Tigers Adjusting to Bye

CHARLOTTE – While eight other teams were playing in the first round of the ACC Tournament, the Clemson basketball squad was in a tiny, hot gym without air conditioning getting ready for the winner of Thursday's last game.

The No. 3-seeded Tigers had a hard and spirited practice at Queens University as they tried their best to prepare for No. 11 Boston College and No. 6 Maryland in their opening game Friday night.

"I think that both of the practices here have been good," Clemson basketball coach Oliver Purnell said. "We progressed in each one of them."

Yes, these are strange times for the Tigers as they sit and watch everybody else play in the tournament's opening round. Purnell met with the media at 5:45 p.m. and in most cases, the team would have already been home following a noon loss.

Keep in mind Clemson has played in the opening game of the ACC Tournament seven straight years and eight of the last nine before this season.

"It really takes a mental adjustment having a bye," Purnell said. "It's very concerning that we'll relax too much."

So in order to ensure that Purnell has each player's undivided attention about the task at hand, he is practicing them at a full clip.

"I look at this as a tremendous opportunity for our team and our program," he said. "Let's not squander an opportunity to make a ride here. That's the way I look at it."

Each player has handled the rest differently. Some visited family and friends, like K.C. Rivers and Demontez Stitt, while others killed their time in other ways.

"We've never been in this position before, so it feels weird," Clemson senior forward Sam Perry said. "But it's weird in a good way. At least we don't have to get up at 7:30 in the morning for the noon game. …

"I'm sure not many people thought Clemson would have the word ‘bye' behind their name in the ACC Tournament."

K.C.'s DAY: Since Charlotte is the hometown of K.C. Rivers, he has the opportunity to spend time with family and friends. But there was some other business Rivers had to attend to on Thursday.

"I had to go renew my driver's license today," he said. "I'm glad I got to be here so I could get it. I got in and got out. Then I got to visit with my grandmother and mom."

Rivers then said it was nice to play in such a big tournament at home because not everybody gets to experience that, which caused teammate Cliff Hammonds to ask a question.

"You mean they haven't got one in Cairo (Ga.)?" he said.

HAMMONDS AND PROSSER: Hammonds said receiving the first-ever Skip Prosser Award for being the best basketball student-athlete really means a lot to him because he actually got to know the late Wake Forest coach pretty well.

"Wake Forest recruited me to play football and I Coach Prosser and I talked a lot about me playing basketball, too," Hammonds said. "I got to know him pretty good and he was a standup kind of guy.

"It means a lot just to be mentioned in the same breath as Coach Prosser," Hammonds said. "Coach Prosser preached school and studying to his players and I think it's a big honor. It's something special."

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