The Florida A&M University men’s basketball season begins today, and players said they are eager to jump in feet first.
“I am certain we will win the [MEAC] conference and make a name for ourselves in the NCAA tournament and compete for it all,” said Darryl Demps, forward.
Head male basketball coach Eugene Harris, recruited Dunnell Webb, Cecil Bent, David Buchanon, and Joshua Davis, to help get the team to a championship. Dunnell Webb is a forward that averaged twenty-five points and four rebounds his senior year in high school.
Bent will play center and averages twelve points and eight rebounds. Buchanon received first team all state in Georgia for his class. Davis, a forward, played with Derrick Rose, the first round draft pick in this year’s NBA draft, and averaged more than ten points a game.
But teammates said they have to transfer all of that skill to a higher level in the NCAA. They will have three seniors to guide them all season, Lamar Twitty, a forward from Fort Lauderdale, Joe Ballard, a guard from Chicago, and Byron Taylor, a guard from Tallahassee. Twitty has already received a preseason all MEAC selection.
Twitty said he is optimistic about this season because of the practices that the team has had.
“I feel we are going to have a good season.” Twitty said. “This year is going to be a lot better than last year. We started practice on time this season. Last year, we got off on a late start because of coaches change.”
Iaasc Brown, guard, also said he has high expectations for the team this season.
“I expect to win the MEAC tournament and hopefully reach the NCAA tournament,” Brown said.
Even with high expectations from team members, the team said they have to deal with the loss of two major contributors from the team, Leslie Robinson and Akini Akini, who graduated last semester. Akini and Robinson combined, averaged about twenty-five points per game.
The team is projected to finish ninth in the MEAC conference, but the team is working hard to prove critics wrong. Their practices consist of two hours of full conditioning. The team depends on speed to beat out opponents, and Harris said he works the team hard to make sure that they do not miss a step.
The game against the Bethune Cookman University’s Wildcats is the most anticipated this season.
Demps said this is always a huge game because it makes a statement for either team proving who owns the state of Florida in the MEAC conference.
“The Bethune Cookman game is always the most intriguing but I am looking forward to every chance we get to take the floor and get closer to the championship,” Demps said.
The two teams split the series on their last meeting but the Rattlers said they want to change that this upcoming season.