UPDATED BELOW, Tigermax
After Duke everyone was going to meltdown but thats because lots of football fans dont understand how to be basketball fans necessarily. Basketball season isnt about your record so much as peaking at the right time. I mean sure you want to win the conference regular season champs and have a good seed in the tourney but its about getting your team playing at the optimum level late in the season. Its also very much about match-ups, with Duke last year we matched up well against their suspect guard play--this year we dont match up well at all. However, we do match up well against UNC and made them look silly committing around 26 turnovers. TBooker at the point of the press really helps put on the pressure. It also helps him get into his offensive mindset with a couple easy flushes that come from that position.
We looked a lot better in a lot of aspects of the game but I wanted to just highlight a couple right now. FT shooting!!! We were 18-20 from the line. Hallelujah! I'll take 90% from the line any night. Stitt scored 20 points on 8-14 attempts. We need him to play well and drive the offense. He is the only player on the team with a legit first step who can drive and if he can cut down on some of the turnovers then he will be exciting.
I dont like Potter much at all and his shot selection is mind-bottling but he had 5 steals. We need him to be a legit three point shooter. I liked Noel Johnson sticking those two threes early, really set the tone but we went cold thereafter. We missed 11 threes in the second half--dont think we made one. Smith missed some open looks but had a solid game otherwise. The three point shooting has to get better if we are going to challenge in the ACC. And I do mean challenge because Duke just got beat by a manic GTech team. We beat UNC and FSU is up and down as well. Anyone can win this, Duke should be favored but I think we can beat them at home with the Freshman not looking completely shell shocked.
This was a good learning game, wish we could still get the younglings more time in the games, but a victory to relish. Its been six years since we beat these Tar Heels and I think we could have broken the curse had we played in the Dean Dome. I am looking forward to the Duke rematch. Going away to NC State, playing a lot better than I expected, and the always dangerous GTech team are two tough challenges as well. The ACC will be a dog fight but since I hate that metaphor I'll leave you to discuss what that actually means...
Tigermax adds: Not quite as satisfying as the Duke thrashing last year, but pretty darn close. This was a case of a team with a glaring weakness (UNC's turnover problem) running smack into a team perfectly tailored to take advantage of that weakness (Clemson's pressure defense). As Clemben pointed out above, Duke really had the same problem coming into their game last year.
At the same time, I would caution against viewing this as some watershed moment for Clemson basketball. They played very well against a team they match up well against. Not to underplay the victory, it's good for all sorts of reasons (NCAA tournament resume, ACC standings, ACC tournament seeding, improved FT shooting, etc.) Also, if you put stock in this sort of thing, you can certainly argue that Clemson displayed intangibles last night that haven't been present recently. But it shouldn't really change your opinion about the basic skill level of the team. We still have fundamental flaws that can be exploited by the right team. I'll be withholding any revisions in overall team skill until we play the same way against a tall team that forces turnovers and plays outstanding defense; the general profile of teams that have given us fits in the last couple of years.