Clemson Interview Transcripts

Transcripts of Clemson's interviews prior to its second round game against West Virginia in Tampa, Fla.

Q. What's this last 18 hours been like? How do you feel? How prepared are you guys for West Virginia?

Demontez Stitt: Last 18 hours have been pretty, I guess, hectic. Played and right after the game we flew out, came straight down here. I mean, we got a lot of rest today, got to sleep in a little bit since we didn't really get in until early this morning, and I think we're feeling all right, man. We've been just getting ready for West Virginia.

Q. Kind of describe the process of preparing yourselves for a trip to Ohio first and then coming down here to Tampa.

Jerai Grant: You know, I think the biggest difference between Ohio and Florida is the weather, you know, much warmer here. But other than that, like Demontez said, we've just got to get plenty of rest and things like that to prepare for tomorrow's game.

Q. Demontez, what time did you leave, what time did you get here last night, and what did you do today?

DEMONTEZ STITT: We left right after the game, so we probably left around 12:00. I remember checking my phone; the last time I checked it, about 12:00 we were on a plane. We didn't get here until 3:30, almost 4:00. It's pretty tough. It's a lot of traveling. But I mean, as players it takes a lot of mental concentration, a lot of focus in order to come out here and be prepared for West Virginia.

Q. Question for both you guys. What has Coach Brownell -- what's been his message the past 24 hours or so since you guys have finished the game last name?

JERAI GRANT: Basically just focus, you know, focus and get rest. We know what we have to do. We already went over a lot of scouting report on West Virginia and their personnel. From here on out it's just all about focus and rest.

DEMONTEZ STITT: Yeah, pretty much the same thing Jerai said, man, just a lot of focus and preparation. I think the biggest part right now is getting rest and being mentally prepared to take on a team who's been resting for the last couple days. I think the biggest thing for us is getting rest and being ready to play.

Q. Demontez, can any part of this tough turnaround be an advantage, that you guys played with a lot of confidence last night and maybe got some of those nerves out of your system?

DEMONTEZ STITT: Yeah, I think it could sort of work in our favor. We sort of got our motors running. We played the first game, we haven't been sitting out for a long time. Guys are sort of in the swing of things. So I think in a way it could be an advantage. But at the same time, if we don't get the proper rest that we need, it can also be a disadvantage.

Q. When you have a game like that last night and you're wired, can you sleep on the plane after a game like you had last night?

JERAI GRANT: I know a few of us didn't sleep, but yeah, yeah, you still have like your adrenaline pumping and things like that after a game like that. You try to get as much rest as you can. But like Demontez said, coach let us sleep in a little bit late today, and I think that was a big thing, you know, getting our rest.

DEMONTEZ STITT: Just for me, I know personally myself, I got a little bit of sleep on the plane, not too much. I wasn't as comfortable as I wanted to be. I think for most of the players, their nerves are still up. Guys were saying we probably could have played again. That's just how I felt. I felt that we played well against our opponent. We did what we were supposed to do, and the flight down here wasn't too bad.

Q. Just want to ask you, looking at the bracket, when you guys knew you were playing Thursday, were you surprised to know you had the noon tip and not 7:00 or 9:00 p.m. and had an even quicker turnaround like that?

JERAI GRANT: Just a little bit, a little bit surprising. But at the same time, we -- coach talks about preparation all the time. No matter what time we're playing, no matter what time of the day, we have to accept that challenge and prepare accordingly.

Q. Jerai, what time did you actually get in your hotel room, go to sleep and wake up?

JERAI GRANT: I can't put an exact time on it, but it was pretty late, or early, whatever you want to call it.

Q. What are your thoughts on West Virginia after watching them today, getting a feel for what they're about?

JERAI GRANT: You know, they're a really physical team. They like to post-up pretty much everybody on their team, from their point guard to their center. You know, we just have to match their physical toughness, if not exceed it, and execute offensively and play great pressure defense.

DEMONTEZ STITT: Yeah, pretty much the same thing. I mean, they're run by a good coach, and they execute. You have to have a lot of defensive focus, a lot of discipline. I mean, when you're going through scouting like we did today, I think the most important thing is just staying focused and really keying in on the main things that we want to execute in the game plan. They run a lot of sets, they have long possessions, so you have to sit down on defense and really guard them and continue with discipline.

Q. Can both of you just maybe express what last night's win meant to this program, that elusive NCAA victory?

JERAI GRANT: It meant a lot, you know, to us, especially me and Demontez and the rest of the seniors on the team who have been at the tournament every year we've been here and haven't been able to win a game. I think it meant a lot for the program, too, to actually get that first win in a long time. You know, I'm just happy to be a part of it, really. Me and Demontez both think it'll go a long way.

