TWO DUKIES PICK THE ACC
Volume XIV, Episode 25
March 2, 2011
THANK YOU CASEY, KYLE, AND NOLAN EDITION
Mattís comments in blue.
Ree Trollinsí comments in white.
Clemson Guestís comments in violet.
CLEMSON (19-9, 8-6) @ #4 DUKE (26-3, 12-2)
Surprisingly enough, we already covered Dukeís last game in this space, a Close Loss, Usually on the Road, that We Had with Adjustments and Tinkering (CLU R WHAT), and it was painful. No need to relive that. Here comes Clemson, which, like most ACC teams not ours, nor playing in a sick shade of what purports to be blue and featuring an egomaniacal doofus (not easy to pull off) at their head, is looking for NCAA Tournament credentials. And as everyone knows, the best place to get that is against Duke, because thatís just the way that itís done.
Some Historical Perspective and Mattís Usual Rant About Clemson:
No real rant this time around. As most of you know, since Iíve shaken hands with each of you individually in the space of just a few minutes, I like Clemson and wish the program was better. As ClemsonGuest details exquisitely below, the departure of Sir Purr this past offseason was bizarre and inappropriate, and made sense neither from Purnellís perspective nor DePaulís (hire an older gentleman with no discernible connection to Chicago when the programís salvation, if any, lies in reestablishing relevance in the Windy City prep scene - - uh, what?). However, it was a boon for Clemson, because I think Brownell is a better coach.
So How Good or Bad Is Clemson This Season?
Enh. I guess their best OOC win was over Charleston, or perhaps Seton Hall. They lost to Michigan, South Carolina, and Old Dominion, and didnít really play anyone else; I imagine that Nelly designed the OOC sked and Brownell had little input therein. Bradís control over the schedule will come on a phased-in basis as series come up for renewal, and it will be interesting to see what scheduling philosophy he adopts. Signing home-and-homes with a bunch of high-profile conference teams (and I include the A-10, Conference USA and the MWC in that group) would be a great start. In the ACC, the Tigersí six losses are also according to form - - they got swept by the Tools (ugh) despite having a golden opportunity to beat those overrated clowns at Littlejohn, and have lost five of their seven road games, winning only at GIT and Miami, and just barely in the latter game. In the old days, you could now deduce the identities of the opponents in their road losses, but with North Carolina-Greensboro earning full conference membership now, and Swofford expanding to 43 teams because some asshole at the NCAA decided thatís the magic number for conferences to get a lifetime deal on the breakfast special at Cracker Barrel, I have to supply you with that information. The Orange and Purple lost on the road to Florida State (getting close to three months ago now - - itís hard to believe that the regular season is nearly done), NCCH (as mentioned), MDCP, Virginia (47-49, resulting in a disturbance at Dr. Naismithís resting place), and NCSU (oof).
The Tigers have some good pieces, but I donít think theyíre a very good team.
Their Last Game?
They defeated Wake Forest in Littlejohn, 63-49. It was Wakeís eighth straight loss and lowered the bar for realizing that Bzkillick is In! Over! His! Head! to everyone over the age of three. As for Clemson, they played excellent defense, shut down Wakeís one true, at this time, ACC-caliber player (McKie), and spread around the scoring with three guys in double figures and two others just missing. The Tigers were actually outboarded by a hair, but they passed out 18 assists, shot pretty well as long as Stitt and Jennings were the ones doing the distance work, and no one committed more than two personals.
Projected Starters and Pithy Comments
Devin Booker, 6-8 SO PF - - Trevorís little bro has been solid but unspectacular, at 7.8 ppg and 5.4 rpg. He did have a double-double against Wake, though, and the Dorcs are at the very least not a small team. He can also shoot free throws
Jerai Grant, 6-8 SR C - - the Dematha product has had a great season, averaging 12.4 ppg and shooting almost 60% from the floor - - should be an interesting battle between him, the Plumlees, and Kelly
Tanner Smith, 6-5 JR SG/WG - - and, as usual, hereís where the matchup problems begin for the opposition. Smith is a distance threat on offense and a bit of a jack-of-all-trades with a fair array of defensive techniques, but can he guard Kyle Singler in the latterís final home game? I doubt it
Demontez Stitt, 6-2 SR SG/PG - - it was Smith, not Stitt, who contributed to the nice team assist total against Weak, racking up seven feeds, while Stitt bombed away from range, hitting three of four. Aggressive defender who steals a lot and fouls a lot, and can stay in front of opposing PGs, but shutting down Nolan Smith in the latterís final home game is dubious
Andre Young, 5-9 JR PG - - another ballhandler on the floor; I donít expect Clemson to author too many boners in this one, but Young, while scrappy, is going to be looking up a lot at what one presumes will be a fired-up Curry, a slumber-emerging Dawkins, and such
Milton Jennings, 6-9 SO SF/PF - - former Burger Boy has been inconsistent but the potential is always there, and heís a nice matchup problem for opposing teams. He would be guarded by Singler when on the court, most likely
Zavier Anderson, 5-9 SR PG - - a nice story, a walkon (and maybe theyíve given him a scholly by now) whoís getting minutes and helping to back up Young and Stitt at the point
Cory Stanton, 5-10 FR PG - - wait, how many of these point-type guys do they have exactly
Bryan Narcisse, 6-6 JR SF/WF - - very athletic and can hit the three but doesnít defend or shoot FTs well
Most Likely to Bootsy:
Narcisse (11 points required)
Clemsonís Likely Gameplan:
This team doesnít run with anybody, and kudos to Brownell for figuring that out against (oh, say) the Tools, and nearly beating them in Clemson. Having seen what VPI did against Duke, the Tigers should sense a possible weakness on the boards and smash the glass while attempting to sag off a bit on defense and making Duke drive to win, while also crowding the lane for boards on errant threeballs.
