By Ashley Denny.
CLEMSON, SC- Following a disappointing loss to North Carolina in Chapel Hill on Saturday, Brad Brownell and his Tigers’ will have to quickly refocus and recharge their batteries as they set to square off again with the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Tuesday evening in Phillips Arena in Atlanta.
“I’m anxious to see how our guys bounce back, obviously it’s a quick turnaround getting back late from North Carolina,” Brownell said. “I thought the guys were good yesterday though, we didn’t do a lot physically but their spirits were good that will be critical. Watching Georgia Tech I thought they played exceptionally well against Virginia Tech, probably would have won that game if it wasn’t for a late mistake, they moved the ball better and seemed to have good freedom and pace in their offense.”
Georgia Tech’s leading scorer Glenn Rice Jr. will be inactive in Tuesday’s game as he has been suspended indefinitely from the program; and Brownell has noticed some changes already without Rice in the lineup.
“I thought they moved the ball well, got the ball inside more than some other times,” Brownell said. “Guys seemed very confident and played with good poise. I just think that Rice certainly is a guy to step up and make big shots like he did against us a few weeks ago, but Brandon Reed and Jason Morris, those guys will get more opportunities, everyone will get more touches now. I don’t know if maybe they don’t have a guy to go to at the end of the game, they didn’t seem to have that problem against Virginia Tech; I thought they played very well.”
After watching the film on Clemson’s loss to North Carolina, Brownell realized that his players had done more positive things throughout the game than he thought. Although the Tigers’ lost by double digits for only the second time this season, Brownell came away from the game knowing that his team played their hardest, just couldn’t make shots when they needed it the most.
“I was probably a little hard on our guys after the game, after watching the film I thought we did more positive things than I thought during the game,” Brownell said. “With 10 minutes to go we were down by only 6 and got five stops in a row but couldn’t score. We got frustrated because first of all it’s hard to stop UNC five times in a row and when you do it in a critical juncture of the game like we did and then you have a team that’s then in a position to make a run and we don’t do it and the game then gets away from us you don’t leave with a very good taste in your mouth. Our guys played pretty well for the first 30-32 minutes, not great because we didn’t make shots but we put ourselves in the position on their court to make the game close against a good team and give ourselves a chance. What you saw in the last 8 minutes is what happens when they get on a roll, they can get away from you in a hurry.”
Each year, Milton Jennings has watched his three point percentage go up, including this season as he’s now considered a 42% three point shooter in conference play. What does Brownell attribute this to?
“I think its more confidence and comfort than anything else,” Brownell said. “It’s something that he needs to be able to do well, especially next year probably. He’s the kind of guy that he can go out here and make 8 in a row on a good day, but more often than you think. He’s a pretty good shooter, I think confidence and comfort have kept him from being as consistent and feeling as comfortable as we need him to be to make those kind of shots. When he has an open three point shot and it’s in rhythm, he needs to shoot it every time, because that’s one of the things that got him so highly rated. That’s what he did in high school and people started rating him high because here’s a 6 foot 9 guy making threes. That’s one of the things that he can do better than some of the things around the basket but he’s working to get better at doing both.”
The Yellow Jackets outrebounded the Tigers’ when they met the first time which is something that Brownell is concerned about and knows that his team will have to do a better job at in order to win.
“They’re a tremendous defensive rebounding team,” Brownell said. “They’ve got some big guys in Miller and Holsey that are physical guys. We didn’t shoot the ball well against them until the power went off so we need to figure out a way to turn the power off in Phillips Arena sometime during the game. We need to make a conscious effort to rebound against them because they’re a very good team and have great size inside.”
Brownell is not worried about his players coming off a 22 point loss to the Tar Heels. The hard thing Brownell believes is that his players haven’t had a day off in a while where they haven’t had to worry about school or basketball.
“In this game you just have to keep getting geared back up,” Brownell said. “You get into a rhythm but the hard thing is that our guys haven’t had a day to themselves in a while where they can do what they want to do without worrying about school or basketball. It’s been hard with the Tuesday games, if it’s Wednesday or Thursday you have Sunday to recharge. That’s the only thing that they have to be charged up all of the time but I would hope our guys are ready to go, the seniors don’t have many games left. The other guys on our team are going to have to do their best to send these seniors out the right way, the competitor in them should be ready to go all of the time, that’s not the case all of the time but it should be.”