Although football season is not over yet, the sights and sounds of the hardwood court stole the spotlight Friday night. The Rattler boosters and student boosters sponsored the Midnight Hoops Craze, the official kicked-off of the new basketball season.
The Florida A&M University basketball Rattlers and Lady Rattlers each held their first open practice on Friday and the event was held to get students and the basketball teams excited about the new season.
Jameelah Harper, 18, a freshman healthcare management student from Laigo, Md., said she didn’t expect the turnout to be as low as it was, but she was enjoyed seeing the players.
“It was decent for the amount of people that came out,” Harper said. “It could have been a little more organized, but overall it was good to see a preview of the team.”
The event consisted of a free throw shooting contest, three-point shooting contest, a three-on-three tournament, a dunk contest, food and prize giveaways.
Aside from beginning the new season, The Midnight Hoops Craze was also significant as it marks the last season in Gaither Gymnasium.
Although this is the first time in recent years for a program of this sort, booster’s member Mickey Clayton said it used to be a tradition here at FAMU.
“They (the basketball players) have a lot of pressure on them; they’re playing for every Rattler who has ever played here,” Clayton said. “We’re going to leave here champions at Gaither Gym.”
The Lady Rattler’s scrimmaged against each other Friday night. They look forward to the first season under head coach LaDawn Gibson. The team has four returning seniors; Deidre Jones, Stephanie Foster, Denise Tate and Taniyah Dawson; whom Gibson says will be key to the team’s success.
Gibson also mentioned the season is just starting and the ladies will be working hard to make it a great season.
“Right now we just want to work on everybody getting better.
I’m getting use to them and they’re getting used to me,” Gibson said.
The men’s team has high expectations as well this season. Second-year head coach Eugene Harris said that their goal is to win the MEAC tournament. The Rattlers have just four returning players. Harris said they will count more on freshman this season.
According to Harris, every player will be important to the team. The main forwards that will be essential to the team’s development will be Lamar Twitty and Byron Taylor.
Harris is not only counting on the players to win games, he’s counting on the Rattler fans to help as well.
“The only way we can become a better team is if we get this entire gym filled,” Harris exhorted. “We need you (fans) to be our sixth man.”