Postgame: Clemson coach Brad Browell, players after win over Boston College in ACC Tournament
BRAD BROWNELL: Okay, just a really good win by our guys. I thought we — obviously we shot it well. These guys played great. I thought we showed pretty good poise. We actually didn’t get off to a great start in the game, but I liked the way we were playing. Even though we missed some shots early, we got down maybe it was 7-0. I told our guys I liked our rhythm, I liked what we were doing, let’s just stick with it. I thought we hung in there defensively and did about as good a job as you can do on Robinson and Bowman. They’re just playing terrific basketball. Jimmy has done an unbelievable job with their team. They’re in a really good position with how they’re doing things. You could just tell the confidence that they were playing with today, that they were going to come back on us and make a fight.
I thought our guys did a lot of good things down the stretch handling some press, they mixed up some zones against us, 1-3-1 and 3-2. We did a good job of executing against a lot of different defenses, and we made our free throws down the stretch.
Q. Brad, you guys scored 90 today, but against Virginia, who you’re on to next, 36. What’s different about their defense?
BRAD BROWNELL: What’s the average? I’d like to — we’ll take the average tomorrow. What’s different about their defense? I mean, they just do everything really well. They’re unbelievably sound. Tony obviously is as good a coach as there is in our game.
I think sometimes Virginia, because they play slow on offense, they don’t get enough credit for how good their players are. I think sometimes everybody gets so into their scheme, but you don’t win 17 out of 18 ACC games unless you have really good players. And they’re big, they’re athletic, and they’re obviously very sound fundamentally. So they just do a lot of really good things. They’re difficult to play against.
You know, the first time we did play them was the first game we played without Donte Grantham, so hopefully we’re playing a little better than a two- or one-day prep for Virginia at Virginia without one of our best players.
Q. Brad, you talked earlier in the week about kind of trying to shake the rust off after not necessarily playing for a couple days; how much of that did you notice? I know you started 2 of 11.
BRAD BROWNELL: I don’t think it had anything to do with that. Again, these guys are going to make shots, miss shots. That’s part of basketball. Again, I was pleased with how we were playing. I thought we had good practices leading in. These guys were very focused. Monday and Tuesday we practiced extremely hard. We tapered back on Wednesday. But we tried to use Monday and Tuesday as a way for our team to get better, and I think we did that.
But a lot of credit goes to these guys next to me because of their approach. Their approach has been great all year, handled adversity all year, and they’ve been extremely coachable group.
Q. Shelton and Gabe, what was the plan against Bowman and Robinson, and how did you execute it?
GABE DEVOE: Just tried to make them make tough plays. We know they can shoot the ball well. Just making them make tough plays and trying to run them in transition. They played three games in three days. We knew they would have a little tired legs, so just trying to get out in transition.
SHELTON MITCHELL: Yeah, basically like he said, try to make them take tough twos, eliminate the easy ones, get the open threes and the easy layups and stuff like that.
Q. BC made a big run after you in the second half. What did you do to get the lead back and command?
GABE DEVOE: I feel like just we’ve done all season, just staying composed when those situations happen. The game got close, and we made a couple big plays on the offensive end and were able to get stops defensively, were rebounding the ball well, so it just helped out down the stretch.
SHELTON MITCHELL: Yeah, we knew they were going to make a run, like he said, they’re a good team, so really just weather the storm, stay together and try and make a lot of winning plays at the end when it mattered.
Q. Coach, you’ve got a guy coming off the bench today just made some big plays for you, big threes in A.J. Talk about what he did for you.
And also for Shelton, if you could talk about the big plays down the stretch.
BRAD BROWNELL: Yeah, A.J., tremendous to see that. A.J. hadn’t played a lot this year, got some time early in the year and really struggled and just couldn’t find his legs. Probably lost his confidence midway through the year, and just has hung with it, with an unbelievable attitude. He’s just been coachable, worked extremely hard, put more time in the gym, and really hasn’t played much at all, but he’s been playing well the last month in practice. You know, I just told him that I was going to reward him here at the end of season. And I’m kind of one of those guys that guys will go five games without playing for me, and then all of a sudden I’ll throw them in like Malik William against North Carolina at home. It’s going to happen.
Obviously what he did today was huge. We needed it. Two shots in the first half were big, but then the one late in the game was a big-time shot. It was a great pass, first of all. But couldn’t be more proud of him because it hasn’t been easy. It’s been a hard year. You lose your confidence, kind of get it back, earn its way back. And he really hasn’t played much at all, but comes into the biggest of stages and makes three big shots today. So just really proud of him with the attitude that he’s kept all year.
