Head Coach: Brad Brownell
Location: Clemson, SC
Mascot: "The Tiger"
Last time out: Lost to Creighton
Typical Rotation Depth: 8-9
Line: Clemson by 3
Player to watch: Elijah Thomas
Nebraska was in the running to land Thomas when he transferred from Texas A&M. Big and skilled, the 245# Sr center will be the first test of how this team defends against and attacks a skilled traditional center. As long as we're making a living defending the 3 Thomas will score and the hope is that it won't be enough to make the difference. Can we exploit this on the other end? Don't we have the LINEUP OF DEATH™ out there?
KenPom Helps explain the Roster
- Reed is the leading scorer for Clemson and the Senior combo guard also leads the team in assists and is 2nd in rebounds. Not shooting from outside so well so keeping Reed out of the paint is the name of the game
- Mitchell is the other Senior guard for Clemson and in some regards is a brother from another mother.
- Simms is a D and 3 guy that will burn you if you leave him open and is a capable rim defender
- Skara is the 5th scoring option but is quite capable if given the opportunity. He's more of a take-it-t0-the-rim guy but has shot very consistently from outside this year.
- 6'10" Grad transfer Javan White is a traditional center that backs up Thomas. Not as skilled offensively but is also a rim defender.
- 6'8" freshman Hunter Tyson is a stretch 4 spot up shooter
- 6'4" soph Clyde Trapp is a combo guard who spells Reed/Mitchell or if Clemson needs more guard defense
- 6'6" freshman guard John Newman is highly regarded but hasn't been a big contributor thus far
The Skinny: You combine one loss with a couple of bad 3pt shooting display and all of the sudden everyone is pulling the stop cord on the 3pt train. When I see Miles talking about shot selection and not settling for an early 3pt attempt he's not mentioning James Palmer by name but that's basically who he's talking about. Right now there is nothing more that opposing defenses might want than to see Palmer roll around a pick with 22 seconds on the shot clock and huck up a 3. Miles on at least two occasions now has given Palmer an on the court ass chewing noteworthy enough for the local scribes to take notice. The real irony here is that this Clemson defense is so solid that transition 3s are a great way to attack so you hope the overall message to be mindful about shot selection won't backfire. On the break, fire away. Running offense? Make those guys work..that 3 with five seconds on the shot clock will be there all night.
Real quick lets look at some numbers that will sort of shows you the "let's shoot less 3s but also let's keep shooting 3s" paradox we have.
Here are 2017-18 KenPom numbers
The two things to look at are Palmer's shot% (% of the team's shots he took when on the court) and the ratio of his 2s to 3s
As you expect when he was on the court he took the highest % of shots of anyone on the team. About 37% of his shots were 3s and he got to the line a lot.
Let's look at 2018-19
Palmer's shot% goes up, Copeland's goes down a bit and everyone else remains the same.
Palmer's ratio of 3pta is nearly 50%. He's still getting to the line though. That tells me he really could cut down on those 3s and still be the same shot dominant force on this team he was last year. If you look at his eFG% vs his teammates, you'll notice almost everyone else more efficient. They can stand to take more and potentially more difficult shots. The offense should work much better if the team can probe for an open look and then give Palmer the ball if nothing is working.
The reason why it's so important to get a good shot off against Clemson is that they limit your second chances. They eat up defensive rebounds. They're aggressively jumping into passing lanes. They'll limit your trips to the line. Take those rhythm 3s boys. Let's move on.
Remember last year when Azubuike ate our lunch but we almost beat Kansas? That is a conscience decision on what you're going to take away from a team and I expect us to stick with the strategy though we'll throw out stuff like the 1-3-1. Elijah Thomas is talented but hopefully won't go off for 30. Can we defend-these-guys-outside-without-being-eaten-alive-inside is going to be a constant theme this year, especially against teams with high level offensive talent inside and us not wanting to foul out. You've been warned. Can and will we use this to our advantage offensively? Will the Lineup of Death™ have Thomas trying to cover Roby at the 3pt line or will we do dumb things like try to post up a guy who blocks shots in the paint for a living? We're about to find out.
Two years ago Nebraska went into Clemson with a lesser team and almost pulled off the upset as an 11 point underdog. To see them win wouldn't be a surprise nor really an upset. Will they do it this time?
Prediction: Clemson 68 - Nebraska 64