VPI Update and Apology Department:
In my Duke-VPI recap, I included a section on what the Hokoids would do for the rest of the season. I stated that they would defeat Boston College at home and lose to Clemson on the road before scrivening a Friday or mayyybe Saturday exit in Greensboro and a first-round bowout in the NCAAs.
I must sincerely apologize to my readers and to VPI itself, because I underestimated them. In fact, the Hokums were blown out by BC, 76-61 in Cassell just three days after beating Duke in the same facility. Very impressive, guys. Goonardi - - because is the time of year that we have to start hearing about him every thirty seconds - - moved BC to his ďLAST FOUR IN,Ē moved VPI do his ďDO NOT WANT,Ē and hopefully moved himself back to doing radio commentary for St. Joeís games and away from all of our browsers and televisions. Seriously, though, nice job, Goonberg (and Iíd be remiss if I didnít grumble about Duke cooperating with the Bald Bastard of Blacksburg too). Way to motivate. Ladies and gentlemen, the PSBAD phenomenon lives. As long as there are awful ACC coaches around, thereís no need to worry about that.
So was the video staged? Was it deliberately made to appear staged because thatís what shadowy Duke figures wanted everyone else to think? Does anyone besides message board posters have time for this sort of twelfth-level dimestore psychoanalysis?
Two or Three Sabermetric Stats about Clemson:
- Surprisingly low in steals per possession, #249/345 in Div I. With a cast of thousands of scrappy, agitated point guard types, I would have thought this would be higher, once adjusted for the generally low number of possessions
- #13 in the country in defensive efficiency as defined by Ken Pomeroy, but surprisingly middle-of-the-pack (well south of #100 in Division I) in offensive and defensive rebounding. Grant canít do it all
- Better than usual at the line (69.0%), not great from arcland (34.1%)
Two Weird or (Un)Cool Tidbits:
- Stitt is four assists short of 400 for his career, and only six other Tigers have ever achieved that, and Grant is second all-time in career FG%. Jerai is currently at .599, while - - whoís this in third? Uncle Horace, at .598.
- Clemson has four wins at Cameron, in history, and only one against Coach K.
Iíll have a separate post thanking Kyle Singler, Nolan Smith, and Casey Peters for their unbelievable contributions, because after all, itís not like theyíre done yet. Peters has been, by all accounts, a very valuable practice player, Singler is one of the greatest players ever at Duke not to challenge for an NPOY, bespeaking steadiness and contributing when it counts, and Nolan is right there with Shane Battier as the best ambassadors for Duke basketball since I started watching in 1984-1985. The kid can ball a little bit, too. If you havenít heard, the seniorsí postgame speeches will be broadcast on Goduke.com and on ESPN3 - - awesome.
Who Is Blathering Over The Sound of the Game?
ESPN - - Patrick, Elmore, and Jeannine Edwards. Clemson should slide The Dentist a check for the awesome services heíll provide as a fifth coach during the telecast
Bottom Line This For Me, Please:
Itís been a looooooooong time since Duke did not emerge victorious at Cameron or even put together two bad halves of basketball in a row at Cameron, but that doesnít mean that Clemson is an unworthy opponent with no chance here. I imagine the first half will be close, and unless Duke really comes out on fire and kicks in with turnovers and fastbreaks and such, the initial part of the second half will be as well. But Duke is coming off of a loss, itís senior night for two fantastic players and a key support guy, and oh yes, the gameís at home. Duke and Clemson have had some weird results in past years, but I donít think this will be one of them.
The Missing Link(s):
Clemsonís state-issued propaganda.
And now, try this for something more refreshing.
Duke 74, Clemson 63.
