Rattler basketball reached an all-time high last season. The team left many fans thirsty for more winning Rattler basketball.
With the loss of NCAA 3-point champion Terrance Woods, the team will have to find offense as well as leadership from someone else.
There is one 6-foot, 182lbs, fourth year, criminal justice student from Jersey City, N.J. on this year’s roster who said he is here to give the FAMU faithful another sensational season of basketball.
His name is Tony Tate, and although last year was his first year playing basketball at FAMU, many, including head basketball coach Mike Gillespie, Sr. believes that whether or not the Rattlers return to the NCAA tournament is largely dependent upon the play of Tate.
Last season Tate played in the shadows cast by three senior leaders on the team, Moses White, DeMarcus Wilkins, and the aforementioned Woods.
Tate came off the bench and produced inconsistently early in the season, averaging 7.4 points and 2.8 assists per game.
“Not only was he uneasy about playing under three leaders, but he had to get use to playing under a new coach and being so far away from home,” Gillespie said. “He finally adjusted at the end of the season and started to perform to his full potential.”
Leadership is only one of the characteristics that Tate must possess in order for the Rattlers to be successful this season.
According to his teammates, Tate needs to be consistent in production and be mentally sound.
“If Tony [Tate] don’t get going, we won’t be able to get going,” said Richard Russell, Tate’s teammate of two years and a native of Chicago .
Tate is the starting point guard and a veteran on the team. Gillespie will depend on Tate to execute in the same way that head football coach Billy Joe looks to quarterback Ben Dougherty to run the Rattler attack on the gridiron.
“He has to be a team leader,” said Gillespie.
Last season, as a newcomer, Tate said he was passive and slow to assert himself on the court.
Tate was reluctant on offense, and deferred to his other more established teammates and became accustomed to passing the ball to the leaders of the team.
“I looked to pass first then to shoot,” Tate said of his role last season.
Tate also said preparation before games is essential to him having a productive night.
He covers his eyes and visualizes the game, and what he has to do in it while his favorite artists Jay-Z or Pastor Troy bumps in the background.
Upon arriving at FAMU after stints at the University of Pittsburgh and Globe Institution of Technology, a junior college in New York, Tate brought along his hunger for victory.
“He’s [Tate] a real competitive player.”
Although he is a criminal justice major, Tate wants a career in professional basketball.
“I’d like to play back at home,” (meaning the New Jersey Nets) Tate said. However, Tate said he will sign to any team that offers him a position.
While most were at the beach, this past summer, Tate shot 500-600 shots and 300 free throws a day, lifted weights, and followed a nutritious diet to prepare for the 2004-2005 season.
As for winning another conference championship Tate said, “I want people to get the same feeling we gave them last year.”
Contact Lonetta Johnson at email@example.com.