NORTHWESTERN COMMAND – If you thought this season was difficult for Clemson basketball wait until next year.
Whatever you think of Devin Booker and Milton Jennings, the senior forward due accounted for much of Clemson’s scoring and rebounding this season. Not only are they out the door next year — replaced by question marks in Landry Nnoko, Josh Smith and Bernard Sullivan — but look who is entering the ACC: Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Syracuse. Basketball powers. In 2015, Louisville will also call the ACC home.
Brad Brownell’s job is not going to get any easier after this his first losing season in a 10-year head coaching career. The good news?
Brownell suggested he is open to anything to improve the program yesterday when previewing the ACC Tournament.
I have wondered if Clemson would be best served by increasing tempo. I’ve doubted Brownell would consider it, his history shows he prefers a slower pace. But he indicated everything is on the table.
“When you are not winning you are questioning everything you are doing. Are we practicing the right way?,” Brownell said. “Offensively, do we need to play faster? Do you we need to play slower? Do we need to run more sets? Or do we need to just let them go? You question (everything).
“Some coaches might just come up here (and say) ‘we’re doing it the way we do it and that’s the way we do it.’ That’s fine. I’ve never been at schools where we’ve had the best players. We are always trying to tinker and figure things out.”
As I wrote about last week, I think Clemson should play faster going forward, which should be aided by more experienced guards.
I also think Clemson is going to have to play smaller without Jennings and Booker, perhaps Blossomgame playing some power forward. And when you go small you also want to increase tempo. It’s going to be interesting to see how creative Brownell can be next year. I know this: it will be a challenge.
WHY WATKINS COULD PUT UP HISTORIC NUMBERS
Sammy Watkins sounds a lot this spring like DeAndre Hopkins did last spring. That’s a very good for Clemson fooball.
Hopkins gained 20 pounds of muscle last offseason en route to his breakout. Watkins has gained 10 pounds to date. He’s up to 208 pounds.
Hopkins focused on diet and training and Watkins has dedicated himself to making his body the best it can be.
Moreover, Watkins also learned while watching Hopkins last year how to become a better run route and vary speeds. It’s route running which is a focus of his this spring.
“That’s one thing (Hopkins) was good at. He changed his speed up,” Watkins said. “I’m so fast I always want to go fast. Some routes are not meant to go fast. I learned to change my speed up in different routes and how to run the routes.”
A stronger Sammy Watkins? A better route-running Watkins? A Watkins, like Hopkins, who is motivated knowing he is eligible for the NFL Draft next spring?
I see big things in 2013 for Watkins, provided he stays on the field.
I see him challenging all of Hopkins’ school records: 82 catches (I think he tops it), 1,405 yards (I think he’s close) and his 18 touchdowns (this might be tough).
Watkins said something else that leads me to believe he is in store for a monster campaign. He said in the bowl game the he was supposed to receive “16 or 17 touches” …he was supposed to be involved in “every two or three plays.”
We had the Randy Moss Ratio early last decade. Chad Morris wants the Sammy Watkins Ratio.
Morris wanted to game to revolve around Watkins in December. Last spring he visited Oklahoma State to better learn how to force-feed No. 1 receivers the ball. I expect more of the same this fall. I expect a Hopkins-like season from Watkins.
Only here’s the thing: Watkins is quicker and more explosive than Hopkins.
What does this mean? None of Hopkins’ records are safe.