Clemson looking for payback against Coastal Carolina

Clemson Basketball - Head coach Brad Brownell and Rod Hall

Photo by Mark Crammer

Clemson Basketball - Head coach Brad Brownell and Rod Hall

Brad Brownell says he isn’t big into “revenge, and all that.”

That said, as Clemson heads for the Grand Strand, the Tigers would be wise to remember the events that unfolded on Littlejohn Coliseum’s floor last Nov. 22.

A miss. A missed rebound. A Chris Grandingo tip-in that lifted Coastal Carolina to a stunning, buzzer-beating, 60-59 win over Clemson, the Chanticleers’ first-ever win in the series.

Wednesday, the Tigers (6-3) hope to return the favor. They’ll travel to Conway for a 7 p.m. game with the Chanticleers (3-5) in the brand-new HTC Center. The game is not televised but will be streamed on ESPN3.com.

“I’m ready for this game,” said senior forward Devin Booker. “They beat us last year, we’ve got to win playing at their place. They beat us playing here last year so we’ve got to get this win back.”

Brownell said his older players know what happened last year, and he’ll have video evidence – par for the course of preparation.

“I’ll show them some clips and remind them,” he said. “Like I would for any game – guys making plays, those kinds of things. Every year is a new year against a new team. Our mindset is to go in with a good mindset and play well. We need to keep playing positive basketball. Not just against Coastal but against other teams in our league.”

The Chants start two seniors and a junior, and feature a pair of experienced guards in seniors Anthony Raffa and Kierre Greenwood. Raffa averages 20.4 points per game, while Greenwood averages 11.8 per game.

“They’re a team with really good guards,” Brownell said. “Greenwood and Raffa are both experienced players who have had success against us. Coach (Cliff) Ellis does a great job and plays all kinds of defense. I’m sure we’ll see a bunch of things tomorrow.”

This will be Clemson’s third visit to an in-state foe this season. The Tigers won 72-55 at Furman on Nov. 16 and took a 64-55 win at South Carolina on Dec. 2.

With Clemson devoid of students for semester break, Brownell thinks the four hour-plus trip to Conway could be a positive for his young team.

“We’ve had quite a few road trips for us early in this season and haven’t played many at home (four games),” he said. “Some of these games can be good, to get away from Clemson with things getting quiet. Sometimes that can be hard for players this time of year, to be on campus without anyone around and all you do is practice, you’re looking to fill time.

“These trips are good with teammates, spending time eating and bonding and the focus hopefully will be a little bit better. We’ll see. We’ve done a good job on the road so far with how the guys have approached Furman, South Carolina, the trip to Orlando. Guys have had a good approach every time.”

As Christmas approaches, the Tigers have established themselves as a balanced team. Sophomore swingman K.J. McDaniels leads with 11.9 points per game, while Booker averages 11.2 and fellow senior Milton Jennings averages 10.9 per game.

Freshman guard Adonis Filer has yet to start, but averages 8.6 points per game; fellow freshman Jordan Roper scored a career-high 16 in his first start Saturday against Florida A&M and averages 5.8 points per game.

“They’re coming along pretty well,” Booker said of the young guards. “They’re putting in all the hard work to become better players, so they’re taking advantage of it right now.”

Brownell says his youngsters must continue to be aggressive.

“No question,” he said. “They have to find a way to get to the basket and create contact and get free throws. Games are played differently. Some pressure teams like South Carolina, it’s hard to make as many passes and you put your head down and drive to the rim. Arizona has its pack-line defense that protects the paint and it’s hard to get to the paint.

“The game takes on a life of its own with how it’s played. Which way will this game be played? Who’ll be effective in this game? With Coastal and so many defenses, you’ve got to be ready for a little bit of everything.”

Focus will not be a problem.

“I believe looking at that going into the game, we’ll lock in and keep it in the back of our minds,” McDaniels said, “and not let that happen again.”

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