When Clemson women’s basketball head coach Amanda Butler arrived at Clemson in April, she knew the pieces were in place for them to be successful in year one.
Despite having a successful past the Lady Tigers had fallen off from the glory days in recent years. They won just five games in four seasons under Audra Smith and had struggled to even reach mediocrity in the ACC despite winning a couple of games.
Now Clemson is off to a hot start to the 2018-19 campaign with a 14-5 record and 5-1 start in ACC play. They also notched a top-25 wins over No. 22 Florida State and at No. 25 Miami.
The renewed success has Clemson fans fired up for women’s basketball and the attention locally following football season has turned to the Lady Tigers. But, Butler says the success began in April and started with the buying in from seniors before she made any adjustments.
In fact, Butler did not even have to ask, but felt it the first time she walked into the team meeting room in Littlejohn Coliseum prior to her introductory press conference.
“There was never a time I didn’t feel a buy-in, I give them so much credit for their eagerness to discover how good they can be and their willingness to have an open mind about how a new group we just met wants to do things,” Butler said to the media on Tuesday ahead of their matchup with North Carolina State today in Raleigh.
A lot of times when a team has unprecedented success, at least in recent memory, the spotlight can be too much to handle and too much stock is put into win streaks. However, the Lady Tigers are not over hyped by the success but focusing on their own development in the first year of the coaching transition.
“We aren’t feeling more proud because of how we were last year or less proud because we lost some game we shouldn’t have,” Butler said. “We are trying to make sure our focus is one hundred percent where our feet are right now,” she said.
The Tigers face a heavy test on Thursday when they travel to Raleigh in an NC State team that is on a roll. The Wolfpack are a perfect 18-0 and 5-0 in conference play, a daunting test for a Tiger team that is rebounding off a difficult few years.
But the Lady Tigers are not fearing the test facing them later this week because they know winning is not the ultimate goal for the program.
“The by-product has been winning, we never set out to say let’s win so many games,” Butler said. “We want to be the best version of ourselves day to day and that will be our challenge on Thursday,” he said.
Clemson tips off at 7 p.m. against the undefeated Wolfpack on the ACC Network Extra.