After winning 22 games last season in coach Brad Brownell’s first year, Clemson has found an identity it hopes to extend this season.
The Tigers led the ACC last season in scoring defense, allowing just 61.4 points per game. With three returning starters and a crop of defensive-minded freshmen, Clemson looks to post similar numbers in this year’s campaign.
“Last year we held guys to something like 61 points, so hell, why not try to beat that,” senior guard Andre Young said.
Clemson is predicted to finish seventh in the ACC in its 100th season of basketball.
But after losing their two leading scorers, the Tigers will need to be a force defensively to make its fifth straight NCAA tournament.
Young, who posted 11.1 points per game in 2010-11, is the only returner who averaged double figures last season.
“We were in games last year because of how we played defensively,” senior Tanner Smith said. “We’re not one of those teams in this league with a bunch of firepower.”
Young and Smith make up what will be an experienced backcourt.
Smith averaged just 7.8 points a game last year but is one of the team’s top defenders, while Young shot 39.6 percent from three-point range and is seventh all-time in Clemson history in three-pointers.