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Everything Brad Brownell said after Clemson’s loss to Virginia

Clemson suffered a 66-65 loss to Virginia on Saturday at Littlejohn Coliseum to drop the Tigers to just 4-6 in ACC play.

Clemson (14-7 overall) has now lost six of its first nine games to start the new year. Saturday’s loss was also the Tigers’ third defeat decided by just one possession in that span.

Jack Clark missed what would have been a game-winning 3-pointer as time expired to secure the latest victory for a streaking Virginia (17-5, 8-3) team that has won its last six games.

Here’s everything Tigers coach Brad Brownell said after the game.

Opening statement: 

“Man, hard one. We’ve had several here lately so (it’s) challenging. What a good basketball game. I thought two teams just played so hard. Scoring was hard to come by. Give credit to Virginia, their staff and players on a good road win. They’re playing very good basketball right now. Obviously Jacob Groves’ 3’s and those points are huge. Jordan Minor is doing a really nice job with physicality on defense and rebounding. I think Tony (Bennett) has found something with that here recently and it’s helped them.

“I’m proud of my guys. I just thought we played very hard. Virginia does an unbelievable job. They play a very grinding style. They wear you down with their offense, and you’ve got to sustain like that in a game with them. When you’re not making shots and you’re not getting any energy, the crowd doesn’t help you as much. It becomes hard, but I thought our guys just kept fighting. We’d make a couple in a row and then Virginia would answer. Then we’d have another little drought and we’d battle back. Obviously we had a pretty good look at the top of the key to win that didn’t go in. Again, we were a basket short. It’s happened to us about three times in the league now.

“We’ve just got to hang in there and keep working, but again, I’m really proud of the effort. Another thing is the quality of play… when there’s a bunch of missed shots, maybe the quality doesn’t look as good. For us to only have four turnovers (and) for Virginia to only have six, you’ve got teams on both ends of the court that are executing their stuff and defenses that are fighting their tails off. Just a really well-played game on both sides. I loved the fact that we attacked the basket. We had more free throws than Virginia, which is hard to do, so I thought we played with great physicality and toughness. We just needed to make another couple of shots. I thought we had some great shots around the basket that we needed to get in and certainly could have made another (3-pointer) or two.”

On what options he drew up for the game-winning shot:

“Not a lot. We didn’t do a lot of specific stuff. We’re basically just trying to get the court spread, get the ball into Chase Hunter’s hands. Depending on where PJ Hall was, he could be around the rim for a quick post-up. Jack (Clark) probably had a chance when he caught the ball, if he wanted to, he might have been able to hit PJ in the middle of the lane. That’s not easy for a kid. If there had been (a few) more seconds, he probably does throw it inside to PJ, but he catches it with 2.5 so he’s a little less (inclined) to do that.

“But basically I told Chase, ‘We’re going to put it in your hands. Joe’s going to be in a spot. Josh (Beadle) is out, PJ will probably be rim-running unless he rebounds, in which case he might be in the trail. If I think they slow us down and we don’t have any thrust, then I’ll probably call timeout. But if there’s open court, we’re going to let you drive and see what you do.’ He kind of drew Ryan Dunn to him. Dunn did a great job, kind of what we tried to do to Duke. (Hunter) flipped it to Jack for the shot.”

Oh PJ Hall making a good play to draw a foul on a 3-point shot with 15 seconds left:

“Yeah, it was a good play. We had a couple of options. It’s always hard, especially against a team like Virginia that’s so good defensively to get a clean look like that. That’s one of the reasons why it’s like, ‘Bring it down there and call timeout. There’s going to be 3 seconds left and Virginia’s going to make it hard on you.’ So we just settled, but that was a great play by PJ to draw the foul. A big-time play by an experienced player.”

On the inability to sustain momentum in conference play:

“What’s been hard is we win a game, lose a game, win a game, lose a game. We can’t win back to back games to really get the momentum back on our side all the way. We’ve lost three games, one in double overtime and two in the last second (of regulation). That’s the emotional drain. I thought a little bit during the Louisville game that we had a hard time getting ourselves emotionally charged all the way. I think we found it in the middle of the (Louisville) game and got the lead, but even after the win, the guys were saying we were still pretty flatline. I spent all of the last two days being a cheerleader as much as their coach and just trying to pump energy into them, reaffirm that they’re good players and a good team, and let’s be excited and ready to go.

“We were ready and had great spirit. A lot of coaching isn’t always the X’s and O’s. You’re coaching the spirit of your team. Where is your team spirit, your morale? A lot of times, it’s not always who you play but when you play them. We’re catching some teams that are some tough breaks. Everybody we’re playing is on a five-game win streak, so they feel pretty good about themselves and come in with a really good mindset. For the months of November and December, Clemson was that team, and we were in a really good mindset. We’ve just gotten knocked back a little bit. I think we have a good group of guys and we’ll continue to rally and gain our traction, and eventually the worm will turn and we’ll win a couple of these that have gotten away from us and be back in a good place.”

On having so many missed shots around the rim: 

“It was physical in there, both ways. I am surprised that we didn’t finish with a little more than we normally do, but some of that is Virginia’s defense. Both teams, physical play, disciplined play. Baskets are hard. When you don’t get any easy ones in transition (and) you don’t get an offensive rebound and try to lay it back in,.. you’ve got to grind on every possession. It’s a low-possession game and it’s real work. That’s why sometimes when you don’t have as many good opportunities and you get one, you’re a little (anxious) to make one. Sometimes you try too hard and you don’t get it in.”

On finding more consistency from his bench: 

“I thought those guys did some good things for us. Obviously (Chauncey) Wiggins and Jack had a tough day shooting. I think combined, they were 1-for-10. Having said that, Jack had eight rebounds. Josh Beadle gave us a spurt. Dillon (Hunter) was solid defensively. I’d actually planned, until Bas (Leyte) got hurt, of doing five in and five out. I thought that was one of the ways that I could get our spirit back this week. We kind of went at it with our first unit and second unit Thursday in practice. It was good and got some of our competitive juices going again. Then Bas got hurt on Friday. I thought those guys gave us energy. You’ve got to play the long game with Virginia. It’s hard to sustain because of their style. They can wear you down. You can grind it up pretty well just by guarding that stuff so that you’re going to have to play some folks. I thought our bench did some nice things and really helped us.”

On Alex Hemenway’s setback and Bas Leyte’s shoulder injury:

“I really haven’t had time to get into it all and where we are. It hasn’t been easy (with Hemenway)… Bas’ shoulder popped back out, so I don’t know what that means for Tuesday yet, either.”

On Joe Girard launching a 3-pointer from 28 feet:

“I thought he felt good today, and he made one long one early. I don’t want him to do it a lot, but if makes one and he’s feeling good, he’s got the green light for the most part. Do I say stuff to him occasionally? Yeah, I do. But he’s a good player that’s made a lot of plays. We’re going to trust him 98 percent of the time to do what he has to do to help us win.”

On Ian Schieffelin’s ” chef hat” fans in the student section and overall school spirit:

“We’re certainly very proud of Ian and his development. We’ve certainly bragged about his play to the team a lot and showed a bunch of clips throughout the year of him just making incredible effort plays. I don’t know that we’ve gotten into the chef hats yet, but I’m excited to see it. I couldn’t remember if it was today of some other time, but I knew at some point that somebody had decided they wanted to do that. I’m not sure if it was marketing or who it was, but I think it’s pretty cool.”

Story originally appeared on Clemson Wire