Photo by © Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Brownell updates Elijah Thomas' health before matchup with Saint Peter's

December 3, 2018
799

Clemson forward Elijah Thomas has had a rough go of it through the first seven games of the season. He’s had to deal with sprained ankles and was under the weather, which kept him from practicing with the team consistently.

But there’s some good news for Clemson basketball fans: head coach Brad Brownell said Thomas is “pretty much” 100 percent after a strong, consistent week of practice.

“Eli’s ability to practice consistently for a full week has really been good. It’s really the first full week that he’s been able to practice all year,” Brownell said. “Hopefully that shows in the way he plays this week.”

Clemson (5-2) is coming off two straight losses, the first being an 87-82 loss to Creighton in the Cayman Islands and the other being a 68-66 gut-punch to Nebraska at home. Since the loss to Nebraska, the Tigers got the rest of the week to regroup on the practice court.

Going into their matchup with Saint Peter’s on Tuesday night, Clemson will have had eight days to rest and improve.

“I think this was a good break for us,” Brownell said. In basketball, you play games and it can be good if you are in a good rhythm. You play two, sometimes three, games in eight days. It’s hard to get into the gym and practice on the things you need to improve.

“The one good thing that came out of Nebraska is we found some things that we need to get better at and we’ve been in the gym this last week working on it, especially on the defensive end.”

Thomas played 17 minutes against Creighton and 22 minutes against Nebraska, his two lowest outings of the season. Brownell noted that the three games in three days at the Cayman’s took a toll on Thomas’ conditioning.

Having Thomas back at practice this week has not only helped his game improve and get back to the way it was before getting banged up, but it also helped his teammates.

“It’s just timing and rhythm with your teammates. When you’re not out there every day in practice, the timing of a play, the timing of the screen, the timing of a post feed - and it’s just physically being able to play at a level over longer periods of time is what happens when you get yourself in really good shape.”

Thomas is averaging 11 points and 6.6 rebound per game this season. His most recent game against Nebraska, he scored 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting in those 17 minutes of action. The longer he can on the floor, the better Clemson will be.

Tomorrow’s game against Saint Peter’s at home at 7:00 PM will be a chance for Thomas and Clemson to get back into a winning rhythm before a matchup on the road against No. 22 Mississippi State on Saturday.

“I think our guys have responded pretty well,” Brownell added “I’m anxious to see how we play tomorrow. Time to get back out there. We obviously don’t have a very good taste in our mouth…”

 

Additional Quotes:

-- Opening statement:

“Been a good couple days for our guys. I think we’ve really worked hard in practice and I think we’ve gotten better. I think it’s been really good for Eli, who as people know has been under the weather and has had some ankle injuries so he hasn’t been healthy enough to practice. We finally got him to have a week of consistent practices, which I think has been good. We feel like he’s playing better. Defensively, we’ve really worked on a couple things - pick-and-roll coverages to be more consistent, rebounding, individual defense. Things that we need to get after. And I think our guys have responded pretty well.”

–- Mentality of the team after two close losses:

“I think so. I don’t think anybody was happy after the loss. I think we played well in spurts and I thought it was one of those games where the stats from both teams were basically identical. Nebraska just made one more play, maybe two more plays than we did. We obviously watched the film and dissected it and saw some things that we need to do better on the defensive end. We’ve been hard at work trying to improve that. It’s been nice to have a little bit of time to kind of get ready. It’s been nice to have a week. Once you start playing games in basketball, really with the exhibition you almost play every three or four days. The trip to the Cayman’s, we’re playing three games in three days, you’re not practicing. So it’s hard to improve on your weaknesses and I think we’ve tried to identify some things we’ve got to get better at and the guys have done a good job this week of doing that.”

–- Eli Thomas 100 percent?

“He’s pretty much 100 percent now. I’m sure occasionally the ankles bother him a little bit, but he’s fine. He’s just needed consistent work for rhythm and timing and a little bit of conditioning. I think all that you could see in the last couple of games, especially the three games in three days in the Grand Cayman’s was a little bit challenging. I think sometimes when he’s not in great shape, I think he fouls. You get tired mentally and physically, you let down. That’s been a problem in the couple of games we’ve lost is he’s been in foul trouble.”

– Positives of having Eli at practice consistently:

“It’s just timing and rhythm with your teammates. When you’re not out there every day in practice, the timing of a play, the timing of the screen, the timing of a post feed - and it’s just physically being able to play at a level over longer periods of time is what happens when you get yourself in really good shape. Eli came in in good shape into the season. He had a really good spring and summer. But just a little bit unfortunate that in our fall practices he twisted his ankles and got sick for a few days. He’s just had to battle through it. I was really surprised he was able to play in one of the games earlier in the year.”

 
×
Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.