Brownell's biggest concern as Clemson hoops ramps back up

Brownell's biggest concern as Clemson hoops ramps back up

Basketball

Brownell's biggest concern as Clemson hoops ramps back up

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Clemson’s men’s basketball team will play Virginia for the second time in as many games today, but Brad Brownell’s biggest concern has nothing to do with the Tigers’ opponent.

Clemson beat the Cavaliers on the road back on Dec. 22, which is the last time the Tigers (9-4, 1-1 ACC) have played a game. Clemson’s ACC home opener against No. 2 Duke, originally scheduled for last week, was postponed because of coronavirus-related issues within the Blue Devils’ program. Clemson then had a built-in bye on the schedule over the weekend.

Brownell said there won’t be many changes in terms of the Tigers’ game plan for Virginia (8-5, 2-1) which Clemson handled 67-50 in Charlottesville the first time around. His primary concern after such a long layoff is an obvious one.

“My concern is more about us and us being sharp,” Brownell said. “You’ve got to be sharp when you play them. You’ve got to execute well. You’ve got to run your stuff great. You’ve got to be on point defensively. My concern is more of just our execution and our readiness to get back and compete at a high level. You’ve got to be ready to compete at a high level physically in this game, and we just haven’t played for a while.”

Clemson was playing some of its best basketball before the longer-than-anticipated break. The win over Virginia was the Tigers’ fourth straight, making for their second-longest winning streak of the season.

Meanwhile, Virginia has played since the teams’ first first meeting. The Cavaliers traveled to Syracuse on Saturday and pulled out a 74-69 win at the Carrier Dome.

As for how Clemson has tried to maintain its edge during its layoff, Brownell said the team reconvened on Dec. 26 after a brief Christmas break and has practiced nearly every day – and sometimes twice a day. Brownell said the Tigers have done “a little bit of everything” to take advantage of their preparation time, including skill work, scrimmages and even some weight training to try to keep the players as game-ready as possible.

“Had a couple of normal practices where we got after it pretty good defensively,” Brownell said. “We ran our guys for a couple of days after Christmas to kind of run the gravy out of their legs, if you will. But then here recently, we’ve done more competitive type of play to try to get ready for game day, but nothing is like being under the lights. That’s just different.”

Brownell added Clemson is “good” from a health standpoint, and the extra time off has given some of the Tigers a chance to heal up. Sophomore big P.J. Hall (foot) and senior forward Hunter Tyson (ankle) are both good to go after taking a few days off from practice recently, Brownell said.

The only thing left to do is compete again. Clemson’s first game at Littlejohn Coliseum since Dec. 18 is set for a 9 p.m. tip.

“We need to play,” Brownell said. “We need to get back out there and compete, and I think our guys will be excited.”

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