Brandon Thomas tears ACL in training

Brandon ThomasBY AARON BRENNER
abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON – Former Clemson offensive tackle Brandon Thomas absorbed a major blow to his 2014 NFL Draft stock, tearing the ACL in his right knee during training Thursday.

The news was first reported by ESPN’s Adam Caplan Monday afternoon. Thomas’ agent, Tom Kleine, confirmed the bad break to The Post and Courier, saying Thomas had already completed “seven or eight” individual workouts with separate NFL teams and had several more scheduled.

“As you can imagine, he’s kind of running the gamut of emotions. Training was going great,” Kleine told the Post and Courier. “We’re just still in the process of notifying teams. Will it affect his stock? Probably.”

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Brownell’s ultimate objective for Clemson basketball? “To build a brand, to build a spirit, to build a culture of commitment”

BY AARON BRENNER
abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

NEW YORK – Seated among three more famous head coaches nationally at Monday’s pre-NIT semifinal press conference in Times Square, Clemson’s Brad Brownell didn’t pass up the opportunity to be the funniest of the four.

“(Emcee Fran Fraschilla) mentioned we’re very good defensively. We pretty much have to be because we’re pretty lousy offensively,” Brownell wisecracked, in a refreshing moment of self-deprecation. NIT officials in the room ate it up; even reporters couldn’t stifle their chuckles.

“So we’ve got to figure out some ways to keep some games close and win ‘em late. We’re hoping to do that against Coach (Larry) Brown’s team.”

Brownell also launched one-liners on the team’s first shootaround in Madison Square Garden – “we had half of them acting like Carmelo Anthony shooting jumpers in MSG today” – and their plans for free time in New York City – “If there’s any money in their pockets (later), I’d be surprised. I hope we have enough guys back to field a team to play (SMU) tomorrow night.”

No matter how tonight turns out, and no matter how Thursday turns out if Clemson makes it that far, Brownell can relax a little bit and smile at how this season.

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“A human stat sheet”: Larry Brown likens K.J. McDaniels to a couple of NBA All-Stars

BY AARON BRENNER
abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

NEW YORK – Asked who K.J. McDaniels emulates, Larry Brown couldn’t place a specific college player as the Clemson junior’s doppelganger.

So the longtime NBA coach went right to the pros.

“He reminds me of Paul George and Andre Iguodala, the kid (Kawhi) Leonard at San Antonio,” said Brown, SMU’s head coach, starting off with the Pacers superstar and one of the Eastern Conference All-Star starters last February.

“(He’s) a human stat sheet. Guys that find ways to help your team win. He’s going to be playing at the next level doing the same thing.”

McDaniels, told of the George comparison a few minutes later and a few roundtables away at the Marriott Marquis overlooking Times Square, couldn’t help but blush.

“That’s a big compliment from Coach Brown,” Clemson’s star forward said. “I appreciate that.”

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Five catalysts for an unforgettable Clemson basketball season

BY AARON BRENNER
abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON – During ACC Operation Basketball at the Ritz-Carlton in downtown Charlotte, media voters picked Clemson to finish 14th in the 15-team standings, trailed only by Virginia Tech.

Personally, I thought that was wrong.

I had Clemson 15th.

I couldn’t get this Brad Brownell quote (among others) out of my head:

“Our guys don’t get upset too much. I feel like I’m the guy who kind of has to do that for them, and make them understand, hey, we can’t keep making these kind of mistakes. We have to correct these mistakes quicker. It’s a little frustrating. It’s a little challenging.”

Media day is a day for stumping your team. Not stomping it.

So kids, that’s why the expectations were low for this Clemson men’s basketball team. That’s why the NIT’s a bigger deal to the Tigers than, say, Kentucky or Indiana. That’s why students rushed the floor last night after beating mighty Belmont … that’s written in jest, but it wasn’t the opponent, it was the moment.

That’s why. But how?

Five hallmarks of this hard-to-forget renaissance season produced by Clemson on the hardwood, which finishes up next week in the NIT semifinals (and perhaps the championship) at Madison Square Garden in New York City:

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Last year’s batting champ Shane Kennedy “back in the swing of things” after knee rehab

BY AARON BRENNER
abrenner@postandcourier.com
@Aaron_Brenner

CLEMSON – He might be one of the no-names for a little while, but Shane Kennedy hopes to make his mark by the end of 2014.

It’s not a bad deal, all things considered: suffering the dreaded ACL injury in October, he’s appreciative of the chance to get back on the game field before April Fool’s Day, giving Clemson’s 2013 batting champ (a team-best .317, 5 HR, 35 RBI) a respectable amount of time to contribute in 2014.

“I owe it all to my trainer, Travis (Johnston, the team’s athletic trainer),” Kennedy said Friday night after collecting a pair of hits in No. 13 Clemson’s 9-3 rout of No. 2 Florida State.

“The day after surgery, I told him, do whatever you had to do to get me back, and he did that. There was some pain involved, but I worked my butt off and got back as fast as I could.”

Kennedy admits he’s not 100 percent yet, but the calendar waits for no one. A former junior college standout at North Florida, it was either sit out all of 2014 and take a medical redshirt or salvage whatever he could of his senior year.

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