Previewing Gardner-Webb

CLEMSON - Year two of the Brad Brownell era kicks off Friday night when Clemson host Big South foe Gardner-Webb.

WHAT: Clemson vs. Gardner-Webb
WHERE: Littlejohn Coliseum (10,000) - Clemson, S.C.
WHEN: Friday, Nov. 11 (8 p.m.)
SPREAD: N/A
TV: ESPN3

A season ago, Brownell set first-year Clemson coaching records for overall wins (22) and ACC regular season wins (nine) and led the Tigers to school's fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance.

Clemson, picked to finish seventh by the ACC media for the second straight preseason, is led by returning starters Andre Young, Tanner Smith, Devin Booker and last year's sixth-man, Milton Jennings.

"I think we're a very capable team," Young, who moves into the startig point-guard position, said. "I think this is a team that's willing to learn and really wants to get better. I think we've already been getting better from practice.

"It's going to be a learning process."

Indeed.

The Tigers' six returning lettermen are joined by five freshmen, all of whom could play significant minutes early on this season.

One of those five freshmen, T.J. Sapp, is likely to be a stalwart in the starting five. K.J. McDaniels and Bernard Sullivan are also expected to log plenty of minutes.

"I don't think I've had a team with this many new kids," Brownell said. "It's a real challenge, because the older guys have picked things up, they understand what we're talking about...now you go to the freshmen who have no feel, and you're trying to coach so many different things."


Andre Young will take over the starting point guard spot to start the 2011-12 season. (Getty Images)
The group's first test is Friday night when Gardner-Webb visits Littlejohn Coliseum.

Gardner-Webb ran out to a 6-4 start last season, but finished the year with a 11-21 record. The Runnin' Bulldogs lost eight games by three points or less, five of which were in Big South play.

Picked to finish 10th in the Big South's preseason poll, Gardner-Webb is led by second-year head coach Chris Holtmann, who returns four starters -- Laron Buggs, Stefon Johnson, Mike Byron and Santoine Butler.

Also in the fold for Holtmann are Jason Dawson and Tashan Newsome, transfers from Wofford and Mississippi Valley State, respectively.

Dawson led the Runnin' Bulldogs in scoring during an August tour through the Bahamas - averaging 18 points, 6.5 assists and 3.5 steals per game.

"The shoot the ball well, run a ball screen motion that is good because it negates some of the size disadvantages," Brownell said of Gardner-Webb.

"They're just going to spread you. If you got out, jump and get aggressive, they're going to slip a screen."

Brownell expects to see plenty of ball screens throughout the night.

"It's a situation where they come from all different angles," he said.

PROBABLE STARTERS
Gardner-Webb
G #15 Laron Buggs (6-1, 185) - 10.2 PPG, 1.8 APG
G #11 Jason Dawson (5-10, 175) - 2.8 PPG, 1.1 APG
F #5 Stefon Johnson (6-6, 215) - 9.2 PPG, 5.9 RPG
C #54 Mike Byron (6-11, 250) - 3.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG
F #31 Santoine Butler (6-8, 210) - 3.1 PPG, 2 RPG

PROBABLE STARTERS
Clemson
G #1 T.J. Sapp (6-2, 180) - 21.6 PPG (HS)
G #11 Andre Young (5-9, 170) - 11.1 PPG, 3.0 APG
G #5 Tanner Smith (6-5, 210) - 7.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG
F #24 Milton Jennings (6-9, 225) - 8.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG
F #31 Devin Booker (6-8, 245) - 8.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG

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