It's always nice when you get to hear from an old friend. Just like last time when I needed a Clemson Q&A, I turned to my childhood friend Eric Dowling who covers Clemson for SBNation's Shakin the Southland. He gave his insight on Brad Brownell and the Tigers' upcoming basketball season. Let's take a look!
Streaking the Lawn: Brad Brownell has had two season at Clemson. How would you rate his performance at the helm so far?
Shakin the Southland: How would I rate his performance? I'm extremely pleased with the job he's been able to do so far. In his first season he led Clemson to the NCAA tournament and picked up Clemson's first NCAA tournament win since 1997. This coming on the heels of 3 straight 1st Round flameouts under Oliver Purnell. Last year was a down year for Clemson, but that was to be expected after losing their top two players (Stitt and Grant) and inheriting Purnell's underachieving recruits. How would the rest of the fans rate his performance? Some fans seem to be upset that Clemson missed the tournament last year for the first time in 5 seasons. But to me that was expected. I see progress in player development, fundamentals, and defensive execution. I'm excited to see what he can do with 11 freshmen and sophomores that are his own recruits.
STL: What was your biggest loss from last season's team?
STS: I know you asked for one, but it's the combination of Andre Young and Tanner Smith. For the 2nd straight year Clemson has lost their two top players from the year before. Those guys were not only the most productive players on the court, but they were the leaders on and off the court. With 11 freshmen and sophomores and just 2 seniors (Booker and Jennings), this team is going to have to learn to grow up quick without the help of two great leaders.
STL: Who is the newcomer that you think will make the biggest impact this year?
STS: Watch out for SG DeMarcus Harrison. He's a former top 100 recruit that played his freshmen ball at BYU last year. There was a major screw up with his paperwork for his 2-year mission trip. The end result was that BYU allocated out their last scholarship thinking that he'd be gone this year. Then when his mission trip was delayed he no longer had a scholarship for this upcoming season. As a result he was allowed to transfer to Clemson and was deemed eligible to play immediately. Clemson had already lost their expected starting 2-guard, Devin Coleman, to an ACL tear. So the timing of Harrison's transfer couldn't have worked out better for Clemson.
STL: The Tigers were picked to finish eighth in the ACC this year. Fair? Not Fair?
STS: Very fair. As I've already mentioned, Clemson will have a 13 man roster consisting of 11 freshmen and sophomores. I think this team has the potential to finish a spot or two higher if they catch some breaks. But picking them 8th to start the season was exactly where I had them as well.
STL: Who does Virginia need to watch out for most this year?
STS: I'm expecting (hoping) for a breakout year from K.J. McDaniels. This guy is a top notch athlete and he flashed his explosiveness several times last year. When given the opportunity he was a major contributor. He only logged double digit minutes in 6 ACC games, but he scored in double digits in 4 of those contests. I was calling for his role to increase last year, to no avail, but expect that I'll get my wish this year. He had the third highest offensive efficiency (105.8) on the team last year behind only Andre Young and Tanner Smith. He's a human highlight reel. Think Adam Hall type athletic ability.
STL: Which of Virginia's players gives you the most concern?
STS: Joe Harris. I know that's the obvious answer, but with a clean bill of health this year I am expecting him to light it up. Clemson's guards last year did a poor job with their rotations and close outs, which allowed a lot of wide open looks from deep. The guy that concerns me the second most is Justin Anderson. If he learns just how dominant he can be with his frame and athleticism, there's nobody in the conference that'll be able to handle him at the SF position. Hopefully he doesn't realize that potential until after February 7th, when Clemson has departed from Charlottesville.