Monte Lee on team's struggles: "It's always my fault. It's never their fault."
|Wednesday, May 22, 2019, 1:58 PM- -|
DURHAM, NC – Monte Lee’s message Tuesday was clear. Don’t blame his players for the loss to Boston College and don’t blame his players for the team’s second-half struggles this season. Why? It’s the job of the head coach to shoulder all of that responsibility.
Clemson lost in 11 innings to Boston College in Tuesday’s ACC Tournament opener with a bid to the NCAA’s on the line. There are a few projections that have the Tigers as one of the last teams in the 64-team field, but many of those projections say at least one win is needed in Durham.
Clemson takes on top-seeded Louisville at 11 am Thursday, and while shortstop Logan Davidson says the Tigers know what’s at stake, he says the team won’t add any extra pressure to go out and perform.
“I don't think that's the mindset we're taking. We're taking every game the same anyway,” Davidson said. “We want to win every game no matter if it's a must-win or not. That's the way it is. We'll take the same approach to the game that we have been taking; just play our best baseball.”
“Again, it's kind of like what Logan said. I think Thursday's game is the next game on our schedule and it's a big one. Where we're sitting right now I think we all know it's a big one,” Lee said. “Right now they were all big. We went into last week and talked about the last four games with Coastal Carolina and Wake Forest that every one of them was basically a postseason-caliber type ball game for us. We needed to put together a good game plan and try to play our best baseball.
“These guys are competing as hard as they can. I can't ask for any more out of them. As far as the magnitude of the game, well, they're all big at Clemson. They're all big every year. There's no game that's bigger than another one. They're all big. And I think our guys know that. They know right now what's at stake and what we're trying to fight for.”
Lee said he hoped Wednesday’s day off would be good for his team.
“And we got to be ready to go on Thursday. We got the day off tomorrow,” Lee said. “We'll get a good practice in, and hopefully we can get our spirits back in order. I know it's a tough loss for our guys. It's going to be a tough ride back to the hotel. But we'll talk to the guys about trying to keep their spirits up and moving on from it and just being ready to play on Thursday.”
At one point this season the Tigers were 11-3 in the ACC, ranked, and had hopes of perhaps earning their way into a national seed. A long losing streak dashed those dreams, and now Lee’s club is faced with a must-win Thursday.
“It's certainly a learning experience for all of us. It's a learning experience for me as well as a coach. I try not to -- I really try not to share that a whole lot with the players,” Lee said. “I think it's my responsibility to try to put them in a position to be successful and try to be as positive as I can as we're going through tough games and tough losses.
“And we certainly went through quite a few of them here in the second half of the year. But it's tough. I don't know any other way to put it. When you're dealing with what we've dealt with at times here in this second half of the season, but, I have a responsibility to my players to try to put them in a position to be successful, to keep their heads up and just keep trying to fight and compete as hard as they can. And that's really all that I can try to do.”
Lee also said that he loses sleep, second-guessing all of his decisions.
“I'm pretty accountable. I feel like there have been some games here that maybe if I had done something differently, maybe we would have, the outcome would have been different,” he said. “I think you second-guess and question everything when you are going through tough times. But I second-guess and question everything when we're going good, too. It's part of being a coach.
“It's always my fault. It's never their fault. It's the way I approach it all the time. It's my job to try to find the answers and help them and take the pressure off them. It's certainly been a learning experience. Haven't gone through this in quite a while but I've been through it before. But the bottom line is I still think our team's in a good position. But we've got to find a way to get ready to play the next game. And that's really what our focus has got to be right now.”