Brad Brownell believes his Tigers are a better shooting team than they showed Tuesday night against top-ranked Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
But poor shooting is just part of the 'three steps forward, two steps back' dance that is adding up to trouble for the youngest team in Clemson history.
Duke took advantage of Clemson's 10-point first half to build a comfortable 15-point lead, and then held the Tigers at bay before pulling away to a 68-40 victory. The 40-point total was Clemson's lowest since 2005-06, while the 28-point margin was the Tigers' largest of the season.
"I'm proud of the way our guys competed," said Brownell. "The first half was ugly - we couldn't score and missed a bunch of shots. To hold them to 25 in the first half, I thought our guys really competed.
"We got off to a good start defensively, but we've just got to find more ways to score."
Brownell said that with the Tigers struggling to execute his motion offense, there are few in-game adjustments that can be made.
"We've struggled from game to game with the some of the motion stuff I've run in the past a lot more," he said. "We're just not very good at it. And we weren't very good at sets tonight, but some of that's Duke. They're hard to play against. We got some balls to the basket, but they've got big bodies in there and it's hard to finish. We just need to be better."
Brownell said that Duke's defense had something to do with Clemson's shooting woes - 12 percent in the first half, and 28 percent for the game.
"I think we're a better shooting team than we're shooting right now," Brownell said. "Some of it was Duke's defense. They don't give you a lot of rhythm and open threes. They make it hard on you. But we're better than we were tonight. We don't have a great shooter, but we do have guys who can make shots.
"It's hard for us when we get off to a struggle and our guys start pressing a little bit. That's happened to us a few times."
As the Tigers work their way through their 18-game ACC schedule, Brownell said one problem is that there isn't enough time to work on everything.
"It can be challenging," he said. "We have guys who need a little better skill development - their skills aren't ready when they play against elite level players. They get exposed. And part of it is basketball IQ and understanding.
"We have so many things to work on with such a young team, and we can make very few adjustments. You feel like you get good at one or two things and then try to move on to the next two. Last week were terrible on defense against the break against Florida State, which was something we'd been good at all year. But we just made some bonehead plays. So you take two or three steps forward and one or two back if you don't work on everything. It's really hard."