1. Which Clemson player should Wake fans being paying attention to on Saturday?
Jaron Blossomgame, now a redshirt sophomore, has emerged as our best player. Last year, he averaged just 4.9ppg and 5.0rpg. His rapid improvement has been maybe the biggest bright spot for us this year. We credited much of it to his great work ethic in our player exclusive with him last week.
That said, Jaron Blossomgame isn't the type of player you run the offense through. He tends to find many of points off offensive rebounds for example. What you have to watch for is Senior PG Rod Hall. He seldom comes out of the game and when he is aggressive, he can create his own offense by driving to the basket and using his strength to finish at the rim. He is even knocking down jump shots these days. Sometimes he can be passive, whether that be due to great defense or his own decision making, but when he's aggressive and attacking the basket with success, we look like the team the beat Arkansas.
2. How frustrating is it beating teams like LSU and Arkansas, yet losing to Winthrop and Gardner-Webb?
It is incredibly frustrating. Every time you start to think they've made some progress and you're emotionally invested and just maybe (hypothetically of course) you were dumb enough to buy ESPNU just to watch the FSU game, they lay an egg at home. One week after beating LSU, they lost to Rutgers. Two days after pummeling Syracuse they lost to Florida State. Clemson football hasn't lost to an unranked opponent since 2011 so I guess the basketball team had to pick up their slack.
3. Do you have any best guesses as to why the team is so inconsistent.
Without K.J. McDaniels, the Tigers lack a "go-to scorer." Often they look in the post to Landry Nnoko to play inside out and try to get some easy buckets, but he has regressed from his high level of play towards the end of last season and become foul and turnover prone. When Hall isn't having a big day attacking the basket and Nnoko is effectively absent, they will shoot a lot of jumpers. Unfortunately, they're not a good shooting team so sometimes they just don't fall and the offense stagnates.
4. What do Clemson fans think of Brad Brownell, and how much longer do you expect him to be the head coach?
Coach Brownell was not put in a good position due to some recruiting problems with Oliver Purnell's last class and his first class. That's probably given him a longer leash, but we're now in year six, and one NCAA appearance and one NIT appearance every six years isn't going to cut it.
He just received an extension with a generous $5 million buy-out for this season and the following so he isn't going anywhere soon. Next year Clemson will play their home games in the Bon Secour Wellness Arena in Greenville, SC while major renovations to Littlejohn Coliseum are underway. In 2017 they will return to their new arena with a veteran squad. At the conclusion of 2017 Brownell's buy-out drops to $3.5 million. At that point, the athletic department will have the information and resources to make the call on his future.
Patience is just now starting to grow thin, due to the team's regression from a year ago, but he'll get until 2017 and I am hopeful he can guide us to the tournament by then and we don't have to start over.
5. Prediction time.
Unfortunately, it's a guessing game with us. I would be no more surprised with a double-digit win as I would a double-digit loss. Since we're not coming off a big win and we're at home, I'll pick Clemson to pull out a competitive game in the 60s, but I wouldn't pick Clemson - at least at this juncture - to win in Winston-Salem.