Rattlers set their sights high on beating archrival BCC Wildcats

The Florida A&M Rattlers men’s basketball team looks to bounce back from their tough Tuesday night, 95-74, loss to the Bulldogs of the University of Georgia.

The team now has their sights set on their Saturday night match-up against conference archrival Bethune-Cookman College.

In Tuesday’s match-up, the solid and efficient shooting of the Bulldogs proved too much for the Rattlers defense to take, and too much for the offense to match.

The Bulldogs, led by junior guard Levi Stukes, who scored a game-high 20 points, shot an impressive 58.8 percent from the floor to the Rattlers 34.4 percent.

“I think we could’ve won if we played a more efficient game,” said Rattlers head coach Mike Gillespie. “They’re a great team and it’s a game we learned from.”

The Rattlers, now 2-2, were led by freshman guard Lamar Twitty and his 13 points in Tuesday’s game. Junior center Rome Sanders trailed not too far behind, contributing 11 points of his own and pulling down six rebounds.

“We rely a lot on the three-point shot, so it’s important to have a presence in the paint for offensive rebounds and put backs,” said Sanders regarding the significance of rebounding in the Rattlers style of play.

While the Rattlers managed to outscore the Bulldogs during the second half of play, the damage was too much as they entered the halftime break with a 55-30 deficit. Other than shot percentage, the teams’ numbers were not drastically different, but the edge went to the Bulldogs’ defense in rebounding (43-38, with a 22-11 edge in defensive rebounding) and blocked shots (11-3.)

“Everybody’s head wasn’t in the game in the first half,” said senior guard Jonathan Kelly. “We weren’t where we needed to be and before we knew it, we were down too far to come back.”

“We basically played harder in the second half, but the deficit was just too large,” agreed Sanders.

With the win, the Bulldogs improved their record to 4-1 for the season.

Next up for the Rattlers are the Wildcats of B-CC, who are 2-4 on the season thus far.

“It’s going to be intense,” said Sanders. “You can’t get off to a better start than with a win over your rival.”

No matter the teams’ records, or sport for that matter, the B-CC game against the Rattlers always means just a little bit more to the players, coaches and fans alike.

“B-CC is a very special game for us,” said Kelly. “Whenever people ask us about the season, the next thing they all ask is if we’re going to beat B-CC this year.”

Not only is this a significant game for bragging rights, but also the Rattlers first conference match, it is very important to start off “the games that really matter” on a winning note.

With the tough schedule to look forward to this season, and a tough match up this weekend, the Rattlers will have their hands full this season. They look to specifically improve on their 68.5 points-per-game, and 12.8 assists-per-game to their opponents’ average thus far of 20.

With the combination of solid leadership, outstanding team chemistry and all the confidence in the world; this could prove to be a promising 2005-2006 campaign in Rattler men’s basketball.

Contact Reginald Snowden at thefamuansports@hotmail.com