Tigers happy to be in tourney, prep begins for UAB on Sunday night

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – Clemson head coach Brad Brownell said he was worried, despite assurances, that his team wouldn’t be called during Sunday’s NCAA Selection Show, and he was glad to learn their fate early in the broadcast.

No worries, as the Tigers were picked to play in the play-in game in Dayton, OH, on Tuesday. The winner advances as a 12 seed to play the fifth-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers in Tampa, FL on Thursday.

“It has been an interesting day,” Brownell said. “I was glad to see that our name was called right away. A lot of people had been reassuring me. It was worrisome.”

Brownell said he was happy that his players get to experience the tournament after being on the bubble for much of the last two months.

“I am really happy for our players,” he said. “Those guys have worked incredibly hard since I got the job. We have improved a great deal, and I am glad the committee saw that. Like I have said, we have been playing like a tournament team for the last two months. Most nights, we have played pretty good basketball. I am just glad the guys get a chance to be a part of that experience.”

The Tigers have a quick turnaround, which Brownell said would be the hardest part.

“We won't go anywhere until I know what I need to know about UAB,” he said. “I will be sitting down tonight with a notebook and watching about four of their games. I won't go to bed until I know what I need to know. Hopefully we will play well.

“The quick turnaround is the hardest part of the Tuesday game. We forget that these are student-athletes, and they have academics. It’s a quick turnaround; with quick preparation with everything logistically you have to get done. You can't take a breath or step back and enjoy it. You look like a duck – calm on the outside but underneath the water you’re paddling like hell.”

Senior Demontez Stitt said he was glad to be in the tourney – play-in game or not.

“I had butterflies, and this was my last shot at it,” Stitt said. “It was good to get it out of the way early. This is my fourth NCAA Tournament, so this is special. Hopefully, we’ve raised the bar for Clemson. We have worked hard and preserved throughout the year and we are here now. Some of the guys are mad about the play-in game, but as players we can only control what we can control and that is winning games. We need concentrate on UAB first and worry about the other stuff when we get there.”

Stitt said he also hopes for the chance to finally win a game in the tournament.

“It feels good to be able to get in the tournament, and hopefully the one-and-done talk will quiet down. We have all the pieces this year to do that. This year we are actually picking it up at the right time. If we stick to the game plan and continue to play hard, we will be alright in the tournament.”

Times/networks released for Thursday

12:15 p.m. (CBS): No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 12 UAB/Clemson (Tues.: 9:10 p.m. TruTV)

30 minutes after (CBS): No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Princeton

6:50 p.m. (TBS): No. 2 Florida vs. No. 15 UC Santa Barbara

30 minutes after (TBS): No. 7 UCLA vs. No. 10 Michigan St.

AUDIO: Brad Brownell post-selection comments

AUDIO: Demontez Stitt post-selection comments

AUDIO: Jerai Grant post-selection comments

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