COVID strikes again after Tigers find their mojo

COVID strikes again after Tigers find their mojo

Basketball

COVID strikes again after Tigers find their mojo

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More details on Clemson’s pause and the team’s psyche after a second stoppage in play

The Clemson men’s basketball program will be on pause for a second time this season after Sunday night testing revealed positive results for the coronavirus.

Subsequently, the Tigers postponed their Wednesday date at Notre Dame, and Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh could be in jeopardy depending on contacting tracing or other possible positive results within the program.

During his weekly call with the ACC media on Monday, Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said the program will be paused for at least two or three more days as they try to figure out what is going on.

“We have been fortunate that we have not had many players get it so that is a good thing, but obviously, that is a dangerous thing too,” Brownell said. “We have had some, and we have to be careful, so we are on pause here for at least a couple of days to try and test and find out how rampant it is in our program.

“Hopefully, like the last time, it is not too many folks, but you have people that are contact traced and out for ten days and a couple of people that obviously have it will be out a week or whatnot. So, we will see what happens here in the next few days.”

As mentioned, this is the second time this season the men’s basketball program has been paused at Clemson. It was paused on Jan. 8, just as the Tigers were about to head to Chapel Hill to play North Carolina on Jan. 9.

The Tigers (13-5, 7-5 ACC) did not return to action until Jan. 16, when they lost to Virginia at home. Prior to the first pause, Clemson was 9-1 and riding high. They then were blow out by Virginia, Georgia Tech and Florida State before bouncing back and winning four of their last five.

“We did not play well for a couple of weeks, and it was not all COVID related. Then the last two weeks we have gotten back to playing the right way and have won four out of five,” Brownell said. “We had a spirited practice, as you would assume, yesterday. It was eerily similar to when we called them off the court the Friday before we were supposed to go to North Carolina when our guys were about to practice but had a good Thursday practice and excited for Friday. But we had to take them off the court.

“So, it is hard because a lot of this in these long seasons … the morale of your team, the spirit of your team and where your team is at that time is often as important as anything you do as a coach. Are your guys in a good frame of mind? Are you confident? Are you practicing well? Do you have guys in a good mental state, probably this year more than any, both individually and collectively as a group?

Clemson has won three straight games, beating North Carolina, Syracuse and Georgia Tech. It beat the Yellow Jackets, 74-72, on Friday when Nick Honor banked in a game-winning shot with 1.1 seconds to play.

“Needless to say, after the last two weeks, after we won four out of five, you have a nice last-second-fun win like we did against Georgia Tech and your team is in a really good place and you want to play,” Brownell said. “But, obviously, you can’t jeopardize the health of your players or putting another team at risk in this situation. That is first and foremost in all of this.”

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