Tigers struggling to execute offense, leaving Brownell few adjustment options

'We're just not very good at it...Some of it was Duke's defense. They don't give you a lot of rhythm and open 3's. They make it hard'

Duke's Quinn Cook, left, drives to the basket as Clemson's Adonis Filer (3) defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Duke won 68-40. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Duke's Quinn Cook, left, drives to the basket as Clemson's Adonis Filer (3) defends during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Durham, N.C., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Duke won 68-40. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

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."

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Comments » 5

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

Being young is an excuse, nothing more. They may be young but there's a lack of talent. That's why they can't put the ball in the basket against a good defensive team. This game was decided at the beginning of the season when the rosters were set. Brownell can't recruit ACC-caliber talent and he can't coach what talent he has. Oliver Purnell left this program much better than he found it. And Brad Brownell is taking it down the tubes. Even if you fire Brownell there's no Booker or Jennings next year which means there's no real talent on the roster to help attract a new coach. Brownell took over an NCAA tournament level program. The next coach is inheriting a dumpster fire. Stop the bleeding. The league is getting tougher with Louisville, Pitt, Syracuse, and ND coming to town. Fire Brownell, open your wallet, and hire a head coach. Either that or give up completely on basketball.

HoopsMan writes:

I agree. Young players do pose a small setback but if you are a coach worth your salt you use a style of play to become effective and make up for the lack of talent. Thats what OP did when he was here. Obviously we will never get Duke or UNC caliber players but with what skill we can get we partner that with a fast pace game and use that to disrupt the other teams style. Brownell made a comment when he first came here about how he wanted "a controlled flow of game". He said that the team he inheireted was "undisciplined and untaught". I disagree with him saying that considering how Purnell built this team for 7 years prior to Brownell taking over. Now it appears that it is mostly "uncoached".

BigBud52 writes:

Brownell appears to be the Ken Hatfield of Basketball. I don't care if he resigns, quits, walks away or gets fired but this guy has got to go.

columbiabill writes:

I think the jury's still out on coach Brownell. He didn't come from a big time program where he had recruits lined up so he lost out on his first year recruiting and even the second year was nothing to brag about. It takes time to build the contacts when recruiting at the ACC level. A t the same time, many recruits are not enthusiastic about playing his style of ball. It takes a special one to buy into it. Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. Next year will be the pivotal one to know where he is headed with the program. I do agree the "being young" excuse is used too often.

pmelvin writes:

Man, you guys are tough. No way we were going to compete with Duke this year...we all knew that. Brownell wants to play good defensive ball and run motion offense. That's what Rick Barnes did and he got the most out of the talent we had. Under Barnes, we made some decent runs in the ACC tournament and NCAA. OP's style exhausted the players and it showed badly when tournament time came. Also, Jennings as McD All-American has been a complete bust and a distraction to a team that needed leadership from senior players. OP's success was also largely when the ACC was down. Last I checked, his record at DePaul was 29-48, so he's no miracle worker. ACC is now coming back strong especially considering Big East teams coming so it's gonna be harder. Brownell needs at least 2 more years to see if he can lead the program. In his style, defensive lapses and pressing in the offense is a sign of youth, not an excuse.

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