When Brad Brownell looks in the mirror these days, he doesn't like what he sees.
He wants his players to feel the same.
During a wrap-up press conference on Wednesday following his first losing season as a head coach, Brownell minced no words in challenging his players to improve both their physical games and their commitment to winning basketball.
"I don't feel good about what we did or the job I did," said Brownell, whose team lost 10 of its last 11 ACC games after a competitive 4-4 start. "It's my first losing season, so it'll probably stick with me for a long time, and that's probably good. I don't need to be excited about what we did or think that this is acceptable. We need to figure out how to change it.
"I've felt this way for six weeks now. And the problem is that I'm the guy who's felt this way the most. My players need to start feeling that way, and they're going to hear that when they get back from spring break."
Brownell, whose 2013-14 team will be comprised entirely of underclassmen, said no one on the roster is exempt. He pointed to the fact that the Tigers took just five charges all season - three by senior Milton Jennings, and one each by Adonis Filer and Rod Hall - as indicative of what was lacking in his team's game. By comparison, in the previous season Clemson took 24 charges, and nine players had at least one.
"I'm going to challenge every guy," Brownell said. "Every guy on this roster, all you have to do is look at their stats and you can poke holes in all of them. The fact that there's five charges taken, the fact that we didn't finish off some games better, those things are problematic.
Motivation techniques, leadership lacking in '13
"I'm not a guy that talks about excuses, or about being young or this how guy or that guy got hurt. We were good enough with these guys to be 4-4 (in the ACC) and playing well enough to beat some good people and figure out ways to do better at finishing up. We just didn't do it.
"Everybody in our program needs to look in the mirror. The head coach needs to, but the players do, as well, and the staff. We'd better figure out a way to start changing it."
Brownell said he expects backcourt competition to intensify with the return of freshman wing Jaron Blossomgame and guard Devin Coleman, both of whom missed the past season with injuries.
He said the team will benefit from the option of putting underperforming players on the bench.
"It hurt sometimes this year because there weren't enough guys who were as competitive as the other guys, to be able to take a guy out as much," said Brownell. "Some guys got to play more minutes than they should have played, or got to stay out there when they were making mistakes, just because there weren't enough guys.
"Because Milt and Devin (Booker) were clearly better than our younger post players, they probably got to play through some things; whereas if there had been another guy who was older and very productive, you could take one of them out, like a Bobo (Catalin Baciu). There were times they felt like they were better, and it was harder for me to coach them the way they probably needed to be coached all the time - which sometimes is to take 'em out."
Brownell said he expects critical mistakes to decrease as the current group of freshmen and sophomores grow in the game.
"There are more mistakes when you're younger because there are more things that they haven't mastered," he said. "As you get older, you hopefully gain experiences and you're not starting from scratch on everything.
"They're overwhelmed at times, and you can see it. And then they think they've got things figured out and you're moving on to other things because there are so many things to learn, and then you realize you've lost a game because your transition defense was bad. Well, we'd already covered that. But it's game slippage, and it happens. You hope as guys get older there's less of that - fewer repeat mistakes.
"There are a lot of physical things that need to change," he added. "There are a lot of players on our team that need to get better. They have to become as committed to the game as necessary to be successful."