By Will Vandervort.
Clemson basketball coach Brad Brownell and his staff are trying to figure what they can do to help their basketball team start communicating better.
In Monday’s 69-64 loss to Rutgers, it was obvious a breakdown in communication was the biggest issue, especially on the defensive end of the court. The Scarlet Knights got way too many backdoor baskets while running their “Princeton” style offense, while a 14-2 run late in the game pushed them out in front for good.
“It’s a two possession game. The games we have lost are one and two possessions games so that is all it is,” said Brownell, whose Tigers will host Arkansas this Sunday at 5 p.m. on ESPNU. There are two or three possessions games and we have had like seven of them (this year) now.
“Those things are critical and we have not been able to fix those things yet.”
The problem is Brownell, at least early on, does not have that one guy in the locker room who demands the attention of the entire room. That guy last year was K.J. McDaniels, who is now becoming a star player in the NBA for the Philadelphia 76ers.
“I don’t want to talk about K.J. all year, but we can here early because we are trying to figure everything out. As coaches we are figuring out more and more what he meant to our team,” Brownell said. “His energy level and his outgoing personality are two things you probably don’t recognize as basketball things as much and just how they affect your team day-to-day.
“His leadership from that standpoint, that void has not been replaced. I think Jaron (Blossomgame) is trying. I think Landry (Nnoko) is trying a little bit. Those guys can get there, but they are not ready.”
Brownell was hoping senior guards Rod Hall and Demarcus Harrison might be able to take McDaniels’ place in the locker room, but that has not happened.
“Rod’s and Demarc’s personalities are not that way so we are trying to get them better at it but it is not natural. We are lacking a little bit in confidence, a little bit in energy, a little bit of swagger and a little bit of toughness,” Brownell said. “All the things that K.J. brought we don’t really have that and we are not going to get that from our freshman.”
That freshman is Donte Grantham, who had 10 points and four rebounds against Rutgers. The forward is off to a good start this season as he is averaging 11 points and four rebounds a game, but he is still a freshman and that showed up against Rutgers. After scoring eight points in the opening 20 minutes, he had just two points in the second half.
On the defensive end, he struggled to keep up as the Scarlet Knights attacked him.
“Donte is a good player. He had another solid game – 10 points and four rebounds, but he has soft players today. He got beat on some plays defensively. He looked like a freshman. That’s what you are talking about.”
And that’s what the Tigers have to get fixed.