Thursday, 28 May 2009

Thoughts on the Clemson Regional

Of the big three sports, playoffs in baseball probably end up being the least accurate gauge of the truly best team. I think in football, and to a lesser extent basketball, even over the course of a single game you generally get a good idea of which is the better team. In baseball though, there's too much randomness contributing to a game winner that it can be difficult to determine the better team through a single or even a series of games. For example, in terms of skill level, Clemson should probably beat Tennessee Tech just about every time they play. But in baseball, a Tenn. Tech pitcher could sneak a hanging curve past Ben Paulsen while a perfectly placed slider that paints the outside corner at the knees from Trey Delk gets tagged for a triple down. String a couple of these kinds of hits together, and Clemson, or any team for that matter, is suddenly looking at tournament-torpedoing loss.

On paper, Clemson is the favorite, if not overwhelming favorite to take the regional. I think this is a pretty friendly draw for the Tigers--they have the clear edge in pitching and hitting over each team. Not to take away from an Alabama squad that's put together a fine year, but 3B Jake Smith, their second best hitter (and a pretty decent pitcher out of the 'pen), is out for the season with an ankle tear. Additionally, while Austin Hyatt has been a standout starting pitcher, throwing 100+ innings and racking up 86 K's against just 13 walks, the team just doesn't have much to turn to after him. If anything, I'm a little more scared of Oklahoma State, they have some live arms (Oliver and Blandford) capable of controlling a game, although they struggle with their control. They also have a solid bullpen capable of protecting slim leads and an offense that hits for a good average and some power if lacking some patience. I think this is the kind of team that profiles well against Clemson; taking away the stronger facet of our team and tries to put a few balls in play against a defense that's probably a shade below average.

In the end, though, the baseball playoffs consist of a sample size too small for even a heavy favorite to rest comfortably; in other words, gambling on baseball is a fool's game. The beautiful flip side to this, however, is that Clemson is good enough to ride a "hot" (or "lucky", if you prefer) streak to Omaha this year.


Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Is Oglesby Replaceable? Absolutely.

ESPN link, looks like its all but final.

I hate to toot my own horn here, but this is what I wrote after the NCAA loss:

None of this touches on Terrence Oglesby. All season I have tried to hold my peace on his extreme lack of poise. But after tonight, I have to wonder out loud if he will be back on the team next year. Purnell must be seething right now, not just about the intentional foul and ejection, but the overall sloppy play leading up to it. I think Oglesby is a valuable role player when used in the right way, and he even has some upside suggesting he could be something more, but last night makes you wonder if someone else can't do the same job without bringing the same baggage.

ClemBen touched on it below, there must to be some exchange between Purnell and Oglesby after the tournament that precipitated this. Parsing through Purnell's quotes, it almost seems that while he is surprised about Oglesby playing in Europe, he's maybe not so surprised he's playing elsewhere.

So the big question is: how does this affect next year's team? I've heard the word "game-changer" so much in the last 24 hours you'd think he single-handedly sparked every run the Tigers have had in the past two years. For the answer, look no further than and the listed individual offensive efficiencies on the Clemson page. Offensive efficiency (a stat pioneered by Dean Oliver) is essentially the number of points a player is expected to produce per 100 possessions. In 2007-2008, Oglesby put up a not-too-shabby 116.2. His 2008-2009 campaign was down a little bit at 110.9, good for fifth-best on the team. Who was fourth-best on the team? None other than his replacement-in-waiting, Andre Young (sporting a 112.4 mark). That's right, in albeit significantly less playing time (but still enough playing time to not consider it a fluke), Andre Young put up better numbers than Oglesby--and this only considers offense! The difference in defensive abilities alone might have warranted benching Oglesby next year in favor of Young, but he also managed to at least equal him on offense. All of the terrible turnovers, the ball-hogging madness, and crazy shots off out-of-control drives killed Oglesby's effectiveness, and made the less flashy but more solid play of Young the better all-around performance.

Its really not hard to believe--the Tigers are a better 2009-2010 team than they were 24 hours ago. Here's hoping Oglesby follows through and hires an agent.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Should I Stay or Should I TO??

