By Mychal Hunter
Holy moly are the boys in Death Valley talented. If I were to keep the television show analogy from the past few posts alive and compare them to a program, I would compare them to… Deadwood. Think about it, what a cast, Ian McShane, Raylan Givens, Major Dad, the guy who digs fat chicks in The Perfect Storm, Powers Boothe, Ray Donovan’s wife and who could forget Sheriff Unser. That poor bastard.
Does anyone recall what the downfall of Deadwood? It was creator/writer/producer David Milch. That, ladies and gentlemen, is where the analogy ties in. Four years of Jaron Blossomgame, all four, and zero tournaments. In fact, 3 straight years the Tigers failed to win 18 games. That’s ridiculous. Cuonzo fucking Martin could win 20 with last years team.
Now, last season Brownell’s team did average over 70ppg for the first time in his tenure, and had an Adjusted Offensive Efficiency rating of 35 nationally according to KenPom. That’s pretty good for Brownell whose offense typically resembles the French military. I know, I really should have saved that joke for Virginia. Anyways, the only reason Brownell is still at Clemson is because Radakovich is both hamstrung by Brownell’s recent extension, and too busy fundraising (his forte) to be bothered to care about basketball.
All that said, why are they #10 in the ACC, Peacone? Well, even with the loss of Blossomgame, they have some really good players. It is a gamble on my part. I mean, am I really predicting Brad Brownell will finish above Boeheim in the final standings? Yeah, I am but that’s more about early entry draft prospects and Gerry McNamara not deserving any coffee (It’s for closers!) than Brownell being a good coach.
Anyways, lets get into it.
Big time losses
- Jaron Blossomgame: a 6’7 combo forward out of Georgia, Blossomgame averaged 13.5 poing and 6.5 rebounds for his career. He also finished in the top 10 in player efficiency rating his last two years in college. A great player that was never showcased in the tournament. It’s a damn shame.
- Avry Holmes: The sit 1 play 2 transfer from San Francisco was terrific for Clemson in his time there and especially last year. 10.3/2.4/1.3 with a steal per game along with less than a turnover averaged in 27 mpg. To round it out he also shot 44% from deep (69 made) and 81% from the line (though only attempting 81).
- Sidy Djitte: The 6-10 center from Senegal averaged 6.5 points and 7.7 rebounds per contest for the Tigers last year. Not a shot blocker, but an imposing presence on the front line.
- Other losses include Ty Hudson (transfer to Jacksonville State), Riley McGillian, Legend Robertin (transfer to Nicholls St).
Holmes and Blossomgame obviously hurt, points and senior leadership are hard to replace especially in this conference. The returning players are going to have to step up to fill the void.
Finally. I was beginning to doubt myself writing the opening and the above section. But, at the end of the day, I’m fairly arrogant so I’m sticking with it.
The Tigers return 5 key contributors from last years squad, a high 3 star recruit who enrolled early and some helpful front court transfers. Lets take a look.
- Elijah Thomas: The former Texas A&M player was eligible for 24 games for the Tigers last season as a RS Frosh. The true back to the basket player put up 7.5 points 4.2 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game in 17 minutes. He is a super talented big man, but he has to stay out of foul trouble (3.5fpg in those 17 minutes). Some may remember John Collins had a similar problem at Wake Forest as a freshman. There is a learning curve in the ACC.
- Donte Grantham: The senior forward out of Hargrave has always been solid, getting around 9 points per game for his career. The 6’8 swingman has just never been able to breakout. He may get the opportunity this year with Blossomgame leaving a sizeable hole at the position.
- Sheldon Mitchell: The Junior transfer from Vanderbilt (another Stallings runaway) averaged 11 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game last year for Clemson while shooting 45% from deep and roughly 80% from the line. He more than doubled his scoring output in 7 more minutes per game. A breakout may be imminent.
- Marquise Reed: Yet another transfer, Reed came in from Robert Morris after averaging 15ppg as a freshman in the NEC. As expected those numbers dipped a bit but he still put up 10 a game while shooting 40% from 3 and 90% from the line. This is another player who could possibly break out.
- Gabe Devoe: The glue guy. Does a bit of everything and will probably be the one that kills you in the last part of the game. Doesn’t really do anything great, but he does everything. He’s the guy will hang 14 on you when your best defender locks down Mitchell and Reed and you’ll still lose.
Also joining the squad this year will be AJ Oliver (High 3 star recruit) who joined the program for the spring semester last year and redshirted. He is now a freshman with a semester and summer of practice against some very good back court players under his belt. Joining Oliver are 3 stars Malik William and Aamir Simms. Both 6’8 forwards, William a swing, and Simms a post. Brownell will also welcome a couple transfers in Mark Donnal (Michigan) and David Skara (Valpo). Donnal is a big body who was utilized primarily as an on the ball screener in John Beileins pick and roll offense and Skara was a solid contributor (6.5 points 3.1 rebounds) for a good Valpo program. They will provide depth and size in a front court that needs both. Also, don’t sleep on incoming freshman Clyde Trapp, he has a funky looking jumper but he can score when he gets hot.
I think this club is solid. I think Reed, Mitchell and Thomas all have breakout potential. Brownell is a defensive coach but if he can find a way to loosen the reigns on the offensive end I think this team will score some points as they have shooters, though its more percentages than totals. If this team flounders this year Brownell has got to go, though if the football program keeps its recent pace, Brownell may not even have to try to stay at least one more year, trust me Radakovich has no inclination to make the hard decision. He’s the same guy that let Paul Hewitt run the Georgia Tech program in the fucking ground.
Projected Starting 5: Devoe, Reed, Mitchell, Grantham, Thomas.
It was 102 degrees in Raleigh today. As a guy from Maine, that’s too fucking hot.