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Welcome to Paradise: Clemson in the Virgin Islands – Sunday

Nov. 21, 2010

Every time a new coach is hired, changes inevitably occur throughout multiple facets of a program. That was no different in April when Clemson Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips announced the hiring of Brad Brownell from Wright State. Immediately, media and fans alike began to dissect his coaching background to see how things would be different at Clemson than under the previous regime.

Sometimes there are little things that are different, things that go unnoticed by those outside the program. One of the differences that Brownell has implemented at Clemson is to end the team’s gameday shootaround routine with a game of H-O-R-S-E. Coaches, players and managers are actively involved in the game, where in this version one miss knocks a contestant out for the game.

Since Brownell has been a head coach, assistant Mike Winiecki said he has always closed out his shootarounds with a game of H-O-R-S-E. This week has been challenging, though. Teams are given one hour to get into the practice gym to put up shots, run through sets and go over the final touches of the scouting report.

The team was in a rush to try and get the game in today, but Seton Hall was waiting outside the gym so it was cut short and no winner was declared. It serves as a light-hearted end to what is always a serious time for the team, and Clemson’s players and coaches seem to really enjoy it.

As you may have read on our Web site, Coach Brownell and his director of basketball operations, Dick Bender, are taking part in an event called “Shots from the Heart.” The idea is to raise awareness for heart disease.

All money raised benefits the American Heart Association. The idea for the event came about as a way to honor the legacy of former Xavier and Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser, who died of a heart attack in 2007. The event is sponsored by

The event pits head coaches and assistant coaches against one another in a free throw shooting contest. Sixty-four head coaches and assistants are bracketed to shoot 25 free throws against one another. Earlier this week, Brownell calmly sank 22-of-25 from the stripe for an 88 percent mark.

Video Coordinator Lucas McKay was on hand to document it. Today, Coach Bender did one better. He made 23 of his free throw attempts for a 92 percent success rate. Both coaches will find out if they have moved on to the second round later this week.

The Tigers returned to the court Sunday evening, but lost a tight battle against a very good Old Dominion team by a score of 61-60. Clemson received a career-high 24 points from senior guard Demontez Stitt, but he was the only player in double figures for the Tigers. The Monarchs did a good job on the glass and took advantage of a tough shooting night by the Tigers.

Clemson still has a chance to come out of the event with a 2-1 record and some positive feelings as we leave the Virgin Islands. The Tigers play Monday at 6:00 PM (Eastern) against Seton Hall, who fell 57-52 to Xavier in the second game Sunday night. It’s been 10 years since the Tigers and Pirates have met on the hardwood. The series is knotted at two games apiece, with Seton Hall claiming a 79-78 victory at Littlejohn Coliseum in the most recent meeting on Nov. 21, 2000. It should make for an intriguing battle of two teams coming off tough, close losses in the semifinals.

Monday’s entry will be our last “Welcome to Paradise” blog for the trip. We appreciate all the followers throughout the week and hope all will tune in to Fox Sports Net for the broadcast of the game. You can also check us out on the Clemson radio network as well. Go Tigers!