In 1992, the University of Michigan blessed the game of college basketball with five talented freshmen.
These five freshmen known to most as the “fab five” made it OK for coaches to use more than one or two freshmen without worrying about being too inexperienced. It also gave the green light to college programs to give scholarships to several incoming freshmen.
Though the team was only together for two years, it went to the championship both years. Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard made it to the NBA. Jimmy King and Ray Jackson didn’t make it to the league but went on to play professional basketball overseas.
Florida A&M University has decided to give the game of college basketball a similar type of blessing.
The FAMU women’s basketball team decided to not only match the University of Michigan, but raise them one.
They have brought in six new freshmen faces, and the coaching staff and older players are very happy with their recruits.
“It’s a very unusual situation,” said Deborah Clark, the women’s head basketball coach. “It’s not only a challenge for them, but it’s a challenge for me too.”
Jainaba Phillips, Evette Young, Q’vaunda Curry, Joslyene Jackson, Keisha Alexander and Dawn Kindred are the freshmen or “fresh women” who take up the last six spots on the lady Rattlers’ roster.
They are not only freshmen on the court but freshmen in the classroom too, and they say it has been a difficult transition from high school.
“It is a faster pace, and they’ve got to keep up,” Clark said.
“The practices are longer, and we practice everyday,” said Kindred, who is from Buford, Ga. “We don’t even get Sundays off.”
They said by the time they get out of practice with the lifting and team meetings, it’s hard to find time to eat, let alone pick up a book.
Most of the freshmen feel it is tough to balance basketball and school, but with the help of the coaching staff, they feel it’s a much easier transition. They also have a lot of veteran players on the team to help them. The current Lady Rattler team is comprised of six freshmen, one sophomore, one junior and seven seniors.
“They gel well with one another, and they lookout for each other,” said Clark in reference to the relationship between the seniors and freshmen.
The freshmen say the older players don’t exercise seniority, or hazing of any kind.
They also said they look up to most of them like big sisters.
Not only do they get along fine with the older players, they get along even better with one another.
“UG 932,” they all screamed out in reference to University Gardens, apartment number 932.
“We are all cool,” Young said. “We go to movies and church together.”
They have a buddy system on the team so the players can help one another out.
Many of the older players feel one couldn’t tell who the freshmen were unless they told you.
Despite all of them having so much potential and talent, one stands out in the team.
“Evette practices with a lot of heart and is very mature for anyone,” said Ariel Towns, a fourth-year journalism student from Altadena, Calif.
Clark feels that none of them will start, but by January they should all be contributing on a regular basis.
Their first home game is not until Jan. 6, but they have an exhibition game on Nov. 16, and Clark hopes for a large turnout and a lot of support from FAMU.
Contact Arize Ifejika at email@example.com.