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Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant


  by - Senior Writer - Tuesday, March 19, 2013 11:38 AM
    |

Freshman Jordan Roper is just one of the reasons for optimism

Patience is a hard to thing to have in the current world of athletics, especially college athletics and the win-now mentality of message board coaches, the same people that would have run Mike Kryzezewski out of Durham or Bobby Bowden out of Tallahassee after less-than-stellar starts to their coaching careers at Duke and Florida St., respectively.

Heck, it was a lot of those same “coaches” who wanted to fire Dabo SwinneyDabo Swinney
Head Coach
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after a 6-7 campaign a few years ago.

Now, it’s the basketball program under fire, and with good reason. Clemson fans expect better. They deserve better. Clemson’s 2012-13 basketball campaign was a disappointment on a lot of levels, both on the men’s and women’s side. Players transferring out, injuries, and mounting losses made Littlejohn Coliseum an empty place for much of this past season.

The men’s team lost 10 of its last 11, sometimes in jaw-dropping and excruciating fashion. The title of the game story on our site following the loss to FSU in the ACC Tournament was ‘Groundhog Day’, a title I thought fitting because we had seen that same game over and over this season.

Clemson jumps out to a lead, endures an offensive drought that lasts multiple minutes, loses the lead, frantically claws back in the game, misses free throws down the stretch and loses by the number of missed free throws.

Public address announcer Dale Gilbert implores the Clemson faithful to “make Littlejohn the toughest place to play in the country” as the team enters the court prior to each home game, but those words have echoed off empty seats for much of the past two seasons. The students aren’t invested in the program, and season ticket holders stayed away as well.

I hung around the ACC Tournament following Clemson’s exit last weekend, just to see if I could get a real sense of the difference between Clemson and teams like Maryland and Boston College, and the answer didn’t come as an epiphany. We all know the difference – those teams have recruited better, have better shooters and more “natural” basketball players than the ones that dot Clemson’s roster.

N.C. State has Scott Wood and Maryland has Dez Wells and even Boston College has freshman Olivier Hanlan, who was the best player on the court when the Eagles played at Clemson a few weeks ago.

When Brad BrownellBrad Brownell
Head Coach
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was hired at Clemson, I was excited about the prospects of adding the kinds of players I would see during the NCAA Tournament, the gym rats who do nothing but hang around the court and shoot all day, and shoot the lights out under the brightest of lights.

Those mid-major teams always seemed to have the kind of players who simply enjoyed playing the game – coach’s sons and lifetime hoopers. The shooters. The underdsized big men. I imagined a team full of Terrence Oglesby’s and Greg BucknerGreg Buckner
Forward
# 0, 0
,

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’s. I expected the Tigers to go out and get someone like Hanlan, an under-the-radar guy that would explode on the scene and slay the giants.

And the elephant in the room is the fact that next year, Clemson could improve as a team and still not make any headway. Let’s face it, the ACC was down again this season. Top to bottom, this was not an elite league, not on par with the Big East or the Big Ten, and Clemson still finished 11th. Next season, the conference begins a round of additions that bring in powers like Pitt, Syracuse, Notre Dame and even Louisville. Add those four to Duke and UNC, and you get the picture. Winning will be harder than ever.

So, now to the point of this long-winded column. You think I want Brad Brownell fired, right? I’ve made the case that Clemson basketball is a dumpster fire, and it’s time to arrest the man that started the fire.

Nope, not in the least. I preach patience at this point. Why, after all of the ills I have pointed out?

Because I watched Jaron BlossomgameJaron Blossomgame
Fr. Forward
#5 6-7, 205
Alpharetta, GA

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work out the other day before one of Clemson’s games, and loved the touch on his shot. A man of his size and shooting ability are rare. I say that because I’ve seen Devin ColemanDevin Coleman
So. Guard
#15 6-2, 200
Philadelphia, PA

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shoot. I know there are capable shooters on the roster, but both Blossomgame and Coleman missed this past season due to injuries. T.J. SappT.J. Sapp
Guard
#1 6-3, 195
Fort Lauderdale, FL

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left shortly after the season started. Another shooter, gone. Brownell’s hands were tied from an offensive standpoint long before the season started, and the departure of Sapp bound them even more.

Late in games, when Clemson needed a big shot or a playmaker, they were nowhere to be found, certainly not the two seniors; K.J. McDanielsK.J. McDaniels
So. Forward
#32 6-6, 200
Birmingham, AL

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is a great athlete, but he shouldn’t be option number one, not yet; Jordan RoperJordan Roper
Fr. Guard
#20 5-11, 165
Columbia, SC

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began to find his stride mid-season, but still battles inconsistency; and Rod HallRod Hall
So. Guard
#4 6-1, 210
Augusta, GA

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, as much as I like his hustle and defensive intensity and gritty play, is not an offensive threat as teams let him dribble around at will, knowing he will never hurt them with the jumper.

