Core impressive off Rattlers’ bench

By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer

The first glimpse of FAMU freshman guard Nasir Core when he walked on the floor this past Saturday night, was enough to make anyone in the Lawson Center take a second look.

His stocky 6-foot-1 frame exposes him as being a football player. But not long after he came off the bench in the first half against Southern University, it was clear he has some basketball talent.

Core proved that for the 19 minutes that he was on the floor, scoring 10 points, although they turned out not to be enough. FAMU fell 83-71, suffering badly on the defensive boards to let the Jaguars walk away with their third straight win to put their record at 3-3.

Despite falling, the Rattlers (2-7) got a lot of help from their reserves. Core and two others – Trey-Cary Warren and Elijah Mays – combined for 33 points. But play like the effort by Core gave coach Byron Samuels hope that the Rattlers could get better as the season progresses.

“Even when he makes mistakes, I know he is going to go 100 miles per hour,” Samuels said. “We need that. He gave us a lift.”

Core hit two shots from the free-throw line with under four minutes left to bring the Rattlers within two of the lead that Southern held most of the first half. He scored six more points that helped to prevent the Jaguars from taking more than a two-possession lead, 46-41, into the locker room at halftime.

“This kid is 100 percent,” There is no 99, no 50,” Samuels said of Core. “He is going to be a tremendous basketball player.”

And, Samuels almost passed on him. He was impressed with Core on first sight two summers ago, but it seemed he had too many accolades as a football player for Freedom High School in Tampa. Samuels didn’t give up, though, taking a second look that ended up with Core signing to play basketball.

Core hit his only three-point attempt, giving him three for the season on 11 attempts. His 10 points were five better than his average per game.

He also pulled down his only rebound on the defensive end where the Rattlers hurt the most all night. Shawn Prudhomme was the Rattlers’ torture, taking down seven defensive rebounds and on top of that the SWAC’s leading scorer had a game-high 25 points.

Even when the Rattlers switched to a zone defense, they couldn’t slow down Jaguars much on the boards.

“We go hard in practice with zone, man,” Prudhomme said. “We knew they were going to come with it so we just switched it up. We knew they were going to run a zone so we did what we had to do.”

Even the Rattlers leading rebounders Desmond Williams couldn’t find an answer. Williams, who has 43 for the season, was held to seven. Derrick Dandridge scored 31 rebounds going into Saturday’s game but was held to six.

Southern finished with 52 total rebounds to 30 for the Rattlers.

After taking the blame for the loss, Samuels said rebounding will continue to be a huge part of what the Rattlers do in practice.

“We’ve worked on it and we’ve emphasized it,” he said. “Rebounding is on every single practice plan. We’ve got to keep emphasizing hitting bodies and boxing out guys. I’ve got to play bodies that are determined to do that more than anything else.”