CLEMSON — The Clemson women's basketball team has yet to carve out an identity. Between a roster full of fresh faces and a stunning 74-72 loss to Division II foe Lander in an exhibition Tuesday night, the Tigers enter the season in a state of flux.
Amid the uncertainty, coach Amanda Butler has taken the first step in helping Clemson to establish a unified persona. She refers to the group as 'Team 45' referencing the program's 45th year of existence.
"It implies the uniqueness of each team and each season," Butler said. "For some people, just a number is not that fancy or creative. But there will be no other 'Team 45' in Clemson women's basketball history.
"So I think that's really special."
The Tigers begin the regular season Nov. 6 at Littlejohn Coliseum against Furman. In order to avoid a similar result to the Lander game, Clemson will need to take better care of the ball; Lander scored 28 points off 42 Clemson turnovers.
The Tigers were led in scoring by guard Kendall Spray, who sat out last season after transferring from Tennessee-Martin. She hit 7 of 8 from 3-point range and finished with 23 points.
"Kendall's always going to be a shooter first," Butler said. "She's one of the best shooters I've ever coached, especially beyond the 3-point line."
Kobi Thornton, a 6-2, forward, scored 12 points and recorded nine rebounds, three blocks and three assists in the exhibition. Thornton, who was named to the preseason All-ACC team, figures to play a big role for Clemson as the Tigers aim to earn their second straight NCAA Tournament berth after missing out on the tournament for 17 seasons.
That was the 44th iteration of the Tigers, though. 'Team 45' is ready to make its own history, despite a bumpy start.