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Unfamiliar faces bring new hope for FAMU basketball

By Thai Floyd | Staff Writer
On November 3, 2017

​The Florida A&M University Rattlers Men’s basketball team will start the 2017-2018 basketball season on Nov 10, against Grand Valley University.

The Rattlers can expect a tough schedule ahead, and must mesh quickly with new coaches and players. With new additions from the top down, the future looks optimistic for a program that won just 7 games all of last season.

During the off-season, FAMU Athletic Director Milton Overton hired new head coach Robert McCullum. McCullum heads to FAMU with 30 years of coaching experience and a vision to revive the once prestigious program. McCullum’s basketball affiliation extends beyond court-side as he competed and played for Seminole Junior College in 1972-1974. Shortly after, Mccullum started coaching in 1976 at Council Junior High. From there McCullum would coach for elite NCAA programs such as Florida, South Florida, Georgia Tech and Oregon. While at Oregon McCullum lead the team to their first final four appearance since 1978.

The Rattlers on court product will also host some unfamiliar faces. Veteran players such as Derrick Dandridge, Leon Williams, Trey Warren, Andrew Smith and K’ja Johnson left the program. FAMU countered the loss by adding seven more players, five of whom have experience at the collegiate level. In the front court, the Rattlers added multiple forwards and centers. Stability and physicality were lacking in both positions last season.

Last year the team went 7-23 overall which was good for 12th out of 13 MEAC teams. In the MEAC tournament the Rattlers were eliminated in the first round.

Despite the rough season Marcus Barham and Desmond Williams emerged as stars for the ailing squad. Barham and William’s performances last year earned them high regards as both were named to the 2017-18 preseason second team, all-MEAC teams.

When asked about the new coaching staff, Marcus Barham stated “Everything is fast paced, he wants us to learn everything quickly.” Though he reassures that he and the rest of the veteran players have bought into Coach McCullum’s system.

Coach McCullum plans on bringing a lot of success to the program. He told reporters “First and foremost my job, as I see it, is to help each student-athlete become a well-rounded graduate of FAMU. Prepared for the challenges of the 21st-century”.

Given that the men’s basketball team has had a rocky past regarding academia, Coach McCullum let it be known that sub par academics will not be tolerated.

FAMU will open up the season with a tough slate of games against Miami, Mississippi State and Georgia Tech. Desmond Williams and the Rattlers are not shying away from competition. When asked about these games, Williams says “Our mindset is to go and hit them in the mouth and possibly do what we can do to bring home a win.”

Thai Floyd giving you the scoop on the upcoming men’s basketball season- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXOjd1wUhrc

 

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