Upcoming Two-Game Stretch Will Define Clemson Basketball

By michaelcosteines
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s give credit where credit is due.

The Clemson Tigers basketball team is enjoying a pretty good season under head coach Brad Brownell. Brownell has the Tigers currently sitting with a 14-8 record and a 6-4 mark in league play. In the landscape of a loaded ACC conference, the Tigers are sitting in 7th place overall. Take the team’s preseason prediction to finish in 11th place by the conference, and some would say the Tigers are overachieving.

Brownell and company have helped the Tigers to a four-game winning streak and 6-of-8 overall. During that stretch, the Tigers won key games over the Syracuse Orange and the Pittsburgh Panthers. Still, Clemson still has some work to do if they want to prove themselves as a legitimate team in the league. Luckily for them, they will get to prove themselves with two critical games against the Miami Hurricanes and the No. 10th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Offensively speaking, the Tigers are not running anyone out of the building. Sophomore Jaron Blossogame is the team’s only double figure scorer, averaging 13.1 points per game on 46.9 percent shooting from the field. Overall, the Tigers score 63 points per game, the 282nd mark in all of the country. The mark is nearly equal to the team’s shooting overall, which at 41.3 percent, is 273rd in the nation. If you look at some of the Tigers’ losses, it’s a struggle to get to the 50-point mark.

Blossogame also leads the Tigers in rebounding, averaging 8.1 boards per game. While the team is a tad undermanned on the offensive end, the Tigers have been fairly respectable overall on defense. The team is giving up on average 60.5 points per game to their opponents, the 48th mark in the country. The Tigers have held teams to under that average over the last six games.

If that were to stay the same, the Tigers need to step it up against a pair of quality opponents. For their next game, the Tigers might be catching the Hurricanes at the right time, as they have lost three games in a row. Still, the Tigers need big games out of Donte Grantham, Rod Hall and Damarcus Harrison to aide the play of Blossogame. After that, Little John Coliseum could be rocking when the Irish come to visit on a Tigers five-game winning streak.

Why is the next two games so big? Well for one, 8-4 in league play sounds a lot better than 6-6. The Tigers could use a solid mark in conference play to override some of the team’s losses against ranked opponents. It would also be big for Brownell, giving him a strong chance at another 20-win season after a 23-13 overall mark a year ago.

Given how strong the league has been this year, the Tigers should be thinking about the NCAA tournament, and a few more wins could start making that fruition a reality.

Michael Costeines is the ACC basketball Blogger for Rantsports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MCosteines, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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