Heading into the season, players on the men’s basketball team knew it would be a tough task defending their conference championship. They just didn’t know how tough.
“This season has been one of many surprises,” said FAMU Head Coach Mike Gillespie.
One surprise was the emergence of junior forward Darius Glover.
Although this season brought Gillespie his 550th win, the highlight was Glover’s scoring in double figures for the first time in the season, posting 15 points in 23 minutes.
“The win itself was not that important. What was more important to me was that we won on the road,” Gillespie said.
The team has faced many obstacles, including no longer having the team’s two leading scorers Terrence Woods and Demarcus Wilkins, who left a 34.6 point per game scoring void in the Rattler lineup.
“While developing this season, we have lost many players to injuries and even my first ineligibility case in 31 years of coaching basketball. One of our most critical injuries was Darius Glover, who suffered from a double hernia injury at the beginning of the season, and problems with his lower leg,” Gillespie said.
Glover sustained the injury while running in a pre-season practice and plays a very critical role in the Rattler organization.
The junior criminal justice student graduated from Chicago Westinghouse High School in 2002, where he learned to be stronger both on and of the court.
He said the constant trash-talking before, during and after games made him a better player
“Growing up in the mean streets of Chicago really toughens you up both mentally and physically,” Glover said.
While playing for the AAU Illinois Hawks, Glover was recognized as a “combo forward” by many scouts. He was given the title because of his ability to score at the perimeter as a guard, while exhibiting the power of a forward for rebounding and scoring under the basket.
Westinghouse’s coaching rules did not allow Glover to play any other sport in high school. So, after playing for four years in high school, he continued to pursue the sport.
Upon graduating from high school, Glover played at Olney Central, a community college in Chicago.
“Graduating from high school (and going) to community college was a real learning experience,” Glover said.
While playing at the Olney Central, before heading to FAMU, Glover experienced many obstacles that probably would have made other players quit.
“While competing at the community college level, I realized that no matter how hard I worked, often working harder than the next man, I was not being given the fair chances to let my talents shine, and reach their full potential,” Glover said. “The experience did, however, make me a stronger player.”
Glover, who is truly developing his game as both a guard and forward, has been compared to forwards in the NBA.
“My game is often compared to Quentin Richardson and Antoine Walker,” he said.
Like Richardson and Walker, Glover is a strong player with quick feet. Bringing to the team enough speed and skills to create problems for the opposition from the perimeter, Glover exhibits his power for rebounds and points under the basket.
“The thing I like most about my position is the freedom to play the whole court,” Glover said.
And with that independence, Glover seems to have truly enjoyed his playing time with the team.
“The thing I really enjoy about this organization is that the team is more like a family first, then a team second,” Glover said. “It also helps that my best friend, Russell, plays here on the team too.”
Richard Russell, like Glover, attended Westinghouse and a community college before coming to FAMU.
“Darius (and I) have been playing basketball together since about seventh grade,” Russell said.
Russell also said growing up in Chicago was definitely not an easy task.
“There are so many temptations in Chicago, money, drugs, gangs and so many other things that me and Darius rose above, to come here and play.”
Russell and Glover are no strangers to success. In 2002, they lead the Westinghouse High School team to a state championship.
“The state championship was a real important accomplishment in both our lives,” Russell said.
Both Glover and Russell agreed that the coaching staff at FAMU is like no other.
“I always wanted to attend an HBCU. The coaching staff here is one of the major reasons why I decided to come and play for Florida A&M,” Russell said.
“I really respect coach Gillespie. From the beginning he has always been honest and upfront with me,” Glover said. “Everything that he told me would happen while playing for the organization has either happened or is about to happen now.”
With an inside presence, the remainder of the season looks promising for the men’s basketball team, especially with Glover’s body healing with each day.
Contact Josh Smith at email@example.com.