LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Monte Lee is trying his best every day to build his team’s confidence up, but so far he has not found that magic elixir to pull No. 14 Clemson out of a slump that has seen the Tigers lose 11 of their last 16 games, including Friday’s 10-2 loss to No. 10 Virginia in the ACC Tournament at Louisville’s Patterson Stadium in Louisville, Ky.
“I try to work our guys extremely hard in practice to get them better and to look at the things we need to get better at and work on and talk about them,” Lee said. “I’m just trying to coach our players and develop our players to the best of my ability.”
Some have wonder if the fight has just left Clemson (39-19), especially when it gets behind. Virginia scored eight runs in the opening inning on Friday and built a 10-1 lead before Weston Jackson’s solo home run in the top of the ninth inning produced the Tigers’ second run of the game.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily that the fight has gone out of the team,” Lee said. “I think the biggest thing is once we get our backs against the wall, our guys are pressing a little bit. We talked a lot about before the game, just trying to take the result and the outcome out of it and just play good baseball. Just play free and easy and compete, and let the results take care of themselves. That was a big message for us today.”
But his players did not get the message, which has Lee and his coaching staff scrambling to find a solution that can get things turned around before heading into next week’s NCAA Tournament.
“Our coaching staff is fighting with them and we are trying to send the message that we are in this thing together,” he said. “We are all struggling. We are not playing great baseball. Obviously, I need to do a better job of coaching and get our guys ready to play and play better baseball. I don’t feel like I’m doing a good enough job with our players. I feel like I’m failing with our players. But that’s my job.
“My job is to be accountable for my team and accountable for my players and I’m always going to be accountable for my players and how we play, because that’s what they brought me here to do. I can tell you this: When we practice the next day, we’re going to practice hard and we’re going to go right back to work and try to do everything we can to get our guys ready to play in the post-season. We are going to play in the post-season. I hope it’s in Clemson. If it’s not in Clemson, wherever it’s going to be, we are going to try to do everything we can between now and then to get our team ready.”
Lee says he is as frustrated about the current slump as anyone.
“I’ve got to look at myself first and I’ve got to find the answers,” he said. “I’ve got to find the answers for a group of guys that believe in what we’re doing. They are frustrated. They want to play better. We all want to play better. But you know, it is what it is. We have to deal with it and we’ve got to get better, and hopefully we can start that process here probably on Sunday.”