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Mar 25, 2019

Tiger Talk: A Look Back at the 2018-19 Season

Clemson’s remarkable season came to a close on Sunday as the team fell to the top-seeded Mississippi State Bulldogs in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. While the season ended sooner than the team would have liked, the performance of the 2018-19 Clemson Tigers was nothing short of incredible.

“I’m really proud of how we battled and fought every minute of this season,” said head coach Amanda Butler. “This is a very special group of women that I am privileged to coach.”

Postseason Thoughts

 

No one could have predicted the turnaround that the Tigers empierced under first-year head coach Amanda Butler. The non-conference slate saw the Tigers experience highs (a five-game winning streak) and lows (the loss of senior Aliyah Collier to injury), but it was evident that something was brewing within the Clemson team.

Coach Butler’s recipe for success was simple: let’s get a little bit better every day and make the game about us. What did “us” look like for the Tigers? “Us” involved being the first to the floor for loose balls; it was working extra hard to get a tip; it was having a willingness to take a charge. The Tigers were bought in and, come conference play, ready to take on any challenge.

Undeterred by the daunting conference schedule, Clemson took the ACC by storm, posting a five-game winning streak in the early half of the schedule, a feat that has not happened in program history since the 1999-2000 season. The win streak was highlighted by back-to-back road wins over a pair of ranked opponents, rv/23 Miami and 22/18 Florida State.

In the middle section of ACC play, the Tigers faced a three-game gauntlet against three top-10 teams. Despite going 0-3 in the 10-day span, Clemson showed its resiliency, finishing the season at 9-7 in conference action. This season marked the first time that the Tigers had boasted a winning record in ACC play since 2002.

“This season has been something you could only dream of,” said Simone Westbrook. “I can only be grateful for the opportunities. We’ve worked hard all season and everybody knows who Clemson is now.”

Dreams came true for the 2018-19 Tigers as the team earned its first NCAA Tournament berth since 2002 after finishing the regular season at 18-11 (9-7 ACC). Not only did Clemson make an NCAA Tournament appearance, but it also won its first round game against eighth-seeded South Dakota, marking the first tournament win since 2001.

With the win over the Coyotes, the Tigers eclipsed the 20-win mark, a first for Clemson in almost two decades (2001). The 20 wins also marked Coach Butler’s sixth 20-win season of her career (four at Florida, one at Charlotte).

2018-19 WBB Season Accomplishments

Team FirstsMost SinceIndividual Accomplishments
First...Most...Kobi Thornton - All-ACC Second Team
back-to-back wins over ranked opponents since 2000wins since 2001Simone Westbrook - ACC All-Defensive Team
20-win season since 2000-01ACC road wins since 2001Danielle Edwards - ACC All-Defensive Team
NCAA Tournament appearance since 2002home wins since 2002Aliyah Collier - ACC All-Tournament Team
winning season since 2003-04ACC wins since 2002Amanda Butler - ACC Coach of the Year
time seeded seventh in ACC Tournament since 2004road wins since 2009Danielle Edwards surpasses 1000-career points (12/21)
win over Florida State since 2008Kobi Thornton surpasses 1000-career points (3/7)
ACC Quarterfinals appearance since 2009
win over ranked opponent since 2012
back-to-back road wins over ranked opponents in program history

A team that was picked to finish last in the ACC by the Blue Ribbon Panel, the Clemson Tigers proved doubters wrong and set a tone for the Butler era.

“This was my last year and I had never made it the NCAA Tournament,” said Danielle Edwards. “It was always a dream of mine to be here and I couldn’t ask for a better team to be here with.”

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