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Gaining Momentum: How the 2016 basketball season is a pivotal one for Brad Brownell

Savannah N. Miler, Photo Editor
Clemson Head Coach Brad Brownell is in his sixth season of coaching the Tigers. 

“We need to take a couple of days. We’re beat up, we’re tired, we’re sick. We don’t feel great, and we probably shouldn’t feel great. We haven’t played as well the past couple of weeks.” 

This blunt statement was made by Clemson Tigers’ Head Coach Brad Brownell in the press conference that followed Clemson’s loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish last week. 

Marking the second straight loss for the Tigers, it was clear that all of the momentum gained from the team’s January winning streak was gone, and Brownell was aware of that.

Now in his sixth season as head coach for the Tigers, Brownell has been somewhat of a different person this season. Usually very taciturn and relaxed, Brownell has been brutally honest at times with the media throughout this season and more fiery on the sideline. 

This change in demeanor is likely a product of the expectations associated with this year’s team. 

Arguably the most talented field of players Brownell has had since arriving at Clemson, this season’s Tigers appear to be NCAA Tournament-caliber, and should they miss out on the “Big Dance,” Brownell’s job status might be called into question.

Clemson’s lone tournament appearance since Brownell took the helm was in 2011, his first season as head coach. However, considering the parity of this college basketball season, as well as the obvious lack of any truly dominant teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Clemson is expected to earn a berth into the 2016 Tournament. 

Key starters Landry Nnoko and Jordan Roper set to graduate at the end of the season. This combined with star redshirt junior Jaron Blossomgame possibly preparing to test the NBA Draft waters, indicates that the time for Clemson to make a postseason run is now.

Brad Brownell achieved ample success at mid-major Wright State before coming to Clemson, but he has yet to make a splash with the Tigers. He boasts no conference titles, conference tournament titles or postseason tournament titles with Clemson. While the same can be said of most coaches in Division I college basketball regarding their tenures with their respective teams, a lot should be expected from this year’s Clemson squad. 

Considering several mid-majors (Butler, George Mason, VCU and Wichita State) have advanced as far as the Final Four in the past decade, Clemson could very well compete for a National Championship in this season of unpredictability. Coach Brownell surely knows this and also that his team’s postseason performance could have a major impact on his job status in

Tiger Town.

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