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Thursday, September 11, 2008 11:41am
By: Accsports Staff

April 7, 2003 The PooP

Rick Barnes was a good coach with the kind of name recognition necessary to succeed at a place such as Clemson, which has very little history (ACC titles, Final Fours, NBA players, etc.) to sell to fans and prospective recruits. Larry Shyatt was a decent coach with very little name recognition, which made his job even more difficult. Oliver Purnell, creatively lured away from Dayton by AD Terry Don Phillips, is closer to the Barnes mold than the Shyatt mold. That's good news for the Tigers.

Done For Me Lately

Year ACC Overall Postseason
1994 6-10 (7) 18-16 NIT 2nd Round
1995 5-11 (6) 15-13 NIT 1st Round
1996 7-9 (6) 18-11 NCAA 1st Round
1997 9-7 (4) 23-10 NCAA Sweet 16
1998 7-9 (4) 18-14 NCAA 1st Round
1999 5-11 (7) 20-15 NIT Runner-up
2000 4-12 (9) 10-20 None
2001 2-14 (9) 12-19 None
2002 4-12 (7) 13-17 None
2003 5-11 (8) 15-13 None

x—won ACC title
ACC: 54-106 (.338); No. 8 in ACC
Overall: 162-148 (.522); No. 8 in ACC

Projected 2003-04 Roster

Player Ht. Pos. Class
Chris Hobbs 6-7 BF Sr.
Olu Babalola 6-6 WF Jr.
Chey Christie 6-4 WG Jr.
Sharrod Ford 6-9 BF Jr.
Akin Akingbala 6-9 BF So.
Steve Allen 6-10 C So.
Julian Betko 6-5 WF So.
Shawan Robinson 6-2 PG So.
Vernon Hamilton 5-11 PG Fr.
Jimmy Hudson 6-4 WG Fr.
John Reynolds? 6-10 C Fr.

Another Spring Recruit?
NOTE: Scholarship/rotation players only.

The Good News

It's hard to tell sometimes, but Clemson takes basketball more seriously these days. This isn't like 40 years ago, when Press Maravich posted five straight losing seasons and still kept his job. Shyatt, with two winning campaigns out of five, was canned. Purnell, with a better track record and a higher price tag, is on the way. The administration wants to win, and it's willing to provide significant resources to make it happen. Purnell understands that better talent will be the key to his success, and with the inevitable transition attrition, he'll probably have a full load of scholarships (five) to offer to members of the Class of 2004.

The Bad News

Simply put, the Tigers just don't have enough big-time players. Purnell may be able to win the Atlantic-10 with this group — frankly, even that wouldn't be easy — but he's walking into a situation where he has the least-talented roster in the ACC by a significant margin. Historically, Clemson has not been very successful at landing the prep prospects who project as the superstars of tomorrow. As long as that continues to be the case, the team will be fighting an uphill battle against the rest of the conference. As Purnell soon will learn, this trend is not an easy one to change.

The Outlook

For the first time since the Barnes era, there is some reasonable basis for hope, thanks to the arrival of Purnell. At the same time, this remains the most difficult basketball job in the ACC, and one of the tougher ones in the major conferences. In some other leagues, Clemson would have a good chance to become an NCAA Tournament team every couple of years. But this is the ACC, where one gorilla (Duke) and several other potential superpowers reside. Nothing is likely to come easy for the Tigers.