By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Clemson senior Tanner Smith met with the media on Friday to discuss not only the team’s slow 1-3 start in ACC play but also their must win meeting with Georgia Tech on Saturday.
“This is the most important game so far on our schedule,” Smith said. “We have a good opportunity to get another win in the ACC at home. That being said we also have to make sure that we realize that we’re one or two possessions away from being a really good team this year, so not to lose confidence in ourselves and know that we have the ability to win big games but we need to make sure that we cut down the one or two possessions and win the games that we need to win.”
As one of the older players, Smith believes that it’s his responsibility to explain this to all of the younger players on Clemson’s roster.
“We are, Andre and I have that responsibility to make sure that the teams not frustrated but at the same time understand that sense of urgency we have to have,” Smith said. “With us being one or two possessions away there needs to be more of a consorted effort for us not to waste possessions offensively or defensively. I think that at the Miami game we had a lot of opportunities to win the game and we’ve had that a lot this year, where we’ve had the opportunity to win but couldn’t make plays down the stretch. We don’t want to get frustrated but we do want to have some urgency and know that we need to start getting on a run here in order to solidify a good spot in the ACC.”
As for Tanner’s finger that he injured during the Miami game on Wednesday, Smith promised that he’s fine and will be ready to go tomorrow against the Yellow Jackets.
“I went in for a steal on Wednesday and jammed my thumb real hard, but it’s just a finger and I’ve been getting a lot of treatment on it. I’ll be fine tomorrow.”
Every year, whether the Clemson vs. GA Tech game is at Little John or in Atlanta, it always seems to be a very competitive game, one that Smith always looks forward to.
“Georgia Tech is a big physical team, they have a lot of talent,” Smith said. “And with this new coach, they’re a scrappy bunch just like us. It’s going to be a battle here; we’re going to be ready for a tough game. They’re going to come in here looking to steal one, and we need to start getting on a roll. You were right when you said both teams are going to be desperate for a win, and we need to be the extremely desperate team.”
“It’s fun playing Georgia Tech after growing up there,” Smith said. “It’s a little different now, some of the guys I knew are now gone, there’s still a few but it’s still fun to play them. They’ve always had a special place in my heart considering that it was the place where I spent a lot of time with my dad watching basketball. So being able to play against a team like that and continue to play in the ACC is a dream come true, is truly a blessing for me.”
Coach Brownell continues to tell his players that they’re not valuing their possessions, something Smith agrees that they could do a much better job of.
“I think it speaks to the fact that we are one or two possessions away from being a very solid team,” Smith said. “It just magnifies how big each possession is for us, when we give up a put back, turn the ball over, miss a free throw, there’s a lot of pressure it seems like in every play because we know that it’s going to come down to the wire. That’s what Coach Brownell is saying, we’re not valuing our possessions because we’re not winning enough possessions during a game in order to win the game. We need to value those possessions, put ourselves in a good position, make the easy baskets, and start making our free throws again because we can definitely do that.”
“Defensively, we’re not playing the way we did at the beginning of the year and that’s what I think Coach is most upset about,” Smith said. “We had a pretty good offensive night against Miami but defensively we were terrible. They got to do anything they wanted, so we need to get back to our roots. Coach Brownell is a defensive coach and we’re a defensive team so we need to get back to that.”