For Brad Brownell, one of the most frustrating parts of the coronavirus pandemic, when it comes to being head coach of the Clemson men’s basketball team, is not being able to get in the gym and work with his players as he is usually able to do this time of year.
Brownell is a hands-on coach who enjoys teaching his players, helping them improve their skills and molding them into better basketball players. Typically, at this time of the year, coaches are allowed to work with their players in one-on-one capacities and go over what they want them to work on during the summer.
However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of Clemson’s basketball operations are grounded and the majority of its players are at home finishing school with their e-learning programs while also trying to hone their crafts as players.
So, all Brownell and his staff can really do is nudge their players in the right direction and help them focus on a couple of areas where they can improve their games. From there, it is up to the players to put in the work themselves.
“The hardest part for us is we really can’t instruct them,” Brownell said to The Clemson Insider recently. “We can’t coach them, we can’t work with them. So, there’s some of it that they’ve got to do on their own, and we’re just encouraging them to try to pick one or two things that they can get better at, and let’s attack that. I think just giving them a little direction hopefully will help them be a little more motivated to work.”
For example, Brownell has told his players to practice things such as dribbling with the weak hand for 15 minutes in the driveway. Or, for Trey Jemison, taking 100 hook shots with his right hand and then 100 hook shots with the left.
Brownell isn’t asking his guys to kill themselves working out all day every day, but he hopes they will take the time each day to try and make sure they are improved players when they return to Clemson.
“That’s why I just talked to them about hey guys, you don’t need to be doing stuff for hours and hours,” he said. “If you spend 30 minutes working on something… We’ve got a couple guys that we’ve suggested to them, hey, you may not have a hoop but you can lay down on the floor and you can work on your form shooting. Shoot 100 perfect form shots every day. If you do that every day for a month, your shot will get better. You’ll feel like the ball’s coming off your hand in a better way.”
This is a challenging situation for Brownell, his coaching staff and the players, but they are trying to do the best they can with the hand they have been dealt. Programs around the country are in a similar boat.
For the Tigers, how they respond to the challenge will play a big part in determining what kind of team they will be next season.
“Really to be honest with you, this is where your players have to take the next step in their growth as young men,” Brownell said. “This is where they’ve got to grab ahold of their lives and decide that they want to take the next step and be motivated and hungry to improve.”
–Will Vandervort contributed to this story
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