2011-2012 ACC Preview: #10 Clemson

The 2011-2012 ACC season is about to begin. Over the next three weeks, Crazie Talk will preview each of the twelve ACC teams in order that we think they’ll finish this season – from the bottom up.

Let’s take a look at our projected 10th-place finishers, the Clemson Tigers.

Clemson only faced Duke once last year, and luckily for the Tigers they only face Duke once this year as well (photo courtesy of DukeBluePlanet)

2011-2012 Record: 8-6

Key Wins:
November 29- Clemson 71, Iowa 55

Tough Losses:
November 19- College of Charleston 72, Clemson 69
November 22- Coastal Carolina 60, Clemson 59

Starting Lineup:[table id=17 /]Last Year Against Duke:
March 2, 2011 at Duke- Duke 70, Clemson 59

This Year Against Duke:
January 15, 2012 in Clemson

The Good: This team stays true to Clemson’s brand of basketball. They are defensive-minded, allowing only 53.6 points per game through the first 10 games of this year. The Tigers are a team full of big bodies that are there to out-muscle and out-rebound you. So far Clemson has pulled down 35 rebounds per game with an average rebounding margin of 5.7. This is also a fairly deep team- expect to see nine or ten Tigers rotating on and off the floor during any given game.

The Bad: Although this team has many weapons on the defensive end and on the glass, it has no shooters to speak of. Clemson has shot an abysmal 34.8% from 3-point range this season and 66.9% from the charity stripe. Though this team appears to be playing mediocre basketball on paper, in order to get a sense of this team you need to examine the bigger picture. Yes, they’ve played well defensively and rebounded well, but they’ve played a very easy non-conference schedule. The only worthy opponent they’ve faced thus far is Arizona, who should be mildly competitive at best in a relatively weak Pac-12 conference. Other than that, they’ve lost to South Carolina, who won’t come close to competing in the SEC, and enough can be said for losing to College of Charleston and Coastal Carolina. So congratulations, Clemson Tigers, for your 20-point blowout of teams like Withrop. To put it in perspective, Duke fans, Withrop beat Presbyterian by three points, and you all remember watching that team play.

The Crazie: This team is an interesting combination of experienced and inexperienced players. On the surface, this looks like a fairly experienced team, with two juniors and two seniors in the starting lineup along with lone freshman Rod Hall. But the Tigers actually have six freshmen on the roster along with the two juniors and four seniors. This creates an puzzling situation at Clemson because with this many new players this is definitely a team that is still learning to play with one another, but by the time the team starts to gel it will lose at least four of its key contributors. This is a less than desirable situation when planning for the future, which at this point seems to be all Clemson can plan for because they won’t be playing postseason basketball this year.

Player We Love To Hate: Devin Booker. Though he was a non-factor in last year’s matchup, Devin Booker’s name sends shivers down Duke fans’ spines. Why, do you ask? Because Devin Booker is the younger brother of former Clemson forward Trevor Booker, who now plays for the Washington Wizards. Older brother Trevor infamously torched the Blue Devils with 21 points and eight rebounds on 8-of-10 shooting during the Tigers’ 74-47 rout of Duke in 2009. Although Devin hasn’t proved to be quite as dangerous as his older brother was, I’m sure many Cameron Crazies will be holding their breath as Clemson throw the ball into the paint to a guy with the name Booker on the back of his jersey.

The Bottom Line: This Clemson team could finish in the middle of the pack in a lower tier conference, just not in the ACC. Don’t expect them to keep up a .500 record for very long, especially with two of their first three ACC matchups against Florida State and Duke. Clemson might cause some problems in a few games if their opponents fall into a massive shooting slump, but unfortunately defense is built to win championships, not games. Expect this to be the first of two rebuilding years for the Tigers before their young players can grow and gel together into what second-year head coach Brad Brownell hopes will be a winning nucleus for the future.

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Crazie-Talk’s 2011-2012 ACC Preview:

Boston College | Wake Forest | Clemson | Miami | Georgia Tech | Maryland

North Carolina State | Virginia Tech | Florida State | Virginia | Duke | North Carolina