College coaches across the nation wore sneakers along with shirts and ties Saturday to observe the Coaches vs. Cancer effort for cancer research. Rattler Head Coach Mike Gillespie participated in the gesture by wearing a pair of his own.
But, Gillepsie couldn’t put the shoes to more use by stepping on the court and playing himself.
FAMU could have used any help it could get in a 61-54 home loss to Norfolk State that snapped the its two-game winning streak. The loss drops the Rattlers to a 7-12 overall record and lowers their conference record to 5-6.
“Lack of leadership, lack of toughness, lack of execution … the list keeps on going,” Gillespie said.
“These are things we’ve talked about for the last three games, to come out and compete at a high level. We failed to do that again tonight.”
Once again, the Rattlers suffered from the free throw line, only shooting 53 percent. But it was the rebounding of Norfolk State that struck a major blow to FAMU. The Rattlers were out-rebounded 36-24, including 11 Spartan offensive rebounds. Spartan centers Karandick Ogunride and Calvin Brown spearheaded the Norfolk State attack on the glass by grabbing a combined 17 rebounds.
“We certainly did not rebound the basketball extremely well. We did not guard the ball very well, (and there was a) lack of free throw shooting,” Gillespie said.
“When you add all that up, it’s very, very difficult to beat a quality team.”
Norfolk State guard Chakowby Hicks had an ‘X’ on his chest as one player the Rattlers needed to contain to secure a victory. His production showed exactly why he was selected as a member of the Pre-season All-MEAC Team by scoring a game-high 20 points and dishing out six assists.
Hicks, along with Rattler guard Tony Tate, is one of only two players ranked in the top 10 in the MEAC in scoring, assists and steals.
Rattler forward Darius Glover again put in a respectable performance with 12 points and six rebounds, but only went 2-7 from the line.
Forward O.J. Sumter went 5-6 from the field for 10 points but only came up with two rebounds.
“We loss to a team that we beat (to get our first win) and we didn’t come out here hungry enough to put the pressure back on them,” Tate said. “We have to be competitive as human beings and go out there and play the game that we love.”
Gillespie echoed their sentiments and compared the state of Rattler basketball to the Olympic basketball team from last summer.
“I think Larry Brown had the greatest quote when he was coaching the Olympic guys,” Gillespie said. “He said you shouldn’t have to coach effort. Coach execution. Coach offense and defense. But you shouldn’t have to coach effort.”
Gillespie realizes that he can only do so much. But he insists even he can do more.
“I’ve got to do a better job,” Gillespie said. “Obviously I didn’t do a good job today getting this group of guys ready to play, so I’m going to take the blame. We’ll certainly try to come out here Monday and put forth a better effort and see if some how, some way we can beat the team that’s probably playing better than anybody else in this league.”
That team is the Hampton Pirates who, at 7-4 in the MEAC, is tied with Norfolk State for the second best record in the conference.
Hampton is coming off a one-point loss at Bethune-Cookman and will meet the Rattlers in Gaither at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re going to try like the dickens to get a victory,” Gillespie said.
“This coaching staff is not going to quit trying to get this team better and better.”
Contact LeMont Calloway at email@example.com