Clemson clears the air

SENECA - When Clemson players got off the bus following their two-and-half drive back from Atlanta Friday, they were taken back somewhat when head coach Oliver Purnell called a surprise meeting.

The Clemson coach, who will be guiding his program to Kansas City for a first-round game against Michigan in the NCAA's South Regional on Thursday, decided he wanted to hear from the players on what they thought has led to their recent slide. But he did not take each player aside and ask them individually. Instead, he did it in an open forum with everyone present.

"He was kind of sneaky about it," Clemson guard Terrence Oglesby said.

But it was just the tactic the Tigers (23-8) needed.

"We had to say positive things and then we had to say a negative thing," Oglesby recalled. "It was really productive because we were able to see other points of views from other players.

"You were able to defend yourself. We were able to get it all figured out under a controlled environment obviously with Coach Purnell being there. It was really effective.

"I'm pleased with the results of the meeting and we have had some good practices."

Practices started soon after that first meeting.

"We all got in the locker room and had these meetings and we all made these promises on what we were going to do and he said ‘Alight, let's see it. We have practice in the 30 minutes.' We did not know what was going on," Oglesby said.

No. 7 seed Clemson battles No. 10 seed Michigan Thursday night at 7:10 PM Eastern in Kansas CIty, Mo. (AP)

Purnell has been pleased with how his team has responded to the meetings, saying he thinks his team is eager and will be ready to go come Thursday.

"I thought are practices have been energetic and they were spirited with an emphasis on defense and playing well together," he said.

Oglesby classified the meetings and practices since the Georgia Tech game as healthy. Senior guard K.C. Rivers said they were much needed.

"Some things surprised me," he said. "We learned different things about each other that we didn't know before. We learned what some of us thought. It really cleared the air for us. It was really good for us to get that out of the way and now we can move on and get prepared for Michigan."

Purnell says the tactic was a psychological move he felt the team needed. He knew there was frustration in the locker room and the last thing he wanted was for teammates to start blaming each other.

"When you are on a roll, it is a lot easier psychologically," he said. "At this point last year, we are on a roll. We are not on a roll right now so certainly you have to deal with things more physiologically and physically to get yourself going, to get yourself at a higher level."

Like Oglesby, Rivers feels the moves Purnell has made in the last three days should help the Tigers against Michigan, but he says the team still has something to prove to each other.

"It should help us, but it is just words right now," the senior captain said. "It still has to be put to use so we will see when it comes time to play." Top Stories