NORTHWESTERN COMMAND – Yes, Clemson fell below .500 in league play on Sunday in Raleigh.
Yes, despite playing a competitive game at No. 14 N.C. State, Clemson is still without a quality win.
Yes, Clemson’s resume is lacking and it appears to be a longshot to be relevant in March.
But you have to be encouraged by some silver linings in Clemson’s 66-62 loss at N.C. State.
STARTING FIVE THOUGHTS …
5. Let’s start with Devin Booker’s performance. In short, wow.
Booker’s development what falls under the category of Better Late Than Never. Booker has become a consistent force early in ACC play. He’s been a double-double machine in January, and had a career-high 27 points at N.C. State, the product of being a force around the basket like his strength and athletic ability has always portended. (Like what you’ve probably screamed at your television set for Booker to me, to do, for the last three seasons).
Booker made 13 field goals, the most by a Clemson player since K.C. Rivers made 13 in a win over Liberty in the 2008-09 season. It was the most points in a game by a Clemson player since Andre Young scored 29 last season.
Booker has become a low-post presence, a rarity in college basketball these days, and it’s a building block Clemson can apparently count on through the rest of ACC play. Brad Brownell has lamented not having a 15 point per game scorer, well, now he has one.
(Booker didn’t get a shot off in the final 6:44. Yes, N.C. State went to some zone but he’s gotta touch the ball more.)
4. I though the other promising development for Clemson was Rod Hall’s performance.
We wrote in today’s dead-tree edition about how Brownell has wanted Hall to become a more vocal leader, more of scorer at point guard, to combine those traits with his sound defensive ability to give Clemson a complete point guard (a two-way point guard is an incredibly valuable asset).
Well, Hall scored seven straight points in the second half Saturday and was much more aggressive off the dribble, more confident in his jumpshot, and much more willing to look for his own offense. As Brownell has said, Hall must make opponents guard him.
The assistant staff has completely rebuild Hall’s shooting mechanics, and we are already seeing positive results in less than a full year since the rebuild. A 16-point performance on the road by Hall is a very, very good showing. He’s not going to become Kyrie Irving. But he could become Clemson’s Eric Snow, which isn’t bad for a May signing.
Very good evaluation and development by Clemson.
3. Milton Jennings didn’t score in the first half but he did hit three 3s in the second half to help Clemson rally. He seems to be more comfortable at home, and I’d love to know his home/road career splits. Still, give Jennings credit for showing confidence in the second half to catch-and-shoot from 3 after a poor first half. That’s progress. That’s a silver lining.
2. Clemson committed just six turnovers in the game, its lowest figure since producing only five against Purdue on Nov. 28. The problem? Two of the miscues occurred in the final 10 seconds of the game.
1. (Non-basketball thought alert:) I recommend Silver Linings Playbook. Great, great film. It’s a been a very, very good two months for movie ticket purchases here at Northwestern Command: Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty and Silver Linings Playbook are all Best Picture worthy, imo. They’ve all been worthwhile investments.
Best film of the three: No. 1 Zero Dark, No. 2 Silver Linings
Best actor of the three: No. 1 DD in Lincoln, No. 2 Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings
Best screenplay: No. 1 Silver Linings, No. 2 Zero Dark