Clemson will never be confused as a “commuter school,” but that’s what members of the men’s basketball team may feel like at times during the upcoming season.
The Tigers will play 17 “home” games at downtown Greenville’s Bon Secours Wellness Arena – aka “The Well” – while Littlejohn Coliseum is undergoing massive renovations.
But coach Brad Brownell has embraced the temporary displacement and encouraged his players to do likewise.
“I told the guys early on that we’re not making any excuses for what we have to deal with this year,” Brownell said. “It’s challenge or opportunity – you can view it either way you want.
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“Certainly there are some challenges, and it’s a unique season and there are some differences, but also it’s a great opportunity for us to continue to build our brand and continue to build our fan base and excitement in the program.”
Several things have unfolded that should help in that regard.
First of all, “The Well” has been transformed to a Clemson-friendly facility, complete with a “Clemson Entrance,” orange flags and banners, a Clemson scoreboard and ribbon boards displaying Clemson colors and messages between the lower and upper tiers of seats.
A few weeks ago, several Clemson players “crashed” the Saturday Market in downtown Greenville, rolling out a portable goal and playing games with kids, signing autographs, taking photos, handing out prizes and schedule cards, and teaching the flash mob crowd the Clemson cadence count with the help of Clemson cheerleaders and Rally Cats.
Last week, the Tigers held their first intrasquad scrimmage of the preseason at The Well.
“Some of the things they’ve done to the arena really look nice,” Brownell said. “They’ve done a nice job of making it as orange as possible. If we can get fans in there it’s going to be a great home court.
“There are some inconveniences, but it shouldn’t preclude us from having a good year.”
The Well will host a free exhibition game against Lenoir-Rhyne on Nov. 5, with the Tigers’ season opener to follow on Nov. 13 against N.C. Central, the defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion and an NCAA Tournament team in 2014.
Clemson will play eight non-conference games at The Well, followed by nine Atlantic Coast Conference games, beginning with Florida State on Jan. 2.