Clemson Men’s Basketball: Killing Clemson Basketball

Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell during the first half at Littlejohn Coliseum Tuesday, November 29, 2022.Clemson Basketball Vs Penn State University Acc Big 10 Challenge
Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell during the first half at Littlejohn Coliseum Tuesday, November 29, 2022.Clemson Basketball Vs Penn State University Acc Big 10 Challenge /

This week I take on the tall task of having to explain what in the world is happening with Clemson Men’s Basketball. So I’m bringing back an oldy but goody title this week in Killing Clemson Basketball.

Well, as the old saying goes:

You can’t kill what’s already dead.

I’d wager some would say that in regard to the current state of the Clemson basketball program.

The past week for Clemson was a week-long referendum on a frustrating season. The Tigers, who had won a record number of ACC conference games and finished 3rd in the ACC (if I had a nickel for every time that talking point has been puked out), spent their entire weekend last week volleying to be in the field of 68 with the aforementioned facts.

Making it more unique, ESPN personalities like Rece Davis, Seth Greenburg, and (gasp) Jay Bilas made it a public forgone conclusion that Clemson was worthy of making the big dance.

The day came and went.

The Tigers were left out.

But the spin zone was in full force. Several in the media voiced their ire for the snub, while Clemson’s AD (the same man who said tournament or bust essentially) gave a resounding vote of confidence to the head man with Clemson seemingly heading in the right direction.

As the Tigers entered the NIT last week, the bracket seemed favorable. 3 home games with only one being against a power conference opponent left most thinking Clemson had at least a shot at making it to Vegas.

The day came and went.

The Tigers were out played, out coached, out hustled, and run out of their home gym by a team that had no business doing so.

In this the team’s struggles for most of this season reared its ugly head: getting opportune stops, rebounding, and, most of all, long scoring droughts.

It’s almost been a staple of Brad Brownell coached teams for the past decade and a half to finish a game with not just a 4- or 5-minute drought, but 7,8,10, or even 12-minute ones.

There is no way to cut it- the end of this season has put the target directly on Brownell’s back for 2024.

Honestly, speaking candidly, the trigger should have been pulled long ago. Brownell was flailing going in to his 2014 season but was able to take the team to the NIT semis to create some positive momentum. 2015 and 2016 were both fruitless efforts, but the “we’ll give him some time with the new renovated facilities” crowd won out.

2017 was a crossroads for this program that I don’t fully understand. The Tigers had newly renovated facilities and a couple of big wins but were left short of the tournament. The Tigers followed that up with an inexcusable home loss to Oakland. Yours truly got to witness the 2nd half implosion firsthand where the Tigers blew a 20-point lead in the 2nd half.

“There is no way Brownell survives this” I told the guy who went with me.

He agreed.

So naturally, you could guess how thrilled I was when I heard he was being retained. But to my surprise, Gabe DeVoe put on an All-American performance that season and the Tigers made it just a few points shy of an Elite 8 birth.

Zion Williamson looked to be a lock as he had been for months. All he had to do was put the hat on and commit a few weeks after the tournament and it was game on for the Brownell era.

But, alas, he went to Duke.

Next season could be a hard sell for fans of Clemson Men’s Basketball

Since then, Clemson’s seasons have ended in a 2nd round NIT home loss, no tournament (we wouldn’t have gone even if there was no covid), a 1st round NCAA tournament loss to Rutgers (where you had every opportunity to win), no tournament, and then last Wednesday’s home loss to Morehead State.

That’s putrid.

This also comes on the heels of watching Furman, a SOCON school, beating Virginia last week.

I mentioned on The Morgan Thomas Show what expectations should be. No sensible Clemson fan is expecting national championships, just get to the dance consistently. Barnes and Purnell did. And maybe a breath of fresh air can too.

If a coach is here for a decade, 7-8 of those seasons should be in the NCAA tournament (just getting there), the other 2 or 3 are built in for rebounding teams or injured teams but you would hope they could make a run in the NIT.

Either way, next year is going to be a hard sell to the fans.

Brownell is going to have an uphill battle.

Next. Clemson softball records another perfect week with sweep of Virginia. dark