Brad Brownell's team didn't make it on a bracket nor did he fill out one, but he will be watching the NCAA Tournament intently this month.
“Some guys go home when they’re not watching film of their opponent – they just get away from it,” Brownell said. “I don’t do that very much. I’m a guy that likes to learn things. I like to see things. I like to watch the way other guys do things.
“So I’ll watch as much as I can.”
Aiming for a return to the madness in 2013-14, he said two teams he will especially keep an eye on for ideas are a pair of 6-seeds – Arizona in the West Region and Butler in the East.
“Arizona does some things we do,” said Brownell. “We did things more like Butler this year with set screens and the ball-screen stuff. (Butler coach) Brad Stevens and I got together this summer and spent a day together. We’ve done some stuff like they would do.”
All four ACC teams that made the tourney are favored to move on to the next round, in 2-seeds Miami (East) and Duke (Midwest) and 8-seeds UNC (South) and N.C. State (East).
Not being able to join them for a second-straight year is something that will bother Brownell throughout the tournament and offseason after.
“It’s my first losing season,” he said, “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.
“I don’t need to feel this is acceptable. We better figure out how to change it.”
With the exit of senior big men Milton Jennings and Devin Booker, also gone just like that will be any Tigers with NCAA Tournament experience off a team that made it to the round of 64 four-straight years from 2007-2011.
Leadership on the court, which Brownell admits lacked this season, is the key moving forward.
“That’s a question that will be answered by the players,” Brownell said, “and it better come from the players because I don’t think it did this year. That was a part of our problem. That’s why you see a team do what it did.
“There’s no clear direction…When a team is coach-directed, it’s never as good as if it’s player-directed.”
With no seniors on the team next season, Brownell isn’t sure who will step into that role.
“Maybe K.J. (McDaniels). Maybe Rod Hall,” he said. “Those are two guys that have played a lot and have experience. You’d expect them to play next year so they’ll have voices. I don’t know if a Jordan Roper is ready to do that. Maybe, maybe not. But the players have to figure that out.”