So is reporting that Terrence Oglesby (aka the Great Norweigen Hype) has signed to an agent and is going to play ball overseas this next season. Well first I got to say thanks--thanks a lot for sticking with your team and not leaving them with a huge gaping hole at shooting guard next year. Thanks a lot for not wanting to learn to play better defense and play within a the flow of a system. Thanks for acknowledging that you have a lot to learn before you are anywhere close to a complete player.

I know a lot of people are going to wish him well and talk about all the happy times when he single-handedly brought us back to win games and that is all true but allow me to be the angry guy in the room who says--thanks a lot jerk...yeah its harsh but come on--way to leave your team. As a starting guard on a repeat NCAA team, TO was being counted on to provide some leadership--to mature and keep improving his game. So first the positives we will miss--TO is probably the purest shooter we have had at Clemson in at least ten years, he hits FT's, and he can unleash a barrage of 3 pointers at any time in a game. Thats about it I think.

Negatives?? Mediocre defender, very little mid range or to the basket game, sometimes had a bad attitude, took stupid shots whenever he wanted, took a lot of stupid shots, would go very cold, would try to dunk and make the team look stupid.

He was a good player--not great, who showed flashes and could have improved. Obviously he was going to play minutes but I have a feeling he is leaving bc he didnt want to deal with the competition coming in and the possibility of being competely benched didnt sit too well with his ego. I wonder what his relation is with Purnell, obviously not that great if he was so eager to jump ship--puts a lot of pressure on Donte Hill to perform and Milton Jennings to be a legit outside 3pt threat. This doesnt change the outlook for the season but we may not start as strong as we could have. As far as I am concerned the more often we get the ball to the Booker Brothers inside the better off we will be as a team. Bye TO, it was fun to yell at you through the screen...

Monday, 25 May 2009

Thoughts on the Baseball Tourneys

Quick thoughts after digesting the events of the weekend:

  • Lot of talk about a flop over in Durham this past weekend. Tough loss to Virginia, to be sure, but I'm not too concerned about a 1-run loss. Studies for games in the majors have shown teams tend to win 1-run games at the rate of their win percentage, but there's a lot of variation in the numbers. This leads to a kind of "luck" for in 1-run outcomes. I imagine these studies more or less hold true for top-shelf college competition (like the ACC variety) and by my count, Clemson is now 7-5 in 1-run games: more or less where we'd expect them to be and nothing to complain about, really.
  • The loss to Duke was another story. While Duke got into Dwyer and later McKinney, our balls in play weren't falling against Andrew Wolcott. That's the way Clemson is constructed this year, though. While the pitching staff is far from a bunch of slackers, the offense is the strongest unit--we're out there to put runs on the board, not necessarily prevent them from coming in.
  • A lot of people will say that's not a great recipe for post-season success, and the road to Omaha is paved in solid pitching performance. I buy that to an extent, but the good news is Clemson has done just as well, if not better, on weekend games against the best the opposition throws at us. We're not just punishing poor pitchers, but good pitchers as well.
  • Regionals should be up in a couple of hours. Here's to praying that Stephen Strasburg, his 103mph fastball, and San Diego State don't land in our regional, and pitying the host team that gets SDSU. They might as well not show up.

Update: haha Virginia!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Gamecrooks University

This is the sort of thing that makes me sick and makes South Carolina football look bad, really bad. Both of these kids are failing classes and so you give them a one game suspension? Ok, whatever but Ajiboye has a marijuana possession charge?? Spurrier just wants to win and knows he needs to win now...I really dont have much respect for the ol ball coach, his coaches leave him as soon as they can, his players are either chased off or transfer but he sticks with the ones that he knows he needs no matter what poor character they have. It kills me though that Gilmore and Holloman slipped through our fingers...

But I remember wondering why we encouraged a four star recruit named Ben Axon to go find another school after Bowden left. Just makes me feel that much better about the job our coaching staff does at Clemson in bringing in high quality kids. If Spurrier lets this kid on the team after being charged with possession and intent to sell?? Well then the University of South Carolina should ask him to resign his position as head coach to regain some semblance of dignity. This is the reason we think you are a joke USC--if you are a fan, demand that the right thing be done...

