CLEMSON — To add insult to injury following Clemson’s blowout loss at Virginia on Thursday, bad weather prevented Clemson from flying home. The Tigers had to travel by bus, an eight-hour trip, in the dark, in the rain, from Charlottesville, Va., to campus.
The Tigers had plenty of time to think about what went wrong at Virginia — nearly everything — and plenty of time to think about what they have left to play for this season, a season that seems unlikely to end with a postseason berth.
The timing of the loss was unfortunate for Clemson, as more eyes were focused on basketball after football’s recruiting cycle concluded with National Signing Day on Wednesday. On Friday, talk shows were buzzing with discontented callers. Some of the same fans who once lamented the limits of Oliver Purnell’s full-court pressures scheme in the postseason were now longing for its return, wondering if the half-court, motion offense — which produced 10 points and two assists against 16 turnovers in the first half against Virginia — was the right fit for Clemson.
Clemson coach Brad Brownell is calling for perspective — Clemson is still very much a rebuilding project with two upperclassmen on the roster — as Clemson (12-10, 4-6 ACC) prepares to host N.C. State (16-7, 5-5) at 1 p.m. today.
“I’m not going to make more out of this than it is,” Brownell said of the Virginia loss. “When you have some good wins and are playing well, you are not as good as you think you are, and you’re also not as bad as you think you are when you have a bad game or two.
“You have to be careful not to overreact, go and change everything because you had a bad performance.”
Brownell said his team somehow has to regain confidence, and nothing would help offensive confidence more than making some shots.
Clemson made just 1 of 17 3-point attempts at Virginia and is shooting just 32.2 percent from beyond the arc this season, which would be the lowest mart for a season since it also shot 32.2 percent from 3-point range in 2005-06.
Brownell said it is good players who create consistency, and Clemson starters Rod Hall, Milton Jennings and K.J. McDaniels have simply been inconsistent all season. Virginia trapped Devin Booker each time he touched the ball on Thursday, and ACC opponents have zeroed in on Booker since his hot start to conference play. He had just one shot in the first half at Virginia.
“We have to somehow develop some confidence, get some swagger,” Brownell said. “It’s (developed) more in games. … It’s a difficult thing to do.”