DEMONTEZ STITT: Yeah, it's big for us, it's big for Clemson, the whole Clemson family, man. It felt good to get that first win, especially since it's me and Jerai and Zay (Zavier) and Jonas, it's our last shot at it. To get that first win in a long time and to do it in the way that we did, it felt good, man.

Q. You were freshmen when you went to your first NCAA Tournament and it was in this building. Can you talk about what it means to come back as seniors and have a chance to redeem yourself?

JERAI GRANT: It means a lot. You know, like I said before, it means a lot, you know, just to get that first win was a relief. But at the same time, we know we're not done yet. We know we have a great chance to definitely do special things in this tournament. Coach never said our goal of the season was to win one game; he told us we had to keep it up and keep working hard, and eventually we'll get what we deserve.

DEMONTEZ STITT: Yeah, playing here as freshmen against Villanova, you know, we got up big at halftime and we lost that game. I mean, we're seniors now. I think we have a lot more experience as players. Our team has a lot more experience, and guys have been in these situations. I think that now that we're here again, we sort of showed it against UAB. We got up, they made their runs, but we also made our runs. We wanted to keep a good lead against them and not give them life and let them feel like they can win a game. So I think coming back here and learning from the big lead that we had here my freshman year, I think experience is really going to kick in for us.

Q. Considering everything you've had to go through to get to this point, does it kind of make you play with a chip on your shoulder?

DEMONTEZ STITT: Yeah, man, I think that Clemson, period, we always have to play with a chip on our shoulder. I think we're always sort of the underdog, and since I've been here, it's been that way. I mean, most of the players on this team, I feel like we all have chips on our shoulders because most of us are from big cities and most of the schools in our states, our cities didn't recruit us where we wanted to, or where we grew up. We were fans of a certain schools and we didn't get recruited by those schools. So I think we had a chip on our shoulders coming here to Clemson, and being here has been great for me these four years, and I think that a lot of people didn't really even pick us to be here, but we're here, and we've fought through a lot this year.

Q. Demontez, with the style that you guys play defensively where you extend your pressure so much to the half court line, it seems very intense defensive style. In tournament play in general where you're playing every day, does it grind on you? Do you feel the effects of it physically after a day or two?

DEMONTEZ STITT: Yeah, definitely. As players, when you go out and you give it your all, you play hard, especially on the defensive end, then you get the results that we get, I think it's tough just to go out every day and do the same thing. But like I said, it takes a lot of mental stability. I mean, you have to be mentally prepared in order to go out there and do the same thing over and over, and you have to really be determined to do it. I mean, you can't have any let-ups, you can't have any doubt in your mind, you can't let any fatigue or injury settle in, you just have to keep pushing.

COACH BROWNELL: We're just excited to be here, proud of how well our guys played a few hours ago, I guess it was now, against UAB. I thought we played really well and got after them defensively. We know we're going to have to do more of the same against West Virginia. Very impressed with their team, very strong, very physical. I've known Coach Huggins for a while, and he does a terrific job of getting the most out of his talent, so it should be a very physical, exciting game.

Q. A lot has been made about the traveling that you guys have gone through. When you look at everything that has led to this point, what's been the easiest part?

COACH BROWNELL: The easiest part? I don't know what the easiest part has been. It was difficult, but you know, it's the NCAA Tournament. It's a tremendous opportunity, so I'm not talking about the negatives. You know, we're going to be ready at 12:00 and we're going to lace them up and be ready to go. You know, we had difficult travel after the game last night. We're all probably a little sluggish today. We'd like more time to watch a little more film and feel like we could have a little better practice to get ready for West Virginia, but at this stage of the season, to be in this environment and to have this opportunity, you've just got to go play and prepare your guys as well as you can. And then players got to go make plays. This is the time of year when players got to go make plays. And we think our team is playing well, and West Virginia is doing the same, so it should be a heck of a game.

Q. Could you kind of take us through the last 12, 18 hours here and give us a play by play of where you were and what you were doing?

COACH BROWNELL: We finished the game late. It was after midnight when the game ended, I think. Then we had to do some interviews. So got on the bus. It was closer to 1:00. Went to the airport and had to wait around a little bit there for I guess some fuel problems. But then got on a plane, really got down here about 5:00 when we got into our hotel, let the guys sleep until close to noon and got them up, had a breakfast/brunch, I guess, if you will, then watched film on West Virginia and talked about West Virginia with our guys for about an hour. Actually did some study hall for an hour after that, and then let the guys have a couple hours to go back and hopefully take a short nap, came here for this, and then we'll try to meet again tonight.

