Tigers Look to Correct Mistakes Against FSU
CLEMSON - Early in the second half of Thursday's 82-67 home loss to Wake Forest, Shawan Robinson did what he and every other Clemson basketball player has done far too often this season.
Commit a turnover.
Only this time, after the gaffe, Robinson found himself sitting beside Purnell on the Tigers' bench for an extended period of time. And for one simple reason, though not the most obvious one.
"At halftime I told them no more excuses. We had to forget about the mistakes in the first half," Purnell said Friday. "After he committed the turnover, I was trying to tell Shawan what defense I wanted us in and he couldn't hear me because he was too busy explaining why he lost the ball.
"We didn't have time for that. We needed to look ahead, so I sat him down."
The lesson Robinson learned individually Thursday is one Purnell hopes the full team absorbs in time for today's noon tipoff in Tallahassee, Fla., where Clemson (9-12, 2-8 Atlantic Coast Conference) faces Florida State. The Tigers gained one of their two ACC league victories over the Seminoles earlier this season, 53-48 at Littlejohn Coliseum.
The ability to forget past mistakes, which he hopes leads to a rare road victory this afternoon, is just one more brick Purnell is trying to lay as he rebuilds the foundation of the Tiger basketball program.
"During the course of the year, as we change the mentality of the program, that's one of the things our team is battling," said Purnell. "In each and every game, when we commit a turnover or there is what we perceive to be a bad call against us, we have a tendency to focus on that. I want us to get to the point where we can play the ball game with the type of temperament where things don't bother us.
"That's still a work in progress."
In Florida State, the Tigers face an opponent from whom they've won two of the last three meetings.
However the Leon Co. Civic Center has been a house of horrors for Clemson. The Tigers are just 2-10 in the facility, including five losses in a row. All five of those defeats have been by six points or less, including last year's controversial finish which saw Anthony Richardson hit a pair of free throws with 0.4 seconds left to give FSU a 60-59 victory.
This season, the second under head coach Leonard Hamilton, the Seminoles are 16-8 overall, 4-6 in the ACC. And with six league games still to play, FSU has hopes of finishing as high as third in the league.
It is a fact not lost on Purnell.
"We have a very short turnaround with FSU, and they're playing much better than when we last played them," he said. "It's a tough task and we have to mentally prepare, because they have a lot to play for."