Brownell proud of how Tigers played tough, improved and never gave up

Brownell proud of how Tigers played tough, improved and never gave up

Basketball

Brownell proud of how Tigers played tough, improved and never gave up

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Clemson players gave their coach, fans a lot of fun moments in 2019-’20

When he thinks back to this season, Brad Brownell will remember the three top 6 wins over Duke, Louisville and Florida State the most. Not because they were great victories, but because of how much fun it was to watch his players celebrate with the Clemson fans.

“Court storming on your home court after beating great teams and how much fun our fans had celebrating with our players, the students jumping around with our players … those are great memories that our players will always have,” Clemson’s head basketball coach said to The Clemson Insider. “I think it was a really fun basketball season. We had two games were we basically won with one or two seconds left … Syracuse and Florida State. You go years without making a basket at the buzzer to win. You will go two or three years without having those kinds of games and we had two of those this year.

“There were just tremendous highs. I thought our kids showed a lot of grit and character. We dealt with a lot of injuries, lineup changes, who is in and who is out, trying to bring somebody in, then losing this guy. Ultimately, we did not get to the NCAA Tournament, but it was a fun season.”

Though the Tigers finished the season 16-15, Brownell liked the way his team played and executed. He said they played closer to their “max level” than a lot of teams they played against.

“We were not a team that could physically dominate our opponent and win. We really had to win through execution,” Brownell said. “If we did not execute on both ends, we did not win. We did not have a shot blocker to help us protect the basket and help us make up for the mistakes, like we had when we had Eli [Elijah Thomas]. We did not have guys that could just overpower somebody physically. We had to really execute to win.

“That is what made our margin very small. On nights when we did not shoot well and we did not play great defense, we were very susceptible to losing. On games when we did play well, we had chances to beat good teams and we did beat good teams.”

Clemson guard Al-Amir Dawes (2) drives to the basket between Miami forwards Keith Stone (4), and Sam Waardenburg (21) during the second round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament, Wednesday, March 11, 2020 in Greensboro. (Bart Boatwright/The Clemson Insider)

The main thing Brownell liked about the 2019-’20 season is how much the Tigers improved as the season went along and how they did get down on themselves, even during a four-game losing streak in November and December or when they lost three straight games to start the ACC season.

They even overcame consecutive losses to close the regular season by beating Miami in the second round of the ACC Tournament. And how did they do it, they executed by hitting 18-of-19 free throws and shooting 56.5 percent from the field in the second half.

“I thought this team improved a lot and I thought they were fun to watch and I thought they were a team that showed a lot of heart,” Brownell said. “We had ten wins this year when we were down ten points or more. We had five 10-point comebacks in the second half. There are seasons when you only do that once or twice. That was tremendous.

“These guys, really, I am proud of them. I thought they had to deal with a lot of adversity and we got a lot out of our team this year.”

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