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January 21, 2014

A Team Looking To Make A Statement

Filed under: Basketball — Chas @ 8:23 am

Before taking the cash grab that DePaul desperately tossed his way, Oliver Purnell could be considered nothing short of a turnaround wizard. He was the one that made Dayton something that mattered so that Brian Gregory could succeed there. He created success, excitement and even expectations at Clemson.

Clemson had to replace Purnell, and it sure looked at the time like they got a good one from the mid-majors ranks in Brad Brownell. Plucked from Wright State, Brownell made his name at UNC-Wilmington as an assistant and head coach there. He had turned down other jobs before taking Clemson. A guy familiar with recruiting in the Carolinas and in the ACC footprint. Considered a very good Xs-and-Os coach. Clemson looked like a program ready to build on its success.

But it hadn’t worked out that way in the first three years. Diminishing returns each year, and very low expectations this year — picked to finish 14th in the 15-team ACC.

A funny thing has happened. Clemson is a pretty good team this year.

Conference record: 4-1 in ACC, tied for second in the loss column – not bad after being picked to finish 14th out of 15 in the preseason. Best win: Beat Duke 72-59. After some tough sledding the past two seasons, Brad Brownell probably has the best team in his four-year tenure. The Tigers lead the nation in fewest points allowed and effective field-goal percentage defense, clamping down on perimeter shooters and relying on sophomore center Landry Nnoko to protect the rim. “Defensively,” said Pitt coach Jamie Dixon on Monday, “they’re as sound as they can be.” But now comes the hard part: five road games in the next six, with trips to Pitt, North Carolina, Florida State, Syracuse and Notre Dame. If Clemson is still a contender after that, give Brownell ACC Coach of the Year on the spot.

The Tigers are led by K.J. McDaniels.

It took only minutes to notice the athleticism of McDaniels, a 6-foot-6 junior swingman who has made four appearances on ESPN’s Top Plays with highlight-reel dunks and blocked shots.

That’s nothing new for opposing coaches, even though McDaniels leads the Tigers in scoring (16.7), rebounding (7.2) and ranks first in the ACC with 48 blocked shots, an average of 2.8 per game.

McDaniels has been a pivotal player for Clemson (13-4, 4-1 ACC), which plays No. 20 Pitt (16-2, 4-1) at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Petersen Events Center.

“He’s a special player,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said. “He’s one of the better players in the country most people don’t know a lot about because he’s really kind of come into his own this year.”

After averaging 10.9 points and five rebounds last season, McDaniels is coming off his fourth double-double of the season: a 15-point, 12-rebound, four-block effort against Wake Forest. McDaniels has three 20-point, 10-rebound games this season, but his defense sets him apart: He has blocked at least one shot in nine consecutive games.

“He’s going after ’em,” Dixon said. “It does speak to his aggressiveness, as well as his athleticism. He’s doing a lot of good things and is a really good player who’s getting better over his career.”

Maybe not with the blocked shots, but McDaniels is exactly the type of player I would love to see Durand Johnson or even Jamel Artis become (and had hoped J.J. Moore would be). Tremendous athlete. Uses the 3-point shot, but does a lot more attacking the basket and getting after it on defense.

You start to look at this team, and there seem to be a lot of similarities between Pitt and Clemson. Especially in style.

Clemson, like Pitt, values getting stops and rebounding, and the Tigers are among the leaders in the ACC in several defensive categories.

They also have some younger players who are developing offensively.

He also said stopping the Panthers is going to be a challenge for his team because they do such a great job of passing the ball, finding an open man and getting good shots.

“I have a lot of respect for Jamie [Dixon],” Brownell said. “Their style of play is similar to ours. We both try to defend. Their rebounding is very good, their passing is just unbelievable when you start looking at their stats and their assists-to-turnovers ratio, it is special.

“They are one of the elite passing teams in the country, they are unselfish but somehow, some way you have to eliminate some of those easy baskets. That is difficult to do because they don’t turn the ball over much, they run good stuff and run their offense.”

That is one of the few differences. They don’t pass and share the ball the same way Pitt does. Their turnovers are a shade higher per/game, but they don’t come close on assists. They are just below 1:1 on A/TO. They are a team with a slower tempo than Pitt. Their defense may be as good as Pitt’s, but they don’t quite have the offensive efficiency.

This is looking to be a tougher game than thought at the beginning of the season. Heck, it seems like a tougher game than I thought it would be last week.

