Does Brownell’s open-mindedness offer solutions? … and why the Sammy ratio will lead to a record year

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.


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 think Sammy Watkins will save his best for last, thanks to improved focus this spring

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.

3 thoughts on “Does Brownell’s open-mindedness offer solutions? … and why the Sammy ratio will lead to a record year

  1. TS, how short do you think the leash might be on Brownell? With the football program set for several years, basketball seems to be the next in line for Radakovich to leave his mark on. With the premature talks and ideas thrown around about a new basketball venue, it makes me wonder if Brownell’s days might start to be numbered. If this year was a losing campaign with Booker & Jennings, it seems like the odds are in favor of a losing one for 2013-14 without them. Even if a renovation is only in store, a team with a losing record isn’t going to fill Littlejohn or a new, smaller arena. How patient will Radakovich be if he starts pouring money into the basketball program?

    • Matt,

      I think a regime change would be a mistake at this point — but I’m not sure what Radakovich is thinking.

      If you change coaches now you’re going to have roster turnover which will deepen the rebuilding process. Moreover, who could you hire? With Pitt, Cuse and ND entering the league next year, and Booker and Jennings, I’m not sure how attractive the job would be.

      Moreover, Brownell proved in 2010-11 that he is a really good tactical coach and player developer when he has some decent groceries to work with. He’s had nine winning seasons in his head coaching career and one losing one (this season). #samplesize

      I think Brownell at least deserves a couple more years. But if Radakovich is really itching to put his mark on personnel somewhere I suppose he could turn to basketball. And since he did not hire Brownell you could suspect he’s not as invested in being tied to him.

      But right now, DRad’s focus is on facilities, I think.

      • I agree it would be a poor move. I wasn’t suggesting that Brownell be shown the door. Just merely curious how eager Radokovich might be to get “his guy” into one of the big three sports.

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