Virus takes ball out of Rattlers’ court

The Florida A&M University’s men’s basketball team said it does not want to make excuses for its 9-16 season, but a spreading flu virus among players may have been a factor in the past four games.

Reggie Sharp, assistant men’s basketball coach, said about five players on the team contracted the flu from the last three weeks until now.

“It limited our numbers of the depth of the bench,” Sharp said. “We haven’t been able to practice game-like situations because we only have eight instead of 10 players.”

 Sharp said the players who have been sick are Larry Jackson, Jon Mason and Ernest Maul. He said Lamar Twitty and Cassius Bell were just diagnosed with the flu within the last couple of days.

Sharp said the team being sick had an effect on an 80-78 second overtime loss against North Carolina A&T University and a 77-66 loss against Norfolk State University.

“About five guys had to play the whole game, while the other team subbed,” Sharp said.

Jon Mason, a guard, said the team should have won the NCAT game despite being shorthanded.

“I don’t think it was the main factor,” said Mason 22, a senior criminal justice student from Panama City. “But we still could have come out on top.”

Mason said the virus probably was passed through members of the team.

“We are together so much, it’s probably very easy for germs to pass around and spread to the next,” he said.

Larry Jackson, a forward who has been sick for the last week and a half said fatigue set in during the NCAT game.

“The four days I was out, I wasn’t able to stay in condition,” said Jackson, 19, a criminal justice student from Chattahoochee.

He said his doctor gave him orders to relax and take antibiotics.

“I wasn’t in good condition because all I have been doing is lying down in the house,” Jackson said. “I wasn’t able to practice to keep my wind up.”

Mason was unable to play in the NCAT game. He was so sick he had to go to Tallahassee Memorial hospital.

“I had to go to the emergency room,” he said. “They said I had an upper respiratory infection and the flu.”

Mason said his doctor told him his sickness was usual for this season’s weather.

“When I was in the emergency room, the doctor said she (had) seen 37 patients before me with the same condition,” he said.

 Mason’s absence during the NCAT game was hard for the team’s guards, Sharp said.

“Jon Mason supplies back up minutes for Leslie Robinson and Joe Robinson,” he said. “When he was sick, they had to play the whole game.”

Sharp said the team is going to try to get and remain healthy and play harder going into the next games.