Brad Brownell is the perfect example of what an “embattled” coach looks like.
The Clemson head basketball coach has been with the Tigers for more than a decade now and for the most part, when it comes to how he is viewd, the fans either love him or hate him. Rarely is there any in-between.
The Tigers, seeded No. 7, lost a heartbreaker to No. 10 seed Rutgers 60-56 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night. It was Clemson’s second trip to the Big Dance in the past four years. The last time Clemson made an appearance they advanced to the Sweet-16.
This year’s appearance came in a season in which the Tigers were picked to finish closer to the bottom of the ACC than the top, as they eventually finished fifth. Not to mention, no one had them pegged for the tournament, period, this season.
However, some fans see it differently and are ready to see more out of the basketball program after more than a decade. Add in that Clemson was coming off their worst loss of the season to Miami in the ACC Tournament prior to the tournament, and emotions are running even higher.
Senior guard Clyde Trapp has listened to all of Brownell’s detractors for four years and after the Tigers season ending loss to the Scarlet Knights, came to his head coach’s defense, saying the loss is exactly that, a loss, and that’s the way the ball bounces sometimes.
“That is basketball, that is the profession,” Trapp said. “I wish the people that say these crazy things about our program, I wish they would really sit in the office and talk to Coach Brownell. They see these wins and losses and the ups and downs of a season and they throw all of their emotions into that. But to get to know Coach Brownell, you would love him as a person and you would love him as a man.”
“We (Trapp and Aamir Simms) actually have had conversations with each other about how Coach Brownell gets all of this backlash. And he still, every day, comes in and he is ready to work. That is what a man does. We are grateful for him. Not only has he taught us things, but we have learned from him just being who he is.”
Trapp said that regardless of how it ended, he is extremely proud of what the Tigers accomplished this season, and at the end of the day, the outgoing guard knows that it’s just part of the game. He said as players, and coaches, they have to take the good with the bad.
“I want to express how proud I am of this team,” Trapp said. “We had a lot of adversity this year, with everybody against us you would kind of say. And I want to say I am really proud of this team, this coaching staff. I am thankful for Coach Brownell and this opportunity. It’s been a great four years. I am so proud of this team.”
“It’s crazy that people would say that but that is the profession and Coach Brownell knows that. And he knows that his team is behind him just as much as he is behind us.”