Playing basketball not exactly at top of Tigers’ list right now

Playing basketball not exactly at top of Tigers’ list right now

Basketball

Playing basketball not exactly at top of Tigers’ list right now

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Clemson returns to practice with a huge game against No. 18 Virginia looming

Though Clemson basketball will host one of its biggest basketball games in quite some time on Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum, the game itself is probably secondary.

The Tigers, ranked No. 12 in the latest Associated Press Poll, will host No. 18 Virginia, but until Wednesday they were not sure they were going to even play after the program was paused due to a positive COVID result within the program last Friday.

Players were eventually cleared for individual workouts on Tuesday and Wednesday the program was able to resume practice, clearing the way for Saturday’s 6 p.m., tip against the Cavaliers (8-2, 4-0 ACC).

“I’m sure there is a little anxiety with the team for a few days, waiting to wonder if I am going to test positive? Who is going to test positive? Where are we? We had a couple of guys contact traced. So, anyway, it is what it is,” head coach Brad Brownell said Friday morning.

It also has not helped that Brownell, nor assistant coach Dick Bender, where able to attend practice the last two days. Brownell returned to his offices at Littlejohn on Friday for the first time since the program was paused last Friday, while Bender still has not returned.

Brownell watched Wednesday’s and Thursday’s practices via Zoom. Coaches Antonio Reynolds Dean, Anthony Goins and Marty Simmons ran practice on the floor.

“It was hard. I don’t think of myself as a control freak, like in the office every day. I am not a micromanager probably until it comes to the court a little bit and then I get to be more of a micromanager and want things done the way I like them done,” Brownell said. “So, that was hard. I have not missed many practices in my career as an assistant or as a head coach. To have to Zoom call your staff and talk about what you want done and then watch the practice…

“I had my phone, and I was calling Coach Simmons in the middle of practice a couple of times. ‘The spacing needs to be better in this situation or defensively, I don’t like the way we are guarding that, so we need to do this or whatnot.’ But it wasn’t as good, and I do think it is a difference when a head coach is there and not there. It is just human nature for players and staff, so I am extremely excited and ready for practice right now.”

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