In a basketball season that’s as unpredictable as any before, Tigers confident they can make a run in the ACC Tournament
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Sixty-six times Clemson has played in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Men’s Basketball Tournament and 66 times it has left the game’s most prestigious conference tournament with a loss.
Clemson is still the only original charter member of the ACC not to win an ACC Tournament Championship. The tournament has not been good to the Tigers over the years.
But could this be the year?
No one thought Clemson would ever win a game in Chapel Hill prior to this season, but the Tigers finally got over that hump this year with a victory on the 60th try. So, with the ACC Championship as wide open as it ever has been, why not? Why not Clemson?
In a season in which the Tigers (15-15, 9-11 ACC) have proven they can beat anyone on any given night, as well as lose to anyone, who truly knows what they will do when they step on the floor at the Greensboro Coliseum today for their noon tipoff against No. 9 seed Miami.
Clemson, the No. 8 seed in this year’s tournament, feels like they have a pretty good shot, despite the fact it ended the season with losses in three of its last four games.
“We have beaten some of the better teams in our league,” head coach Brad Brownell said. “So, there is evidence we can do it. It is not just hope.”
Besides winning for the first time in Chapel Hill, the Tigers also beat No. 1 seed Florida State, No. 3 Louisville and No. 4 Duke. At the time of those wins, Duke, Louisville and Florida State were ranked inside the Associated Press’ top 6 … the first time in the program’s history it has defeated three top 6 teams in the AP Poll era.
“We have to play great, and we know that, but that is okay. You are going to have to do that in these settings,” Brownell said. “Every team can kind of dust themselves off a little bit and point to new life. You are going to get most people’s A-game when they play in these tournaments. They are going to be excited.
“We are all playing for something really special and you are going to have everybody’s attention. Every team is going to be prepared and ready to put their best foot forward.”
Brownell says the Tigers’ last two loses to close the regular season have probably brought them back to where they are supposed to be. And for them to get hot and make a run at a first ever tournament championship they will have to execute.
“I have told you guys all year we have to really execute,” Brownell said. “We don’t have a shot blocker so when guys get inside that can be a problem and late in the game [against Georgia Tech], we let them get inside us a little bit.
“Then offensively, we have to make a lot of shots because we just can’t throw the ball inside and score. Aamir [Simms] is a good player and he can score a little bit down there but against the really big guys in our league it is hard for him, so now, it’s more shot making and there are times we take a few too many threes, but that’s part of us learning how to be a better team and a smarter team and being a little more efficient.”
Clemson’s journey to be a better and smarter team begins today against Miami, or it could very well end before it gets started.
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