CLEMSON — The Clemson men’s basketball team has an audio problem.
Inside raucous Cameron Indoor Stadium earlier this month, Clemson coach Brad Brownell had assistant coach Mike Winiecki write several plays on whiteboards. Winiecki quickly scribbled a play-call like “Spider” or “Charleston” with a marker and raised the board for the oncourt players to see.
Brownell is trying a new oncourt communication system, one the team will bring with it on its trip to No. 14 N.C. State at 6 p.m. today (ESPNU) because Brownell has a problem: this year’s Clemson team is the least vocal team he has ever coached.
“It is by far,” Brownell said. “Even any of my teams at Wright State or UNC Wilmington were (more vocal). Certainly having Demontez Stitt was a big part of our first year just being able to have a pulse on our team, respect on our team. Last year, with Tanner (Smith) and Andre (Young), Andre wasn’t a big talker, but Tanner always got communication through our team. With this year’s team, it’s hard to look out there and figure out who is going to be the guy.”
Brownell wants point guard Rod Hall to be the guy, the vocal, oncourt coach, but for that to happen, it requires the reserved Hall to change his demeanor. Players have complained that they cannot hear Hall call out plays on the court.
“I’m disappointed a little bit in his leadership,” Brownell said. “He needs to be more of a vocal guy and to command more respect. … He’s a hard-playing guy, but he could provide more presence if he would talk and communicate.”
Hall was not a point guard at Laney (Augusta, Ga.) High, so he did not have many verbal responsibilities.
“I’m just not used to talking too much,” Hall said. “That’s just how I grew up. Now that I’m playing a big role as the point guard, everyone feeds of the point guard, so I have to talk a lot more.”
Hall is a project in another way, too. Brownell wants him to shoot more, be more selfish with the basketball.
The bulky Hall has always the physical strength and quick feet to be defensive asset, but as a freshman he was often a non-factor in the halfcourt offense.
Last season as a freshman, Brownell completely rebuilt Hall’s shooting mechanics.
This summer, he had Hall use a practice technique where he shot 100 to 150 jumpshots a day one-handed to reinforce proper technique. The work has resulted in Hall increasing his shooting percentage from 44.1 last year to 49.1 percent this season, and his free throw percentage from 59.6 to 63.9.
Not only are the rates up, but Hall has displayed more confidence in his jumper, connecting on both attempts he took in a win over Wake Forest as well as more aggressive driving to the basket. Hall is taking 4.8 field goals per game versus three field goals per game as a freshman.
Hall has demonstrated increased confidence as an offensive player, and Brownell hopes the next step is increased confidence as a vocal leader.
Brownell’s project is to make Hall a true point guard, a true leader.
“When everything is looking at the bench and coach-directed, it’s usually never as good,” Brownell said. “Whenever players are coaching themselves, holding themselves accountable, you’re at a better level.”