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NCAA Tournament Video Diary

March 18, 2010

Tigers Get a Feel for the Tournament Floor

The day started with a 10 AM meeting at HSBC Arena between the host media coordinator and the sports information representatives of the eight competing schools. The meeting lasted a little over 30 minutes, and then concluded with a brief tour of the key areas behind the scenes. Jill Skotarczak of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference serves as Buffalo’s media coordinator, and she did a good job mapping out the media obligations for both the players and head coaches over the first and second rounds.

Excitement was in the air Thursday as the eight teams competing in Buffalo were able to work out on the tournament floor for the first time. With Clemson holding an afternoon workout slot at HSBC Arena, the team held a normal morning practice back at St. Mary’s High School. Following the practice, the guys headed over to the arena and went through security shortly after 1:15 PM.

After a very short period of time to scarf down sandwiches, Clemson leaders Trevor Booker and Demontez Stitt headed off to the media interview room to meet with reporters at 1:35. The two answered questions for approximately 10-15 minutes on the matchup with Missouri. During this time, the Tiger locker room was also open to reporters. A few members of the media shuffled in and out, trying to get a pre-tournament feel from various players.

Press Conference Photo Gallery

Head Coach Oliver Purnell followed the players on the interview podium at 1:50. After 30 minutes, the locker room was closed and the Tigers began to stretch out for their 40-minute shootaround on the arena floor. The practice was observed by a few hundred fans, as well as members of the media (see Rex Brown’s practice photo gallery below). The CBS announce team was in the house, led by energetic play-by-play voice Gus Johnson and longtime network analyst Len Elmore.

Practice Photo Gallery

The idea of “March Madness” has already been felt in this tournament, with Old Dominion upsetting sixth-seeded Notre Dame in the first round in New Orleans. This prompted an “ODU, ODU!” chant from Purnell, who graduated from Old Dominion in 1975. In fact, assistant coach Frank Smith – also a proud Monarch alumnus – could be seen with a smile on his face after receiving word of the upset. College basketball fans were nearly treated to a huge upset when Robert Morris took two-seed Villanova to overtime.

Johnson even gave an impromptu play-by-play call from CBS’ courtside monitors as Villanova handled the ball at the end of regulation.

Following the shootaround, the team returned to the hotel, where Tiger Band and the spirit groups were checking in after swapping hotels to the Clemson headquarters. The players had a few hours of time to themselves, time that would normally consist of study hall had Clemson not been on spring break this week. Instead, several of the guys probably found time to take naps before gathering again for dinner at 6:00. After that, the team will hold a meeting and watch some more film of their opponent.

Be sure to check in for video diary updates each day as Clemson prepares to take on the Tigers out of the Big 12 Conference, Missouri. On Friday, the team will have a brief shootaround in the morning, followed by its standard pre-game meal four hours before the game. ClemsonTigers.com will have you covered with a blog update Friday after the Tigers’ first-round action.

March 17, 2010

Tigers Arrive at NCAA Tournament Destination

The team has settled in at the Hilton Garden Inn, located beside Buffalo’s International Airport. The players and coaches, along with select support staff, boarded the team bus at Littlejohn this morning at 9:30 AM and drove over to Greenville-Spartanburg to depart for Buffalo. It was a quick flight, taking off shortly after 11 AM and landing at 12:30 PM.

With check-in complete by 1:15, everyone had a chance for some relaxation time before heading out to practice at nearby St. Mary’s Catholic High School at 3:00. A couple of support staff members even found time to hit the bowling lanes just a half-mile down the road from the hotel.

St. Mary’s has a nice facility, especially for a school with just 360 students for all four classes. The athletic director and basketball coach is Daniel Gill, former manager of the basketball team at Ohio State. He was our host for the afternoon.

Here is hoping practicing at a Catholic high school is a good omen for the Tigers. Remember the Clemson football team practiced at a Catholic high school when preparing for the Music City Bowl game against Kentucky. The Tigers won that contest 21-13, giving Clemson’s seniors their first bowl victory. Perhaps the Tiger basketball seniors can get their first NCAA Tournament victory on Friday.

It was a busy day at St. Mary’s from an athletic standpoint. With the temperatures in the 60s, it seemed every spring sport was outside working hard at practice. The Tigers walked through the men’s lacrosse team on their way to practice at 2:45 PM, and then walked through the women’s lacrosse team as they prepared for practice at 4:30.

There was a buzz around the school on Wednesday afternoon with the Tigers practicing at their facility. Throughout Clemson’s 100-minute practice there was a constant parade of students to the window that looked into the gym from the far south corner of the facility.

It was a good practice, one that featured crisp passing from the first team, which will be very important against Missouri’s pressure. Speaking of that, the first drills were involved in breaking the Missouri press. They throw a lot of presses at you, so Oliver Purnell spent a high percentage of practice on that aspect of the game.

The practice ended around 4:30 PM. At the conclusion Trevor Booker made four of six three-point shots during the scrimmage portion of the practice. Hopefully both save some of those for the game on Friday.

Following Wednesday’s practice session, the team had about 90 minutes of down time before heading to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. A group of about 35 – including athletic administration, players, coaches and support staff – took in some great food at one of the team’s favorite dining establishments. Despite the enormous portions of food that were brought out, several players and coaches left enough room to place to-go orders from the restaurant’s wide variety of cheesecakes.

Be sure to check in for video diary updates each day as Clemson prepares to take on the Tigers out of the Big 12 Conference, Missouri. On Thursday, the team will have a morning practice before heading to HSBC Arena for press conferences and a 40-minute shootaround on the tournament floor. ClemsonTigers.com will have you covered with a blog update Thursday after all the pre-tournament action concludes.

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