Rattlers hope to improve as new basketball season begins

Rattler basketball fans get ready. The men and women’s basketball teams are preparing for their upcoming seasons.

The men’s basketball team started practice for the regular season Sep. 27. The Rattlers are working daily to reach their objective, which is to win the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship. Last year, the team finished fifth in the conference for scoring but last in defense.

Head men’s basketball coach Clemon Johnson said there are particular areas in practice his team is working on improving.

“Our focus for the first month is defense,” Johnson said. “Trapping, pressing, more man-to-man, less zone and team defense.”
Pierre Crawford, a junior center, said the team had issues playing together, talking and sharing the ball last season.

“We’ve been working on our defense,” Crawford said. “We have been going over new plays. We look forward to pushing the ball up and down faster this year.”

Johnson does not believe the team is ready as of yet, but he is encouraged by the signs of improvement he has witnessed from last year. He said the players will continue to utilize their strengths, which are shooting and preventing the other teams from shooting.

This season will bring new faces to the men’s basketball team with one player graduating, two players transferring to different schools and an influx of six new players.

However, the Lady Rattlers have to overcome many issues from last year due to the departure of many experienced players. Head women’s basketball coach LeDawn Gibson, mentioned that both Jasmine Grice and Kimberly Sparkman have to step up their game, regardless of limited help they receive.
Andreya Lacy, a senior guard, said the team lacked in certain areas that hurt them last season.

“We lacked height and post play,” she said. “We are bonding more as a team. The chemistry is getting there. You will see a lot more improvement.”
In addition, the Lady Rattlers recruited eight new players, ranging from post players, scorers and a point guard. Four players recruited are from junior colleges, and the other four are from in-state high schools. The new players may be an immediate impact on the team.

Gibson is optimistic about this season. She said they had a great preseason and are developing chemistry on the court. Gibson also said other than Grice and Sparkman, the new players should have an immediate impact.

“We got a team that can score,” Gibson said. “We have a lot more experienced players that can play defense. We are quicker this year and much more explosive.”