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R&R Q&A: Brandon Rink Of OrangeAndWhite.com

January 25, 2011

You may know Brandon Rink from other ACC-themed blogs, notably accblogger.com, but he's working for the fine folks at OrangeAndWhite.com these days, as well. He reached out to me for a quick R&R Q&A, and I was happy to oblige.

His answers to my questions follow, and you can find my responses to his queries here.

1. How radically different is this team's philosophy under Brownell than it was under Purnell?

Brownell has done a great job in making, basically, complete overhauls of the offense and defense. On O, he brought a motion offense that puts an emphasis on half-court basketball and good shooting. With defense, he scrapped the full-court press of Purnell to a still aggressive, but half-court D that still makes the opposition to work to get shots. They adapted to the defense more quickly because of its nature, but the offense took awhile – they are starting to find their legs in it in ACC play.

2. I think Littlejohn is one of the great remaining college basketball-only venues in America and one of the toughest places to play with the students ringing the court. We had a similar atmosphere in Reynolds back in the day, and I miss it. Do you think we'll ever see Clemson expand/move away Littlejohn in the future? What impact would that have on the team? (yes, these are leading questions, lol)

Facilities. Facilities. Facilities. That’s been all the talk in Clemson for the last couple weeks with a new indoor practice facility for football and a new practice court for b-ball. They had an opportunity awhile to back to either ditch Littlejohn or renovate – Clemson chose to renovate and it’s a nice facility now. I can’t really see the Tigers moving to a bigger arena that’s for different sports – but if they did, Clemson would lose something in the atmosphere because the place is just wired for being loud when it’s packed out.

3. From an outsider's perspective, it seemed for years in the 80s and 90s that basketball was just something to fill the time at Clemson between football seasons, but with the hiring and subsequent success of Rick Barnes in the late 90s, basketball seems like a much bigger deal among Tiger fans since those days. Is that a fair assessment, or did basketball shrink in importance during the down years of Larry Shyatt and interest is more dependent on the success of the team at the time? What impact did/does the success of the football team have on basketball fandom in Tiger Town?

Football is football at Clemson – it will always be the draw with winning or losing seasons. Under Purnell, he brought a style of basketball that made Tiger fans interested and the university did a good job of branding Clemson basketball when he was there. Under Shyatt, the program sunk to almost all-time lows, but Clemson doesn’t exactly have a storied history in basketball anyway. Purnell brought them out of the depths of the Shyatt era and the fans came back. Ultimately, Clemson is like any other school…winning will bring the fans. Brownell doesn’t have a history of success to draw from at Clemson – he will have to make his own page in the history books of ACC basketball and that will affect how big the crowds are.

4. If you were scouting Clemson for Sidney Lowe, how would you attack and defend against the Tigers?

Pressure the ballhandlers. Clemson doesn’t have many of them. Beyond Stitt and Young, there aren’t guys that can break NC State down off the dribble. With no depth at guard, somebody other than those two will have to handle it and that can be turned into easy points off a turnover.

As for attacking Clemson, good passing and crashing the boards. The Tigers will stay on their man aggressively and good screens can get some guys open for shots. Clemson isn’t a great rebounding team, so off missed shots – hit the boards.

5. Prediction for tonight?

Clemson has played really well at home so far – shooting 50% against Miami and 69% against Georgia Tech. Down Tanner Smith (most likely; he’s listed as doubtful), I still like the Tigers to win in a close one, where they pull away in the final two minutes…I’ll say 69-64 Tigers.

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