Following Clemson’s 83-74 win over High Point, the media spoke to head coach Brad Brownell, point guard Avry Holmes, and forward Jaron Blossomgame.
Here is what we heard:
High Point gave the Tigers more grief than they had anticipated down the stretch. Brownell had much praise for his team’s offensive performance, but said the defense wasn’t locked in during the second half.
“A little harder fought win than we would’ve liked there down the stretch, but I thought our guys played with good offensive confidence. It’s really good to see Jaron play the way he played in the second half. I thought he was outstanding offensively,” Brownell said. “Defensively, we played like a team with a 15-point lead and just didn’t lock in defensively in the second half like we needed. Thankfully for us, we were able to get some stops late when we needed it. They had a good plan, gave us a good game, and it was a little bit of a nail biter the last few minutes.”
Clemson (3-2) was up 16 points early in the second half, but as the game came to a close, High Point cut the Tigers lead to only four points. Blossomgame said they were able to get a lot of open threes, allowing High Point to put more points up on the board.
“During the timeout, Coach kept telling us we got to stop giving up three-point opportunities. We were kind of messing up our switches, and they got a lot of open threes. We just had to make a few adjustments and fortunately it worked out for us,” Blossomgame said.
As Clemson’s defense tightened and offense performed, the Tigers extended their lead to 75-66 after Blossomgame’s steal and Holmes’ three-pointer. Holmes struggled offensively throughout the game, but that didn’t stop the senior from performing when he needed to.
“Shots weren’t falling in, but I kept shooting. He found me, I was open, and I just shot the ball,” Holmes said.
Brownell regards Holmes’ shot as one that changed the momentum of the game.
“I thought he made a big shot. I thought he made big defensive plays. I’m just glad he’s confident. There was no hesitation. We have a lot of confidence in Avry. I think he’s shooting the ball really well, and that was a big three that he hit in the second half.”
After High point cut Clemson’s lead to four points, Brownell said it was big to see his guys respond the way they did.
“It was big. You just find yourself in these kind of games occasionally, and once the game tightens, all the pressure shifts to the bigger school. The guys on the other end are playing with nothing to lose, shooting free of mind, and because the talent level in basketball has expanded, that’s why these kinds of games are much more difficult than they were 15-20 years ago. Once they made a couple shots, got into a little bit of a rhythm, I think they felt pretty good about themselves.”
Despite dropping two games in Orlando, the team is far from discouraged.
“We dropped two games in Orlando, but we’re still a good team. Having Shelton (Mitchell) back tonight was definitely good to have him out there. The next couple days we’ll get him back to one hundred percent and ready for the next game. He’ll be good for us,” Blossomgame said.
Brownell also commented on the two losses in Orlando. He is everything but disappointed in his team.
“One of the things I told our team is when we were 2-2, we’re 2-2 against some pretty good opponents. We have some pretty good wins and we’ve lost some games against some teams that are good athletes and good coaches and good teams. So, we’ve been able to find out about ourselves after four games. We have some warts that need attention, we also have some things that we do pretty well. There’s some teams out there that are 5-0 or 5-1 that maybe haven’t been exposed to some of the things that they’re going to be exposed to here in the next month. So we have a chance to rectify some of those problems,” Brownell said. “Our job as coaches and players is to get on with that and hopefully we started that.”