Game #2 of a tough and important 5-game stretch. I expect a close one tonight. Hope the Tigers don’t “Cincy” us into a grind out slog fest.

Comment by Iron Duke 01.21.14 @ 9:35 am

ID, I was thinking the same thing. Pitt fans are paranoid … a learned trait.

Comment by wbb 01.21.14 @ 10:10 am

Tempo will be key. Pitt needs to take advantage of fast break chances and not allow a half court grinder.

Comment by John 01.21.14 @ 10:29 am

Syracuse you figured a close game we would probably lose… and that is what happened and that was OK.

Tonight Pitt has to win… they should win. We have a good team, playing at home. Big game.

Tonight we get the big win and solidify ourselves as Top 2 in ACC and Top 20 in the country.

Comment by Pittscript 01.21.14 @ 10:34 am

Can’t wait, another frigid evening on Cardiac Hill.

Maybe we could turn off the heat in their locker room

8:00 start, no excuse for being late.

Freshmen should be more relaxed at home, look for Young, Newkirk and Artis to contribute more.

Comment by gc 01.21.14 @ 10:35 am

With Durand out, it’s especially important that some of the freshmen continue to grow. Would like to see Young and Artis given encouragement to make a few more plays offensively. Same goes to Jones. Question though: Given that Jones’ THUMB is obviously taped, we know something is not 100%, but does anybody know the extent of his issue?

Comment by 1618mt 01.21.14 @ 10:41 am

Was surprised to hear Chris Jones, before the Syracuse game say, that he has to take care of the rebounding, boxing out, staying with his man, reading the screens, and said he wasn’t worried about any 3 point shots.

Have heard on here, that he is a good 3 point shooter by many.

Does he have a green light to shoot, if he’s wide open??

You would think Jamie would want someone to develop as another 3 ball option beside Lamar, if they are open for that shot.

Sounded to me like that wasn’t even on his mind.

I’m not calling for 20 3’s by someone, but, who beside Lamar, do we have, that can make a 3, if they are wide open for it???

Comment by Dan 01.21.14 @ 11:09 am


Looks like a highly competitive game tonight

Let’s go Pitt!

Comment by JR 01.21.14 @ 11:14 am

Not on tv in Central PA, Blue Ridge cable, pisses me off.

Comment by Justin 01.21.14 @ 12:09 pm


Drive on down I-81 (except maybe not because of the snow) and you can watch it on the Roanoke station.

H2P on the ACC Network

Comment by pmdH2P 01.21.14 @ 12:12 pm

I leave in Central PA (Comcast – Lancaster) and it IS on an ACC network channel (#19 for us).

Comment by 1618mt 01.21.14 @ 12:24 pm

Clemson can make their statement some other night against some other team! H2P!

Comment by longsufferingpittfan 01.21.14 @ 12:34 pm

Did we play against Brownwell at Wright St?

Comment by alcofan 01.21.14 @ 12:54 pm

Is there a ACC channel that is carrying the game in Metro NYC area? I have both Direct TV and Fios can’t find a channel other than ESPN3 which is not HD.

In Metro NYC not getting as many games as we used to get, or so it appears, in the Big East.

#19 & #20 rankings really pretty good at this point.

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 01.21.14 @ 1:35 pm

OPG, run out (be careful in the snow) and get yourself a ROKU which will stream the game on HD to your TV.

Comment by steve1 01.21.14 @ 2:03 pm

for the 2nd game in a row, the local ACC channel in Cleveland is carrying ND instead of us; just one more reason ….

Comment by wbb 01.21.14 @ 2:30 pm

Looks like the game is on local here at WTAE

link to

Comment by Jackagain 01.21.14 @ 2:37 pm

My ESPN3 here in NYC has been great this year. Run it through xbox360 with TWC.

Comment by SilverPanther in NYC 01.21.14 @ 2:40 pm

Remember when a lot of people were hoping Torian Graham would sign with Pitt a year or two ago?? He was one of the guys with the FSU recruit that was arrested for eating marijuana to conceal it from the police. Good miss on that one.

Comment by JJ 01.21.14 @ 3:02 pm

I believe Brownwell was the coach at Wright St. the year we played them in the NCAA tourney.

Comment by NickW 01.21.14 @ 3:15 pm

It would be great if the ACC had it’s own network like the B1G. They are always running their “Greatest Games” and they can run Olympic sports, and other things of interest.

