CHARLOTTE, N.C.- Monte Lee's Tigers headed to the ACC Tournament in control of its own destiny, likely needing just one win to secure an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
However, after going winless in pool play and suffering two lopsided defeats at the hands of Virginia Tech and North Carolina, Clemson will quite possibly be watching the postseason from home for the second consecutive season. -
"Certainly, it's not in our hands now," Lee said after the 18-6 loss to the Hokies. "Obviously, it's going to be dependent upon the selection committee. I mean, I think we have a lot of really good points and I think we're sitting in the low 30s, If I'm not mistaken, in the RPI, but ultimately, it's going to be up to the selection committee."
Clemson has not missed out on regional play in consecutive years since 1982-86 when the program went five straight seasons without an appearance. Just thinking about that possibility was difficult for the Clemson head coach to put into words.
"I mean it's really hard, it's really hard, "Lee said. "It's tough to end the season. It's really hard to put into words the way that the end of the season feels. I've been coaching now for 22 years, played baseball. I've had my heart broken at the end of the year a lot of times. More than half my life I have been in this situation where your hearts broken at the end of the season. So it's really hard to put into words."
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After a promising 14-0 start, the Tigers stumbled out of the gate in ACC play, dropping six of the first eight games in league play. While his team did eventually rebound, finishing the season by winning two of its final three ACC series, Lee said any blame for his team failing to live up to expectations rests on his shoulders.
"I'm 100% accountable for the way our team plays," he said. "That obviously, that falls on me. You know, we're right there, but ultimately we didn't do some things that we needed to do all in all over the course of the season to leave no doubt. I think that's the main thing."
With the season ending with a dud in Charlotte, and the Tigers very likely looking at missing the postseason again, there are questions about Lee's future with the program. However, the head coach, who has now been at Clemson for seven years, is expecting to be back, but at the same time knows that's a decision that's out of his hands.
"I do expect to be back but ultimately that's not my decision," Lee said. "It's gonna be up to the administration. I'm sure that I will meet with the administration at some point and hear what they have to say. You know, I expect to be back but ultimately, that's not my decision. So we'll certainly cross that bridge when we get there."
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