Next season, there will be better and more viable options on the court. McDaniels has an entire off-season to hone his game; Roper can get better defensively and work on his consistency; Filer can work on his game and maybe be the guy that can lead the fast break; Nnoko can get better around the basket; perhaps Bernard SullivanBernard Sullivan
So. Forward
#22 6-7, 230
Gastonia, NC

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can come out of his two year funk.

To those that say Brownell hasn’t recruited well at Clemson, I say this: Have you been around the ACC, and seen the other venues? Have you been in the other locker rooms and have you seen the practice facilities at schools we used to look down on? Do you realize the facilities gap that Clemson is faced with? Clemson built the football facilities needed to maintain a level playing field, and the recruiting responded. Someone told me that Swinney defended Brownell in an IPTAY meeting earlier this month, and told the crowd that trying to compete in the ACC with Clemson’s current basketball facilities is “like trying to win the Kentucky Derby with a donkey.”

I’ve seen those other facilities. I know they are nice. And when you’re 16 and 17 and 18 years old, it’s natural to go for the bright and shiny. Firing Brownell would simply mean you bring in another coach who not only has to recruit against those other schools with better basketball tradition, but do it behind the eight ball that has facilities written all over it.

Also, Brownell wasn’t helped by Oliver Purnell’s last recruiting class – Milton JenningsMilton Jennings
Sr. Forward
#24 6-9, 225
Summerville, SC

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, Devin BookerDevin Booker
Sr. Forward
#31 6-8, 250
Whitmire, SC

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, Donte Hill and Noel JohnsonNoel Johnson
Guard
#1 6-6, 200
Fayetteville, GA

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. Jennings and Booker would have been nice pieces if they were a third option in someone’s offense, but Brownell had to lean on them after losing so many good players each of the last two seasons. Hill transferred to Old Dominion and averaged eight points per game; Johnson went to Auburn and averaged less than six points per game for a bad Auburn squad. Neither one would have helped.

Brownell came in late – he was hired on April 13th – and had to try and find players after everyone else had started signing players as early as the previous fall. As a result, he brought in Wright St. recruit Cory StantonCory Stanton
Guard
#12 5-10, 175
Springfield, TN

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, who quickly proved he wasn’t of ACC caliber and transferred out. That is two recruiting classes – classes that would have been a huge part of the program the last two seasons – that wound up being just Booker and Jennings. Welcome to the world of collateral damage caused by a coaching change. And if you don’t think that having senior players is important, go take a look at what Miami has accomplished this season.

Yes, Clemson finished on a low note, and I truly believe the style of play hurt attendance. Fans would much rather watch a team lose 92-87 than lose 47-43. It’s the world we live in. But Brownell played the only kind of game he could win – a slow down, methodical, defensive approach that simply wore other teams down. At the end of the day, however, he still lacked that shooter.

One more year? Absolutely. I firmly believe in giving a coach an entire recruiting cycle (four years) to prove themselves. Can next year be better? Yes. And maybe, just maybe, adding some more athleticism and some shooters to the mix will make for a better product to watch in what should be an exciting transition year for ACC basketball.

I also saw something that gave me hope following the loss to FSU in the tournament: One senior sat and made excuses, blamed the officiating, and said free throws didn't make a difference; the other sat and muttered one word answers; but one freshman had tears in his eyes (Jordan Roper), took the loss squarely on his young shoulders and blamed his own missed free throws for the loss. He then vowed to work harder and make it right. As one writer put it, sometimes there is addition by subtraction.

He deserves that chance. So does Brownell. Brighter days are ahead.

Patience. Improve the facilities. Give Brownell a chance to get over those first two recruiting classes. Then we will see what happens. Sometimes, the best move is the one you don’t make.