Other ACC Action:
Georgia Institute of Technology 11, Wake Forest 0. (Mercy rule in effect.)
North Carolina-Chapel Hill 100, Florida State 60.
Maryland, College Park 69, Miami (FL) 66. (Watch for a special spy report from this one.)
Greetings, hoops aficionados. I've been obviously happy about the mid-January return of this site to active status. I realized a while back that my most notable contribution in the comment section over the last 12 months was pointing out the resemblance between Tyler Zeller and a certain scaly Star Wars character, so I've been saving up some thoughts on your favorite team and also mine, just for this occasion.
The common misconception about Clemson on this site is that the Tigers are a forever-midpack ACC team which can't close out winnable games at Chapel Hill. Well, let's set
the record straight here. The Tigers are a midpack ACC team which couldn't close out winnable games at Chapel Hill, Charlottesville, Tallahassee, Raleigh, Columbia, and once in a while, at home. We're working on that "forever" part.
Often the blue print in this space includes the latest rant on something marginally on-topic, maybe the latest transgressions of Bruce Pearl or the shriveled-up figurehead operating the disgust-ridden operation in Storrs, or a recent embarrassing moment displayed by a TV announcer, male cheerleader, football player or politician. Well, here's my rant, which has not had an outlet since about two hours after Gordon Heyward's half-court shot bounced harmlessly off the front rim in Indianapolis, and it's the reason why I couldn't honestly be happy for the conference-mates in Durham.
Oliver Purnell is a worthless waste of oxygen consumption.
Poornell bolted for that "sleeping giant" in Chicago in the wee hours of the night. The first report the Clemson players had of his departure was finding out from athletic director Terry Don Phillips in between morning classes. (Unconfirmed report: Poornell returned three days later to say goodbye to the remaining Tigers, and the players walked out on him this time.) At least (usual first letter deleted)rick Barnes had a meeting with everyone when he bolted for oranger pastures in 1998. But since when is an ACC program a stepping stone? Part of the blame probably goes to our guy in charge with the double first name, for not offering enough money. But unlike Texa$, DePaul's contract didn't have that much of a higher balance than what Poornell was cashing from the Upstate.
The real reason that the Poor One left, other than the usual Triangle Glass Ceiling excuse that Barnes thought, likely had to do with what was probably Clemson's highest-rated recruiting class which enrolled in 2009. That group included Clemson's first-ever McDonald's All-American in BF Milton Jennings, plus three-star guards Donte Hill, brotherly legacy Devin Booker, and the too-suspicious-to-go-to-USC four-star Noel Johnson. Last year's Tiger team, while becoming only the second Clemson squad to go to the Big Bracket three years in a row, didn't have much of a contribution from this Drab Four. Devin had his moments as a frosh, especially when on the floor with big Trevor, and Johnson occasionally got on a good streak, but Hill rarely saw action. Then there's Milton, a 6-8 guy with stone hands who was just plain afraid of contact in the paint. The McDonald's on U.S. 123 just across the lake from Littlejohn Coliseum wanted its A-A honor back. Instead of actually coaching and allowing these four guys to improve under his watch, Poornell simply quit and headed for a colder climate. Johnson and Hill left the team before exams ended the fall semester, leaving the 2010-11 team with nine scholarship players, including Catalin "Bobo" Baciu for whom I can't wait to read Matt's comments. (Walk-on Zavier Anderson has been a real backcourt contributor, as long as it doesn't involve shooting, and was put on scholarship for his final semester.)
The Really Blue Demons have some decent recruits coming in this summer, but the 2010-11 version has losses to Cal State Northridge (by 22) and Western Carolina. (Poornell was 12-0 against the Southern Conference at Clemson and 0-1 with the 16th-place team in the Big Feast.) If you think there haven't been a few Demonic laughs from down here, you're quite mistaken.
But Poornell's departure left a hugemongous gap in recruiting here. The one fall signee from 2010, Georgia's Mr. Basketball Marcus Thornton, was released from his LOI and headed to Athens. All of the other leads that OP was working on, for the classes of 2010 and '11 fell apart (including longtime Clemson fan Damien Leonard from Greenville, now bound to be a Lamecock). Brad Brownell's lone signee last summer, guard Cory Stanton, followed BB from Wright State, and this year Cory has been like Noel Johnson with less of an outside shot. He's a serviceable ACC reserve guard, but you'd prefer your recruits to have other offers from schools like Virginia Tech, NC State, Florida or Memphis, and not particularly Wright State. This year's signees look a little bit better, but it'll be quite a while before Brownell goes head-to-head on the recruiting trail with the elite programs.
Matt the Humble Host sometimes said in the blue type that Oliver was over his head at Clemson. But we liked him down here, at least until the wee hours of last April 6.
