Dec. 20, 2001
Below are Bruce Martin’s answers to the selected questions that you submitted this past week to “Ask The Tigers”. ClemsonTigers.com would like to thank you for all of your questions submitted. We would also like to thank Bruce for his time and sincere effort with “Ask The Tigers”.
Hi Bruce, As a former Clemson player and team captain, What has been your biggest challenge coming back to coach your alma mater?Jennifer Lesko Laurel, MD
Actually Jennifer, I am not a coach. There have been no challenges really coming back to Clemson. Clemson is a great place and what makes it so great is the people. The biggest challenge has been winning games in the best basketball conference in the nation. We are confident now after two good recruiting years that we have a solid foundation of good young players to build around. The next step is to get that great impact player that can elevate your program immediately. That is what we are working towards and we don’t want to just have a good season or two but we want to consistently finish in the top 5 in our league.
Bruce, As a shooter yourself, what do you see wrong with some of the shooters on the team, especially Stockman. I know he is a great shooter that is just in a slump, but I was wondering if you saw anything wrong with his mechanics? Daniel Spencer Greenville, SC
Tony Stockman was hotter than a firecracker all pre-season and also down in St. Thomas. He started the season making 7 three pointers in our opener and had three in the first half vs. LaSalle before injuring his knee. I don’t think a lot of people realize that Tony wasn’t supposed to return to playing until the Elon game. He wanted more than anything to be out there on the court helping his team. I think he deserves a little credit for his toughness and willingness to give it his all for the team. Tony has an awkward shot in the first place…but the bottom line is that the ball goes in the basket, although not that often lately. There are some things you observe watching him shoot, but when you see his shots consistently going in during practice you are hesitant to offer advice. Shooting is a fragile thing and you don’t want to give a player a lot of things to think about. The best thing we can do, and we are doing, is for his teammates and coaches to continue to show confidence in him.
Bruce, I’m sure you’ll agree that the Winthrop game was the pinnacle of frustration for Tiger fans, coaches, players, etc. I know that when the team isn’t making shots, there is only so much a coach can do. My question is: How has the team responded to that loss? I hope they keep their heads up.Bill Norman Stone Mountain, GA
Believe me Bill we all share the same frustrations. Coach Shy does an unbelievable job in pumping our guys up and making them believe in themselves and his system. Our staff and players were really encouraged by our execution after watching the Winthrop game. For the most part our guards were shooting wide-open shots. Our guards, especially Edward Scott, did an unbelievable job of getting the ball inside vs. a team that kept four guys packed in the paint. We had a great energetic practice yesterday and it had everything to do with the leadership of Ed Scott and Ray Henderson. They really set the tone for the team and I believe that they will refuse to let anyone hang their head.
Bruce, It seems that the philosophy is for the shooters to work out their slumps during the games. I agree that a shooter should keep shooting, but I was wondering if there has been any thought into trying to run the floor more in order to get these outside shooters some scoring confidence?Ben March Simpsonville, SC
That always is a good remedy. We especially talk about this with our substitutes when they come into the game. We want them to run and get a lay-up or take the ball to the basket and draw a foul. We never want a guy coming straight off the bench and the first time he touches the ball to fire up a three. In Stockman’s case, he is not an explosive leaper and finisher around the basket. He is very creative with the ball and creating space from his defender for a jump shot. We see him make shots all day in practice and we are confident once he and Chey Christie get back on track we can play with anyone in the conference.
Bruce, With such a young yet talented team, what are some of the challenges you face as coach to keep them motivated, and not frustrated when the team loses a game or player is just having an off game, especially with the ACC season games just around the corner?Jennifer Lesko Laurel, MD
That is why coaches are paid so well. I think it is a combination of knowing your players and their personalities and knowing what buttons to push to get them back on track. Strong player leadership is also a major role. You need players who are very good in the locker room and can rally your team. I think the players can regroup a team much better than a coach. Good team chemistry where everyone pulls for each other is also a must.
Bruce, What was the highlight of your playing career at Clemson?Jackie Martinez Savannah, GA
Dang Jackie you are really making me think back. It would have to be my senior year when our team was picked to be the worst in ACC history. By the way, a great sell job by Rick Barnes. Our first ACC game was a road game at Duke. We were already 9-0 and Duke was like 9th in the country. We won the game 75-68 and it was so great to win in Cameron. I’ll never forget before the game when Coach Barnes told us “After we win this game I don’t want any celebrating on the court. You act like you expected to win this game, shake their hands, get to the locker room and then go nuts!” Needless to say, it was a crazy scene in the locker room. What made it even sweeter was the Tarheels, lead by hall of fame coach Dean Smith got upset by NC State that night. In Smith’s post game conference he noted that “anybody in the ACC could beat anybody except for maybe Clemson.” The media then informed Coach Smith that the Tigers had just beaten Duke in Cameron. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Bruce, You have been to many of the top basketball arenas in the college game. How do you think Littlejohn will stack up once the construction is complete?Chance Grimsley Charleston, SC
I absolutely love Littlejohn coliseum. When LJ is packed and the fans are fired up and rowdy it has to be one of the top 3 loudest in the ACC. The league is going through a construction phase for the past few years. NC State just built a beautiful new arena, GT had major renovations done when the Olympics were in Atlanta, FSU did major work of their facility a couple of years back, and Maryland is moving out of Cole after this season. It is really great to have a president who is an architect and wants the best facility possible for his university. The architectural drawings I have seen look wonderful, both to the eye and functioning purposes. The auxiliary gym is the biggest need we have had for a while. LJ is closed often and is used a lot for other purposes and we end up going to local high schools and rec centers for practice. It should help narrow the gap in recruiting as well. Chance, you have to understand I am a little biased here, I THINK A PACKED LITTLEJOHN COLISEUM IS THE BEST PLACE TO PLAY IN COLLEGE BASKETBALL!
Bruce, Why has Christie’s playing time been sparse lately? He looked to be quite a scorer earlier in the season.Jed Freeman Gastonia, NC
Unfortunately, Chey turned his ankle last week and that has slowed him up quite a bit. You are absolutely correct about Chey’s ability as an offensive player. He is extremely gifted and once he adds some strength his contributions will be great. Before his career is done here he will be one of the better players in the ACC. That is how strongly we feel about Chey.
Next week’s guest on “Ask The Tigers” is the Tigers’ starting tailback, Bernard Rambert.
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