GREENVILLE — Brad Brownell was patient with his young players Friday night, using playing time as motivational carrots.
The Clemson men’s basketball coach pulled several young players from the game early, players guilty of either improper positioning or lacking effort, and told them as they approached the bench he could not justify playing them if they weren’t ready to compete.
With Furman leading by one point six minutes into the game, Brownell’s patience was tested enough. He called a timeout and was animated in the team huddle. The message were received as Clemson cruised to a 72-55 win fueled by a 16-1 run after a Brownell timeout talk.
“They weren’t really ready the first time they went in, but they did better the longer they were in there,” Brownell said of his younger players. “(During the timeout) I just challenged our guys, saying ‘that’s not how we are going to be play and be successful.’ I got after them pretty good and they responded.”
With only two seniors on the roster, including Devin Booker who scored a game-best 15 points, Brownell knows he has to be patient.
The second-chance approach worked Friday for Clemson (2-0) against Furman (1-2).
Freshman center Landry Nnoko was the first off the bench but quickly returned after not showing enough energy and awareness. When given a second chance, he showed more energy and bothered Furman post players with his athletic 6-10 frame.
BYU transfer Damarcus Harrison returned after an early benching to bury several jumpers en route to 10 points.
Freshman guard Adonis Filer showed speed and body control on a coast-to-coast layup in his second episode.
Sophomore K.J. McDaniels did not require a second chance as his energy was never in question.
He made eight trips to the free-throw line in the first half and converted seven into points, speaking to his level of activity. McDaniels also had two highlight dunks and finished with 11 points.
Players who were benched after initial poor showings were quick to return to the game, in part because Booker and Milton Jennings (6 points, 6 rebounds) were in foul trouble.
Clemson played 11 players in the first half.
“They had to play a lot in the first half because of fouls,” Brownell said. “(But) those guys are going to need to play.”