I cover both Purdue and Clemson basketball. I provided the Purdue preview for the Clemson SB Nation site and thought it only fair that I provide y’all with a Clemson preview.
When: Thursday, November 26th, 8:30 PM EST
Where: Space Coast Challenge, Melbourne, Florida
What Channel: CBS Sports Network
Clemson Starting Lineup
PG: #2 - Al-Amir Dawes - So - 6’2, 180
SG: #0 - Clyde Trapp - Sr - 6’4, 205
SF: #3 - Chase Hunter - So - 6’3, 205
PF: #5 - Hunter Tyson - Jr - 6’8, 215
C: #25 - Aamir Simms - Sr - 6’8, 245
PF/C: #24 - P.J. Hall - 6’10, 235
SG: #12 - Alex Hemenway - 6’3, 185
PG: #4 - Nick Honor - 5’10, 205
PF/C: #1 - Jonathan Baehre - 6’10, 214
SG/SF: #15 - John Newman III - 6’5, 207
C: #22 - Lynn Kidd - 6’10, 235
Clemson on Offense
Put on your hard hats, because the Tigers want to drag you into a rock fight. They want to slow the game down, get the ball into Aamir Simms hands late, and let him operate.
Ostensibly, Clemson runs a classic motion offense. The problem is putting enough skill and shooting on the floor to make it work. They can create open shots, but hitting them is another matter. When Clemson hits outside shots, they are a problem, and can beat any team on a given day. Last season they knocked off Louisville, Florida State, Duke and North Carolina and lost to Miami, Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Yale. Thus is the duality of Clemson basketball.
When things are working well, things run through Aamir Simms. He’s a 6’8, 245 forward that spends most of his time at center for the Tigers. He was named preseason first team All-ACC because of his devastating all around game. Last season he led Clemson in points, assists and rebounds. He shot 40% from deep and 50% from 2 last season. If Clemson gets their pick and roll game going, Simms is a problem. He sets robust screens, and can roll and finish at the rim or pop and bury 3’s. He’ll also see plenty of iso where Clemson empties out a side and lets him try and beat the opposing center off the dribble.
Outside of Simms, Clemson has interesting pieces that, in theory, could pose a few problems for Purdue.
Al-Amir Dawes is the type of penetrating, score first, point guard that Purdue struggles to contain off the dribble. Dawes doesn’t lack confidence and will go at his man all game long. He might be a bit of a headache for Thompson. He’s still young, and has a penchant for dribbling himself into trouble and turning the ball over. Purdue should go under screens and try to keep him out of the paint until he proves he can hit the open outside shot.
Clyde Trapp is a former point guard that has transitioned to the wing. He’s best when attacking the basket, and using his strength and athleticism to bully other guards. At the same time, he hasn’t met a 3 point shot he won’t attempt, and hasn’t found one he can regularly hit. Purdue should invite him to shoot until he proves he can knock down open jumpers.
Chase Hunter is a swiss army knife guard with solid athleticism. He’s best slashing to the rim and attacking in transition. He’s another guy that Purdue needs to play off of and invite to shoot from the outside.
Hunter Tyson is a true stretch 4 with range. He’s an active player that knocks down 3’s and cleans up trash around the basket. On occasion the spirit hits him and he’ll try and drive the baseline and dunk on someone, with mixed results. Purdue needs to close out hard on Tyson and make him put the ball on the floor and make decisions. If you let him spot up in the corner, he can beat you from deep.
P.J. Hall started on the bench for the Tigers in their opening game, but the 4*, top 100 big man is destined for the starting lineup. In an ugly game against Mississippi State that set the game of basketball back at least a decade, Hall was the one player that looked like he understood the game of basketball. He was an efficient 5-6 from the field, mixing in a solid face up, mid range game with aggressive post moves. If you’re looking for a Purdue comparison. He’s a Caleb Furst clone.
