NCAA PRESS CONFERENCE
Q. Does it feel different now that you're
finally here? Does it feel different or is it like
no big deal, like the ACC Tournament, how do
you feel now that you're here?
CLIFF HAMMONDS: No, it doesn't feel
any different. You know, we're just treating it like
another game. You know, playing, focus on
Villanova. Not worrying about anything outside of
Villanova. That's what we did in the ACC
Tournament. That's what we did throughout the
season, treated every game as its own, I guess,
season. And right now you've got to treat it that
way, because one slip of any mistake or any type
of setback, and you can go home. No more games
We're just treating it as one game. Not
treating it any different like we treat any other
game this season.
JAMES MAYS: Definitely to follow up on
Cliff, it's definitely an honor to be here in the
tournament, and we definitely treat it as any other
game. We've got to treat every game like one
game at a time. So right now we're really
concentrating on our game plan toward Villanova
K.C. RIVERS: There's not much else to
say. These guys summed it up. But, yeah, it's a
great feeling to be here. We had a wonderful
experience last week in the ACC Tournament.
We're high as far as our motivation and our
confidence. I mean, for us to be here right now,
Villanova's our main objective right now, and
whatever happens, we'll continue to do what we're
doing. Taking it one game at a time. That's the
most important thing for us right now.
Q. What is it about your press that
makes it so effective? Is it technique, energy,
CLIFF HAMMONDS: I think our press is
designed to wear people down. We may get a
couple steals here and there, but throughout the
course of the game if we keep our pressure on a
team and keep going after them. It's designed to
wear them down to where down the stretch of a
game they don't have the legs that they would
have if we weren't pressing them.
Q. Cliff, just wanted to ask you what
concerns you most about Villanova's guards,
specifically Scott Reynolds?
CLIFF HAMMONDS: You know, Scottie,
just watching him on tape and throughout the
course of the year watching him, you know, he's
kind of like some of the guards we've played in the
conference in the ACC ala Tyrese Rice and Jack
McClinton. He does it all for his team. He can hit
a perimeter shot. I mean, he can get to the basket
with the best of them. He has the mid-range game
also. So we've got to focus on him and try to limit
him from as many touches as possible. And I think
that's one of our keys trying to get a win is just
eliminating Scottie Reynolds from scoring, and also
from distributing to his teammates on the drive and
Q. Everyone talks about Scottie
Reynolds and their guard play. Is their inside
game underrated? What's up with their inside
JAMES MAYS: Definitely. They have
some great post players. Really not any true
5-men. They have, like you could say fowards, but
they're really athletic. And we can't focus all our
attention on Scottie Reynolds and forget about the
rest of the guys. But they definitely have some
forwards that's can contribute and hit big shots in
Q. You've played pretty well since you
took off the wrap there at the Maryland game,
do you wish you had thrown that off a couple
of games earlier?
JAMES MAYS: If I could, I would. But
definitely I took it off at the right time. My hand's
not bothering me as much. Unfortunately I had to
wear it for like a month and a half. But it feels a lot
better now that I'm playing without it.
Q. You guys have worked for a lot of
years to get the program to this point, do you
think that the intensity with which you play will
help sustain you at a time when it would be
very easy to just sit back and exhale and say
we've made it?
CLIFF HAMMONDS: I definitely think the
intensity, the enthusiasm we have for playing in the
tournament and just the will that we have to get the
job done. I mean, we had a great season, that's
over. We had a great ACC Tournament. That's
over. Now we want to go out and have a great
NCAA Tournament. We're not satisfied with
anything that we've done this year to this point. I
mean, we haven't won any championships. We
haven't accomplished any of our major goals of the
season. So we're coming out to this NCAA
Tournament, and I think we're one of the hungriest
teams in the nation. We want to try to start with
Villanova and work our way toward our ultimate
goal from the start of the season, and that is
winning a National Championship.
