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Welcome to Paradise: Clemson in the Virgin Islands – Thursday

Nov. 18, 2010

Thursday was the first full day in St. Thomas for the Tiger basketball team, and you couldn’t have asked for better weather. The team and support staff had breakfast at 8:30 AM (Atlantic time) at the hotel’s Sunset Grill, which overlooks the harbor and the adjoining Caribbean Sea.

From there, it was off to a two-hour practice at the University of the Virgin Islands. The Tigers got their first taste of playing on the arena floor. The Sports & Fitness Center facility can hold over 3,000 fans and should provide an intimate, exciting atmosphere for this week’s tournament.

Click here for a transcript of Coach Brownell’s post-practice interview.

Transportation to and from practice has been interesting. The players, coaches and support staff are picked up in what are essentially open-air tour buses. The road to the hotel features multiple tight twists and turns. Seeing oncoming traffic on your right side is definitely a different experience. There is even a warning sign less than 100 yards as you leave the hotel that reads in capital letters, “REMEMBER TO DRIVE ON THE LEFT.” Coach Brownell and his father shared a laugh when we saw that sign.

After lunch, the players took in study hall and also took some of their free time to check out the hotel’s amenities. The group met up again at 5:30 PM to take the St. Thomas Skyride to Paradise Point, which offered spectacular views from above the island and overlooking the harbor. All eight teams in the tournament were treated to a buffet meal to top it off.

Following dinner, the players and coaches met at 7:30 in their meeting room to participate in a walk-through. Preparations for Clemson’s first round opponent, Long Beach State, are almost done. The team will hold its shootaround at the Antilles School on Friday morning to go over the final pieces of the scouting report.

Clemson University and Long Beach State University are roughly 2,300 miles apart, yet it seems like we can’t get away from the 49ers. The two teams met in last year’s 76 Classic, with Clemson claiming an 87-79 victory in the second round in Anaheim. They meet again tomorrow in what should prove to be as compelling as any of the first-round matchups in the Paradise Jam. And if that weren’t enough, both schools were announced last week as part of the 2011 Diamond Head Classic field in Hawaii.

LBSU returns four starters from last season, including exciting point guard Casper Ware and an active player on the inside in T.J. Robinson. Ware (20 points, 10 assists) and Robinson (25 points, 15 rebounds) were impressive in collecting double-doubles last year against Clemson, despite the loss.

Several players on Clemson’s roster made an impact in the win over LBSU last season. Tanner Smith scored a career-high 17 points. Demontez Stitt and Andre Young added 16 and 13, respectively. Bryan Narcisse started his first career game and was 5-for-5 with 10 points. Jerai Grant, who was quarantined in his hotel room with the flu.

Long Beach State’s head coach, Dan Monson, has coached against Clemson with three different schools. He could very well be the only opposing coach to face the Tigers with three different teams in history. He took Gonzaga to an 84-71 victory over Clemson in the 1997 Maui Invitational, his first year as a head coach. The Tigers also faced him in his final game as the head coach at Minnesota, when Clemson won 90-68 in the 2006 ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

On Friday, we will have a full game report as well as photos from the day available on the home page at