Brownell has done an admirable job with what is basically the 2009-10 Tigers minus Booker T and David Potter. Your best friend with the Duke degree, Jay Bilas, predicted
Clemson to place DFL (the D stands for DePaul) in the ACC, and the overwhelming sentiment had us eighth or ninth in the rankings. Another ESPNowitall predicted which ACC squads would go to the Big Bracket and the NIT, and had Clemson ending up in the College Insider Tournament. Those with seats near ours at Littlejohn Coliseum figured that an NIT season would be a successful one for the Tigers, especially if it resulted in a home game or two in said invitational tournament. Just being listed in some bubble reports is an accomplishment. But let's get real here.
Clemson isn't going to the Big Bracket without (1) a win tonight at Cameron, which isn't going to happen, or (2) a good showing tonight, then wins Saturday vs VaTech and Thursday and Friday in Greensboro, and even then it's a 50-50 deal at best. I'm as big a fan as anyone and have Tiger Paws on at least eight articles of clothing, but I'm also a realist, and after the home wins over FSU and BC, our next-best victory is at the College of Charleston. Roy Williams might think that's a big win, but we don't.
What Clemson does really well is defend. The Tigers haven't allowed an opponent to cross 70 in five weeks. We're leading the ACC in points allowed, both since mid-November and in league games. That's a little misleading because Clemson's the only team that hasn't played Duke yet, but it's still quite impressive. The not-as-foul-prone-as-he-used-to-be Jerai Grant has become a shotblocking machine, and Bryan Narcisse gets his share as well. The improving-but-still-disappointing Jennings only seems to reject attempts put up by those who are 6-2 or smaller.
The problem is that the performance on the other end of the court usually doesn't measure up to the D. How else can you explain that 49-47 loss at Virginia, other than just plain
having a lid on the bucket? Leading scorer Demontez Stitt often gets timid with his shot selection. Devin has missed more shots from the paint than he's made in the last few weeks. Andre Young, my favorite Tiger, has even been in a slump: take out the 18 points that he scored at Coral Gables, and he's 3 of 17 from THREE!-range in three of the last four games, far below the 38.7% clip he's on for the season. Tanner Smith, with perhaps the best basketball smarts on the team, still needs someone to get him the ball on his cuts or someone to receive the ball on the rare transition opportunities.
I just realized that you all didn't click on this website to gawk over thoughts about some team that's going to finish fourth through seventh in the ACC. After all, some other team with a similar standings destination just picked apart the Blue Devils, and you're still reeling about that and analyzing what everyone not named Nolan Smith did wrong up in Blacksburg. It's been a while since I've seen Matt and Co. seem so hard on Duke after a loss; do you guys really dislike Greenbald that much? In January FSU just had a great night, and you guys just dismissed the loss to the Redmen as being disinterested.
Not giving adequate rest to Nolan and Kyle shouldn't be that much of an issue again. And those two are the only Devils averaging more than 30 minutes; the same number of Tigers (D-Stitt and Andre) have the same statistic a few columns over from their names.
Inside, definitely it's advantage Duke, at least on one end of the court. The only way I see Clemson staying even in the paint is if RK and the Plumdog Millionaires get
frustrated at failed attempts to score over/around Jerai, Devin, Bryan and even Milton the Human Happy Meal, that the aforementioned Duke bigs start committing dumb or overexcited fouls on the other end. And Krzyzewski is too good a coach to let that happen without well-timed substitutions, at least among the post players. If it becomes a
battle of outside shooting, then it won't matter if Duke takes too many THREE!s; the Devils will make more than the Tigers will drain in this hostile environment. Clemson
doesn't press much anymore since the DePoorture, and while that'll be a benefit down the road, it does take one option away when you're trying to make a run in an opposing arena.
By performance, Clemson's worst losses of the year were at home to Michigan in the Big Ten Plus Iowa Challenge, and then the trips to Charlottesville and that place where they play hockey in Raleigh. But by score, the worst was at Chapel Hole, by 10.
This one won't be a blowout either. It'll be menacingly painful for Duke fans to watch because the Devils won't be able to put the visitors away, and it'll be just as frustrating for Clemson fans who'll wonder why they can't put the stupid ball through the iron circle 10 feet off the court on consecutive possessions and get closer on the scoreboard. Maybe it'll be close enough where Kyle and Nolan won't get their ceremonial Senior Night exits until the final 15 seconds (Clemson has spoiled three of the last five opposing senior nights . but not at Cameron). But this one won't be an upset.
Duke 67, Clemson 57.
Other ACC Action:
North Carolina-Chapel Hill 75, Florida State 71.
Maryland, College Park 63, Miami (FL) 59.
Wake Forest 30, Georgia Institute of Technology 28.
Last (Two) Edition(s):