With no 'do-over' option, Tigers turn their attention to Virginia, stretch run

Brad Brownell: 'We're just not as talented offensively as we need to be'

Men's Basketball - K.J. McDaniels & Brad Brownell

Photo by Mark Crammer

Men's Basketball - K.J. McDaniels & Brad Brownell

Having survived a brutal 5-of-6 road streak with a pair of victories, and still clinging to a winning ACC record, the Clemson men's basketball team returned home to the snowbound Upstate looking to make something of their upcoming home-heavy stretch run.

For his part, Tiger junior wing K.J. McDaniels would welcome the chance for a do-over.

"I wish we could do it over, and just start over, but that's not how it is," said McDaniels following his career-best 30-point, 14-rebound, five-block performance Tuesday in Clemson's double overtime loss at Notre Dame. "If we started that road stretch now, it would be a lot different."

The Tigers, 15-8 overall and 6-5 in the ACC, will play five of their final seven games at home, beginning Saturday at noon when they host No. 16 Virginia, 20-5, 11-1 in the league, for a noon tip-off at Littlejohn Coliseum.

Clemson carried a surprising 4-1 league record into its road stretch, and, after starting the three-week run with blowout losses at Pittsburgh and North Carolina, made a string respectable showings. The Tigers grabbed a road victory - their third of the ACC season - at Florida State, beat Georgia Tech at home, put up a fight against top-ranked, unbeaten Syracuse, and then came up just short against Notre Dame.

Throughout their rough patch, they leaned heavily on their defense, while struggling to put the ball in the basket.

"We struggle offensively a lot - we're just not as talented offensively as we need to be," Brownell said Tuesday. "We are very inconsistent shooting."

Brownell said McDaniels can only carry the Tigers so far.

"Certainly K.J. is a special player and certainly that his performance tonight was remarkable in some ways," Brownell said. "But we just don't have enough consistent scoring in our lineup. We don't have enough guys who can make individual plays.

"When you get into conference play, it's hard. We all know what each other runs and there is familiarity. There are not many secrets and you just have to go out there and make plays."

After trailing by as many as nine points, the Tigers were able to make an overtime-forcing run on Tuesday by throwing Notre Dame an unexpected defensive wrinkle in the form of a 1-3-1 zone. It's a change of pace that Brownell may use again as he attempts to compensate for the Tigers' offensive deficiencies.

"We have had that in our pocket for a while," Brownell said. "We worked on it a lot in the middle of the year and earlier in the year, but we've only used it a couple of times, and then very little. I can't imagine Notre Dame knew much about it or worked against it in practice.

"But when you are playing with a lead, you can get a little conservative. The other team has nothing to lose, and when you just throw it on someone it can work for a while. Our guys executed it well and adjusted to a couple things they did."

While a do-over isn't an option, McDaniels said the Tigers can learn from their experiences on the road as they move on to the final stretch of the season - back-to-back home games against Virginia and N.C. State, return trips to face teams they've already beaten at home in Wake Forest and Georgia Tech, and then home again for a season-ending three-game stand against Maryland, Miami and Pittsburgh.

"Losing like this was tough - extremely tough," McDaniels said. "But we're still a young team, and we have to come out with the same intensity in the first half that we had late in the game. That's all we can do. We just have to go and watch film, and try and gather the troops, and just fight from the beginning.

"We're going to learn from this, and we're going to capitalize on our next game."

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