CLEMSON -- Perhaps the most stunning stat, and greatest indictment, of the Clemson basketball team in its loss at Arizona was this: five free throw attempts.
The stat was telling of Clemson's continued failure to be able to create offense off the dribble and of Clemson's inability to generate offense in the paint. Clemson has become a jump-shooting team with only one elite shooter in guard Andre Young. Clemson is averaging 13 free throw attempts per game this year after averaging 20.7 free throw attempts per game last season, when Demontez Stit and Jerai Grant combined for 309 of Clemson's 703 free-throw attempts.
As the Tigers (4-4) return to action at 4:30 p.m. today hosting Winthrop (3-6) at Littlejohn Coliseum, coach Brad Browell is hoping to see more aggression and more confidence that result in more trips to the foul line. The improvement is especially necessary from inconsistent forwards Milton Jennings and Devin Booker.
Booker and Jennings have combined for just 39 free throw attempts this season. Booker is averaging 9.6 points per game and Jennings 9.4. Brownell needs more from the forwards if Clemson is to turn its season around.
"I think they have to finish more," Brownell told reporters. "They've got to find easier baskets on their own -- a transition bucket where they outrun people and get a layup or get an offensive rebound and put it in, things that happen outside the offense."
Clemson's leading scorer is Young, who is averaging 14.5 points per game. But the 5-9 Young doesn't have the size or elite quickness to be an elite scorer off the dribble.
Young has 55 3-point attempts and 20 free-throw attempts.
If Clemson is to have a balanced offense that doesn't rely solely on jump shooting, either one of the forwards or perhaps freshman T.J. Sapp, who Brownell says is talented but "unpolished," need to make significant strides.
Clemson players note their four losses have come by a combined 23 points, but Clemson lost at Arizona by 16 points, and the schedule is about to much more difficult in the new year when ACC play beings.