It doesn't help that Clemson has two big guys--Blossomgame and Donte Grantham--tossing possessions away with ill-advised three-point attempts. Those two are a combined 38-143 (26.6%) from outside and there's no need for that many jumpers from those dudes. Blossomgame was 10-50 last year and apparently learned nothing. And Grantham, a 27% outside shooter, leads the team in three-point attempts. That is very bad.

Worse, the once-useful Jordan Roper is 9-48 from three; two seasons ago, he hit 41 of 99 from deep, and last year he was at 32%. All of this is putting heavy pressure on Hall and Harrison to carry Clemson's perimeter offense, and while Harrison is capable of knocking down a few every night, that's not Hall's game.

Clemson seems to have no idea what sort of team it is, or should be, at the offensive end. They rank 317th in 3FG% at 29.1, yet more than 35% of their field goal attempts are coming from deep, which is an above-average proportion. They have a perimeter-oriented bent for inexplicable reasons. This is a bad plan, all of it. Do the opposite of everything you've done, everyone! Try not wearing shoes, see what that does.

Though I suppose when it comes to options, everybody is some variety of inescapable death trap. Neither Hall nor Harrison score well off the dribble, and the bigs tend to be turnover prone, even if they are shooting at a decent clip in the paint.

What I'm sayin' is if Brad Brownell wants to drunkenly flick a spinner to call plays, you know, I get it.


Rod Hall (6-1, 205) -- He is a perfectly serviceable secondary player, which is why he has lived in Clemson's lineup for his entire career. He's a career 44.9% shooter inside the arc, a career 36.5% shooter outside (on only 1-2 attempts per game), and he's a smidge above 69% at the free throw line.

Damarcus Harrison (6-4, 205) -- If anybody on this team should be launching threes with no regard for time or place, it's Harrison, who is shooting 37.5% outside after shooting 35% last season. But Grantham, it seems, will not be stopped. Harrison is a shaky scorer inside the arc and also a bit too turnover prone, but he can be a difference-maker on the perimeter.

Donte Grantham (6-8, 205) -- Donte Grantham: A Tragedy: Or, The Man Who Didn't Know Who He Was. (The title is a work in progress at this juncture, but be sure to look for my production at an off-Broadway theater near you.) His addiction to the three-point try is unfortunate enough by itself, but there is more, see: he is hitting 57.5% of his twos. That's quite good! But you have taken more threes (100) than twos (75), sir. Why would you try the people you love in such a fashion as this?

Jaron Blossomgame (6-7, 215) -- He's seen his role in the offense increase significantly, and he is also spending more time on  the floor, thus his increase in scoring this season to 13.3 per game. He is hitting 53.9% of his twos while drawing about five fouls per 40 minutes, and he rebounds well at both ends. If only something could be done about those damned three-pointers.

Landry Nnoko (6-10, 255) -- Turnover prone but a decent scorer inside who blocks a lot of shots and grabs a lot of offensive boards. He has never taken a three in 2+ seasons at Clemson. He is a hero.

The Clemson bench and defense

Reserves: Jordan Roper (6-0, 165), Josh Smith (6-8, 245), Sidy Djitte (6-10, 240), Austin Ajukwa (6-6, 205). This was the wrong year for Roper's shooting ability to disappear, as the Tigers rank 308th in bench minutes. Technically Roper qualifies as the sixth man anyway, but good god his stat line is a horror show.

Smith and Djitte are rebounding threats that State will need to be aware of, but they rarely shoot the ball. Expect little scoring from them. Roper at least will probably try to shoot his way back to relevancy since that seems to have been his plan all year long, what with his team-high workload. Maybe that will work one of these days. Like Wednesday hahahahahaha look what I've done oh no we're ruined.

I'm just kidding, we're going to be fine.

Clemson Defense -- Four Factors eFG% (National Rank) TO% OR% FT Rate
2013-14 43.9 (5) 17.3 (240) 32.4 (229) 28.6 (5)
2014-15 44.3 (35) 16.7 (308)
30.7 (156) 28.5 (25)

Clemson's interior defense has been pretty good all season and so far it's held up in league play. If their defensive rebounding continues to hold up as well, they should at least remain competitive at this end of the floor.

The Pomeroy Predictor likes NC State by 10.