By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- The Clemson Tigers are coming off of back to back ACC wins but are still searching for their first road win to put them over .500 in league play. They will travel to Charlottesville, VA to take on the 17-3 (4-2 in ACC) Virginia Cavaliers tomorrow evening with tipoff at 7 PM. Here’s what head Coach Brad Brownell had to say about the matchup earlier today while meeting with the media.
“I’m very impressed with Virginia and think that Mike Scott is one of the two or three best players in our league,” Brownell said. “He scores, scores when he’s guarded, makes tough shots, he’s a big part of their success but I also think Tony (Bennett) has done a good job of implementing their system. Defensively they’re as good as anybody you play and will be hard to score against. I expect a low scoring game.”
Other than Scott, who averages 16.7 points per game, Sammy Zeglinski is starting to become a factor for the Cavs and has always played his best games against Clemson.
“He shot the ball well against us last year, he made three three’s right away, “Brownell said. “Some of that is because of the attention that you have to put on Mike Scott, he’s such a good player sometimes he commands a double team and makes other guys better. I certainly think he’s a factor on their team and when he plays well they’re at another level, because that’s a perimeter scorer they need to go with Mike Scott and he’s played well this year a lot.”
The Cavaliers give up on average 50 points per game, which is a statistic Brownell does not find misleading.
“They’re very sound,” Brownell said. “They play the pack line, man to man defense; they’ll guard the ball hard but don’t deny very many passes. They won’t try to steal the ball from you a whole lot, they just focus on protecting the paint and making you shoot contested shots. They double the post quickly, when you throw it inside and make your post players make passes and make decisions that sometimes guys don’t do very well. Offensively the key is that they don’t turn the ball over and don’t take very many bad shots, so their transition defense is outstanding. They don’t send as many guys to the offensive boards as some people, so they’re always back and opponents don’t get as many easy baskets against them as they would other teams.”
Senior Bryan Narcisse started the last game for the Tigers and had one of his best outings as he ended the day with a career high 11 points. He impressed coach Brownell so much with his performance that he plans to start him again against Virginia hoping that he’ll bring that extra energy early like he’s known for doing.
“Probably, I think so, he may bounce around a little bit,” Brownell said. “Certainly I was pleased with his performance on Saturday and the great thing about Bryan is his versatility and unselfishness. The kid is unbelievably humble, we had him play on the scout team some, which is amazing that a senior doesn’t mind being on the scout team, running the other team’s offense. He’s so bright that he can pick things up very quickly. He’s a guy you can always throw in there, which is a good thing for us he can play multiple positions. He’s guarded point guards some this season and also power forwards, obviously if his offensive skill set were a little bit better he’d be getting more minutes, so when he does play well like he did Saturday he’s a pretty good player.”
With six of the Tigers next 10 games on the road, Brownell is looking to the five freshmen on the team to take their game to the next level.
“They need to play better in terms of productivity,” Brownell said. “I think they’ve done some good things, they’re better defensively now then when we first started the season and as a result some of them have gotten a few more minutes. But offensively, TJ hasn’t made a shot in a while and has lost some confidence. Devin Coleman, again he hasn’t made a lot of shots but is beginning to feel more comfortable out there and is doing more good things in practice. Rod Hall is what he is; he’s going to give you what he’s got and is pretty good, solid guy. He isn’t going to be a big scorer for us but knows how to do some things and is a solid player. Bernard is finally healthy enough right now to earn some minutes because he knows now what to do. His health issues really set him back, in terms of the learning process and what we’re trying to do. KJ has been up and down, he’s had an ankle injury that’s been bothering him. He missed some practice last week, wasn’t 100% on Saturday so decided that I wasn’t going to play him unless we desperately needed him. We’ll see how he does today and that will determine whether or not he’ll play tomorrow.”