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Post your comments
Subject (Replies: 89) Author
Front Page Story: Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant
TigerNet News®
donkeys can run fast......I've seen it***
Tigerfansince1972®
I don't think you can say Sullivan is in a funk when
xtiger
Re: I don't think you can say Sullivan is in a funk when
Litefoot®
i never understood
xtiger
Re: i never understood
armsb
Re: Front Page Story: Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant
deroberts®
Re: Front Page Story: Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant
clemtiger117®
Maybe 3 more years we can get our winning percentage back
truetiger1998
IF we're lucky
xtiger
i'm still looking for an agreement from the supporters that
truetiger1998
The line's at 4 for me
PenthouseTiger
If u want his guys as seniors you'll have to wait for year 5***
clemsongt
My Bad, Math was never my best subject***
PenthouseTiger
i think that is reasonable and fair, and thanks for giving
truetiger1998
Two more years, then evaluate him. See if he has earned
AllTimeClemson
Wait, didn't OP make us relevant?
whenibleedibleedorange®
Where did OP leave us? Did you read the article?***
RC Tiger®
The man who 'started the dumpster fire' is now at DePaul
coachmac
OP improved every yr
xtiger
Re: OP improved every yr
clemtiger117®
On this we agree clemmy. And hey,
deleted
Two Different Styles of Play
elementsOfWay
Re: Two Different Styles of Play
clemtiger117®
uh 2 out of our 5 starters were seniors.***
xtiger
Re: uh 2 out of our 5 starters were seniors.***
clemtiger117®
Re: Two Different Styles of Play
armsb
2 transfers happened after BB was coaching here of
xtiger
Re: 2 transfers happened after BB was coaching here of
clemtiger117®
You cant have it both ways
THS Athlete 50®
Re: You cant have it both ways
clemtiger117®
Meant to post under coachmac's post. Sorry for the confusion***
THS Athlete 50®
2-16 & 11-21 --- only quality win Rutgers & Providence
coachmac
Purnell was a success for Clemson
elementsOfWay
David - Please compare basketball facilities in the ACC
elementsOfWay
BB's problem isn't as much facilities
xtiger
Re: BB's problem isn't as much facilities
clemtiger117®
lmao, you are delusional***
xtiger
Re: lmao, you are delusional***
clemtiger117®
ya and Sullivan turned out to be real steal lol.***
xtiger
Re: ya and Sullivan turned out to be real steal lol.***
clemtiger117®
If facilities are truly the problem (they may very well be)
THS Athlete 50®
I'm not saying that's the ONLY reason
elementsOfWay
No i do agree we need better facilities.
THS Athlete 50®
we had just redone littlejohn when OP got there
Shevlin77
BB had the Tigers in position to win several of the games
strodetiger®
Transfers are on BB
whenibleedibleedorange®
Re: Transfers are on BB
clemtiger117®
Agreed.***
deleted
Not really. They couldn't hack being forced to play in a
deleted
Sometimes the coach has to change to the players he has
whenibleedibleedorange®
And BB has stated he's not married to any particular style.
deleted
quit being an a$$, stanton was not his "prized recruit"
Shevlin77
Just win games
THS Athlete 50®
Re: Front Page Story: Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant
tigernyles
I agree we need some facilities upgrade but I still don't
THS Athlete 50®
depth and experience...........
deleted
Lets be honest with ourselves....
THS Athlete 50®
Yes. We did. The simplest way to explain it is.........
deleted
And there you go. Can't say it any better than that.***
deleted
I hope that BB can kindly, tactfully, and in a motherly...
iTiger
If our facilities prevent us from even being competitive,
Clemson81to85
Re: If our facilities prevent us from even being competitive,
FORESTTIGER
OK...Hood, I'll give your inside knowledge a chance...
iTiger
Whew! We can all feel better know. Someone with such an
deleted
Brad Brownell is the GREATEST!!! I can hardly wait...
iTiger
Dang you would think Bloosingame and Coleman will be averagi
SSosa
#185 in the RPI - not good enough
95paw
I have 2 problems...
Strider Tiger
OP recruited 3 top 100 players in his tenure: Milt, Book
striperfan
You forgot something very important (Kornblut)
bowlhunter
Re: Front Page Story: Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant
sideliner
Re: Front Page Story: Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant
jpell3
I am sure BB can turn this around once Loui,ND,Pitt and Syr
SSosa
Re: Front Page Story: Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant
tiger67®
Re: Front Page Story: Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant
warren
Re: Front Page Story: Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant
rkantor
Re: Front Page Story: Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant
airjockey02
Re: Front Page Story: Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant
PhillyTiger1012
Re: Front Page Story: Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant
Dave75®
Re: Front Page Story: Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant
airjockey02
Re: OP improved every yr
dmdtiger12
Re: Front Page Story: Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant
RickWright
Brad Brownell
Prime T. Tiger
Re: Front Page Story: Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant
wtrskitiger®
Re: Front Page Story: Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant***
Tiger Rag Fishing Team
Break ground......
Tiger Rag Fishing Team
Spot on. 100% accurate.***
deleted
Brownell deserves the chance to make Clemson basketball relevant
SuperSam
David, one of your best articles. Agree with you 100%.***
ClemsonBama®

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