ACC Summer Recess: Clemson TigersPosted by KCarpenter on July 24th, 2012
Over the next four weeks we’ll be taking a step back and looking at each team in the ACC to assess where each program — and the conference as a whole — stands before we totally turn our attention to the 2013-14 season later this fall. Today’s target: Clemson.
Where They Stand Now
It’s hard to remember the momentum that Clemson had at the end of the season, but the Tigers really picked it up as the season wore on. After a dismal 3-6 conference start, Brad Brownell‘s team rallied and went 5-2 down the stretch, bringing the team to a perfectly even 8-8 finish. A first round conference tournament flameout against Virginia Tech didn’t exactly end the season on a high note, but it’s important to remember that this Clemson team managed to beat the likes of Florida State, Virginia, and North Carolina State over the course of the season. In all, last season was probably a step back for the Tigers, but nowhere close to the catastrophes that some of the other conference teams endured.
The Tigers are taking a big blow to their rotation due to that scourge called graduation: sensational scorer Andre Young, the versatile Tanner Smith, and valuable rotation players in Catalin Baciu and Bryan Narcisse. The loss of the two veteran starters, Young and Smith, will give the team a very different feel in the coming year. The pair easily led the rest of the team in minutes played in 2011-12.
The most important news for Clemson basketball is that the Tigers will be able to start two veteran senior bigs in Devin Booker and the mercurial Milton Jennings. Beyond that, however, the Tigers aren’t going to have a lot of seasoned veterans to play. Clemson will return a whopping five rising sophomores, including promising players K.J. McDaniels, T.J Sapp, and Rod Hall, who all played a good deal in their freshmen year. Unfortunately, it looks like point guard Devin Coleman will be out for much of the season with a torn Achilles tendon, and predicting the production of highly-touted recruit Bernard Sullivan has so far been an exercise in futility.
Clemson has a bunch of recruits who will shore up the depth chart, but it’s unclear if any of these freshmen will be ready to make an impact next season. Point guards Adonis Filer and Jordan Roper are likely to see more game time with the injury to Coleman, and the lack of “true” wing players on the team means that both could very well see some time at shooting guard. The big rotation is bolstered by the undersized but talented Jaron Blossomgame, who is the most highly rated of the Tigers’ recruits, despite being a 6’7″, 200-lb power forward. Beyond that, Landry Nnoko and Josh Smith can offer Clemson some help from the center or power forward position, backing up the seniors, if Sullivan isn’t up to the task.
Significant roster turnover and a shift in rotation minutes seldom foretells radical improvements in college hoops. Clemson lost a big chunk of its offense and is going to have to rely heavily on sophomores and freshmen next season. Barring a flush of incoming talent, this is usually a recipe for a step backward.