The transition from a high school to a college basketball team, is what six freshman athletes on the Florida A&M University men’s basketball team have been trying to adjust to.
“We ran in high school, but not like this,” said Cecil Bent, power forward from Atlanta, Ga.
Bent said his biggest adjustment was getting in shape and realizing the game is much faster in college.
Dale Hughes, a small guard from Columbus, Miss., agreed.
“We didn’t run as much in high school because we were playing four quarters, but in college ball we’re playing two halves so you have to be conditioned,” Hughes said.
Yannick Crowder, another power forward from Atlanta, Ga., said that he had to get stronger to compete on the college level.
Head coach Eugene Harris said his coaching style includes a lot of pressing.
He referred to it as up-tempo and very aggressive and said this is one reason he feels the young athletes decided to play basketball at FAMU.
Hughes said that he decided to attend FAMU because Harris did a good job recruiting him.
“When I came to visit the campus, Harris showed me around and I got to talk to some of the advisors,” Hughes said. “I liked the teachers and I felt it was a good fit for me.”
Harris said the team had to recruit more players for this season because players graduated and some other players didn’t follow university policies.
“Some players didn’t want to go to class and I don’t put up with that,” Harris said.
David Buchanon, a freshman point guard from Portal, Ga., said Harris stresses academics and is another factor freshmen students must adjust to.
“He wants us to study and wants us to have the highest GPA out of any of the sports teams,” Buchanon said.
He also said Harris is a strict coach that wants to make sure his team is on the right track.
“Man it’s kind of tough,” Buchanon said. “He’s a hard nosed guy and he tells it like it is. He’s not trying to hurt your feelings, but he just wants to make you a better player.”
Hughes said Harris is a perfectionist.
“He’s the type of coach who wants everything perfect, but if you just work hard and do everything he says, you’ll be alright,” Hughes said.
The freshmen players said they see a major difference in the college level and said the game is more time consuming.
“You have to put in more effort, more time, and more practice,” said Dunnell Webb, another small guard from Thomasville, Ga.
Isaac Brown said his goal is to win the MEAC tournament and make it to the NCAA tournament.
“We can do it, we just have to make sure we play together as a team,” said Isaac Brown, a point guard from Miami. “Actually what surprised me is that us freshman and the upperclassmen bonded so fast,”
Hughes said he also wants the MEAC title and hopes the NCAA will follow.
“We most definitely want to win the MEAC and make it to the NCAA tournament but we just have to take it one game at a time,” Hughes said.