The Cancun Challenge began on Thursday for the Florida A&M men’s basketball team and the Rattlers lost to the Cleveland State University Vikings 64-78 in their first game of the tournament.
The Cancun Challenge is a tournament with eight teams, each team plays two games in the U.S., and the tournament concludes with each team playing two games in Cancun, Mexico.
Junior forward Larry Jackson led the way against the
Vikings, posting the Rattlers first double-double of the season with 18 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Sophomore forward Yannick Crowder also made a significant contribution, scoring 10 points and grabbing eight rebounds.
“What I did [Thursday] night is what coach expects of me every night,” Jackson said. “I know this kind of game isn’t going to happen all the time with this tough schedule we have right now, but when conference play starts, I have to have the type of game I just had.”
Jackson isn’t a stranger to this kind of productivity;
in fact, the last Rattler to record a double-double spanning back to last season was Jackson. He had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the Rattlers last conference game of the season against Bethune-Cookman University.
Through four games played this year, FAMU has had four different players lead the team in scoring. The Rattlers haven’t found a “go to” guy yet, but they have made tremendous strides as a team in the few games that they have played together.
FAMU committed a season-low 14 turnovers in the loss to Cleveland State.
“As a team, we’re getting better at making adjustments to the mistakes we’ve made in previous games this year,” Crowder said.
Crowder feels that the team’s cohesion has gotten better early in the year as well.
“I think we are all coming along well, it’s still the beginning of the season and we’re trying to get a feel for each other as far as chemistry goes,” Crowder said. “Chemistry takes time, but I’m sure it will be here before conference play starts.”
The Rattlers’ next game in the tournament will be against the Stanford Cardinals in Palo Alto, Calif., FAMU will have their hands full in this tournament, but Jackson has a good idea of what he needs to do to help the team.
“Against Cleveland State, we hadn’t been scoring much and part of that was on me,” Jackson said. “So I’m going to start being more aggressive on offense.”