Clemson men’s basketball coach Brad Brownell is optimistic he will get to start working with his players some time this summer. However, he doesn’t feel like that is going to happen in May.
So, for the time being, Brownell says he and his players are being challenged by a situation none of them have ever been in before. How they respond to this challenge will go a long way into being the kind of basketball team they can be next season.
Like it has everywhere, the COVID-19 pandemic has grounded most of the basketball operations at Clemson. The majority of the players are at home finishing school with their e-learning program, while also trying to improve as basketball players as well.
Usually, at this time of the year, coaches are allowed to work with their players in one-on-one capacities, kind of going over what they want them to work on during the summer so they can become better basketball players.
“That is the real challenge right now. We have never had a situation like this, so being a leader of your program, you are trying to figure out what is best to keep your program moving forward,” Brownell said to The Clemson Insider. “The part that is frustrating is that I love to work with my players on basketball. To be able to get in the gym with my guys and help them improve their skills and make them better basketball players.
“This time of the year is always fun because this is when you are really trying to develop them as players. You are changing shots. You are working on skills. You are teaching them some off-season improvement. So, that is going to be a drastic difference if we don’t have players all spring and much of the summer.”
Brownell said he did his exit interviews with each of his players two weeks ago, and he told them they had to be self-starters. He gave each them a couple of basketball items, besides doing their off-season conditioning program, that he wanted them to do while they were at home.
Things such as dribbling with the weak hand for 15 minutes in the driveway. Or, in Trey Jemison’s case, taking 100 hook shots with the right hand and then 100 hook shots with the left. They want to see guard Nick Honor improve his communications skills.
Brownell asked the point guard, who he describes as a shy person, to call his teammates and coaches during this time of isolation and force himself to talk to them.
“We try to be really intentional and specific about one or two measurable things that you can get better at as a player,” Brownell said. “You are just trying to give them some ideas and directions to do things, but then it is up to them to want to do them or not. We can’t force them to do things.
“This is a challenging time for us because you don’t have as much control as you normally do. You try to do the same thing with your staff. We have tried to use this as a period of reflection and things they do well. What do they want to improve as coaches? What do they want to see from the program so we can get better? Hopefully, as a program, when we get to the end of the month, we can reconnect a little bit and figure out what kind of progress we have made and go from there for the month of May.”
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