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Press Conference: Clemson coach Brad Brownell at the ACC Tournament

clemsonClemson coach Brad Brownell and Tigers guard Avry Holmes talk with the media after an 88-85 loss to Georgia Tech in the 2016 ACC Tournament.


THE MODERATOR: We’ll take an opening statement from head coach and then take questions.

COACH BROWNELL: Obviously a painful loss. Thought our guys played really well for 35 minutes of the game. Give Georgia Tech kids and Brian credit, they kept playing, competing.

You know, it’s tough. Just down the stretch, we couldn’t get any rebounds. It basically became a free throw contest. We just would watch them shoot free throws the last six minutes of the game. I think it’s tough.

I really think Jamie and Ramey and all those guys are good. But I think sometimes you get caught up in the moment. I don’t know, I’m anxious to see if there weren’t one or two that were tough calls against us that kind of keep the momentum going.

I thought our guys really competed, played well. But it’s frustrating. We couldn’t get rebounds. They made a lot of free throws down the stretch. That was the difference.


Q. Brad, what were you trying to get out of that last possession before overtime with 12 seconds left?
COACH BROWNELL: We were running a little slip screen with J.B. and Avry. Avry had the option to kind of hesitate and go, or depending on if there was a mix-up, he could stop and throw it back to J.B. and then J.B. would go.

Probably would have liked to have started it one or two seconds earlier. Avry decided to go to the rim, draw contact, see if he could get a foul. Didn’t get a call.

Q. Coach, what was the biggest thing they were able to take advantage of in coming back from that far down against you guys?
COACH BROWNELL: Rebounding and free throws. I mean, both teams combined to shoot three in the first half, and there were many in the second. Obviously that stops the clock, allows them to score with the clock stopped. You know, keep pressing, make more possessions in the game.

Our inability to get rebounds, and their free-throw shooting, was the difference in the game.

Q. Brad, do you think all that free-throw shooting took you out of your offensive rhythm?
COACH BROWNELL: A little bit, I do. Just changed the complete flow of the game, the complexity of the game. It kind of just compounds. In those situations, you’re already behind, or the other team is behind, so they’re playing more aggressively. They’re sending everybody to the glass.

It doesn’t really matter if they push you in the back and get a rebound. They’re just attack mode. And defensively you’re, you know, a little bit on your heels at times because of the fouls every possession. Sometimes it can compound itself.

Obviously in some ways we thought about going zone a couple times. Because of Adam Smith and his shooting ability, we weren’t sure if that would be a good move. Hindsight we probably should have tried it at least a little bit in the end.

Then, you know, you’ve lost all your momentum. You’re just kind of getting the ball in against a press because there’s a free throw, they’re pressing, throws you a little bit out of rhythm.

We had a few bad possessions, but we actually didn’t have as many. J.B. got a couple in there in good places and didn’t make ’em. We had a couple free throws we didn’t make.

Our offense I don’t think was really the reason why we lost.

Q. Avry, obviously a heartbreaking loss, but you had a good game, 19 points. What can you take away from this performance?
AVRY HOLMES: I would have to say just stick as a team throughout the whole game. I feel like the whole entire game we were together, then we kind of shaded away at the end of the game.

I would say just we were up by 18, I felt like we just laid back and weren’t as aggressive, more together at the end of the game.

Q. Avry, anything you could have done differently at that point? You said you laid back during that stretch.
AVRY HOLMES: I don’t know. The rhythm was just because they kept calling fouls. We got out of rhythm. They kept pressing. I think it was just the rhythm at the end of the game.

Q. Brad, this program took some steps this year, showed some improvement. I know this isn’t the way you wanted the conference season to end. What would it mean to get an NIT bid?
COACH BROWNELL: It would mean a lot. I know everybody talks on balanced schedule and all those things. But we were 10-8, seventh seed in the tournament, actually tied for sixth with Virginia Tech.

I certainly think we’re tournament-worthy. It would be a good thing for this team to get to continue to play more.

So, yeah, we’re very hopeful and optimistic that the league will make a good recommendation for us with what we did especially in ACC play this year.