To preview tonight's critical ACC matchup between Boston College and Clemson, we welcome Brandon Rink of OrangeandWhite.com to the blog for Five Good Minutes. In exchange, we swapped scouting reports on the Eagles with Brandon.
BC Interruption: Much like Florida State, Clemson plays great defense and has just an average offense. What's been the key to the Tigers' success on defense? What do opponents have to do to have success against the Clemson D?
Orange And White: If it wasn't for whatever happened at Virginia, I'd think that was offensive to compare Clemson to FSU offensively, buuuut on the defense, basically, Brownell has taken the aggressive style Clemson had full-court with Purnell - and contained it to the half-court. The guards hound the ballhandlers and forwards Jerai Grant and Devin Booker get the blocks in the paint.
Georgia Tech displayed the way to attack Clemson early Saturday with strong screens that take advantage of the Tigers' aggressiveness, but eventually, they got careless and the Tigers rode a 22-0 run to the win in Atlanta. If BC can work to get guys open, and just make shots - they can run with Clemson.
BCI: Good news: Clemson is coming off a 65-56 win over Georgia Tech. Bad news: That game was preceded by a 49-47 loss to Virginia that likely had James Naismith rolling in his grave. What went right against the Jackets, and what went (terribly) wrong against the Cavaliers?
O&W: At Virginia, it was a slow start and poor shooting. One of the Tigers better shooters in Andre Young couldn't buy a 3-pointer and that just permeated throughout the team. The crazy thing was that somehow Virginia was there step-for-step...but Clemson wasn't going to exorcise their road demons until later in the week.
At Georgia Tech, a slow road start struck again, but like the home win with NC State earlier this season, they hung in and went on a tremendous 22-0 run to keep a good lead at the half and hold off the Jackets the rest of the game. Clemson had a good balance of outside to inside play with 20 points from forward Jerai Grant and 30 points between guards Demontez Stitt and Andre Young.
BCI: BC and Clemson have one shared opponent in non-conference play -- South Carolina. The Eagles crushed the Cocks 85-70 (in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the final score indicated) while the Tigers fell to South Carolina 64-60. Fair game to compare results against our one common non-conference opponent?
O&W: Probably not - Clemson was in the middle of a funk where they got down big early and lost at home to an average Michigan team in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge and the Gamecocks were on a bit of a roll. BC caught South Carolina coming off three poor performances against OSU, Furman and Jacksonville State. Regardless, BC's win at South Carolina was impressive.
BCI: Boston College and Clemson are two of three programs breaking in new head coaches this season. Who has been the best hire of the three to this point in the season? Which of the three coaches do you think will have the most success in the long term?
O&W: Honestly, you can flip a coin at this point between Donahue and Brownell - both have had a number of transfers and events surrounding the programs before and during the season...and both have weathered the storms to be in a good position with seven ACC games to go.
And my fence-riding answer carries on to question no. 2 where I think Donahue and Brownell both have bright futures ahead. It's all about getting the players though - they each have distinctive systems that will work, but it comes down to who can get the ballers to take that next step. (See how I've not even mentioned the Wake Forest coach? Yeah.)
BCI: What's your long-term outlook on Clemson basketball? Can the Tigers continue to compete against the upper echelon of the ACC? Or will we see a return to early 2000s Clemson basketball under Larry Shyatt and Oliver Purnell? Somewhere in between?
O&W: Brownell has a chance to take a step forward because of a more distinct offensive system that has taken average players in Purnell's system and made them scorers in his. The main example being one Jerai Grant - Purnell didn't know what to do with him and now Grant is scoring in double figure with regularity and owning the paint.
To Purnell's credit, he could recruit, unlike Shyatt, and Brownell is going to reap the benefits for the next couple years with those guys. Brownell hasn't had a full class yet, but did sign a 4-star forward this year - if he can get the players, I have little doubt he can win in the ACC.
BCI: Last one. Prediction time. Who ya got? What's the final score?
O&W: Clemson hasn't had a listless performance at home since the aforementioned Michigan loss - Tigers have averaged 72 points per game in ACC play at Littlejohn...BC has scored 67 points per ACC road game. Clemson makes BC work for shots and wears them down to a 74-65 win.