The Florida A&M University’s men’s basketball team took to Tampa, Fla. Nov. 11 to take on the University of South Florida Bulls for the first regular season game. FAMU lost 84-73 in a well fought game that came to the last minutes of the second half.
This is the first season since 2013 that the Rattlers are eligible for postseason play after receiving NCAA regulations for falling below the Academic Progress Rate (APR).
Even though the last time the Rattlers made it to the NCAA tournament was in 2004, head coach Byron Samuels believes the team needs to take it day-by-day before worrying about the postseason.
“I just think about how we can improve on tomorrow. I think we can be competitive in our conference this year but we certainly want to take this one game at a time,” Samuels said.
The Rattlers held their own for the first half with their only lead of the game taking place in the first five minutes, but the Bulls’ experience got the best of the young team.
The Rattlers tried to make a comeback halfway through the second half and came within six but was no match to the Bulls’ technical offense. The Rattlers ended the second half outscoring the Bulls 41-39.
Craig Bowman, who was second in total points for the Rattlers, believes the “sky’s the limit” once they work on playing cohesively throughout the whole game.
“I think we played well in spurts. We need to learn how to play well through all 44 minutes,” Bowman said.
Samuels says the there’s a few fundamentals that the team needs to focus on, and committing to the little things is making them one step closer to becoming serious competitors in the conference.
“There’s a difference between playing and playing well; there’s a difference between existing and making a difference,” Samuels said.
Marcus Barham, a transfer from Wallace State CC, finished with a game high of 22 points. He said the loss was in part of the of the difference in conferences and adjusting to style of play.
“In the MEAC conference and the American conference where USF is in, there’s a whole type of different basketball being played,” Barham said.
The Rattlers won’t have their first taste of conference play until Jan. 4, when they take on Howard University in Washington, D.C.