CLEMSON - Forty-one hours, that’s all Clemson has to recover – and at the same time prepare – for the challenge in front of them.
Behind them is an ugly 56-41 loss to Florida State in Littlejohn Thursday night, and ahead is a 2 p.m. date in the same venue with the No. 16 Duke Blue Devils (12-3, 1-1 ACC).
Mike Krzyzewski’s Blue Devils opened ACC play on the road at Notre Dame last week, a 79-77 loss, but recovered for a 79-57 win at home versus Georgia Tech Tuesday.
Brownell got his first look at the Blue Devils watching tape until 2:30 a.m. Friday and his team went to work on the court for an hour the same day. Coming off the lackluster effort, the Tigers see the good and bad from the quick turnaround.
“I would say it’s a bad thing because we don’t have enough time to prepare for a real good team,” sophomore guard Rod Hall said, “that’s going to be one of the best teams we face this year. It’s a good thing because we get a chance to redeem ourselves and win and do a good thing for our crowd.
“It will be real good win for them and ourselves.”
As a product of the 18-game, yet unbalanced conference schedule for the 15-member league – Clemson (10-4, 1-1) plays a two-game in three-day stretch four times this season, while Duke has the misfortune twice.
“No, it’s not as good,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “We obviously would prefer to have as much practice time as they’re going to have. They’re practicing for us (Wednesday) and we’ve got another game. It’s a part of this schedule.
“It’s going to happen to everybody at certain points. They’re challenging and it probably puts the team with less time to prepare at a disadvantage, but that’s part of the deal.”
As if Clemson wasn’t already at a disadvantage in this one.
Duke leads the ACC in scoring (84.3 PPG) and field goal percentage offense (.494), posting 80 or more points in 10 of their 15 games.
The Blue Devils have had 20-point scorer in 14 of 15 games, led by freshman forward Jabari Parker’s 10. Parker (19.8 PPG) and Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood (18.5) have paced Duke’s scoring in the paint, while junior guard Quinn Cook is second in the ACC in assists (6.1) and free throw percentage (.870). Cook rounds out the group of three Blue Devils in top-16 in the conference in points per game (14).
One of nation’s top-rated incoming prospects, Parker presents matchup problems aplenty.
“He’s pretty doggone good,” Brownell said. “6-8 235, making threes, turnaround jumpers, isos – he’s a pro. He’s an unbelievably gifted guy who plays with confidence. I don’t know what we’re going to do.
“He’s bigger so it will probably be a bigger guy. The hard part is it’s not like they’re a one-man band. Rodney Hood is unbelievable. His shooting is tremendous. They just have a lot of guys that can make baskets.”
After an inconsistent start to ACC play, Clemson gets another chance to showcase their No. 1-ranked scoring defense (54.3), matching its No. 2 effective field goal defense (39.6) against Duke’s No. 5 attack (57.3).
The Tigers’ fourth-year coach says a fast start is the key to keep the crowd energized and get momentum rolling.
“I wish we had a little more time to prepare our defensive gameplan and you can’t make as many changes,” said Brownell. “In 36 hours, you have to go with what you’re doing, make one or two adjustments and go play.
“To start, I think our guys will have great energy and they’re talking about a sellout crowd an opportunity to play one of the premier schools and if we’re playing well we’ll maintain that through the course of the game and feed off our crowd.”