JAMES MAYS: It's definitely a gratifying
accomplishment for us, but I don't think we'll just
settle at that. I think this accomplishment to the
NCAA will fuel by far our hunger to accomplish
more things in this tournament. We're just not
satisfied just making it. We want to make a name
for ourself and the program at Clemson as a
Q. Have you guys been paying
attention to a lot of the national guys picking
you guys to get to the Sweet 16 and even be
able to cause Kansas some problems? Are
you aware of that, that a lot of people are
picking you guys?
K.C. RIVERS: We're aware of it. But at
the same time like we said earlier, it's one game at
a time. Everybody else is looking for our
predictions and Final Four picks, National
Championship picks. That's not our concern right
now. Our first concern is Villanova. We've got to
get past Villanova. We're not looking beyond to
Vanderbilt, Siena, whoever else might be in front of
us. We're looking at Villanova.
This is a capable team. The 5-12 seed
match-ups have been predominantly the upset
match-ups. So we have to pay attention to what's
in front of us.
Q. In your film study at Villanova, how
would you gauge their ability to handle full
CLIFF HAMMONDS: I think they're pretty
adept at handling full court pressure. They have
two really good point guards in Scottie Reynolds
and Corey Fisher. We're just going to have to try
to battle them as best as we can. We play a lot of
teams with really good guards. I mean,
North Carolina had some of the best guards in the
country. You know, Sean Singletary is one of the
best guards in the country.
I think we'll be able to pressure them and
force them into mistakes. If we come out and
pressure a team like we know how to pressure
them, we'll try to force their point guards into
getting the ball out of their hands or turning the ball
over by pushing them throughout the course of the
game. Any time you pressure a guard for 40
minutes, they're bound to turn the ball over a
couple of times.
Q. After your last game, you'll probably
be a primary target of their defense. Do you
see anything on tape about how they defend
perimeter players who can score a lot of
points? What do you expect?
K.C. RIVERS: I know the attention is
probably going to be attracted to them on the
perimeter. But as far as their defense goes, most
of it is just a sagging off defense, switching bigs on
guards and vice versa. But just for me, it's just
taking what I have, seeing what I have, taking
advantage of what I can. For the most part, it's just
continue to run what we've got going for us.
Whatever is working, whether it's inside or outside.
Just got to find what's clicking.
Q. Do you see that they front the post
more than y'all would normally see or y'all have
seen so far?
JAMES MAYS: Yeah, by the film that we
have watched we've seen that their 4 and 5-men
able to front the post a lot, and they come over with
the weak-side help sometimes. So we have made
adjustments, and hopefully it will pay off for us
Q. Are you concerned about the
program over a lack of experience in the NCAA
Tournament in this kind of setting, considering
it's been a decade since you've been there?
CLIFF HAMMONDS: I don't think we're
concerned about a lack of experience in the NCAA
Tournament, because throughout the course of the
season we've played tournament-worthy teams
and teams that are in the tournament. We've
proven well against those teams. We've been in
tournament atmospheres and tournament
situations, late-game situations where the score is
tied or it's a close game. Like I said, we played
well in those games.
If you worry about tournament experience,
like we haven't been to the NCAA Tournament, I
mean, we made a tournament run last year in the
NIT, and we're just as tournament experienced as
any team in the country because of that
experience from last year's NIT.
JAMES MAYS: I'd have to also agree with
Cliff. I don't think us not making the tournament is
really a problem for us. We really can't control the
length that we haven't been to the tournament
because we wasn't here that long. But I know
against the competition that we have played this
year, it really prepared us against Carolina, Duke,
and the list can go on with the great teams in the
ACC. So I think we're really mentally prepared and
also physically prepared come Friday.
K.C. RIVERS: These guys summed it up.
I mean, it's no experience involved. Basketball is
basketball. At this point in time in the season,
there are no records. The seeds play no factor.
It's just a matter of who wants it more. Who wants
to win and advance. It's not about how long or
how many years you've been to the tournament or
how many times you've made it. It's about who
wants it the most. That's what it comes down to.
OLIVER PURNELL QUOTES
COACH PURNELL: We're very excited
about being here, representing Clemson University
in the NCAA Tournament. This is one of the goals
that we set following last year when we were kind
of on the bubble and didn't get in. We returned all
but one of our players, scholarship players. A guy
that was very important to us in Vernon Hamilton,
our point guard. So there obviously were some
question marks about our team from a
ball-handling standpoint, leadership and all of that.
