NOTEBOOK: Purnell Drops the Hammer

TAMPA - This is the fourth time Oliver Purnell has been to the NCAA Tournament as a head coach, so he knows full well the effort that it's going to take for Clemson to win. That's why he threw his entire team out of practice Wednesday morning after seeing their poor effort.

The No. 5-seeded Tigers were apparently so lackadaisical during their morning practice, that Purnell got fed up and tossed them out of it, thus cutting the time on the court short.

It's the first time he's done that all season.

After arriving in Tampa later that afternoon, Purnell instructed the entire team to meet in the hotel lobby 30 minutes after checking into the hotel, because the team was going to practice again.

The team boarded a bus and went to the University of Tampa, where it held a much more intense practice, which was to the liking of Purnell.

"I just wanted to send a message that practice is important and that it's one-and-done now or one-and-advance," he said. "I just wanted them to understand it."

IT'S ALL THE SAME: Despite never having been to the NCAA Tournament, the Clemson players feel as though those teams with experience don't have any advantage whatsoever.

Villanova is in its fourth straight NCAA Tournament, while Vanderbilt is back after having reached the Sweet 16 last season.

"I don't think we're concerned about a lack of experience in the NCAA Tournament because throughout the course of the season we've played tournament-worthy teams and teams that are in the tournament," Tigers senior guard Cliff Hammonds said. "We made a run last year in the NIT and we're just as tournament experienced as any team in the country because of that experience in the NIT."

K.C. Rivers said all that matters is who's the better team. What happened last year is irrelevant.

"Basketball is basketball," he said. "At this point in time in the season, there are no records. The seeds play no factor. It's just a matter of who wants it more. Who wants to win and advance.

"It's not about how long or how many years you've been to the tournament or how many times you've made it. It's about who wants it the most. That's what it comes down to."

NOT JUST HAPPY TO BE HERE: There were some very anxious moments for Villanova on Selection Sunday because it was anything but a given that the Wildcats would receive an at-large berth.

"It was definitely a little different from the last year because we knew it was just a matter of where we were going," junior forward Dante Cunningham said. "This year we were sweating it out."

But now that the Wildcats are in the field of 65, they believe they are going to hard to handle.

"We're now playing our best basketball of the year," star sophomore guard Scottie Reynolds said. "Even though we slipped up against Georgetown, we know we've got more games to go."

NO RESPECT: Even though Vanderbilt comes into the tournament as the No. 4 seed in the Midwest Bracket, several national and prominent prognosticators believe No. 13 Sienna has a legitimate shot of pulling off the upset.

Even if Vanderbilt manages to get past Sienna, many feel it will lose against either Clemson or Villanova.

This is the second straight year the Commodores come into the NCAA Tournament with people picking against them, despite their solid record and high seeding in the tournament.

The trendy scene of going against Vanderbilt is something that Southeastern Conference Player of the Year Shan Foster doesn't fully comprehend.

"You know, that's something that I haven't been able to understand, either" he said. "Last year, we felt like we had a pretty good team, and had beaten the most ranked teams that season. And this year we've beaten a number of quality opponents.

"We've won 26 games. We're not a four seed by a miracle."

Commodores coach Kevin Stallings can come up with only one reason as to why people pick against his team.

"We probably don't get the respect that we're due with 26 wins and playing in the Southeastern Conference," he said. "But for whatever reason … maybe we're just poorly coached." Top Stories