Q. I don't know if you saw, originally they had you doing a media session here at 11:20 this morning. I didn't know whether you had seen that or even had a chance to object to that at some point.

COACH BROWNELL: No, I didn't have any idea what the plan was until somebody told me late last night or early this morning, I guess, really what it was, what our obligations were. You know, it's been fine. We had some meetings that we had to go to, a pre-tournament meeting and some stuff like that. But we're doing what we need to do to get prepared.

Q. When you have a limited window like this I know you want to prepare as much as possible. How much did you allow yourself to sleep this morning?

COACH BROWNELL: I got about three hours, 5:00 to 8:00, and it wasn't good sleep.

Q. When you look at West Virginia, there doesn't seem to be a guy that stands out. What is the biggest thing you noticed about them that makes them a tough team?

COACH BROWNELL: They have the qualities of their coach, very tough, very physical, strong will to win, competitive. You know, a team that really plays inside out. Coach Huggins' teams, I've followed them from his time at Cincinnati. He always makes those guys play unbelievably hard and they rebound exceptionally well. They defend you on every possession. It's hard to get easy baskets, and they pound the ball at you inside. They go after you inside out.

Ironically, I do think they have a team that -- they don't shoot a tremendous three-point percentage, but I think they have a variety of guys on their team and on the court at one time that can make threes. And so there's a time when they can get a couple guys hot, might be one guy one day Casey Mitchell, might be Truck Robinson, they've got a bunch of them, might be whomever, Flowers. But they have a bunch of guys that can make shots that can complement their strong inside game, and certainly their game, I think, takes on the personality of their coach.

Q. I know sometimes after a quality performance we hear coaches say, I wish we could play the next day, and now you get to play the next day. Any part of this an advantage for you guys?

COACH BROWNELL: You know, I don't know. We'll have to wait and see. It's hard to just -- the whole fatigue thing. This morning, like, I woke up even after three hours and I was excited and refreshed and really good. Later this afternoon, I had a little time where I got a little tired this afternoon. So I think we'll be fine. I think we'll really be ready. I'm hoping that there's not some -- I'll notice if our defense isn't the way it needs to be that we might have a little bit of fatigue and then we've got to figure some things out.

But our mindset is that we should be fine, we should be fresh, we should be ready to play. It's not ideal. We certainly wish maybe that we were playing a night game and just had a little more time like in the morning to have a normal walk-through and a normal meeting. But we basically have to wake up and play. We got here at 5:00, and you only have about 12 hours to then kind of get ready. We really would probably rather have the morning of the next day like a normal game-day shootaround or something to feel like you're really prepared. But we'll do what we've got to do.

Q. You mentioned that your players watched some West Virginia film this morning. Was that the first time you and your players together had watched anything on them?

COACH BROWNELL: Yeah, it was the first time our guys had certainly. And we had an assistant who's been watching it since Selection Sunday and had things prepared. You know, I've seen a little bit through the course of the season, a couple times just watching them, but I always concentrated on UAB right up until after the game, and then on the flight down obviously I had a computer starting to watch West Virginia and watched it until -- as much as I could until 5:00 a.m.

Q. In terms of getting your players ready to attack their weaknesses, though, you probably can't do quite as much as what you'd like because they just saw them this morning, though, correct?

COACH BROWNELL: Yeah, I think that's where you wish you had one more day, just a day, to kind of refresh and go through things one more time. It's just really quick. And again, it's a team that you haven't played, it's a team you haven't followed, it's a team your players haven't followed.

Oftentimes when you're playing consecutive days like in a conference tournament, you've already played teams two or three times or that's going to be your second or third time to play them so you have an idea. Here you don't; you've just got to go play. It's not unlike what we just did, though, with UAB. We didn't really know a lot about UAB, and in 48 hours we tried to get to know about as much as you can about them. And now we've got to do it in about 32 to 36 hours with West Virginia.

Q. When you got up at 8:00 today, what was the first thing you were doing? Watching film?

COACH BROWNELL: Yeah, right back watching some more tape, and then I met with Coach Ray who's got the scout shortly thereafter. And we just talked about one or two things we thought we needed to do when we met with the team at noon, so we met for about an hour, hour and a half and talked about some things in terms of preparation.

Q. I think you said you had 11 games on UAB. Did you have all of West Virginia's games?

COACH BROWNELL: Yeah, we have just about all of them. You certainly can't and won't watch that many, but we're going to watch half a dozen.

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