I’m sure it is good for recruiting. I guess it makes them money as well. Even though I could care less it is part of may FIOS package, as well as a lot of other garbage I could do without.

Comment by gc 01.21.14 @ 3:17 pm

steve1, thanks for the response. I’ve got Roku XD! Don’t know how to stream HD from ESPN3, just standard def which is not good on flat screen.

SilverPanther in NYC, don’t have Xbox. What is TWC?

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 01.21.14 @ 3:26 pm

Simple, OPG if of course you get ESPN3 on cable.

Go to ROKU homepage on TV and select WATCHESPN.

Come 8 PM select the Pitt game and voila, HD!

Comment by steve1 01.21.14 @ 3:36 pm

steve1, I have roku home page set up to select espn including espn3, but don’t see any option for HD reception. So far all the Pitt games, I watched through Roku (ESPN3) have been standard def, not good reception on flat screen TV.

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 01.21.14 @ 4:08 pm

No option exists for HD reception. It just happens…at least on Optimum cable.

Try selecting WatchESPN. Maybe that’s the trick.

Comment by steve1 01.21.14 @ 4:17 pm

OPG – if you want to spend $17 you can buy it as PPV on FIOS – channel 1010.

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.21.14 @ 4:30 pm

For true HD you have to go to the game… 😉

Comment by Jackagain 01.21.14 @ 4:40 pm

I may go out and buy a Roku box. Any suggestion which one to buy? Do I need to connect it directly to the TV?

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.21.14 @ 5:11 pm

Newer versions of ROKU offer WATCH ESPN. I’ve got the cheapest one, ROKU LT, which delivers video at 720p. This works fine for me with my alta caca vision.

link to

Comment by steve1 01.21.14 @ 5:30 pm

@steve1 – thanks – I’m an AC too but my TV is HD. Trying to decide if it’s worth braving the storm to go to Radio Shack. Best Buy is too far to get there given the way the roads are.

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.21.14 @ 5:32 pm

How long will it take to set up?

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.21.14 @ 5:37 pm

Pitt Dad, my tv is 1080i. I frankly can’t tell the difference between 720 and 1080.

The techies say that with my size hdtv – 32″ – 720 and 1080 are virtually indistinguishable.

Comment by steve1 01.21.14 @ 5:40 pm

about 15 minutes. You have wireless, yes?

Comment by steve1 01.21.14 @ 5:41 pm

The box will walk you through installation.

Comment by steve1 01.21.14 @ 5:42 pm

By the way, you’ll need an HDMI cable to connect the ROKU to the TV.

Comment by steve1 01.21.14 @ 5:45 pm

Great! Thanks Steve!

Comment by Pitt Dad 01.21.14 @ 5:51 pm

You’re welcome!

Comment by steve1 01.21.14 @ 6:00 pm

One more thing, Pitt Dad: I spent way too long with ROKU service people on picture quality. It turns out that it takes a minute or two for the ROKU LT to rev up to 720p. Be patient and…


Comment by steve1 01.21.14 @ 6:05 pm

Steve – Radio Shack is closed so I will have to watch on my computer. Oh well.



Comment by Pitt Dad 01.21.14 @ 6:13 pm

Does ANYONE remember how to drive in the snow, anymore?

Yep, me = CAS ’93..

Just a tad b4 this whole “Global Warming,” phenom…. And that was when we had snow and expertly drove front-wheel drive tin-cans @tier III DUI levels in ice-sleet-snow 8-12″


Vrs Clemson (really?). Just Natan B. Forest ’em.. “Hit ’em on ‘de ends” & flank this southern hoopla.

Comment by Neil 01.21.14 @ 6:21 pm

Steve1 and Pitt Dad, Roku claims via ESPN this game will be in HD. Didn’t remember seeing that before. I watched two bad (poor video wise) games prior to now. Let’s see. Older tube tv’s don’t show that much quality difference. However flat HD LCD’S show less than good quality unless receiving 720 and above. ESPN3 ?

Yes, we had better TV coverage with the Big East.

Comment by Old Pitt Grad 01.21.14 @ 7:05 pm

Is there an internet feed?

Comment by TVax 01.21.14 @ 8:00 pm

Old Pitt Grad, I’ve never been disappointed with the ESPN3 feed via ROKU to HDTV.

Maybe it’s a cable issue.

Comment by steve1 01.22.14 @ 6:33 pm

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