By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- After a great first showing in the Tigers’ ACC opener Saturday against Florida State, head coach Brad Brownell and company are taking the show on the road as the Tigers set to face off against Boston College on Thursday night.
What has Brownell seen from the Golden Eagles so far this season?
“Well they’re a very young team,” Brownell said. “They’re going to be very good in our league, they have a player from Germany that we recruited until K.J. committed which ended our recruitment, but he’s a good player who’s played professionally a little bit overseas. Coach Donahue is dealing with a lot of the things that you deal with a young team, inconsistencies at times, but a talented team that played well against North Carolina.”
After a week of ACC play, does Brownell feel like he has a sense of how the ACC is going to wind up this year?
“Not really,” Brownell said. “It’s still the first week and teams are going to play well for a week and play poorly. It’s a two and a half month ordeal , so I certainly hope we have more good weeks than bad but I’m really just focusing on what we’re doing, not worried about what the other teams are doing.”
After defeating the Seminoles by over 20 points, Brownell hasn’t noticed a difference in the way his team has practiced, they’ve continued to maintain their focus and drive throughout practice like they have had all season long.
“Not really I think by and large our guys have worked really hard all year in practice,” Brownell said. “We’ve had for the most part pretty good practices. We didn’t shoot well from the perimeter against Florida State, but we did the other things well defended, rebounded, attacked the basket and the free throw line, obviously our performance was good. But this game is going to be completely different, Florida State is a pressure team that gets out and after you to create some driving opportunities, BC doesn’t play that way they’re more packed in man and try to make you beat them from the perimeter. We certainly know that we’ve got to make some shots from behind the arc in order to beat them but that’s what I love about the game everything’s different. Each team you play has a different scheme and you have to be able to handle all different schemes in order to be successful.”
Brownell this season has been preaching to his players to attack the basket and get more free throw attempts, something that sees as both a mindset and skill set.
“It’s both, you need to have more of an aggressive mentality and our team does,” Brownell said. “Certain games are going to dictate you being able to do that more than others but our team by and large hasn’t had that kind of mentality, that’s one thing we’ve learned about this team so far. We knew by losing Demontez (Stitt) we’re losing our best driver, our best penetrator and our most aggressive player. That’s the only thing I’ve been a little disappointed with our older guys about this year is that I hoped they’d be a little more confident and aggressive at times. It’s been a little bit of a rollercoaster with that, certainly coming off a great performance against Florida State though.”
After a loss to South Carolina last season, the team seemed to find their identity and they were able to go on a run by picking their game up, is that something Brownell can see happening with this young team?
“We’re not at the point to compare to last year’s team just from the standpoint of last year’s team was still very hungry and maybe the coaching change was exciting for them because of the new style,” Brownell said. “When you have older players the newness is a good thing. This year’s team we’re still trying to balance older guys and new guys, get them on the same page it’s taken a little longer than we’d hoped. I knew it would take a while but it’s also taken longer for our older players to get comfortable as the primary go to guys, that’s more important really than all of the freshmen being acclimated. We need one or two freshmen to play well and give us some good minutes but we really need our older players to be mature and take the next step to be consistent in their play and that’s how we’ll be successful in the ACC.”
Milton Jennings, one of Clemson’s veteran guys who was suspended for a game earlier this season as a disciplinary action had one of his better games against the Seminoles with 15 points and a team high 8 rebounds, what does Brownell hope Jennings has learned from the suspension?
“Hopefully just to appreciate that you’re a part of something special,” Brownell said. “It’s a privilege to be a part of this team and this group, represent our university and play with these guys. He’s been terrific ever since the incident in Hawaii and we’ve moved forward from it.”
Against Florida State, another big man for Clemson that contributed greatly to the Tigers’ victory was senior center Bobo Baciu.
“He needs to play well for us in order for us to have a chance,” Brownell said. “Especially when one of the other guys isn’t playing well, against Florida State Devin got in foul trouble early and couldn’t get into a rhythm. We need someone from the post to play well, Milt had a good game and it’s a bonus when Bobo comes in and plays well. He’s had one or two games when he’s played well, just has to embrace the tough aspects of the game and I hope that the success that he had against Florida State shows him what kind of player he can be when he’s focused.”