The 2018-19 Clemson basketball season was, in one word, disappointing. The Tigers didn’t make the NCAA Tournament and will, instead, be back in the NIT.
The Clemson basketball team in 2018-19 was expected to achieve great things.
Though it probably wouldn’t have been fair to expect this team to get back to the Sweet 16 for a second-straight year, it was certainly reasonable expectations for them to make the NCAA Tournament.
That didn’t happen and, as it turned out when we saw the NCAA Selection Committee released their bracket Sunday evening, the Tigers weren’t even all that close to getting in the field.
So, Clemson basketball will have to rebound as a No. 2 seed in the NIT Tournament against Wright State Tuesday at 7 p.m. Should the Tigers win, they will play the winner of Furman-Wichita State in the second-round.
It’s certainly disappointing, so here’s a look at what went wrong in 2018-19. You can attest these problems to many things, including coaching, poor execution and just some bad luck.
- Too many close losses
Look, the first thing that went wrong is pretty simple. Clemson didn’t win basically any close games. The Tigers lost on buzzer-beaters to both Miami and NC State on the road. Clemson played UNC and Louisville close, just to lose with failed offensive possessions to close the game (UNC was certainly controversial with a no-call from the officials).
Against NC State in the ACC Tournament, the Tigers had a 16-point lead at halftime and blew it. NC State was then helped out with a bad call by the officials and won the game with free throws, ultimately sealing Clemson basketball’s NCAA Tournament fate.
If you win just one of those, you’re probably really close to being in the NCAA Tournament. If you win two, you’re in. The Tigers were 0-5 in games decided by two points or less and just 2-7 in conference games decided by single digits.
- Not enough depth
The bench, while it improved during the season, just didn’t give enough productivity. Clyde Trapp played well at times, but was inconsistent.
- Can’t guard the three; Can’t hit the three
You’re not going to win many games when teams hit threes against you and you can’t consistently hit the three. The Tigers just didn’t have any shooters this season that could consistently hit three-pointers. Gabe DeVoe proved to be a bigger asset than what many of us even realized.
Overall, it comes down to a lot of things, as we said before. Coaching, poor execution, bad luck, not good enough recruiting, even bad officiating. They were all factors that played a part in the season.
It’s not just one problem. It’s a whole mixture of things and it’s going to be interesting to see if Brad Brownell can turn things around next year after losing his four starters from this year’s team.