Some league coaches, Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg among them, believe this season's ACC might feature the finest assemblage of guards in any conference in recent memory. Clemson, however, does not possess comparable perimeter players.
Only some of the blame falls to Vernon Hamilton, who was moved into the starting lineup Jan. 22 because Shawan Robinson had been struggling. Last year as a freshman, Hamilton almost had as many turnovers as assists.
This year, turnovers also have been problematic. For example, Clemson had a chance to win its Jan. 15 game at Virginia Tech in the closing seconds. The play called for Hamilton to reverse the ball, in hopes of getting it into Sharrod Ford's hands. Hamilton's pass was intended for Robinson but stolen by Tech's Carlos Dixon, whose dunk in the final seconds gave the Hokies a 59-57 victory.
In truth, the entire back court has struggled. The trio of Hamilton, Cliff Hammonds and Robinson combined for 29 turnovers and 25 assists in the first four conference games. The guards' shooting has been poor. Their assist-to-turnover ratio ranks among the worst in the conference.
Clemson only has five upperclassmen on its roster. It shows, particularly in the back court.