But the leadership's been outstanding from
the returning players. The freshman that really fit
in well. And this group has come together and
formed a cohesive unit that's tough and resilient
and all of those things. That is the reason we're
here today. We certainly recognize that we have a
very tough opponent. And I would emphasize
tough. They've been through the murderers' row of
the Big East. They've had some struggles and
some things have happened to them. I think
evidence of that was the last game with Scottie
Reynolds goes out of the game. Kind of knocked
out and stitched up, and he comes back and they
give Georgetown a heck of a game. They lost an
earlier game to Georgetown on a controversial call.
Yet that team has kind of gotten up off the deck
and just keeps coming at you.
They remind me a lot of our team in terms
of being athletic. I've got good guards and I really
love their big guys. They're underrated. But I
really like them and would love to have them on
our team. From that standpoint, you know, we're
going to have a tough match-up.
Jay Wright does a great job. You know,
it's an honor to play against him in the NCAA
Tournament, and we recognize we have a very stiff
Q. When Villanova is successful
against the press, what is it that they do well?
COACH PURNELL: Well, Scottie
Reynolds is a great, great player. Corey Fisher,
you know, their freshman is a tremendous athlete,
a tremendous ball handler. They simply get the
ball to those guys. And they have the ability to
really play the game in the broken court. Any time
you have guys that can improvise and make plays
and score and make it easy for their teammates to
score, you're going to have a problem. Everybody
understands that Villanova has great guards and
they've got a number of them. But Scottie
Reynolds is as good as there is in the country, and
Corey Fisher is one of the best young talents in the
country at the guard position as well. Sometimes
they play those two guys together, that means they
are a terrific ball-handling team at that point.
So they have the weapons to attack
pressure, there is no question about that.
Q. You've taken teams into the
tournament at other schools before for their
first time. Is this team as prepared for this
moment and this task as you've ever had?
COACH PURNELL: This team is as
prepared as any team I've had. I think more
prepared because of the ACC schedule, and
because of the ACC Tournament. And I think the
thing that really prepares us is so many tough
games, so many close games. We've seen about
every situation there is. Being way down and
coming back. Other teams being way down,
coming back on us. Six-minute games,
three-minute games, you name it, we've seen it
against top-notch competitions. So I think that
preparation is outstanding for us, has been
outstanding for us.
Q. You guys force a lot of turnovers,
Villanova is one of the leaders in the Big East
forcing turnovers. They use kind of a softer
press than you, but could you compare the two
COACH PURNELL: It's a little different in
that the one that at least we've seen on film is a
three-quarter court. Kind of a 1-2-2. But they're
very aggressive in it. They're aggressive with good
athletes, so they can get the hands on balls. So
they're looking to trap in a lot of the same areas
that we are. But it's just a different alignment.
They shrink the court more with great athletes. So
it's just a philosophy.
Q. In Charlotte on Sunday after the
game you had talked about one of your
concerns going into the tournament was if
there was any hangover effect from a hard and
disappointing loss to Carolina. What have you
seen from your kids in the last few days?
COACH PURNELL: I think they're
progressing fine. We've got a couple more days to
get ready. It's not until ten o'clock tomorrow night.
We've got a practice coming up here in just a few
minutes. I like our progression. We're not ready
yet, but I think that based on what I saw in terms of
our preparation for the ACC Tournament, I think
we're kind of right on schedule.
Q. Do you kind of like the 9:00, 10:00
start, considering you've had several 9:00
starts and had one last week? Do you feel
that's a rhythm you guys can get used to?
Because there are some coaches who don't
like that late start.
COACH PURNELL: This year's team has
been very successful at that time. We played in
the Big Ten-ACC Challenge earlier in the year
versus Purdue. And we played pretty well at 9:30.
We played the first round of the ACC Tournament
at 9:30 versus Boston College. So far our group
has enjoyed that time of day and the rhythm of the
day in terms of getting ready to play.