Brad Brownell reflects on Clemson's run to Elite 8: 'This wasn't an accident'

On3 imageby:Alex Weber04/01/24

Clemson returned to the Elite 8 for the first time in 44 years with what Brad Brownell considers to be a very special group of veteran Tiger players.

They did fall in the regional final in a competitive game vs. Alabama, just missing out on the program’s first Final Four while the Crimson Tide instead got to enjoy that experience. Regardless, history was made and 2024 will go down as a year to remember for Tiger fans and especially those on the team.

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After the loss, Brownell spoke at length on how special this particular group of guys was.

“Very special. Again, the winning is part of it, for sure. The ride we’ve been on these last two weeks, phenomenal. Something we’ll always remember. But just the kind of kids that they are, right? To be around them every day, the fun that we have, the way they allow us to coach them, the connectedness, just the togetherness. In this day and age it’s rare.

“We’ve been fortunate these last two years back to back and probably other years as well but just these last two have been phenomenal runs in terms of you just feel it with your team.”

Clemson was led by two grass roots fifth-year seniors, PJ Hall and Chase Hunter, with 10 combined years of experience all at Clemson. Then there’s Ian Schieffelin who has been around and Joe Girard, a fifth-year transfer from Syracuse to round out the Tigers’ primary core. Brownell was certainly happy to see those dudes make something special happen in March.

“You want so badly for those guys to be successful. And obviously we all wanted to make a Final Four. But you just want your guys to have success because you care about them and you watch them work so hard. And we go through frustrations and ups and downs.

“And basketball seasons are long. They’re long. There’s always long weeks and a couple of weeks that don’t go well. Our guys responded most of the time. Obviously after the ACC Tournament, a lot of people doubted us.”

Despite some low valleys throughout the season, Brownell said his team never lost faith, starting with the star player.

“But PJ said it, we really talked at the beginning of the year a little bit and in the middle of the year that we believed we could be a Final Four team. This was not an accident.”

Per Brownell, that’s especially true given who Clemson had to beat.

“One of my assistants was spouting stats that we had the hardest run. If you look at the NET rankings we played the three toughest teams in the NET to get to this point. This wasn’t an accident. Our guys played great basketball. We just needed to do a little bit better today.