The Florida A&M men’s basketball team kicked off their season with a win against Edward Waters College in Al Lawson Gymnasium with a score of 90-74.
FAMU finished the 2018-2019 season with a woeful 12-19 overall record. They were able to stay two games above .500 with a respectable 9-7 conference record to finish in a three-way tie for seventh place.
The Rattler’s will not be able to compete for a playoff spot this season as a result of the postseason ban placed on the university by the National College Athletic Association (NCAA).
The Rattlers had six players score in double digits on the night, with Rod Melton Jr. leading the team with 18 points, going 3-7 from three-point range.
Head coach Robert McCullum recognized that multiple players scoring above double figures is impressive, but despite that he wanted more emphasis on defense and shot efficiency from his players.
“Anytime you get five or more players in double figures you like that…we would like to have shot the ball better, we would like to have better ball movement…but most important I was more disappointed in our defense,” McCullum said.
The game lacked fan presence when the doors first opened, but as the night progressed, the crowd became more energetic and in tune with the game.
When asked about what brought him to the game, Jordan Smith a junior physical therapy student from Pensacola, FL said he wanted to support the team and enjoy the game overall.
“We played a lot faster than I thought and I wanted to see if the team brought anything different this year that would help improve from their record last year,” said Smith.
Nassir Core hit a contested layup to cut the deficit to only a one possession game with 1:12 remaining in the first half. Rod Melton Jr. was fouled on a put back and tied the game at 37 a piece with a pair of free throws.
FAMU and EWC had multiple possessions to take the lead before halftime with both teams failing to convert on fast break opportunities and offensive rebounds to head into the second quarter with momentum.
Coach McCullum had his team ready to battle as they came into the second half swinging; the Rattlers rushed to a 57-44 lead with about 13:47 remaining in the game behind good ball movement and three-point shooting.
McCullum gave credit to second year guard MJ Randolph for his ability to step in and run the point guard position on the night, claiming this is the most he’s played the position since being enrolled at FAMU.
“[Randolph] did some things well here and there and this is the most he’s played point guard in any single game since he’s been here,” said McCullum.
While he didn’t suit up for the exhibition game, McCullum pointed out a key piece for the team, Jamir Williams. Who, specifically for his defensive and athletic ability is touted as the “best athlete on the team”.
“We haven’t even talked about Jamir Williams, a freshman who’s the best athlete on the team. Walking in the door. He’s the most explosive, he’s the best on-ball defender… defending the dribble is the single most difficult thing to do and he does that extremely well,” said McCullum.
The Rattlers travel west to try and upset the Trojans of Southern California as FAMU takes on USC on Tuesday, November 5.