Quotable Purnell

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Clemson head basketball coach Oliver Purnell held a season-ending session with the media Friday afternoon. Following are highlights of his press conference:

Overall thoughts on the season:

"Obviously this year was good in a lot of ways for our team and for our program. I've talked all season long about our seniors. I'll say it once again: I have a lot of admiration for what they've done for our program. They were our first recruiting class, and they believed in what we were saying about Clemson University and what we could accomplish here. They believed that not only could we compete in the ACC, but also that we could win games.

I'm glad that those things could come to fruition while they were here. Last year at the banquet, we said we weren't going to sit around on Selection Sunday begging and having to showcase our body of work. We were of the mindset that we would be good enough to bust the door down to the NCAA Tournament. We accomplished that, and I think that's a heck of an accomplishment.

"At the same time, we're not satisfied with where we are as a program. We set a goal back in the fall of winning the national championship, and we didn't do that. Certainly we want to put ourselves in position to compete for the championship next year, and the year after, and so on. We will be setting that goal once again next year, because of the returning players that we have. We're excited about the group we've got coming in. We have a lot to learn about that group.

We're going to place an awful lot of responsibility on our returning group to get better and to understand that it's on them to lead us to what we can accomplish next year. I'm pleased with a lot of the things that happened this year. We moved forward as a program for the fifth straight year, and got appreciably better. But I'm looking forward to the future and to us being even better next year."

On examining the NCAA Tournament loss to Villanova:

"There's still an ongoing analysis of that game and what happened in my mind. A number of things come to mind, although I'm not sure I'll ever quite figure it out. The ACC Tournament takes a lot out of you. Having never been to the finals before, I didn't realize how much it takes out of you. Terry Don (Phillips) said this to me a number of times early on in my career at various speaking engagements. It may be harder to win the ACC Tournament than it is the national championship. They're kind of similar in who you have to beat to get there. I think that took a lot out of us.

That week, we were trying to get our guys back and ready. We actually kicked them out of practice one day because we didn't feel like we had that focus and concentration. Yet, I think we really got them ready. A lot of things converged. We hit a wall. Villanova was a tough, determined team. Then it seemed like we were tired mentally and physically at the same time. But who knows? The thing that really jumps out at me is the ACC Tournament. To win it takes an awful lot."

On if the ACC will be a tougher league next season:

"I think it will be. Teams that finished in the lower echelon of the ACC return a lot of players. Virginia Tech advancing in the NIT has helped their young guys with that extra practice and playing time. Miami, who we played twice this year, we know what a good, young ball club they have. Wake Forest, who we beat in overtime, they return those guys and have quite possibly the #1 recruiting class in the nation coming in next season. Then of course you have North Carolina, Duke, and Maryland. I think the league will be better. Any time the league is better, it's hard to succeed."

On the different look of next year's team:

"We lose a lot defensively. We certainly could be, and probably should be, better offensively. Defense will be a question mark. Can we get back to a high level without those three guys (Cliff Hammonds, James Mays, Sam Perry)? We'll meet as a staff and one of the things we'll address will be the different ways of playing defense. Certainly our personnel will be a little different. We want to give the team the best opportunity to succeed on both ends of the floor by what you're doing."

On when he expects to determine a defensive philosophy for next season:

"We recruited these guys with our system in mind. Until you actually see your team having to go full court on both ends, you don't know how they will react in terms of stamina and those kind of things. We'll come up with what we think will work in the summer. But as we get into individual workouts in August, that will start to tell us something. They go for a month before we can get them all together. Then after the first two weeks of practice in October, we'll probably have an idea of whether or not we need to adjust, cut back, add more, etc. It's kind of an ongoing process."

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