Alex Hemenway may be the best shooter on either team, and the Evansville native (Castle High School) has something to prove against the home state Boilermakers that didn’t give him a sniff in recruiting. When he comes off the bench, he’s looking to pull the trigger from deep early and often and Clemson likes run plays to get him open when he’s on the court. If he’s hot, he can knock down multiple 3’s in a short time period. Purdue has to close out on him because he’s not a threat to drive.
Nick Honor is a transfer from Fordham seeing his first action for the Tigers after sitting out last season. He was the freshman scoring leader in the A-10 as a freshman and hit the floor gunning against Mississippi State. He hoisted up 9 shots (8 3’s) in 16 minutes, and contributed 8 points. He’s built like a bulldog, and will try to overpower smaller guards. I’ll be interested to see what he looks like tonight after getting the first game jitters out of the way. I think he’ll end up being one of Clemson’s best 5 players by the end of the season.
John Newman III reminds me of a poor man’s Rapheal Davis. He’s a strong, athletic guy that can score, but doesn’t look to score. He can lock down his man on defense and when the mood strikes him, he’ll put a defender on a poster at the rim. At the same time, when the moon isn’t in the right phase, he might go 20 minutes without attempting a shot.
Jonathan Baehre is an interesting player. He looked to be a key part of the Clemson puzzle when he transferred from UNC Asheville 2 seasons ago. He was a skilled big man that could run the floor in transition, block shots, and shoot from the outside. His knee, unfortunately, hasn’t cooperated during his time at Clemson. He tore his A.C.L. in in 2018, and then tore the same A.C.L. in 2019 during practice. Yes, the big man from Germany pulled a Hummell. I was pleasantly surprised with his play in the season opener. He’s best in transition and will attack the rim off the bounce if you give him space.
Lynn Kidd wasn’t supposed to play college basketball this season, but decided to reclassify into the 2020 recruiting class after spending a year at IMG Academy. He was teammates with Purdue big man Zach Edey and was the higher rated recruit. Clemson planned on red shirting him, but he’ll see spot duty on the interior since this season doesn’t count. He’s athletic and will work hard on the offensive glass, but the rest of his game isn’t ready for primetime yet.
Clemson on Defense
Brad Brownell will primarily play man to man, but he’ll mix in the occasional junk zone to throw teams off. He loves switching to zone out of timeouts to mess up whatever play was drawn up in the huddle. He’ll also deploy an occasional 1-3-1 full court press after Clemson makes a free throw.
Clemson has a roster full of long athletic players, and Brad isn’t afraid to use all of them. He played 12 players in the opener and I expect he’ll do the same against Purdue. Expect the Tigers to turn the pressure up on the perimeter and try and turn Purdue’s young backcourt. They like to chop up the game with their defense and won’t hesitate to send you to the line to earn 2 points. It isn’t pretty, but it tends to be effective.
Purdue needs to attack Aamir Simms early and try to get him out of the game. He only played 8 minutes against Mississippi State because of foul trouble, and Clemson’s offense isn’t good without him on the court. Spread the court, let Tre eat in the post early, and see if Simms will commit fouls trying to body with the much bigger Williams.
Much like Purdue, Clemson is good at cutting off half the floor and making the ball stick on one side. Purdue can’t fall into the trap of over-dribbling on the wings and not reversing the ball. If you can put Clemson’s defense into rotation, they’ll eventually cut someone loose. If Purdue runs their offense, they should have options late in the clock. This is a game where the Boilermakers need to turn down an early in the clock decent shot in order to end up with a late in the clock good shot.
This is one of Brad Brownell’s deepest teams in his run at Clemson, and if the first game is any indication, he won’t hesitate to use his entire roster. Purdue has struggled with tough, athletic teams like Clemson before, but I don’t think they’ll have much trouble with early season Clemson.
This is a game I’d like to see a little farther down the line this year after both teams have settled into the season. Purdue looks to be a more cohesive unit right now. I think it’ll be close in the first half, with the Boilermakers pulling away in the 2nd half during a patented Clemson 10 minute scoring drought.
Purdue 75 - Clemson 63