From the moment he met Amanda Butler, Clemson men’s basketball coach Brad Brownell knew she was going to do a good job with the women’s program.
The Lady Tigers are having their best start in almost two decades. Through almost the first half of the ACC schedule, Clemson is 5-2 in league play and 14-6 overall. It has a serious shot at making the NCAA Tournament, as it is currently projected as a No. 7 seed.
The Tigers had their five-game conference win streak, their longest since 2000, snapped Thursday night in Raleigh to No. 8 NC State. However, Clemson nearly pulled off the upset as a late rally fell just short in a 54-51 loss.
“Amanda is doing a terrific job,” Brownell said. “I have been impressed with her from the first time we met. We talked basketball a couple of times already. She is doing a great job. I am not surprised.”
Clemson has nine games left in the regular season and getting to 20 wins is a very realistic possibility.
“I am really happy for the girls on the team that they’re having success and hopefully, it will continue to be a good year for them,” he said.
The women’s next game is on Jan. 31 when they host top-ranked Notre Dame at Littlejohn Coliseum. Clemson is expecting a good crowd because of the Irish coming into town and also due to the Tigers’ success this year.
“When you get into coaching, more than anything, you start to develop relationships with players,” Brownell said. “Because we see the girls so much, you start to get to know a few of them. As much as anything, you are just really happy to watch their players smiling and having fun, being successful and winning.
“We know how hard they work, just like our guys. They are in here a lot. They put in a ton of time, whether it is in the weight room, coming in to get extra shots, whether they are practicing.”
Brownell hopes the women’s success can flow over to the men’s side, too. Though the Tigers are coming off a Sweet 16 run from a year ago, Clemson is struggling to start the ACC season with a 1-4 record. It will travel and face No. 21 NC State Saturday in Raleigh. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
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