Oh, Clemson. You hold a special place in our hearts.
You're (sort of) orange, have enjoyed a Grant (or two), and your fan base tends to keep things...interesting. What's in store for us when we see you during this season of basketball? Let's find out!
2013-2014 Record: 23-13 (10-8)
Conference Ranking: 6th
Last Time We Saw Them: The Tigers came on up to Syracuse, where the Orange came away with the 57-44 victory. You may remember this game as the one where Jerami Grant made a circus-stunt trick shot early on in the first half. It was lovely.
Season Summary: Clemson had a nice year, I suppose. Of the teams they met twice, they were swept by Pittsburgh, beat Georgia Tech both times, and split games with Florida State. Then, there was that impressive game against Duke where they won convincingly, 72-59. The Blue Devils got their revenge in the second round of the ACC Tournament, though, winning by a single point. In the end, the Tigers were invited to the NIT and made it to the semifinals where they fell to SMU.
Rod Hall (9.7 PPG/4.0 APG) This senior point guard sets the tone on the court. He really stepped up last year, resulting in significant improvements. Expect him to continue leading the Tigers and continue to develop as a player.
Landry Nnoko (6.5 PPG/6.2 RPG/2.0 BLK) Clemson's 6-11 big man made big strides last season. Though a little prone to getting into foul trouble, he's a force to be reckoned with under the basket.
Patrick Rooks. He was sidelined all of last season with a leg injury, but he's been touted as a solid shooter. Clemson will need this 6-3 guard to come through in that regard now that K.J. McDaniels' 17 points per game are no longer available.
Personnel Changes: After leading the Tigers in numbers and spirit, K.J. McDaniels (17.0 PPG/7.0 RPG) entered the NBA draft a year early. Also gone are guard Adonis Filer (3.9 PPG/1.3 RPG) and center/forward Ibrahim Djambo (1.9 PPG/1.4 RPG), who transferred to FAU and Hofstra, respectively.
Incoming players are Donte Grantham (6-7, forward) and Gabe DeVoe (6-3, guard). Clemson also added San Francisco transfer Avry Holmes (6-2, guard), although he'll have to sit out this season per transfer rules.
2014-2015 Potential: The Tigers were a bit of a surprise last season. It appears having a losing season the year before lit a fire under them. While Clemson won't benefit from the skills of McDaniels, they actually played their best when there was more of a team effort instead of relying on his one-man show. Expect Hall to keep improving and helping the players come together as a team, but it probably won't be enough to lift Clemson above 6th place in the conference.
Orange Match-Up: The Orange will visit Clemson this season. Both teams are known for playing solid defense, so be prepared for another relatively low scoring game.
The losses of Filer and Djambo haven't really shaken the southland to the core, or anything (see what I did there?), but I don't get the sense that the incoming recruits have, either. On the other hand, that means the guys will have to develop chemistry and be more of a team than Clemson was last year. The Orange will have to make sure the Tigers don't get in a rhythm at Littlejohn Coliseum, especially if Syracuse is in the middle of one of its frustratingly inefficient shooting performances.
In last year's game, Syracuse had 10 assists to Clemson's seven, and turned the Tigers over 13 times, whereas 'Cuse only had five. Syracuse's assist numbers might not be as stellar with the loss of Tyler Ennis, and we may see more turnovers with the relatively youthful roster; however, there's a lot of shooting prowess predicted out of this year's squad, so I'd expect the correct color orange to come away victorious in this one.