Clemson opens 2014 season

CLEMSON - The Tigers begin life without K.J. McDaniels tonight in Littlejohn Coliseum.

WHAT: Florida A&M at Clemson
WHERE: Littlejohn Coliseum (10,000) - Clemson, S.C.
WHEN: 7 p.m.
TV: ESPN3
Odds: N/A

A year ago, Clemson basketball exceed expectations in every sense of the phrase.

Predicted to be one of the worst teams in the ACC, Brad Brownell and future second-round draft pick K.J. McDaniels led the Tigers to a 10-8 ACC record and a semifinals run in the NIT.

It was a breathtaking finish that rallied the Clemson fan base in ways we haven't seen in years. Home sellouts for postseason wins against Illinois and Belmont has helped build expectations for an even more impressive 2014-15 campaign.

But it won't be easy. The loss of McDaniels, the ACC Defensive Player of the Year and his 17 points per game is significant. And the conference itself is being talked about as the toughest league in the country, with four teams ranked inside the AP preseason top 10.

Brad Brownell told CUTigers earlier this week he expects life without McDaniels to be an adjustment with no one player replacing his production.

"It will probably be by committee," he said. "Certainly we are looking at players like Landry Nnoko and Demarcus Harrison to take the next step. It is possible that Landry can become a double-digit scorer this season. We may get an extra bucket or two from some other guys. Maybe a Rod Hall or Jaron Blossomgame."

Brownell has been particularly pleased with the play of Blossomgame during preseason play. Finally healthy and with a full offseason of workouts and practices in the books, Blossomegame has been rock solid - both in scoring and on the boards.

In Clemson's "secret" preseason scrimmage against Charlotte, a 70-60 win, Blossomgame poured in 18 points and 10 rebounds.

"It's been great now that he's healthy and gaining confidence," Brownell said. "I'm excited to see what he can do this season."

The Tigers open their 2014-15 season Friday night in their final year in Littlejohn Coliseum at 7 PM against Florida A&M. Clemson won both previous meetings. In fact, five players on the this year's roster played in the meeting two years ago, led by Jordan Roper who posted 16 points and Rod Hall who notched 10 assists.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS
Clemson
C Landry Nnoko - 6-10, 255
F Donte Grantham - 6-8, 205
F Jaron Blossomgame - 6-7, 215
G Demarcus Harrison - 6-4, 205
G Rod Hall - 6-1, 210

Florida A&M
Jerran Foster - 5-9, 175
Jermaine Ruttley - 6-3, 200
Jorge Rosa - 6-4, 195
Emanuel Pellot - 6-9, 230
Mario Karailiev - 6-9, 230

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