Notre Dame is generally expected to finish last, but Micah Shrewsberry is a shrewd coach and he may exceed expectations early. That doesn’t mean the Irish will finish in the top three in the ACC and get a tourney bid. Finishing ninth would be a big deal this year.
Here’s South Bend columnist/coach killer Tom Noie on how things look in the early days of the Shrewsberry era.
Syracuse coach Adrian Autry, also in his first year, could be a big surprise. However, the Orange has had some early challenges. First, Chance Westry has an injury that required surgery and obviously he’ll be out for at least a while. Second, Judah Mintz and Malik Brown both have injuries, although they sound like short term problems for the most part.
But Benny Williams has been suspended for the classic “violation of team rules” and there’s no indication of exactly how long he’ll be out, but it won’t be for long.
Clemson has a bit of an issue. Well, it shouldn’t be an issue but it may be: Brad Brownell is under a lot of pressure this season.
It’s kind of...well, it’s not too bright.
First, Brownell has been very loyal. He’s a tremendous coach and could go elsewhere where basketball might be a lot easier, but he’s stayed.
The truth is that Clemson would have to hit a major home run hire to make basketball a serious annual threat. Look at their history since the 1970’s.
Tates Locke? He won, but he cheated and was ultimately a disaster.
Bill Foster - the other Bill Foster - made the Elite Eight in 1980, but it was his only trip to the Big Dance.
Cliff Ellis had a good run but there were always (unproven) accusations about him.
Rick Barnes stayed a few years and then left, complaining that he couldn't recruit at Clemson.
Larry Shyatt didn’t work out very well.
Oliver Purnell did very well during the seasons but post-season? He did well in the NIT one year but never won an NCAA tournament game.
Part of the problem at Clemson is that it’s always been a football school and, in fairness, fans prefer it that way. Which is fine.
Here’s the crux of it: who could they hire who could possibly do better? A couple of years ago, remember, they flirted with firing Brownell and hiring Will Wade. Talk about dodging a bullet.
Brownell cannot - we’re not sure any Clemson coach can - compete with the elite schools in recruiting. He has compensated because he is a superb developer of talent. Unless they know they can get a sure thing - a can’t miss candidate - firing Brownell would be idiotic.