CLEMSON — Clemson coach Brad Brownell was asked if he has an emotional speech or inspirational video for his basketball team before it plays Florida State tonight in the first round of the ACC tournament.
“Like watching a little Rocky?” Brownell joked.
The 11th-seeded Tigers (13-17, 5-13 ACC) enter Greensboro Coliseum as the ultimate undedog against the sixth-seeded Seminoles (17-14, 9-9. They have lost six games in a row and eight of nine. They stagger into a tournament they have never won with a roster lacking shooters and experience.
Brownell called this season the most difficult of his career. It’s likely to be the first losing season of his 10-year head coaching career, and the first losing campaign at Clemson since Oliver Purnell’s first season in 2003-04.
“Some of it is youth, some of it is there are so many things you are teaching a young team,” Brownell said. “I think sometimes, with older groups, there is more of a sense of urgency.”
Perhaps the sense of urgency will pick up with seniors Milton Jennings and Devin Booker knowing their college careers are one loss away from being over.
“Hopefully not,” Booker said. “I’m going to give it all I have.”
Clemson’s offense — which ranks last in the ACC in scoring with 61.3 points per game — limits the Tigers’ upside in Greensboro.
Brownell has questioned the Tigers’ shooting ability, but not their effort.
“If the guys had not fought as hard as they have, and gotten some of the games to the points in the game where they have, then I could understand somebody saying they’ve given in,” Brownell said. “We just played Miami and they were playing to win the league, and we really had nothing to play for, zero, and its 25-all at the half.
“We are not good enough to beat them but I’m not ashamed of the way our team has competed.”