In the wake of a successful season, Brownell, Tigers look to keep building for the future

'You have to identify things in your program that you want to be better at, both individually and collectively as a team'

Clemson head coach Brad Brownell talks to player during the second half during the NCAA NIT semi-finals at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Photo by Ken Ruinard

Clemson head coach Brad Brownell talks to player during the second half during the NCAA NIT semi-finals at Madison Square Garden in New York.

What now for Clemson coach Brad Brownell and his Tigers?

Some of it depends on K.J. McDaniels and the NBA; and as far as Brownell knows, that's a decision that's still in the making.

In terms of goals, Brownell will be zeroing in on specifics as he and his Tigers try to build on what he described Wednesday as a successful and gratifying 2013-14 season.

"I'm really proud of our players and coaches," Brownell said. "Last year was really difficult for all of us, but even though we finished poorly last year, I didn't feel we were as far away as most. I had confidence in the development of some of our younger players, and them making the next step.

Tigers put together 'successful' year

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"I really want to credit K.J. and Rod (Hall) for their leadership this year, because that was one of the areas of concern I had, about positive voices from the team giving good messages of work and accountability and belief. And those guys did that."

Like every team that didn't make the NCAA tournament, Brownell said that will be a goal for next year's Tigers.

He said the specific goals about how to get there will reveal themselves over time, as the Tigers move into their period of skill development work.

"I don't know yet what our goals are," Brownell said. "We certainly want to take the next step and make it to the NCAA tournament, but everybody wants that. I'm not as big as some people are about setting big, broad goals all the time.

"You just have to work to get better, and you have to identify things in your program that you want to be better at, both individually and collectively as a team. Like three-point defense was an area that we set out to get better at this year, and we achieved it.

"We'll have to analyze a lot of film and think about our team."

Whatever the Tigers set out to accomplish between now and next season, Brownell believes they can use this year's experience to help them put together the pieces.

"Our players and coaches worked hard, beginning last spring with our skill development," Brownell said. "And I want to thank our administration for giving us the opportunity to take trip to Italy, because I thought that was vital. That trip is when we started to lay the foundation of team, and lay out some roles for guys.

"From there, I think we built great confidence and got ourselves ready. We didn't believe what other people said about our team, and we believed in each other. Then as the games went on, we gained confidence with some early-season wins, and our tough-mindedness allowed us to win some close games.

Tigers eyeing NCAAs return, improvement

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"As a coach, you're proud of your team for playing to your potential, for being unselfish and for believing. This team did that. They were coachable every day, they came to practice, and they really wanted to work. Our practices were long and competitive, and I think that competition paid off for our team."

Brownell repeated what he said following Clemson's season-ending loss to SMU in the NIT semifinals: over the course of a 35-game season, the Tigers defined themselves as a true team.

"There are a lot of teams out there wearing the same jerseys but there aren't as many true teams out there as you might think," he said. "That's one thing that we had - we were a team. We had guys who were unselfish and guys who accepted roles.

"We had guys who did their jobs, who were glad to do their jobs and who accepted their jobs, without trying to do more than that. And the guys got along really well. Because of that, we played as close to our potential on most nights as most people."

Follow Kerry Capps on Twitter @oandwkc

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Comments » 2

michtiger writes:

What about these goals: reduce turnovers, improve play against the zone, really sharpen the inbound play, more consistent scoring i.e. stop the 5-7 min droughts and find a back up for Nnoko.

BlueRidgeBengal writes:

I agree and hope our frontcourt adds some bulk this off-season.

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