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Gaither Gymnasium.

5 p.m.

Be there or be square.

Sunday will be the first time FAMU fans will have the chance to witness the 2003-2004 Lady Rattlers in action at home as Fort Valley State University travels to Tallahassee for both teams’ final exhibition games before the regular season takes off.

FAMU is geared up and ready for the year to begin. They have been conditioning hard to prepare for this event and are anxious to see how they will actually perform once on the court against another team.

“We’ve been practicing against each other for about a month and a half, so now it’s time to see what we need to work on by playing against another team,” Head Coach Debra Clark said.

The team’s experience is one of the key factors Clark and the rest of the ladies will rely on for success.

“We are definitely excited and we’ve worked really hard,” said junior college transfer Quidara Russell. “We have a lot of new players so I’m just excited to start playing.”

The team is confident about this year’s performance because of the quartet of returning starters Yolanda Dixon, Tene Miller, Dierdre Tyus and Kim Watson combined with new recruits like Russell.

“Our biggest asset is experience,” Clark said. “(Kim’s) a great asset to the team and she played well last year. If she can improve and be a dominant inside force and rebound well, we will be alright.”

Sunday’s game is sure to be full of fast-paced action from two top teams. Last season, the Fort Valley State Lady Wildcats won the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference and are the favorites to win this year.

The Lady Wildcats are led by junior Sherika Tarpkins, a guard who averaged 16.4 points per game and swiped a league-high 3.9 steals per contest.

FAMU, on the other hand, finished fourth in the MEAC, but preseason polls place them up a notch in third place.

“Mainly we’re focusing on running our plays and getting our cohesiveness and team chemistry together,” Russell said. “Once those things are together everything will come into place.”

The team’s first regular season game is scheduled for Nov. 23 at Ohio State University at 2 p.m.

After Sunday, the team will not compete in Gaither Gymnasium again until Dec. 5, when the Lady Rattler Invitational begins.