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March 11, 2015

Montay Brandon

Leonard Hamilton

Xavier Rathan-Mayes



COACH HAMILTON:  We went up 18, we thought the crowd would get bored, so we thought we'd allow the game to be interesting so people would stay in their seats.  And I can sell you some swamp land if you believe that.
Honestly, I thought up until we got to the 14, 15‑point lead I thought that our guys had done a very good job from a defensive standpoint, and we felt that traditionally Clemson had not been a great three‑point shooting team, but we'd slow it down and try to play some zone defense which we very seldom play.  But that's when they seemed they shot and became very accurate from the three‑point line.  I didn't think we did nearly as good a job contesting the shots and you've got to give them credit for making them and from a lot of different people.
I thought our guys for 32 minutes, I thought we did a very good job managing the game, moving the ball, making the extra pass, and getting everybody involved.  Obviously, at the end, you've got to give Clemson credit.  They caught fire.  We went to our zone defense, and they knocked down threes and we missed some very key free throws and made the game very interesting at the end.

Q.  Leonard, little disappointed how your guys handled, are you talking about the defense but how your guys handled the inbounds play there in the final 30, 40 seconds?
COACH HAMILTON:  Well, I thought we did a very poor job of throwing the ball close to the baseline.  I thought that as the pressure got on our guys cut slower as opposed to faster.  We struggled with Louisville last week, so we did spend quite a bit of time this week working on it.  We didn't necessarily turn the ball over with the exception of that much little situation.  We just didn't do a very good job of getting the ball deep on the out of bounds play.
But you have to give them credit.  I thought they did a tremendous job of defending us.  Sometime it's always easy to say what you didn't do.  But sometimes you have to give a team credit for what they did do.  I thought they did a very good job of defending us.  I thought that we missed a couple of key free throws and they made some threes.  Had they not made those threes, they probably would not have been in that type of situation.
But you've got to give the team credit.  They did a very good job of coming back, and you have to give them credit.  Sometimes that's just the way it goes.  Unfortunately, there's been a lot of those types of games in the ACC this year.  But I can't go back and look at the negative.  I understand for 32 minutes I thought we played a very good game of basketball.  What we've got to do is learn from those mistakes, advance and move on.

Q.  For both the players, you guys have faced Virginia and that pack line defense.  Does it help to have seen it once before you go play a team like that?
MONTAY BRANDON:  It definitely helps us knowing that we have to move the ball against them.  Definitely since we played against them once, we know if we don't move the ball we won't score, so that definitely gives us the experience we need for tomorrow.
XAVIER RATHAN‑MAYES:  I think Virginia does a very good job in their pack line defense.  They make you move the ball and you have to shoot really good shots.  We've worked on that a lot in practice, and moved the basketball and taken high percentage shots.  It helped playing them the first time, and we know what to expect when we see them tomorrow.

Q.  You guys have shot around 46% on the season, but tonight you shot 54, 55% from the field.  Going into the Virginia game in a tough defense, how do you keep that momentum?  How do you continue to shoot the ball well?
COACH HAMILTON:  Well, in the first place, I think that our guys are sharing the ball.  We have had a tendency to turn the ball over in key situations this year.  I thought against Virginia there is no secret they're one of the best defensive teams in the country.  The possessions are important.  You cannot afford to have a rash turnover, and you've got to move the ball and make sure you have good shot selection.  This traditional type defense that they've used is one of the best systems and is proven year‑in and year‑out that unless you really make a decision with the ball, they can stimey you.  They've held people to 12, 13, 14 points during the half.
So we have a tremendous amount of respect for them.  In order to be successful against Virginia, we're going to have to have a lot of different guys contributing.  We've got to move the ball to make good decisions.  And then we've got to defend them as well, so they do a very good job of executing their offense as well.

Q.  Montay, can you talk a little bit about or describe what was going through your mind as Clemson was coming back?  Was it a difficult thing to keep your composure down the stretch as the game got closer?
MONTAY BRANDON:  The one thing that was going through my mind they were making tough shots, as Coach Hamilton said.  They were making extremely difficult shots and sometimes we were playing great defense, and we were just trying to weather the storm and try to just keep talking, keep each other going, and go out there and try to finish out the game.

Q.  Leonard, to follow up on what you were talking about with Virginia, last time you played them you had the lead with 10 minutes to go, but I think you had four points and no baskets the rest of the way.  What do you need to do better or differently in the rematch?
COACH HAMILTON:  If I remember correctly, we had good shots, and possessions are precious when you're playing against a great team.  We had a period there where we had, I think, four lay‑ups that we didn't finish.  We had a couple of wide‑open jump shots that just didn't go down.  It was as much us just not finishing our plays and a combination of them playing really good defense.
Emotionally I think sometimes you get caught in those situations, but you've got to step up with your confidence and knock those shots down.  That was very disappointing.  I thought we had played a solid game of basketball, but the game is 40 minutes, and we can look back and say we played well for 32 minutes, but we came up short those last eight.  I looked at it over and over and over, and I was extremely disappointed.  Not necessarily in the execution, but we just didn't have the confidence to make those plays when they were on the line.  I think on the other hand, as the pressure got on and the game was on the line, I thought Virginia's maturity, their confidence, and their ability to finish games off really showed.  And I thought that's where we faulted.

