Basketball teams return to Gaither this weekend

Saturday’s games begin a series of home games for both the women’s and men’s basketball teams. Excluding an away game against Delaware State on January 29, the men’s basketball will play six consecutive home games and women’s basketball team will play five.

With the scheduling of consecutive home games, both the men and women’s basketball head coaches are excited to be home at the Gaither Gymnasium.

“It is always exciting and encouraging to be home,” said women’s Head Coach Debra Clark. “We are coming in off a win against Morgan State and we know that North Carolina A & T is coming off a big win against Howard.

“We know it will be a good game.”

The Rattlers and Lady Rattlers spent the weekend in Baltimore, playing against Coppin State and Morgan State resulting in two losses for the men’s team, and a split for the women’s team, losing against Coppin 62-51 and a victory over Morgan State 76-57.

“When you play 13 games, and only have two home games, you are happy to be back home,” said men’s Head Coach Michael Gillespie, Sr. “We have been up in Baltimore freezing, so it is certainly nice to finally be back home again.”

The series of home games is exceptionally important for both teams. The men’s basketball team is currently ranked ninth in the MEAC, and the women’s basketball team ranked fifth.

“After the game against Howard, we are getting ready to start round two of the league and our goal from the beginning of the season was to do well in the (conference) tournament,” said Clark. “So every game we play now is very important.”

Since the next two home games are two days apart, with the Aggies Saturday and South Carolina State on Monday, having the ability to adjust to the two different playing styles will be a must according to Gillespie.

“They are two completely different teams,” said Gillespie. “A&T is a very strong, pressing, fast breaking team that tries to play the game at a very fast pace, while South Carolina (State) is stronger physically and play at a much slower tempo; they play more of a half court game.”

When it comes to the players, winning these next home games are important.

“It is a great opportunity to have seven home games in a row, being able to get the crowd and hopefully we will get on a roll and keep winning,” said senior center Michael Harper.

Both teams had a similar home stretch, where seven of the team’s nine mid-season games were at home. Both teams got on a roll, as the Rattlers went 7-2 and the Lady Rattlers went 8-1 over the nine game period.

The attendance from the FAMU community is always needed to support both basketball teams.

“It is very important to have fan support; support can defiantly make a difference,” said Gillespie Sr.

“It is really important to have the fans, the student body and the community to come out to be like that sixth man,” said Clark. “When the game is close and tight and you got that crowd behind you it helps.”

The capability of winning home games is also incredibly significant when it comes to defending the home court, as both teams have a 1-1 record in its two home games.

“You need to protect your home court,” said Gillespie.

“It is very difficult to win on the road so when we are at home, we must protect our home court; we need to play well, play smart and play well as a team.”

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