By Will Vandervort
There is nothing flashy about his numbers. He isn’t going to wow anyone with the way he plays and he isn’t about himself.
No, Clemson’s Rod Hall isn’t any of those things. Instead the junior works hard, plays even harder, competes his tail off and is tough. Also, he consistently makes good decisions with the basketball. He is just one reason why the Tigers are off to a 7-1 start to the 2013-’14 basketball season. But, he is a big reason.
“That’s why he plays so much,” Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said. “Nine points, four assists and no turnovers doesn’t sound like a great night, but it is pretty solid, though. Nine or ten points, four assists and no turnovers are pretty solid. He plays pretty good defense, handles the ball against the press, deals with everything and gets the offense flowing.
“Even when he doesn’t make the assist, he is usually the guy that throws it to the guy that throws it to the guy. He does the little things that just make your team play better.”
Clemson is playing a lot better because of Hall’s performance. Just look at his numbers from Tuesday night’s 65-49 win over S.C. State. In 37 minutes, he quietly scored nine points and dished out four assists, while making all three of his free throw attempts. Even better, he had no turnovers, grabbed two rebounds and had one blocked shot, while committing no fouls.
“As a coach that’s what you are looking for. Guys that you know are going to do what you coach them to do,” Brownell said. “He does that more often than not.”
Hall will not back down from a tough challenge in a game, either. Against a physical South Carolina team, he drove the lane, consistently attacking the basket, while drawing several fouls against the Gamecocks. He took advantage of that by connecting on 8 of 9 free throw attempts and scored 14 points. Hall also had four assists and only one turnover in the victory.
The Augusta, Ga., native also did the same thing in a win against Temple, scoring 13 points and dishing out five assists to one turnover, while making 5 of 6 free throws. Even in the loss to UMass Hall he did everything he could to prevent it, scoring 16 points with four assists, one turnover, one blocked shot and two steals.
“He does a good job of rising to the occasion of the moment,” Brownell said. “He tries to make big plays or rallies the troops a little bit. You know, he doesn’t allow a lot of the atmosphere to affect his play. When things all around you are going crazy, you still have to have some piece and calm, especially if you are a point guard. He does that pretty well and it settles other guys down and lets them be successful.”
Heading into Saturday’s showdown at Arkansas (5-2), Hall ranks second on the team in scoring at 10.6 points per game, while leading the team in assists (32) and free throwing shooting. He has connected on 26 of 29 foul shots or 89.7 percent.
He is also second on the team in steals with seven and has committed only seven turnovers all season. His 32 assists to 7 steals is one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“Rod is our best guy at finding guys off screens so it helps a guy like (Jordan) Roper or (Devin) Coleman. He is the guy that finds those guys for shots,” Brownell said. “Their numbers look gaudy because he is the guy delivering the ball to them and getting us into things that are making them better players.”