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Clemson Basketball

Brad Brownell 'relatively optimistic' that the basketball season will finish

January 4, 2021

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On if he thought the team would be as good as they have been:

"Well, I didn't know how good we were going to be. I'm certainly really pleased with our players, and how they performed. As much as anything, I'm just pleased with the fact that they've been able to play all but one of our games. We've been able to stay COVID-free. I think that's really helped our team, build some rhythm.

We've had good practices, and I was optimistic about our team. I've said before-- we had Nick Honor and Al-Amir Dawes and played similarly to how we're playing now when we won the World University Games in the summer of '19. We kind of had seen that this could work and that we liked it, and playing those two little guys, and being able to keep a fresh point guard on the floor to attack, I think has been good for our team.

Then you have to wait and see what it's going to be like in this year's college basketball with COVID and everything. Guys have just done really well. It's worked out well for us. We've played at a high level. We've tried to play a lot of players.

I'm happy that our guys are being rewarded for all their hard work because we came back in June, had a minor COVID situation then and had to sit out for a couple of weeks, and have stayed relatively COVID free since then. I think it's benefited our team, but also I'm just happy for our players because they've worked really hard to last several months."

On if he thought they would be this strong defensively:

"Yeah, no. I thought we could be good, but we've probably exceeded expectations in that regard to some degree right now. I think what's a little more remarkable about it is we really don't have a shot blocker. That makes it much more challenging in this day and age to be playing that well defensively without shot-blocking.

I don't know that we're the second-best team in the country defensively. I would doubt that. But we are good. Our guys do a good job of competing on that end. That certainly has helped us win several games this year. So you know, I don't know if I agree with the number there and all those other things. I thought we would be good defensively. We've probably exceeded expectations in that regard."

On his optimism of finishing the season now vs. in October:

"In October, I would probably tell you I didn't know what to think. I wasn't sure how it would go. I'm relatively optimistic. I know we're gonna have setbacks. I don't think anybody thought that we wouldn't. We're gonna have more cancellations-- postponements. That's part of it.

But also, I'm excited for these kids to be able to compete and play. Because I know without basketball, I think it's really tough right now -- it's even more challenging for these kids. I think basketball has been an unbelievable release for our players.

Starting back when our guys couldn't be together when our guys were away from each other for two months, and we're all kind of cooped up in their homes. They couldn't wait to get back and just see one another. They couldn't wait to get back and get in the gym. Some of them didn't have places to even shoot and couldn't leave their houses. They don't all have baskets at their house. Just to be able to get away, get back to being together, playing the game they love-- competing.

I think it's done a lot for their mental health and just their overall spirit. I'm hopeful and optimistic that we're going to be able to finish the season, I think there are going to be challenges, and there's going to be cancellations, but I'm hopeful, just like football, that we're going to get through it-- whatever it may look like. 

It may be different, teams are gonna play 15 games, 20 games, 23 games, whatever it may be, but I'm hopeful that we can get through it as best we can, obviously safely."

On if this is the most depth he’s had at Clemson:

"Yeah, I'm so bad about remembering what team had what and all those kinds of things. Probably yes. We have played 11 and 12 guys in games. So the answer is probably yes. I don't think that means this is my most talented team. I think my Sweet 16 team a couple of years back was probably more talented.

I think we have great depth. We can play 9-10, sometimes 11 guys in a game. I don't think there's a major drop off. Aamir Simms is our elite player. I think we have a lot of other really good players. But the depth certainly has worked in our favor a good bit so far this year."

On the matchup with NC State:

"Yeah, Kevin's (Keatts) got a really good team. They're very deep. Similar styles, we're playing more full-court defense like they usually do. Kevin's always done that. He does a great job with it.

Everybody talks about Leonard (Hamilton), and obviously, they've (FSU) had tremendous success doing it. But Kevin's done it a long time, as well.

Their freshmen have really been terrific for them. Obviously, they've got experienced players. Funderburk is a really, really good big guy who can play all over the floor too. They've got really good players, they've got great depth. Their young guys have really proven that they're good and can win. Some of them are in there at the end of the big game. Shakeel Moore made a huge shot against Boston College. So yeah, it should be a great game. We're gonna have to play exceptionally well to win."

On the types of challenges is NC State present offensively:

"I think they've got a lot of guys that can make plays. They make a lot of individual plays. They attack you and close out, and they can score on a post a little bit. They've got big, strong athletes-- Bates and Funderburk. They've got guards that can make threes. They got guys that can put it on the ground and drive you with big bodies. Their freshmen are coming off the bench and scoring seven or eight points a game in 16 minutes. I mean, that's, that's two 16 point scores if they played starter minutes, 32 minutes a game.

There's just a lot of weapons. You don't know exactly who it's going to be any night. Braxton Beverley has obviously 'snake bit' us a couple of times with big threes. They just have a lot of guys that are good players. Kevin gets them spaced out really well. They're excellent in pick and roll offense. So there's just a lot of different ways they can go. They rebound the fire out of the ball-- that's always challenging as well. So there's a lot of things you got to deal with when you play them."

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Brad Brownell 'relatively optimistic' that the basketball season will finish

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