LEMSON, SC -- Brad Brownell is excited about starting his second year as the men's basketball coach at Clemson, but at the same time he is a little nervous, too.
The Tigers, who open the 2011-12 season Friday at Littlejohn Coliseum against Gardner-Webb, return six players from a team that went 22-12 a year ago and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. That has Brownell feeling good, but then there is the unknown, which centers around six freshmen that will have to be productive if the Tigers want to get back to the Big Dance in March.
Brownell looked into the future in last week's exhibition against Queens University (NC). In that game, all six freshmen played, with one, T.J. Sapp, starting, and another, K.J. McDaniels, playing 20 minutes.
"It was good for them to play the amount of minutes they did," Brownell said. "Everybody got 15 plus so it was good for them to get a little bit of game experience. They all have certain strengths and things they do well, and then there are some things that are a real struggle for them."
One thing Clemson could struggle with early on is finding a consistent rotation based on which of the freshmen are productive at certain times. In the exhibition game, it was McDaniels who showed off his talents. The 6-foot-5, 190-pound swingman scored nine points off the bench, while grabbing four rebounds, dishing out two assists and blocking a shot. Even better, he turned the ball over just one time.