Instant Reaction to Clemson vs Virginia Tech

by Austin Silvey @SilveyESP

CLEMSON, SC -- Brad Brownell and company got the 2019-20 season started on Tuesday evening against conference foe Virginia Tech. The Tigers lost a tough game to the Hokies by a final score of 67-60.


There were a lot of good moments coupled with a lot of not so good ones. Here are some of the things I took away from the game, both good and bad.....


  • This is by far the most athletic team Brownell has had at Clemson. They are fun to watch offensively while not compromising the focus on playing good defense as well.

  • Free throws.....with a team full of guards and wings....gotta hit 'em...............in the final two minutes they did better.

  • Aamir Simms has stepped into a leadership role for this team and is the perfect guy for the job.

  • Lack of an inside-out game with no true big man may cause issues throughout the season -- especially if the deep ball isn't falling.

  • Playing in the World University Games was huge for chemistry & experience going into the season but it isn't enough to carry them through it alone. There is still a lot of chemistry to be built.

  • The freshmen played well in their first true collegiate game. Al-Amir Dawes was confident in his ability to handle the ball, drive, kick and shoot. Chase Hunter continues to showoff his athleticism; but also missed four of five free throw attempts so that needs to improve. He has an incredibly high ceiling. Alex Hemenway looked a lot more comfortable in this game compared to the exhibition vs Anderson.

  • Guarding the perimeter and closing out on shooters was an issue; but can be contributed some to Virginia Tech having a similarly structured roster and desired style of play. The lack of size in this game was evident from the jump but didn't take away from the games excitement....at least initially.

  • Effort was never a problem. Getting shots to fall consistently was -- and given the roster construction and style of play they intend to run this year, you need shots to fall more often than not.

  • Tevin Mack plays like a seasoned veteran and is a big part of the offense. He will be one of the more consistent scorers this year; a guy you can count on to score at least 10-12 points per game.

  • Tre Jemison is a defensive force in the paint and on the low block but he needs to continue to work on his offense down low. It will be hard to go through an entire season with no threat under the basket.

  • Hunter Tyson needs to assert himself offensively and continue to get stronger. His ability to shoot the three will be critical as they get deeper into the season. With no true post player, and Simms versatility being determined by game-to-game matchups, the Tigers need a consistent three-point threat on the perimeter (like a Gabe DeVoe was) to keep defenses honest.

  • As stated before, John Newman is the best on-ball defender on the team but needs to be more aggressive offensively.

  • The quicker they can bring Khavon Moore along, the better off they'll be.

  • The three-point shot will play a huge role in the offense with the majority of the roster being able to hit from outside to some degree. But the need to develop one or two consistent perimeter shooters is dire.

  • As of right now, there is no go-to scorer like the Tigers have had in previous years. We're just one game in so there is time for one to emerge. Having a versatile group of guys who can all score in different ways is great but when the game is on the line, the team needs to have someone they can all trust to go to.

  • The full-court press late in the game was a thing of beauty; forced a travel down two points and then Newman drew a foul to go to the line and tied it up.

Overall, this was about the performance you could expect from a young team with a bunch of new faces. There is plenty of room to grow and things to improve upon but I think if you watched this game closely enough you saw the potential of this team, even through the mess.


Starting the season with an ACC opponent isn't the easiest task for a new-look team but it does test their fortitude early and give them a lot to look at going forward. Don't hit the panic button on the Tigers after this game. There is a whole season left to play and a lot of good basketball ahead.

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