Brad Brownell Takes Clemson JobPosted by rtmsf on April 13th, 2010
Wright State’s Brad Brownell was introduced this afternoon as the new head coach at Clemson University, ending a week of swirling rumors among three ACC programs (Boston College and Wake Forest are the others) as to the leadership and future direction of their programs. Brownell had been reportedly in the mix for the Wake Forest position prior to the Deacs settling on Colorado’s Jeff Bzdelik (a move that is apparently still in negotiations). Unlike Bzdelik, though, the new Clemson coach has achieved a verifiable and sustained pattern of success throughout his eight-year head coaching career.
At UNC-Wilmington from 2002-06, Brownell’s teams were 83-40 (52-20 CAA), including two conference championships and NCAA appearances (both close losses in the first round). He then followed that up at Wright State with a nearly identical 84-45 record (49-21 Horizon), including a conference championship and another NCAA berth there in 2007. His last three years at the school have been cast in the long shadow of Horizon League nemesis Butler, but his teams have won at least twelve conference games and twenty overall in each of his seasons at the helm there. Put simply, the guy has won games wherever he’s coached.
Brownell’s teams at WSU were among the most patient in the country the last several years, averaging between 60-64 possessions per game (national average = 67). His teams are defensive-oriented with an emphasis on limiting good looks in the paint and forcing turnovers through sticky halfcourt traps and the denial of entry passes (similar to Butler in this regard). Some Clemson writers wonder how that will translate to life in the ACC, but with halfcourt basketball now preferred at half the schools in the conference (with Donahue at BC and Bzdelik at Wake joining Tony Bennett at Virginia, Sidney Lowe at NC State and Leonard Hamilton at FSU in the utilizaton of patient basketball), we may be seeing a shift in the hoops culture of this league. So long as it works, of course. It makes for an interesting juxtaposition as the top three programs (and coaches) in this league prefer to run at every opportunity — will the ACC start looking more like the Big Ten with games in the 50s?
Among the three ACC hires this year, we believe that this one is poised to work out best for all parties involved. Brownell is familiar with the Carolinas from his decade spent in Wilmington and is also certainly well-versed with how seriously ACC fans take their basketball (especially with respect to Drew Nicholas). He’s also walking into a situation at Clemson where seven of last year’s top nine Tiger contributors from an NCAA Tournament team should return to the fold (although Devin Booker is reportedly waffling). Oliver Purnell more than proved that basketball can succeed at this football school, and Brownell may just be the young, dynamic coach to take Clemson to the next level of regular NCAA Tournament runs beyond the first game.