Team first mentality

CLEMSON - The first stop on Clemson's journey to New York for the NIT semifinals was late last summer when the Tigers took a 10-day trip to Italy.

The tour, according to Brad Brownell, was a "vital" part of his fourth season at Clemson.

"I think the skill development in the spring was where we really, again, got back to working hard and laying a foundation of work," he said, "But I think the trip to Italy is where we laid the foundation of team, really beginning to lay out some roles for guys, allow for some guys to do some different things…that trip was just a great one, in all phases.

"From there, I thought we just built some great confidence, did some good things through the fall and got ourselves ready. We didn't worry about what people said about our team, we believed in each other and K.J. [McDaniels] and Rod [Hall] were, especially, that way. "

McDaniels was named first-team All-ACC and voted the league's Defensive Player of the Year.

While there were points in the season when McDaniels carried the team on the offensive end of the floor, Hall, along with Damarcus Harrison, Landry Nnoko and a cast of role players, the Tigers finished in sixth-place, well ahead where the league's media predicted they would end up.

With a record of 10-8 in league play, Clemson closed the season in Madison Square Garden against SMU, ending the 2013-14 campaign at 23-13.

"There are a lot of people out there wearing the same jerseys. There aren't as many true teams out there as people think. That's one thing that we had this year is a team," Brownell said. "We had guys that were unselfish. We had guys that accepted roles. We had guys that did their jobs and were proud to do their jobs and accepted their jobs, weren't trying to do more than that.

"The guys got along really well. Because of that, we played close to our potential on most nights as most people."

Shots, shots, shots

On the offensive end of the floor, Clemson was one of the worst teams in the country. Their 63.3 points per game ranked 324th in the country, the .418 field goal percentage was 293rd.

"We didn't shoot the ball as well as I thought we would shoot it," Brownell said. "We worked a lot on shooting. I probably made a mistake at one point in the season. I got concerned about our guys being tired.

"We shot all spring. We shot all summer. Most of our workouts were shooting. Even in the fall, when we were doing practices, we would bring guys in for extra shooting a lot. As the season started to wear on a little bit, I backed off and we stopped doing some of the extra shooting. That probably was a mistake, in some ways."

Once again, improved shooting is atop the list of priorities for this offseason.

"We can't continue to be one of the worst teams in the league in 3-point shooting and expect to finish six or seven in the league. It's very difficult to do that," Brownell said.

The new guys

Three new faces will join the mix later this year. Redshirt freshman Patrick Rooks is still working his way back to full strength after sitting out last season with a hip injury.

Shelby [N.C.] High School combo guard Gabe DeVoe was Parade All-American during his senior year. With the departure of Adonis Filer, he'll be in the mix for time at the point guard spot behind Hall, but could also add depth at the 2-guard spot.

Forward Donte Grantham was a four-star and ranked as the No. 21 small forward in the class of 2014. He'll figure into the front-court rotation, where he'll likely be more of a perimeter-minded player, to start his career.

"These kids aren't guys with huge egos," Brownell said of the true freshmen. "They've been here and spent time with our players. Guys have gotten along. That's part of the reason they chose to come here, they like our players, like our situation and staff and Clemson."

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