November 24, 2015

Tigers Start Strong, Land Eagles for First Victory

Fueled by a 21-0 run and 16 first half points from Jaron Blossomgame, the Clemson basketball team cruised to a 74-40 victory over the Eagles of North Carolina Central.

Blossomgame finished the game with 18 points, as he was able to sit for most of the second half with the second game of the season just two days away. He also added 2 blocks, 4 rebounds, and was perfect from the charity stripe.

After a slow shooting start, the Tigers showed evidence of the work they’ve been putting in this fall with trying to shoot the basketball at a better rate. Led by Donte Grantham, Clemson nailed eight 3-point shots and shot an impressive 20-23 from the foul line.

The Tigers led 14-9 early in the first half before going on an extended 21-0 that swelled the lead to 26 points. Clemson held NC Central to just 30% shooting from the field. Dajuan Graf led the Eagles with 11 points.

Clemson returns to action against Texas-San Antonio on Sunday at 2pm in Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville.


*3-Minute Man – Gabe Devoe came alive late and scored all 9 of his points in the final 3:16 of the game, including two long range bombs.

*Attendance – It was a solid crowd of Clemson fans for the first regular season game in The Well. A sequence of 3 blocks plus a transition lay-up on the other end by Blossomgame really made the crowd come alive and making a difference in tonight’s game. Not being familiar with the arena makes it difficult to accurately judge the attendance, but it was definitely a pleasing turnout.

Editor’s Note: Attendance was listed at 5,742 on

2015-16 Clemson Basketball Season Outlook

The 2015-2016 Clemson Men’s Basketball campaign tips off on November 5th with an exhibition game against Lenoir-Rhyne, and it will be a season defined by the word “change” for the Tigers. The “Rod Hall era” comes to an end, as University of San Francisco transfer Avry Holmes ushers in a new beginning. Brad Brownell, in his 6th season at Clemson, returns his leading scorer for remarkably the first time in his tenure as the Clemson head man. The Bon Secours Wellness Arena in downtown Greenville will serve as “home” for the Tigers. Changes.

Also, a Leonard Hamilton-coached team is predicted higher in preseason ACC standings than a Jim Boeheim-coached team and a Rick Pitino-coached team, but that’s another story for another time.

As for the “changes” the Clemson basketball team will be undergoing, all can be viewed in a positive light.

Brad Brownell named Avry Holmes Clemson’s starting point guard within a month of the 2014-2015 coming to a close, and there’s been nothing but good things said about Holmes thus far. Some may say the Tigers’ pace couldn’t be any more lethargic, but changes are definitely on the way with Holmes running the show. Holmes is a quick, smooth, and athletic point who is bound to excel in the open floor; he can also shoot from the perimeter off the dribble or the catch, a luxury Brad Brownell hasn’t been able to make use of his entire tenure at Clemson. In 2010-2011, Demontez Stitt was a gifted scorer who developed into just an adequate 3-point shooter by his final season in Tigertown, and Andre Young was never really a true point guard. Rod Hall was often unappreciated, but admittedly he left something to be desired on the offensive end. Coach Brownell often highlighted Holmes’ toughness and competitive spirit, and even the most ardent of Rod Hall supporters (such as myself) are forced to view Holmes as an extremely positive addition to the Clemson basketball program.

Demontez Stitt, Andre Young, Devin Booker, KJ McDaniels. These names all have something in common, and please don’t say that they are all former Clemson basketball players (technically true, but come on). These players led the Tigers in scoring during a given season, and all promptly were finished with their Clemson basketball careers at the conclusion of that season. Brad Brownell finally has the luxury of centering his offensive attack around a proven commodity, redshirt-junior forward Jaron Blossomgame. Blossomgame really blossomed (forgive me) into a versatile scorer last year, and could be a consistent jump shot away from the NBA. His work ethic is well-documented, and look for Blossomgame to continue his upward trajectory in having another strong season at power forward for the Tigers.

Finally, Bon Secours Wellness Arena will play host to the Tigers’ “home” games this season. Many will see not playing in Clemson and not having Littlejohn Coliseum’s home-court advantage as the problem, but that’s far off the mark. Clemson hasn’t had much of a home-court advantage in Littlejohn in a while. Worst case: it feels basically the same this year in The Well. Best case: Clemson fans in the populous Greenville area can attend suddenly more-accessible Clemson basketball games, and a walk-up crowd takes interest in ACC basketball. The real issue here is logistics.

