Tigers can’t lose sight there is a season to finish
After receiving word he had lost his team leader and star player for the rest of the season, Brad Brownell gathered his players together at the Swann Pavilion on Sunday and explained what it all meant.
Forward Donte Grantham—17th-ranked Clemson’s second leading scorer and rebounder—tore the ACL in his right knee during the second half of the Tigers’ win over Notre Dame this past Saturday. Brownell knew the news would affect his team from the standpoint they all love the senior, who was having the best season of his career.
“There is genuine care, concern and heartbreak for somebody that you love that is going through an unbelievable difficult situation,” Brownell said Monday. “This is hard now.”
And that’s why the Clemson coach wanted to talk to his team. He wanted to make sure they knew it was okay to feel sad, but at the same time they cannot lose sight that there is still a season to continue and they’re going to have to do it without Grantham on the floor.
“The season is going to go on and we are still more than capable of having a great year and doing great things and playing great basketball,” Brownell said. “That is what Donte would want us to do. He did not pass away, he just has an injury.
“He is not going to be able to help us on the court, but he is going to be a leader on the sideline and in practice and encouraging guys.”
Brownell says Grantham will travel with the team and he will be with them on Tuesday when the Tigers visit No. 2 Virginia in Charlottesville, Va. for a 7 p.m. tip. Freshman Aamir Simms and transfer Davis Skara are expected to help replace Grantham in the lineup.
“Certainly, he will talk a lot with Aamir,” Brownell said. “We just have to readjust a few things, and mentally we cannot let this become a problem. This is a piece of adversity that we have to battle through.
“I don’t know if you are ever going to know how guys are doing all the way until you see some behavior. We will just have to wait and see.”
The Clemson coach says the full impact of Grantham’s absence will not just be noticed on the scoreboard. Sure, replacing his 14 points a game will be difficult, as will the way he facilitated the basketball and got his teammates involved, whether it was in transition or with a dribble drive or just kicking it back to an open shooter.
But there is also the leadership on the floor and in the locker room that will be nard to replace.
“That is another piece in losing Donte, I think he can be the settling factor in games,” Brownell said. “There are a lot of things you do on the sideline and this that and the other, but every time there is a free throw or the ball goes out of bounds, the players themselves are talking to each other on the floor. That’s is when, often times, more meaningful conversations really happen, whether it is encouragement, whether it is direction, whether it is one of them being demanding with one another, that is the leadership that is necessary for all good teams.
“Hopefully, Shelton (Mitchell), Marcquise (Reed), Elijah (Thomas) and those guys will continue to do that.”