Monday, 11 May 2009

Why We Lose...

So I have been taking tests and in my spare time trying to avoid the studying I have been thinking about why Clemson couldnt get over the proverbial hump in the past three years. We have been one win and often one point away from being in the ACC Championship game but WHY??

If we can solve this question then Dabo can fix it and we can start winning right? Obviously that is stupidly optimistic but I want to try and figure it out nonetheless. So what are the normal surface level reasons for Clemson consistently coming up short? Probably the most widely used excuse is that we played soft, lacked talent at key areas--QB, O-Line, not an attitude of winning, didnt have the facilities to compete, no leadership on the team or with coach, Spence sucked, no killer instinct, Tommy just didnt have it in him. Seems like a good list--I'm probably missing a lot though...

The idea I had centers around the team philosophy. Where does that come from? Well I think it can come from a lot of different sources but for Clemson it came from the Off. Coordinator and Def. Coordinator. When Tommy hired Spence and Koenning he basically gave them free reign of their spheres and was pretty hands off in his approach. Sure he added some slogans--Finish the Job pt. 1, 2, and 3 but really didnt shape the teams philosophical approach to the game. I dont know if this is 100% true but I dont think the players on those teams were 'soft' players--rather the off and def strategies made them that way.

Clemson lost because they played not to lose on Offense and Defense. Thats it. Coach VK's defense plays 90% zone, had basically 5 db's and tried to prevent teams from scoring, bend dont break approach. We didnt blitz, didnt even get to the qb much, not looking to explicitly force turnovers but we gave you 3-4 yds a play and hoped to stop you on third down. Play the percentages and with your team speed on defense you let them score some but you keep them from bombing balls over your head or beating you by a large margin. For the most part the defense excelled and always put up good team stats yr in and yr out. However, this is a defense that is playing not to lose.

On offense Spence was trying to play a ball control style offense with zone blocking up front and a passing attack built around efficiency. You may not get a whole lot out of every throw but you complete all your passes, get good match-ups and gain 3-4 yds a possesion. This led to the infamous bubble screen and the james davis run into the backs of his o-lineman (I guess the field was supposed to be spread enough that the lineman could create the holes for rb's but never fully understood what the scheme was doing) Sound familiar? Although Spence's scheme was a disaster and would have accomplished even less without the all world talent of cj spiller(really how many points did the offense by itself generate minus cj?) Anyway, this offense was also playing not to lose--you methodically march down the field, and you score enough to win--you dont throw much downfield (although Harper and Procter didnt help the cause), you dont turn it over and you put enough points on the board not to lose.

I think the combination of these two philosophies made the team appear soft--we couldnt stop the run, we gave up yards, the O-line couldnt get down and dirty in a goal-line stance, we couldnt pound it in or get that first down. Maybe this wasnt the players and had more to do with the coaching styles. If you have 5 db's its hard to stop big rbs in the ACC--you miss tackles and without first round defensive line talent you dont get to the qb. Perhaps the two philosophies didnt mix well for one team and the shift Steele's slightly more agressive defense is what we need--more sacks, more pressure and more turnovers. Although we will have to live with getting burned every once in awhile--I like this better for the ACC which is more focused on the run than finesse passing attacks. This year the ACC has average QB talent and below average WR's, especially FSU so having a beefy LB corp will help this yr's defense. Its hard to say how the Off will turn out, but I wouldnt be opposed to more ball control and less gadget plays--relying on our playmakers talent is where I hope we are headed--some grind it out but also some finesse that takes adv of our skill level at certain positions.

Anyway, its just a theory but I think one main reason we lost was bc of coordinators didnt mix. Hopefully Dabo's slogan making dept can bringing the change we need.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

ACC Recruits Map

Just want to post this nifty little recruits map for 2010...would be a good idea to see where all of Clemson's recruits have come from in the past five years with their averaged star that to other ACC schools and SC. Good to see we are recruiting our homebase pretty well...I think the Hopkins commit, if we can keep it, is big for this class...
A blog about all Clemson Tiger University sports--football, basketball, baseball, along with the occasional South Carolina coot bashing.