Brownell concerned another COVID pause will stop Tigers' momentum
|Monday, February 15, 2021, 3:20 PM- -|
The Clemson basketball team was hit with COVID pause in early January and it wound up almost derailing the season. The Tigers once again have had to put things on hold, but head coach Brad Brownell hopes his team understands better how to handle the pause this time around.
The Atlantic Coast Conference announced Monday that Clemson’s men’s basketball game at Notre Dame scheduled for Wednesday has been postponed due to COVID-19 issues. The conference says in a release that the postponement follows a positive test, subsequent quarantining, and contact tracing within the Clemson men’s program. The team is following ACC protocols, but Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh could also be in jeopardy.
Clemson was 9-1 and preparing to play at North Carolina in early January when the first pause occurred. Clemson defeated NC State on January 5th but didn’t play again until January 16th, a blowout loss to Virginia. The Tigers wound up losing three in a row and four of five by a little over 24 points per game.
Brownell told the ACC media Monday that the team will know more about the pause in the next few days.
“We have been fortunate that we have not had many players get it so that is a good thing, but obviously, that is a dangerous thing too,” Brownell said. “We have had some, and we have to be careful, so we are on pause here for at least a couple of days to try and test and find out how rampant it is in our program.
“Hopefully, like the last time, it is not too many folks, but you have people that are contact traced and out for ten days and a couple of people that obviously have it will be out a week or whatnot. So, we will see what happens here in the next few days.”
Brownell said the Tigers didn’t handle the first pause the way he would have liked, and that Sunday’s practice was similar to when the team had to cancel preparations for North Carolina.
“We did not play well for a couple of weeks, and it was not all COVID-related. Then the last two weeks we have gotten back to playing the right way and have won four out of five,” Brownell said. “We had a spirited practice, as you would assume, yesterday. It was eerily similar to when we called them off the court the Friday before we were supposed to go to North Carolina when our guys were about to practice but had a good Thursday practice and excited for Friday. But we had to take them off the court.
“So, it is hard because a lot of this in these long seasons … the morale of your team, the spirit of your team and where your team is at that time is often as important as anything you do as a coach. Are your guys in a good frame of mind? Are you confident? Are you practicing well? Do you have guys in a good mental state, probably this year more than any, both individually and collectively as a group?”
The Tigers have won three in a row and are poised to make a run at the NCAA Tournament, and Brownell is hopeful the break won’t last as long as the previous one.
“Needless to say, after the last two weeks, after we won four out of five, you have a nice last-second-fun win like we did against Georgia Tech and your team is in a really good place and you want to play,” Brownell said. “But, obviously, you can’t jeopardize the health of your players or putting another team at risk in this situation. That is first and foremost in all of this.”