The Florida A&M men’s basketball team is preparing for an unpredictable season. Constant adjustments have been made in response to the COVID–19 pandemic.
Following the program’s first operations meeting earlier this month, steps are being taken to move forward with a schedule in accordance with CDC guidelines to ensure a safe and prosperous season.
“Safety and health precautions are our priority,” Associate Athletic Director Michael Johnson said. “We continue to monitor and abide by CDC guidelines to ensure we are protecting the health and safety of our student-athletes.”
Players are required to participate in weekly COVID-19 tests and daily temperature checks.
Safety extends not only to players but Rattler fans as well. Until further notice there will be no fans allowed at any games. While the athletics department is expecting to reopen to the public for viewing in January, only 25% capacity will be allowed in the Lawson Center.
Johnson said that the biggest challenge aside from COVID-19 is adjusting to the “new norm.” In an average season, the Rattlers would be getting ready to play their first game in the beginning of November. Unfortunately, constant changes have led to a delayed season.
The Rattlers are hoping to take their 8-0 home winning streak on the road as they are expecting to have very few home games.
With the health and safety of the players at the “forefront” of the program, appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) will be provided for traveling to away games along with social distancing regulations.
The 2020 roster represents the biggest recruiting class coach Robert McCullum has had during his time at FAMU. The Rattlers are focusing on maintaining a “FAMUly” environment while motivating the team to be disciplined within compliance to ensure the continuation of the season.
Assistant coach Isaac Brown said he is optimistic about the players.
“What I am looking for this upcoming season, are our guys playing consistently well, both at home and on the road,” Brown said. “We know as a program there is no overnight success. The newcomers have bought into the ‘FAMU way’ and have made tremendous strides since coming to campus.”
The men’s basketball program is built on the motto “Think Big.” With a new staff and roster, this sentiment is expected to help strengthen team development and work ethic during these unforeseen times. Brown believes this mentality will lead Rattlers to victory both on and off the court.
“During these uncertain times, our student-athletes have spent a lot of time together,” Brown said. “The key is that before they experienced this unprecedented pandemic, the bond was already formed on and off the court. The ‘Think Big’ method is to thank for allowing the guys to see the bigger picture and master any obstacle they face.”
No official schedule has been released; however, the Rattlers are expecting to play their first game in late November.