The problem with playing in Greenville solely lies with sharing a practice facility with the women’s basketball program and volleyball program, driving an hour for games, rarely practicing in your own arena, getting used to a harsh shooting “backdrop,” among others. But the fun is in the winning. If Clemson can get off to a fast start, maybe excitement and attendance at The Well rise, and maybe the toll of these logistical issues decreases. Sounds wishful, I’m aware.

Regardless, Brad Brownell will benefit from some serious changes this year and next, with a brand-spankin’ new arena and two proven Division 1 transfers waiting in the wings to contribute. Some are viewing this season as a “throw-away” season, and the “experts” who have predicted Leonard Hamilton’s team to best Jim Boeheim and Rick Pitino’s teams have again underestimated Brad Brownell and this Clemson team. But, here are three keys to turning this season into a special one for Clemson:

  1. Player Development – Specifically, Landry Nnoko. After KJ McDaniels’ departure, many thought Nnoko was the next to benefit from Brownell & staff’s ability to develop players. Some even pegged him as an early-entree into last year’s NBA Draft before the season started. Nnoko’s junior year was a disappointing one. But if he can develop into what many thought he might after his sophomore year, and stay away from foul trouble, the Clemson frontcourt could be very solid. Along with Nnoko, will Donte Grantham continue to display his talent after hitting the wall as a freshman last season? Will Jordan Roper and Gabe Devoe develop into a consistent scoring punch at the combo guard spot, and provide enough depth with the sudden transfer of Austin Ajukwa? Can Ty Hudson and Legend Robertin provide extra depth as first year players?
  2. 3-Point Shooting – Key #2 ties well into key #1: If Nnoko improves, 3-point shooting improves. It’s really that simple. I believe this is the best “staff” of outside shooters Brownell has had at Clemson, but can they do it consistently?  Roper has been the definition of inconsistency. It took Devoe about 20 games to settle into a groove last year.  Avry Holmes has never done it in the ACC.  Grantham’s ability is obvious, but he’s carrying a lot on his shoulders as a youngster.  Blossomgame has worked tirelessly on his shot in the offseason, but will it translate?  The questions (or pessimistic statements, in this case) are there, but what if all of these things come together?  It could be a shooting team unlike one we’ve seen in a while at Clemson.
  3. Non-conference Play – Last season, some early-season defensive breakdowns and communication issues largely led to poor performances in the non-conference portion of the schedule. Losses to Winthrop and Gardner Webb haunted the brief NCAA Tournament hopes the Tigers mustered up during a 4-game ACC winning streak in the month of February. To avoid such blemishes this season, Clemson has to get out of the gate better on the defensive end of the court. Most of the guys in the rotation will have logged lots of minutes at the college level, and there will be no excuse for having breakdowns in Brownell’s defensive scheme. Clemson is better than NC Central, USC Upstate, Presbyterian, and the teams from Texas. Clemson is better than Wofford and South Carolina. Clemson is better, and better-coached, than the majority of the teams on its non-conference schedule. This team needs to make a statement about its questionable non-conference play in past seasons and be firing on all cylinders from the first tip.

Many may not be expecting it, but this could be a great season for the Clemson basketball program. A new era at point guard, the return of the team’s leading scorer, and a potentially beneficial departure from Clemson to Greenville could be just what the doctor ordered. Some will point out questions, but there are potential answers to every one of those questions. It should be a fun ACC basketball season.

And let’s remember: change is a good thing.

Final 2014-15 Clemson Basketball Metrics

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Basketball Metrics – 30 Games

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Basketball Metrics – 29 Games

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Basketball Metrics – 28 Games

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Basketball Metrics – 27 Games

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Basketball Metrics 26 Games

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Basketball Metrics – 25 Games

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Updated Basketball Metrics – 24 Games

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  1. Austin Ajukwa has picked up offensively in the last two games.
  2. Donte Grantham and Rod Hall have decreased offensive efficiency in the last several games.
  3. The Tigers remain under 30% on three pointers for the season and average .90 points for every 3 point shot attempted vs. 0.94 per 2 point shot attempted.

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