FAMU Rattlers showing a turnaround in midst of conference play

Coach Byron Samuels breaks down the details for his men’s basketball team during a recent practice at the Lawson Center.

Coach Byron Samuels breaks down the details for his men’s basketball team during a recent practice at the Lawson Center.


By Samantha Joseph
Outlook writer

Just looking at the FAMU men’s basketball record at this point in the season there is plenty of proof that this is a squad that is playing as if it wouldn’t be denied.

Even with losses in its last two Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference games.

Coach Byron Samuels could put his finger on any number of reasons why there is some semblance of a turnaround, but he is sticking to his mantra and his players are buying in.

More than anything else, Samuels is convinced that the Rattlers’ current success is the residual of the relationship between him and his players.

“No matter what, coaching is coaching, but the ways we communicate has changed,” Samuels said. We call it ‘the we message.’ We say it. We write it on the board. We text. We email. We tweet. Whatever it takes to get the message across to the players.”
FAMU fell to Savannah State last Saturday night. It faced Bethune-Cookman University on Monday, but even with another loss Samuel’s approach has been producing dividends so far. A loss to the Wildcats wouldn’t take them out the conversation about a chance for a top finish in the conference.
FAMU went into Monday night’s game against B-CU with a 4-14 overall record and 2-3 in the conference. The Rattlers held seventh place in the 13-team league.

Before Monday night’s game, the Rattlers had the third-highest field goal percentage in the conference, averaging .420 per game. They are third in 3-point percentage with a .347 average and they are averaging 3.5 blocks per game.

Individually, Marcus Barham is the only FAMU player ranked in the league’s top 20 at No. 18 with an average of 12.4 points per game. He also has 3.2 assists per game, which makes him the eighth best in the league, and he also averages at least one steal per game.

Last season they lost eight straight conference games before winning their first in the league, finishing the season with a 4-12 record in conference play. With 13 conference games remaining, there is a good chance that the Rattlers could significantly improve that mark.

Nevertheless, Samuels sees a lot of value in the intangibles as another reason his team is holding together.

To Samuels it’s all about the details whether it’s making a simple pass or blocking out. Though what happens on the court is what moves the world of basketball, Samuels and his players aren’t only about that.

His players seem to relish everything they learn off the court as much as they focus on the essentials of the game, said junior guard Elijah Mays.

“There is so much he does for us on the court as well as off the court,” said Mays, who as of Monday had 3.2 assists per game which makes him the eighth best in the league

“He (Samuels) makes a point to lead by example and instill values in us so after we graduate we will be prepared, Mays said. “We know we can do it, but we also know that we have to take care of business here first.”