FAMU basketball looks to rebuild
By MarKeith Cromartie
First it was Malcom Bernard, who led the FAMU men’s basketball team in every category, who transferred out.
Then, Lewis Francois followed suit.
Suddenly, coach Byron Samuels is back into rebuilding mode after his best season at the helm.
But Samuels remains confident.
“We have six good retuning players, we are bringing in seven players and for the first time since I’ve been coaching here we have 13 players on scholarship,” said Samuels. “Our mindset is to keep doing what we doing, which is keep building these kids into men, making sure they are students in the classroom and making sure they enjoy the FAMU experience.”
Last season the Rattlers finished 8-21 and ended up going 4-12 in Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play. The Rattlers were also under a NCAA postseason ban due to low academic performance.
But now that the ban has been lifted, Samuels doesn’t see much difficulty rebuilding.
“Our goal is to get better every practice and every game,” said Elijah Mays, one of the returning players on the rooster. “To the guys that left; best of luck to them but we are focused on winning.”
The Rattlers recently signed Derrick Dandridge, a 6-8, 230-pound forward from Memphis, Tenn., Andrew Smith, a 6-10, 260-pound center/forward from Johnson City, Tenn., and Marcus Barham, a 5-4, 185 guard out of Wallace State.
Samuels didn’t do anything different when it came to recruiting he simply sold them on believing in FAMU.
“We haven’t changed what we are telling kids,” said Samuels. “FAMU is a very special place, it helps build good strong leadership, FAMU presents an opportunity for them to get a first class degree and it gives them a chance to put their stamp on a program that is rebuilding.”
The returning players on the team are welcoming their new teammates with open arms and are excited to see what they bring to the table.
“Great new additions they are talented and very hungry,” said Mays. “I can’t wait to play with them.”
With the basketball season being months away Samuels is focusing on trying to get this retooled Rattlers team to mesh together and get ready for the challenges that are to come in the upcoming season.
“We expect to take one more step maybe even a leap and turn this program around,” said Samuels. “We are going to take this group to Canada for a week so we can fix the little things and help build team chemistry and this trip will allow us to help build the brotherhood.”