Moving into the postseason

CLEMSON - Brad Brownell talks about motivation through ‘Rocky' movies, scabs and Clemson's most deflating losses of the season.

The following is an edited transcript of Tuesday's interview in Littlejohn Coliseum.

What are your thoughts on Notre Dame coming to the ACC next year?
Brownell: Great program, I think it brings a lot to the league. Mike Brey has done an unbelievable job there. I'm probably more familiar with Notre Dame than some people. They're a little under appreciated, basketball-wise. I don't think people realize how successful they've been, especially since Mike took over, but even before then. Digger [Phelps] had an unbelievable run there for a while, so it's really an under appreciated basketball school in a lot of ways, in terms of: they've got tradition, a lot of recent success and they're able to recruit nationally in basketball as well. I think they'll add a lot of value to our league.

Do you have a formula for how you analyze and game plan for a team a third-time around?
Brownell: Nothing different than normal. The interesting thing in this situation is we haven't played those guys since the third week in January, so we really haven't seen that much of them. I haven't seen as much, even from watching other teams recently. I'll have to go back and watch a little more. We didn't have as many common opponents of late, but they're still doing a lot of the things they always do. I really think [Michael] Snaer and Okaro White are two very good players. They're a dangerous 3-point shooting team. They can make shots. They make free-throws, they get free-throws. That's what hurt us in the second game. They have some guys that have experience of winning the whole tournament. I think they'll be confident going into the game.

Do you like the matchup, considering you played them so close both times?
Brownell: Yeah, it's fine. I mean, I certainly we feel like we can beat them. They've certainly proven they can beat us. We've had a lot of good games with Florida State over the year. It'll be competitive. We'll have to play well, because, athletically, they're very gifted. I think they're playing well and feeling good about themselves, so they'll come into the game with some swagger, confidence. There are some guys there that cut down the nets at that place last year. That'll be things that make them feel even better about their opportunity.

Having said that, for us, I think our team has continued to practice pretty well. Guys are approaching things the right way. We need to shoot a little bit better, and finish things better to win some games.

Where is K.J. McDaniels at, physically?
Brownell: I don't know what percentage he is. He's 90 percent, I'm guessing. I think there are times he's trying to be completely comfortable with the ankle. He practiced yesterday and should be fine today. I thought he gave us some quality minutes at Miami. He's not 100 percent. I don't think he feels 100 percent. But he is certainly good enough to be out there competing and not risking any further injury.

Is there a nothing to lose attitude for you guys, going into this tournament?
Brownell: I guess, yeah. I don't think my attitude has been different, one way or the other. Obviously, expectations for us are really low. Nobody, probably, expects us to win a game. We haven't won a game in a while. It's been tough. But we're going to go in and approach it the right way, prepare really hard. Hopefully, our players will play a little better, our coaches will coach a little better and we'll figure out how to win.

What did you find out in the first FSU game then used in the second?
Brownell: Our transition defense was really bad against Florida State here, especially in the first half. We got behind. We had a lot of freshmen kind of running around making some really poor choices, defensively, and we gave them a bunch of open shots, allowed them to make some 3s. I thought our transition defense was much better at the game at Florida State. I thought we executed reasonably well, offensively.

Do you do anything to help the team's psyche, positive video of them doing things?
Brownell: Rocky movies and stuff like that? I know you guys love all that stuff. We're really motivating them showing them Rocky.

We'll talk about things. It'll be addressed. This is the second season, if you will, a chance to, hopefully, play well when people don't expect you to. I don't know if there's going to be any major things that need to be done, from that standpoint. I don't think that is important as people think it can be. We're certainly going to try to put a positive spin on our approach, have guys ready to play. And, hopefully, they're going to be excited. Hopefully, getting to the arena on Wednesday and getting to shoot in the Greensboro Coliseum will build some excitement for the tournament.

Do you think the team's focus and attention to detail has been as good in February and March as it was in December and January?
Brownell: I don't know that it's been great all year, at times. Some of that is youth. Some of that is -- there are so many things that you're teaching a team. You get one wound relatively healed and it scabs over. Then, you've got another wound to treat. Then, there's another one to treat. Then, the one that's scabbed over, you feel like you've got it under control with Neosporin. Then, all of a sudden, you rub up against something and it bleeds again.

It happens. With youth and with inexperience, you're never 100 percent certain about -- Do we understand this all the way? We're focused. We're mature. I think, sometimes, with older groups. There's more of a sense of urgency. You see that with a team like Miami. There's five or six seniors. There's a tremendous sense of urgency. You saw that last year with Florida State's team. There is a tremendous sense of urgency with older teams. This is their last go-round. These guys have been through the wars together. A big class like that, sometimes those classes really feel like, together, this is our deal.

When you've got young teams, those guys still feel like, we've got three more years, two more years. The sense of urgency isn't always what it needs to be. I feel like there are cases where that's happened.

I think the N.C. State and Miami losses were very difficult for our team. When you put as much into those two games as we did, and really should win both, really kind of out-play both teams -- put yourself in a game that we planned for a game to be played one way. It's played that way. It goes down to the end for us to win it. We really could use a good, pick-me-up win. And you don't get it, in a heart-breaking fashion, twice. Those are two big punches in the gut. It probably took us a little while to rebound. It, maybe, staggered us a little bit. It shook our confidence a little bit, to be honest with you. We just haven't completely recovered from that. It's not like guys haven't tried. They've come to practice and worked. We've been focused, I think.

But it makes you question things a little bit, how you're going to finish things, especially the offensive struggles in the games, to be able to be good enough to win. Top Stories