Former college coach Denny Kuiper breaks down Miami’s 45-43 win at Clemson.
Clemson had a great opportunity at a huge upset, but could not quite get it done. The Tigers had a four-point lead with 72 seconds to go in the game and were at the free throw line, but they could not close the deal. You have to give Miami credit for a very tough, hard-earned road victory. It wasn't pretty, but the Hurricanes found a way to stay unbeaten in conference play.
The game was a defensive struggle. In fact, at times it was downright ugly basketball, unless you are a defensive purist. Both teams shot poorly. Clemson was 30 percent from the floor and 24 percent from three-point land, while Miami shot
35 percent from the floor and 16 percent on three-pointers. Let's go to our three pointers to take a look at why both teams struggled so mightily on offense and other key factors in the game.
1) Great Defense Or Poor Offense?
Yes, both teams played outstanding tough man-man defense. Each team made every possession a battle for the opponent to get a good shot. But on the other hand, both teams were fairly inept on the offensive end. Often, when a team is playing outstanding defense, when its opposing player does get open, he’s expended so much energy and is so surprised to get an open shot that he cannot make it. There were so few open shots that a player feels extra pressure to make them. When that mental pressure occurs in shooting, shooting percentages go down.
Another factor was that the referees were really letting them play and called very few fouls. The refs were consistent, but the way they were calling the game favored the defense. There was a lot of contact not being called, which made it difficult for each team to run its offense. The Hurricanes were called for 15 fouls and the Tigers were called for 12. The teams shot a total of 20 free throws between them. Those are some low numbers.
2) Scoring Droughts By Both Teams
Each team endured a huge scoring drought: the Tigers in the first half, and the Canes in the second half. After the Tigers made their first field goal, they went 9 minutes and 25 seconds before they made their second, missing 15 shots in between. The Canes made just one field goal in a stretch of eight-plus minutes late in the second half. When teams go on these long scoring droughts, what is a coach supposed to do? There are two schools of thought on this situation.
One, if your team seems to be getting good shots, continue to let your team take them and hopefully they will start to go in.
Two, pound the ball inside and/or drive the ball to the basket, attempting to get to the free throw line.
In this game, both teams continue to take outside shots when they were struggling offensively. While there is no certain answer for coaches in this case scenario, I believe only pure, proven shooters should continue to bomb away from the perimeter. During droughts, average or suspect shooters should take the ball to the basket. The argument against that idea is that a coach is not showing confidence in his player's shooting abilities. But I think a player has to earn the coach's confidence before he gets unlimited shooting opportunities.
3) Big Plays Down The Stretch
The Canes made them and the Tigers did not. Down four with 1:01 to go Rion Brown converted and a traditional three-point play. Down two with 39 seconds to go, Kenny Kadji drilled a three-pointer, after missing his previous five attempts from beyond the arc.
Meanwhile, Clemson’s K.J. McDaniels missed the front end of a one-and-one with the Tigers up four and 1:12 remaining. With 56 second left, McDaniels made just one of two free throws to put Clemson up by two.
Later, Clemson's Rod Hall was called for a charging foul with 13 seconds to go (see below) and missed a point blank layup with two seconds that would have tied the game. McDaniels appeared poised to tip in Hall's missed layup, only to be bumped by his teammate Devin Booker, which affected his control of the ball.
Referees are a necessary evil and calls they make down the stretch of the game can have a huge effect on the game. The charge call by official Karl Hess on Hall was a bad call. The defender was moving and had only one foot set on the floor. Of course, I had the luxury of using instant replay to analyze the call, while Hess had to make it in an instant, in real-time.
Hess also accidentally got in the way of Clemson's Jordan Roper on a breakaway layup in the first half. The Tigers kept possession but lost a chance at two easy points in a game in which every basket was precious.
That is basketball. Sometimes you get the calls and bounces, sometimes you don't.
And One: Jordan Roper
I haven't seen much of this Clemson freshman this year, but what I saw yesterday was impressive. Roper was the only player in the game who got big things done on the offensive end of the floor. He had 19 points with an 8-11 shooting performance, including 3-4 from three point land. In addition, I thought he looked very confident in his play.