Brownell previews 2010-11 season

CLEMSON - Three days away from the 2010-11 season opener against Western Carolina, men's basketball coach Brad Brownell talks about the upcoming season one last time.

Opening statement...
Brownell: I don't know who is going to start for the Tigers. It's only Tuesday. Pleased with the way our guys have worked so far this year. Practice has been pretty spirited. We've stayed healthy which is critical with this team. Our spirit and mood is very good. We are looking forward to getting started. Have a lot of respect for Larry Hunter, he's done the Ohio- North Carolina route just like I have.

They have an athletic group. Two athletic guards coming back in Jackson and Mutumbo. They are athletic inside as well after winning 22 games last year.

Most importantly we are just ready to get started. Was pleased with our exhibition. Got a lot of guys a lot of minutes.

Do you wish you had more time to prepare?
Brownell: Probably could use a little bit more time. Especially when you take over a new job. You have 12 or 13 freshmen instead of one. Your learning curve is slower and everything takes longer. You call out drills and say things you think your guys know because you are used to your team knowing what you want. You have to take so much time to re-teach. I don't know that everybody is comfortable with what we are doing. Certainly I'd like more time but our players are excited to play.

Are you excited to get that first game under your belt last Friday night?
Brownell: Excited if it goes well. If it doesn't go well I won't be very excited. That's part of it. As a coach you just worry about being ready as opposed to playing. I'm excited about coaching a live game for Clemson and all those kinds of things.

What's your favorite part of this team?
Brownell: I think there is a good thirst for knowledge. I think they are excited about a new way of doing things. From day one, even during skill work in the spring, they've been excited about a new voice and what was taught to them early in terms of individual skill improvement. I think it's challenging.

How has the transition been for the veteran guys like Demontez and Jerai?
Brownell: It's not that much. You'd have to get that answer from them. I think they've been good. They are enjoying learning some new things. They are enjoying playing a little bit of a different way. We are still a little bit aggressively defensively. We aren't zone pressing all the time trying to steal the ball in the first seven or eight seconds. Offensively, they have a little more freedom to read and react in different situations. It's hard for them in the sense it's a different offense and not one that comes easy.

"Nobody is going to do what Trevor did last year. We don't have anybody to impact a game like Trevor did. In terms of competitive spirit, I think Demontez will do well with that. Jerai as well. Both guys have a right to be leaders in this program."

Demontez Stitt and Jerai Grant- are they the leaders of the team like Trevor Booker was last year?
Brownell: Nobody is going to do what Trevor did last year. We don't have anybody to impact a game like Trevor did. In terms of competitive spirit, I think Demontez will do well with that. Jerai as well. Both guys have a right to be leaders in this program.

What about Bobo? How is he doing?
Brownell: He's doing well. I don't know he's ready to do a double-double every night. I've been impressed with Bobo early on from the standpoint of his willingness to learn and work. The added weight has helped him. We've also done a good job of coaching his confidence a little bit. He and Milt are both kind of guys you have to talk to them a lot and show 'em film and reinforce things and coach them a lot different ways.

Noel was 6-of-14 the other day- did you tell him that's what you were expecting?
Brownell: I didn't go in and talk to Noel and say we want you take 14 shots. Some guys have that mentality and some don't. I don't think Jerai Grant is wired that way. He's not wired that way to do that. He doesn't feel he has to do that all of the time or looks to do. He plays the game another way. For Noel, he's an aggressive scorer. He wants to shoot shots. That's what he does.

What about Cory Stanton?
Brownell: He's done fine. We are pleased. Long way to go as a player. He's come in physically and competing hard. He's physically ready to play, for not long periods of time but short stints. He can make a shot. He's got a long ways to go from the mental part of basketball. Especially as a guard.

Are guys still competing for starting spots or are you just holding out on naming the starting five for Friday?
Brownell: I'm not a huge guy - media guys make a big deal out of who starts. Some parents do too. Who is finishing games is much more important. If I could pick starting our finishing, I'd want to be finishing. Andre and Demontez will start most every game. I don't know who else- maybe Tanner or Noel. I want some things to be competitive. I don't know - I've had the same starting lineup 30 games in a row and changed it 10 times in the season. I want Andre Demontez in there. We'll see about our big guys and who is playing well. They haven't separated themselves enough. There's more fair competition. It will depend on who's playing well.

Do you feel any different about your guys as shooters compared to a few months ago?
Brownell: We've worked on it a lot. Especially in August, September, early October. Do I think it's better? I hope it's better. I don't know for certain. I hope we are making strides in that area. I don't think we are littered with lights-out shooters but we've got some. We've got some guys that can make shots. Some of them haven't done it as often. I think our shooting is improving. I do.

Sounds like you expect Demontez and Andre on the floor a lot at the same time. How do you anticipate that dynamic to work?
Brownell: We've For me I want basketball players. There will be guys who dribble the court up more. We'll have a guy jump at center. If Demontez needs to handle the ball he'll handle the ball. Same thing with Andre Young. I don't think there is one guy who is a primary ball handler and our offense doesn't work if he doesn't have it. Andre is our best shooter. He's not a prototypical two guard. He's 5-10. But he certainly shoots it well enough and he can handle the ball well enough to handle the offense.

How comfortable are you with your depth?
Brownell: We are going to have to play them all. It's not going to be like last Friday where everybody has between 24-26 minutes. I've had eight guys for certain always average double-figure minutes. I'd like to have one or two more bodies in practice because we wear down a little bit. We don't have enough quality players out there in terms of bodies to keep grinding it out. That's going to be a challenge coaching this team this season. I like to practice a lot. I like to be on the court a lot. We haven't had any practices that have gone two and a half hours. A lot of them are two. But in terms of personnel. We've got eight, nine, 10 guys that can give up some minutes.

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