Q.  How do they change with or without Justin Anderson?  I guess there is no word yet on if they'll have him?
COACH HAMILTON:  Well, they're a very good basketball team.  They're an excellent basketball team with him, and they're a very, very good basketball team, maybe just a little dash down without him.  I don't believe they've lost but one game since they lost him.
I understand what it's like.  We lost our leading scorer at the beginning of the year, so I know what it's like when you're trying to make that adjustment.  But I think they've done a mighty fine job making the adjustment without him.  They're a good basketball team.  They have a system, and I think that they're not a one‑man band.  They have a system that when all the players get involved, and I think what's happened is that each player has picked it up a little bit, and I think they've been able to fill the gap from where they've lost with him.
So I'm not real sure‑‑ at some point I know he's going to come back and that's going to make them even more dangerous.

Q.  Xavier, 30 points for you today.  What enabled you to have such a good offensive game today?
XAVIER RATHAN‑MAYES:  I was just taking what the defense gave me.  My coaches do a really good job of putting us all in positions where we're able to be aggressive.  Coach gives me confidence to be able to take good shots within our offense.  I was just knocking down shots early, and my teammates kept encouraging me to keep being aggressive and keep looking for guys.  So that's what happened.

Q.  Leonard, a lot will be made about the last three or four minutes, but up until that point, first 30, 35 minutes of that game, is that as well as you guys have played this year offensively?
COACH HAMILTON:  I thought we shot a high percentage.  We shared the ball.  I thought we made great decisions with the ball, and we were able to hang on there to win.  I just thought they did a very good job of making shots that I don't think anybody in this room‑‑ or I know we didn't‑‑ that's why we went to the zone defense because that seemed to have been the challenge for this team.  They made their shots.  You've got to give them credit.
I'm not concerned.  I'm just glad we won and move on.  That's the way the game of basketball is.  It's a chess match.  Sometimes teams just play better than you expect them to.  They shot the ball much better than we expected them to from three‑point land.  You've got to give them credit for that.

Q.  The NABC and NBA have come up with a proposal to move the withdrawal date for underclassmen for the NBA draft to late May and allow underclassmen to attend an invitation‑only combine in mid‑May so they can learn whether they're draftable.  Are you in favor of that proposal or what do you think of it?
COACH HAMILTON:  I absolutely am not in favor of that proposal.  Now if we're going to import that, we need to have more scholarships.  In other words what you're saying is I have a kid in April that decides he wants to go into become evaluated.  So I have a team coming back the next year, and if he decides not to come back, then how do I fill the void?
In other words, there has to be some way that we can come up with a procedure that will not impact or allow youngsters to pursue their goals and not impact the team.  It has to be some way to do that as opposed to creating a negative for one and maybe an opportunity for another.  It would be so unfair to the team that's returning, the school, and everybody else involved.  So we have to find a way.
Now why is it we have all these different rules for football, for baseball and basketball?  And if it's good for baseball and it's good for football, why can't we use the same scenario for basketball?  But all of a sudden, all our games are on TV.  We have 25 or 30 scouts at every game.  So why is it now we've got to go through the season with all the film that's available, all the statistics that we come up with to evaluate, and then we've got to have another combine at the end of the year and then the school is sitting there holding its breath saying, okay, I want to have a scholarship available so if a youngster comes back, he has it.  But then if he doesn't come back, all the kids have already signed and they've gone on and you can't recover.
So we need to come up with some way to make this work for everybody.  Number one, in baseball they can go straight from high school and that seems to be working for baseball.  In football, you have to stay in school for a certain period of time.  So we've got to come up with something that works, a philosophy that makes sense that doesn't impact anybody.  I think the whole scenario needs more thought.  I think we need to bring everybody together.  I think we need to have more discussion so that we can give a youngster an opportunity to pursue whatever he wants to pursue.
I mean, if you're an engineer, if you're a musician, if you're an entertainer, you can go right from high school and pursue your dreams.  But in basketball, you've got guys going to school for one year and then moving on, and you want to give youngsters the opportunity to pursue their dream, but we've got to find a way to create some type of scenario that works for everybody.  Does that make any sense?

Q.  Today you tied the school record for all‑time wins by a men's basketball coach.  I know it's not quite the time for reflection, but could you speak on that accomplishment just a little bit?
COACH HAMILTON:  Well, I really didn't know that until last week or so.  But our goals are just not to win basketball games.  It's build a program of significance.  We're in the number one basketball conference in the history of college basketball, and we want to be among the elite programs in our league.  So we have a lot more work to do.
We have high goals.  Over the last ten years I think only Carolina and Duke have won more games than we have in the ACC, but we're not satisfied with us being third.
We feel we have a lot more growth.  Our administration is doing a great job of giving us the resources that we need, improving our facilities, and so what we're focusing on as a staff is wanting to have the best basketball program in the ACC.  And that's our goal.  We're not there yet, so that's really how I feel about that.
I'm just fortunate I have good players.  I have a great staff.  I have guys that have been with me 18, 16, 17 years, and we have a decent system.  But in order for that to be meaningful, we need to turn it up a notch and move to another category as a basketball program, and not necessarily focus very much on the number of wins, because that's insignificant in the big picture.  Only thing it does is maybe give you a plaque or something, but other than that, it's not going to get us where we want to go, and that is to move ourselves up to be a program that is of significance in the ACC.  We've got some of the greatest traditional, successful, rich programs in our league for us to try to catch up to.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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