Back home for the Cavs

CLEMSON - Less than 24 hours before Saturday's tipoff against Virginia, Brad Brownell met with reporters to discuss a number of topics.

WHAT: Clemson vs. No. 16 Virginia
WHERE: Clemson, S.C. - Littlejohn Coliseum
WHEN: Saturday, Feb. 15 (12 p.m.)
SPREAD: N/A
TV: ESPN2 (Carter Blackburn, Sean Farnham)

The following is an edited transcript of Friday afternoon's interview with Brownell.

Now you have that you brutal stretch out of the way, how good is it to have five out of the last seven at home?
Brownell: Well, it's good to be back. Just the wear and tear of travel can take some energy from your guys. It's been a long -- I don't even know how many days it is -- how long we'd been gone, but you just want to get back into routines. Sometimes, when you're traveling, it's more difficult to do that. Certainly, it will be nice for us to have a routine down the stretch, play five out of seven at home , hope to have good crowds at the games to help give us a great environment and give our guys a little extra juice, so we're excited about that. We'll certainly have our hands full with a very talented Virginia team here tomorrow.

Is that the silver lining, you get five out of the last seven at home after that stretch you went on?
Brownell: Yeah, I guess. That's what I was told by the office when I asked about it earlier in the season. Our guys did reasonably well. We certainly would have liked to have won the last game against Notre Dame. We had two opportunities to do that and couldn't finish. I think our team improved over the course of the three weeks or whatever we were gone. We played some good opponents in some difficult environments. Now to put ourselves in position where, if we play well down the stretch we have a chance to do some good things this season.

Can you talk about Virginia, defensively?
Brownell: Yeah, outstanding. First thing is: Their team is big. Their plays are really strong at every position. They have very good size. They're older. They have a lot of older players that play regularly, so they're very intelligent. They don't get themselves out of position. They force you to make shots over top of them, which is challenging, and they keep you from getting one shot. Offensively, they get matches. They don't turn the ball over, so you don't get chances in transition, where you get them to cough the ball up and they go score. It's a good system and I have a lot of respect for Tony [Bennett].

A month or two ago you mentioned your concern about the team getting tired, because of the stretch during the summer. Where are they now?
Brownell: I think it's still a concern. I think this is about the time when you would really start to feel it. It's just kind of a wearing effect, all of it, mental as well as the physical. It's not just being physically worn out. I think it's just the mental grind of every game and some of the pressure that goes with it and the preparation, because there's a lot of times – we'll be back in here tonight for an hour and 15 minutes, watching film and walking-thru -- there's more that goes into it than people realize, in terms of preparation. There's a lot of mental stress, too. We have to be cognizant of that as a staff, but you've also got to get some amount of work in, to get guys ready. We're a young enough team and an inexperienced enough team that we still need to practice a lot. We're not so seasoned that guys are so comfortable out there and good decision makers that we don't need to practice. As you get older, older teams, more experienced teams you can back off a little bit more. We're not practicing like we were earlier in the year, but we do need more practice time than most teams. We made some mistakes in the Notre Dame game that probably cost us defensively. Some of it was there was such a quick turnaround, we really didn't have a chance to guard some things live, our guys that we tried to talk about and show at half-speed in a one day prep. We really didn't handle it well. You almost need to do some things a little more live, and that means a little more practice time.

Do you feel comfortable leaving Adonis Filer in the starting five moving forward?
Brownell: I don't know what I'm going to do exactly tomorrow. I might start Damarcus [Harrison]. I might start Jordan Roper. I think Austin Ajukwa is stating play better in practice and may get some minutes here. The other guys have just been inconsistent at times. Adonis can do some things. Obviously, he didn't shoot the ball well the other night. He defends well, he provides energy defensively and he's another ball-handler with speed, so it's not all about making shots, but we certainly have to look at guys. It's been a little frustrating, because it would be nice to settle into five guys you feel good about the whole time.

Are you worried about K.J. wearing down?
Brownell: I didn't practice him or Rod [Hall] at all in the day between games at Syracuse and Notre Dame. Everybody else practiced. We didn't practice a long time, it was an hour and 15 minutes. But, those guys, they walked-thru a couple of things, did some light shooting and that's because of the amount of minutes they play. Certainly, K.J. is one of those guys that we try to hold out of some things, save his legs and save him for games as best we can and Rod, too. So those are things we have to do. We did a little bit of it yesterday and we'll try to do a little bit of it today.

PROBABLE STARTERS
Virginia, 20-5 (11-1 ACC)
G #23 London Perrantes - 4.3 PPG, 3.6 APG (6-2, 184)
G #15 Malcolm Brogdon - 12.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG (6-5, 212)
F #12 Joe Harris - 11.6 PPG, 3.0 RPG (6-6, 226)
F #25 Akil Mitchell - 7.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG (6-8, 215)
C #10 Mike Tobey - 6.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG (6-11, 245)

Clemson, 15-8 (6-5)
G #12 Rod Hall - 9.0 PPG, 3.7 APG (6-1, 210)
G #3 Adonis Filer - 4.3 PPG, 1.4 APG (6-2, 190)
F #32 K.J. McDaniels - 17.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG (6-6, 200)
F #5 Jaron Blossomgame - 4.4 PPG, 4.8 RPG (6-7, 215)
C #35 Landry Nnoko - 5.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG (6-10, 250)

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