Picked to finish 14th in the ACC, Coach Brad Brownell’s Clemson Tigers surprised everyone when they ended the regular season 6th in the conference. Not to mention a season long, star performance by junior forward, K.J. McDaniels who was voted an ACC first team All-American and defensive player of the year.
The Tigers take on Georgia State in Littlejohn Coliseum tonight at 9pm on ESPNU in the first round of the NIT, a postseason honor not all ACC schools can boast about. The ACC is one of the toughest basketball conferences in the nation and you must give credit where credit is due to Brad Brownell. He took the underdogs and made them into competitors that demanded to be taken seriously.
With a heartbreaking overtime loss to Pitt at the end of the regular season, Clemson started the ACC Tournament right with a thrilling overtime win against Georgia Tech, just to be fortunate enough to move on to play Duke in the quarterfinals. What at one point looked like it would be a Blue Devils blowout, the Tigers fought back to bring the game back to within a few points, only to lose by 1 on a controversial call that sent Duke to the next round.
While Clemson won’t be entering “The Big Dance” this March Madness season, they do have a lot to be proud of. Players like Landry Nnoko, Demarcus Harrison, and Jaron Blossomgame improved to become vital assets to the team. Consistent players like K.J. McDaniels and Rod Hall gave another tremendous effort to show that at least one school in South Carolina knows how to play basketball.
This young team should be coming back in full force next season, but might be one short. K.J. McDaniels, while only a junior, is likely to enter the NBA Draft after this season concludes. While I can’t say I blame him, I do hope he’ll consider finishing out his career as a Clemson Tiger and seeing how far he can lead this team next season.
If you haven’t had the chance to watch the Tigers play this season, catch them on ESPNU tonight at 9pm in the first round of the NIT!