Tigers will look to Stitt

Coach Brad Brownell still doesn't have his first career technical foul, but senior guard Demontez Stitt earned his in the Tigers' 69-60 victory over Virginia Tech in their regular-season finale on March 5.

"Everybody wonders why I haven't gotten a technical yet," Brownell said. "Well, the reason is because I'm too busy trying to keep Demontez from getting them all the time."

But Brownell wouldn't have it any other way.

Stitt's fighting spirit has carried the Tigers to a school-record fifth consecutive 20-win season.

"That's why he's good -- he's competitive," Brownell said. "That's his fire."

After accepting the job at Clemson last April, Brownell quickly grasped Stitt's attitude. "It took me only a week to realize that he's a foxhole kind of guy -- one of those guys you want in your foxhole," Brownell said. "We connected, and there's been a respect factor ever since. I value his opinion and judgment."

Stitt unquestionably makes the Tigers go. He's their leading scorer and inspirational leader. In December, he returned to action just nine days after arthroscopic knee surgery, and he played at Duke on March 2 and scored 14 points despite having strep throat.

And without question he'll have the biggest say in just how far the Tigers can advance in the upcoming ACC Tournament in Greensboro, too.

With the win over Virginia Tech on March 5, coach Brad Brownell tied the Clemson record for victories in a season by a first-year coach. Brownell finished the regular season 20-10, matching Larry Shyatt, who was 20-15 in his first year, 1998-99. Four of Shyatt's wins came in the NIT.

* Clemson's 69-60 win over Virginia Tech on March 5 gave the Tigers' senior class an 88-40 record over their four seasons -- the third most in school history for a class. It also was the 37th regular-season win in ACC play, which is the most in a four-year period in Clemson history.

* Clemson finished 9-7 in the ACC for a third consecutive season after posting a 10-6 record four years ago. Clemson and Duke are the only ACC teams to have four consecutive winning regular seasons in league play.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- First-round byes Clemson has earned in the history of the ACC tournament. The Tigers will get their fourth first-round bye in 57 tournament appearances when this year's tournament opens Thursday in Greensboro, N.C.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I thought about spelling out BROWNELL across the back (of the blazer) like the players, but decided against it." -- Clemson coach Brad Brownell, discussing his bright orange blazer while taking a lighthearted jab at ESPN announcer Mike Patrick, who during last week's game at Duke repeatedly referred to Brownell as Brownlee.

POSTSEASON OUTLOOK: Clemson has its sights set on a fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, but the Tigers (20-10 regular season) will probably have to win at least one game in the ACC tournament to feel confident about their chances. The Tigers could be a difficult postseason matchup, as the team is obviously much more comfortable with first-year coach Brad Brownell's system and has played its best defense of the season over the past 10 games.

FUTURES MARKET: If sophomore F Devin Booker could continue to emerge as a capable complement to senior F Jerai Grant inside, Clemson could be a tough out in the postseason. After scoring in single digits for seven straight games, Booker has upped his game of late, scoring at a 10.0 clip over the past four games, including a 14-point game in the Tigers' regular-season-ending win over Virginia Tech on March 5. Much like his older brother, current Washington Wizard Trevor Booker, the younger Booker is developing his game outside the paint, and although dunks remain his favored scoring method, he had made 14 3-pointers this season through March 5 after hitting none his freshman year.

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