This year’s Florida A&M University men’s basketball team has six new freshmen, and the seniors will try to pull the team together with their leadership.
“We have a very young team,” said Lamar Twitty, a senior forward from Fort Lauderdale. “I tell them it’s a great feeling winning the MEAC championship and going to the NCAA Tournament.”
With the newcomers on the team, leadership falls into the hands of veteran players Byron Taylor, Joe Ballard and Twitty.
“We just have to feel out each other, and learn one another’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Taylor, a senior guard from Tallahassee.
Some senior players say it is important for the team to stay together.
“We (the seniors) have a big responsibility,” Twitty said. “Because we have a very young team, and we have to stay on each other, keep the team focused and working hard.”
Although the team may have a different look, they are still following the same principles that have been set by head coach Eugene Harris.
“They’re students first,” Harris said. “They came to FAMU to get a degree, and play basketball second.”
According to Harris, this philosophy is shared by the players, and several of them have a Grade Point Average of 3.0 or higher.
Players said the freshmen may be new to the game, but it still doesn’t change the program’s lofty goals.
“We want to win the MEAC championship or make it to the NIT,” Harris said. “We have to take it one game at a time and try to improve upon the last game.”
The Rattlers finished the season last year with a 15-17 overall record. Two key losses from last year’s team are Lesile “L.C.” Robinson and Akini Akini who averaged a score of 796 points, combined. Robinson ranked seventh in the conference in scoring, with an average of 15 points per game. Akini ranked fifth in rebounding, and 26th in scoring, leaving a void in the low post that needs to be filled.
“With the losses of L.C. Robinson and Akini Akini we have to be able to find scoring and low post play,” said Ballard, a senior guard from Chicago. “A lot of experience is missing from last year and we as seniors have to bring along the freshmen.”