By William Qualkinbush
In 86 minutes of play this season, Rod Hall has one turnover. Most point guards in the country would kill for such a stat line.
But Hall was upset about the traveling call in the backcourt that derailed his perfect season.
“Man, that wasn’t even supposed to be a turnover,” he said with a grin. “I didn’t move my pivot foot.”
Being a perfectionist might be Hall’s biggest weakness after he showcased a versatile floor game in Clemson’s 71-57 home win over South Carolina. The junior scored 14 points on seven field goal attempts in an efficient performance that included a perfect eight-for-eight from the free throw line. He added four assists, three rebounds, and two steals as well.
Hall began the game in attack mode, driving the ball to the basket on each of Clemson’s first three possessions. He converted on his third chance, setting the tone for an aggressive first half in which the Tigers hit three-pointers early and got some shots around the rim late in the frame.
Hall got to the bucket on multiple occasions in traffic. When he did not convert the lay-ups, the Georgia native was still able to draw contact and get to the foul line, where he made all eight of his attempts in the game. Hall has now made all 14 of his free throw attempts three games into the season, which has made him a more confident slasher into the paint—even at 6’1”, 210 pounds.
“I think it shows his development and his ability to finish some of those plays,” Brownell said. “Those aren’t easy shots. People think those are lay-ups. Those aren’t lay-ups.”
Hall saved his best facilitating for a crucial stretch when Clemson seized control for the final time. After the Gamecocks trimmed the Tiger lead down to a point at 40-39 with 12:51 remaining, Hall began an assault on the basket.
The point guard threw an alley-oop to K.J. McDaniels out of a half-court set on Clemson’s next offensive possession. Then he penetrated and banked in a runner through contact, converting the free throw after a media timeout. On the Tigers’ next possession, Hall found McDaniels again for a lay-in.
Suddenly, the Tigers were ahead by seven points again, and they never looked back.
Hall continues to be a reliable option at point guard as his game expands. He has dished out 11 assists in three games—as opposed to the lone turnover—and is tied for the team lead in minutes played.
Even though he is not an in-state product, Hall seems to play with a certain edge against the Gamecocks. In three career matchups with South Carolina, he has averaged 11.7 points and 3.3 assists with only four total turnovers in 97 minutes.
“Coach drills it in our head that it’s our rivalry,” Hall said. “Our other sports haven’t been doing well against them at times, so I wanted to change that.”
Hall was almost perfect against the Gamecocks on Sunday. He might argue the “almost” out of that statement.
Based on the way he played, no one would blame him.