A young Rattlers basketball team is hoping that this season of losses and hard knocks was just a lesson and a prelude to a winning season this time next year.
Redshirt freshman guard Isaac Brown said at the start of the year, they wanted to get acclimated to the tough conference, capitalize at home and win some road games.
“Our expectations were to take care of all the home games and steal some road games.” Brown said. “We also wanted to eventually win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament.”
The season ended last week when the team lost 64-53 to the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats in the first round of the MEAC tournament. The team has high hopes for next season, but they have to fill the void of their leading scorer, whose athletic eligibility is up.
Senior guard Bryant was the only senior and the team’s leading scorer with nine points a game. His presence will be greatly missed as the Rattlers look to next season.
Junior guard Rasheem Jenkins said Bryant was an outstanding teammate and leader, but an even better friend.
“I felt Brandon was a great voice in the locker room, just as much as a great player.” Jenkins said. “But more importantly, he’s a great person and I wish him the best of luck.”
Brown said the Rattlers will have to replace Bryant’s shooting ability and his offensive explosiveness.
“He was a terrific player with scoring ability at anytime during the game,” said Brown. “He’s a great outside shooter that will truly be missed.”
Bryant treasures the on and off court lessons he learned from coach Eugene Harris.
“He taught me that you have to work for everything on the court and in life,” Bryant said.
You win some, you lose some
The Rattlers finished with an overall record of 9-22, and 5-11 in conference play, giving them the second worst record in the MEAC. Their season was full of good and bad moments, but their cohesion was never in question.
The team never lost composure and kept its poise when it hit adversity, which is not always easy to do when a squad is laden with underclassmen. Bryant said it was easy for them to stick together, because sometimes they thought they had to play for themselves.
“We were all so close, so it wasn’t hard,” Bryant said. “Plus we realized early on that it was just us every time we played.”
Brown said Harris deserves credit for keeping them together.
“Coach always said to pull for each other, we are our own family and to play for each other,” Brown said. “Times were tough, especially with the tough MEAC schedule; but winning was always our motivator to keep working hard and to improve each game.”
Better days ahead
The Rattlers had eight underclassmen this season, and 11 players will return next season. Youth hindered them this season, but now the players know what to expect when they take the court next fall, Brown said.