Brownell: Hopkins trying to 'figure some things out'
CLEMSON -- Clemson will have to wait to see DeAndre Hopkins on the basketball court. The freshman football star is perhaps the player fans are most curious to watch, but he will not play tonight when the Tigers dive into ACC play at Littlejohn Coliseum against Miami.
Clemson announced Hopkins, the record-setting wide receiver, would join the basketball team after the football team's bowl game. But Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Friday that Hopkins will not play today and was vague about when he might make his basketball debut.
"(He'll play) when he's productive in practice," Brownell said. "He's got a long ways to go. There is a big difference between playing at Daniel (High School) and at Clemson. He's competing. He's trying to figure some things out."
Considering it has taken the team the better part of two months to become comfortable in Brownell's defensive and offensive systems, it will be interesting to see how long it takes Hopkins to join the rotation. Prior to the bowl game, Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney said he didn't mind lending out Hopkins as long as he played. But when will he play? The indications are it will take weeks, not days, to get Hopkins ready.
Clemson guard Andre Young said Hopkins has impressed the team this week with his passing and shooting ability.
"There's a lot to figure out," Young said of Brownell's systems. "It took us months to get comfortable."
The Tigers appear to be getting more comfortable.
Since losing its ACC opener to Florida State last month, Clemson has won six straight games and held opponents to below 40 percent shooting in five of the victories -- though it should be noted Clemson has not faced a power-conference opponent since losing, 75-69, in Tallahassee, Fla.
"We are just being more defensive-minded," Young said. "We were really paying a lot of attention to the offense, trying to figure out motion and everything. At the beginning of the winning streak, coach Brownell really emphasized our defense and that's one thing we are starting to take pride in."
The Tigers entered the week with just nine scholarship players and will have to contend with a pair of talented Miami guards in Durand Scott and Malcolm Grant, as well as 6-10, 300-pound center Reggie Johnson. All three players have double-figure scoring averages.
Against the massive Miami center, Brownell said it is key that Clemson's post players stay out of foul trouble, especially foul-prone sophomore Devin Booker.
"I think some of it is experience," Brownell said of Booker, "not being in the right spot. We're trying to ingrain some things where he's reacting and not thinking so much. ... We need Devin to be on the court." And Clemson fans wonder when Hopkins will join him.
Game time today is 6 p.m.
Check out the Clemson blog at postandcourier.com/blogs/tiger_tracks and follow Travis Sawchik on Twitter (@travis_sawchik).