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The Tiger

Clemson men’s basketball hits slump

Ashley Stout, Staff
Brad Brownell

With postseason play in right around the corner, Clemson’s men’s basketball team is doing everything it can to get the ball rolling. The Tigers’ 11-8 overall record and 1-6 record in conference play tells the tale about their defensive struggles.
The Tigers are strong on their side of the court, averaging 75.7 points per game. The problem arises when trying to stop opponents from making drives and knocking down threes.
Guarding the shooter and recognizing his “sweet spot” is huge for defensive success, and it’s something the team has focused on all season but still can’t seem to get a handle on. Coming off of a 92-60 loss to the Louisville Cardinals, Clemson is desperate for ACC success in the rest of the season.
With 10 games left in conference play, the main focus for the Tigers will be sticking together through adversity and finishing through their games. Talent is not an issue, but learning to finish each possession rather than cracking under pressure will be main components in executing late in the games.
Brad Brownell’s latest season at Clemson hasn’t been ideal, but his time here has come with a few successes. In six seasons, Brownell has taken his team to the NCAA tournament (2011) and the NIT semifinals (2014), proof that he’s working to improve his team’s success.
“We’ve spent a lot of time recently working on our individual defense, transition, defense and rebounding,” Brownell said when asked for a comment.
Walk-on Lyles Davis agreed, describing the team’s efforts on defense as “growing” and “a work in progress.”
“We’re working on making multiple attempts during each possession,” the sophomore said. “For example, if one of our defenders gets beat one-on-one, then we need to have everyone rotate over to stop the ball. Once the ball rotates there needs to be another rotation when the ball is passed again.”
Brownell also focuses intensely on grit and toughness. Former basketball manager and sophomore engineering major Reid Radebaugh describes the coach as “the best motivator I’ve ever been around.”
But even with a few shortcomings, Clemson basketball and the NBA have been able to maintain a stable relationship.
Four players in the past 16 years have been drafted into the league, including power forward Trevor Booker (Nets) and guard-forward K.J. McDaniels (Rockets). Current Clemson forward Jaron Blossomgame is projected to be included in the 2017 NBA draft, averaging 17.9 points per game, 5.8 rebounds per game and 1.6 assists per game for the Tigers. A 6’8” junior forward, Donte Grantham is also a possible draft pick after his senior year, averaging 9.2 points per game and 5.2 rebounds per game.
Despite NBA-level talent, the Tigers’ lamentable record spells trouble for their hopes of making a tourney this season.
The Tigers will face Pittsburgh for the hopeful start of their comeback this Saturday at 12 p.m.

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