Tigers playing with a greater sense of urgency as it hits the last 2 weeks of the season
After almost being run out of their own building by 16th-ranked Florida State earlier this week, Clemson needed time. They needed time to rest, recharge and get refocused.
Head coach Brad Brownell gave the Tigers Wednesday off. When they came back to practice on Thursday, Brownell, along with guard Marcquise Reed, could see there was something different about the team.
“We have had a sense of urgency the last two days in practice,” Reed said after Clemson’s 76-66 victory over Boston College on Saturday. “We took a day off after Florida State to get our mind right. I think guys came to play.”
Reed definitely came to play. The senior scored a career-high 31 points to pace the Tigers, including nine points during a 10-0 run late in the second half that propelled his team to a key ACC victory at Littlejohn Coliseum.
Clemson (16-11, 6-8 ACC) was in desperate need of a victory to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive after losing three straight games prior to Saturday. The Tigers moved up one spot from No. 44 to No. 43 in the latest NET Rankings following their win over BC.
“Yeah, it is hard. It is a competitive conference. You just can’t get your head down,” Reed said.
The NET Rankings are the official NCAA rankings the selection committee will use to help pick its tournament field next month. The selection committee will select 36 at-large teams.
Clemson likely needs to win three of its final four regular-season games to be in a position to earn a bid.
“We think about it a little bit, but we want to focus on us and take it one game at a time,” Reed said. “We just have to keep practicing.”
And they need to keep that same sense of urgency they displayed in practice the previous two days and against the Eagles when the game was on the line Saturday afternoon.
“We are here at the end. There are just two weeks for these guys,” Brownell said. “You just want to make sure they are competing as hard as they can and understand that there is a lot out there to play for.
“We have a good team, but we don’t have a great team. So, our margin for error is small like a lot of teams. But when we do a lot of things well, we can play with just about anybody. But it takes that.”
Once again, the Tigers got very little production from their bench. Reed played all 40 minutes, while fellow starters Elijah Thomas, David Skara, Aamir Simms and Shelton Mitchell played no fewer than 30 minutes. Mitchell played 36 minutes.
In all, Clemson’s bench was outscored 9-2 by Boston College and has been outscored 39-4 in the last two games. This is an area Brownell and his coaching staff is aware of and is an issue they are trying to address the best way they can.
“I just have to keep watching our team and making sure we have enough juice on game day because our starters are clearly our best players,” he said. “They played a lot of minutes and I have to make sure I am doing a good job that these guys are in a position to be able to play hard for a long period of time.”