Q. Y’all mentioned that BC was playing its third game in three days; how conscious were you of trying to wear them down, and how surprised were you that they had enough gas left in the tank to make that run late?
SHELTON MITCHELL: They were going to make a run at some point. Really we just knew if we could try to eliminate their easy shots, make them take tough twos, we could get stops, rebound and run, and then they would have to get back and play transition defense. But I wouldn’t say I was necessarily surprised, like I said, because they’re a good team.
Q. Jim mentioned you guys are pretty close yesterday, and I was curious, did you talk at all leading up to today or during the course of the season?
BRAD BROWNELL: Yeah, Jim and I talk probably every two weeks, maybe every two to three weeks, just depending on what’s going on. It’s mostly words of encouragement. We both had tough years last year, and we’ve known each other from just being mid-major guys about the same age for a long time. I’ve got an unbelievable amount of respect for him. Martin Jarmond actually played at UNC-Wilmington when I was an assistant there, and I told him when he got the job at Boston College that he had one hell of a coach and that people probably don’t realize it, but you will see it this year with this team. And dadgum, I almost saw too much of it today, but he’s just done an unbelievable job with it. He’s got these guys playing at a high level. Their belief is at a high level. And he’s just — he just does things the right way in our business. He’s a hard-working guy. He’s a great offensive mind, and we’ve just competed against each other occasionally, but really just guys who are similar ages growing up in the business in a similar area.
Q. Shelton, can you talk about those big plays at the end, the free throws, and mainly the big basket that kind of kept you guys on the front of the score?
SHELTON MITCHELL: Really I just saw an opening. I think I forgot who it was, I think Skara had a good screen, and I had a big backing up, so I felt like I could make that shot. And really just making free throws. Really just staying focused. We shoot free throws all the time in practice. So just sticking to the same routine, I was confident I was going to be able to knock them down.
Q. Gabe, you kind of went through a little bit of a shooting lull near the end of the season, kind of picked it back up senior day and obviously today. What were you doing during that time to try and get yourself out of the funk?
BRAD BROWNELL: Gabe, if you don’t make five, it’s a shooting lull, you understand that, right? It’s tough.
GABE DEVOE: Nothing different. Just staying confident, shooting the ball. Nothing changed. I just got hot during the middle of the season, like you said, just making five a game. I made three today, and I guess that’s a shooting lull. But just staying confident.
BRAD BROWNELL: He made five two-point baskets, which I’m proud of.
Q. Coach, Tony Bennett said earlier this year in one of his radio shows that you’re a guy that he roots for, so do you think he’ll be rooting for you tomorrow?
BRAD BROWNELL: Tony Bennett is not a very nice guy. Like he — he’s got like nine Coach of the Year awards, and he won’t let me have one.
No, I don’t think he’ll be rooting real hard for me. Just another Midwest guy that I respect. You know, didn’t know Tony very well until I got to Clemson, but philosophically we have some similarities. He does things better than I do, considerably, but just have always respected his father first. Growing up in the Midwest, you knew about Dick Bennett. My father was a high school coach. I read his book, watched his teams at Green Bay, watched Tony. I followed them while they were out at Washington State. I have a lot of respect for people that do things the right way in our business, and Tony and Jim are two guys that I’ve known here a little while, gotten to know better, and I just have a lot of respect for those guys.
Q. You had mentioned that you played Virginia, I think it was two days or two or three days after Donte got hurt. Could you say that was the worst possible time to play them, or how much of poor timing was that?
BRAD BROWNELL: Yeah, it was hard, no question. But it’s going to be hard tomorrow, I know that. I mean, they just make it hard. You’ve got to play exceptionally well. You’ve got to make plays. But I do think our team is in a better place.
You know, you just — we were rolling when we had Donte Grantham. We felt like we were one of the better teams in the country. And had kind of proven some of that early on, and we’ve had to adjust, specifically these two guys and Marquise, they’ve had to adjust. There’s been a lot more responsibility in terms of scoring and different things falling on their shoulders. And we had to tweak some things in our offense just to try to take advantage of other situations where we were using Donte in our offense, and we’ve gotten better at that. We’ve gotten better at that.
We’ve got a couple guys, like Aamir is better now than he was then. David Skara is a guy that’s continued to get minutes and gotten. Obviously a guy like A.J. Oliver played well today. But still, Shelton Mitchell, Marcquise Reed, Gabe DeVoe for us, those guys are the guys that have really led this team now that Donte has been out.