|by David Hood|
Clemson head coach Brad Brownell says the Bruins are “pesky” and that fans should expect to see a lot of 3-pointers when the Tigers (22-12) entertain Belmont (26-9) at Littlejohn Coliseum with a trip to New York for the semifinals and finals of the NIT on the line.
Belmont ranks 12th nationally in 3-pointers attempted – they’ve attempted 791 on the season and made 311 in their 35 games. They rank 17th nationally in 3-point field goal percentage at 39.3%.
On the flip side, Clemson enters Tuesday’s game ranked first nationally in defending the three with a .279 figure.
“I haven’t had a chance to really watch them play this year, but I’ve had a chance to watch them a lot over the last 24 hours,” Brownell said Monday afternoon. “They are an outstanding shooting team, and their guys really know how to play. They really play with great pace, and I think that’s the thing that really surprises me is how fast they play offensively. Because of their skill, they can play at a fast pace and not turn the ball over as much as some teams. They shoot the first good shot they get, and oftentimes it’s early in the clock and it’s an open three or a penetration into the paint.”
He then said the Bruins play with a bit of swagger.
“Scrappy. Confident team. They play with a bit of swagger,” Brownell said. “It’s a completely game than what we were just playing, and that makes it more challenging in terms of the short prep. In this game they are going to get into the paint some, and not give up as many three’s. They get a lot of long rebounds and extra discipline. They are pesky and they are so smart that they are in the right place a lot. We have the advantage physically, but their peskiness and basketball IQ makes them hard to play. They get a lot of steals because their instincts are so good.”
The Bruins are led by senior swingman J.J. Mann, the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year who averages 18.3 points per game.
“They’ve got two or three really good players,” Brownell said. “J.J. Mann is obviously one of those guys who is 6-6 and you look at him, and you think he’s a good player, but he’s probably a little bit faster than you think. He shoots it a little better than you think. He drives it better than you think. He plays with supreme confidence. Craig Bradshaw, their 2-guard, is outstanding. He can make threes. Aggressive. Put a couple of guys who are confident like that together, and are confident in their coach, and they start playing at a high level and I think that is what you see with his team. Their 4-man, Drew Windler, is a matchup nightmare because he can shoot threes over you. If you aren’t on his shoetops he is going to shoot.”
BELMONT (26-9, 14-2 OVC) at CLEMSON (22-12, 10-8 ACC)
Tipoff: 7:06 p.m.
Radio: CTSN (Pete Yanity-pbp; Tim Bourret-color)
TV: ESPN (Rich Hollenberg-pbp; Jimmy Dykes-color)
First meeting between the two schools
David Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org