Rattler optimistic ahead of conference opener

With a full schedule of conference games ahead of the Rattlers, coach Kevin Lynum is expected to lead to team to a record better than last year’s 3-24.
Photo courtesy FAMU athletics

By St. Clair Murraine

Outlook staff writer

From the outset, coach Kevin Lynum knew this basketball season would be about rebuilding the FAMU women’s team.

He has just three holdovers from last year’s team that he inherited when LeDawn Gibson was let go as head coach. Lynum proceeded to recruit 11 players.

Building them into a unit that could win became his biggest task. On top of that, he had to find a way to make the different personalities work together.

Everyone knew what Lynum wanted from day one, though.

“If you’re going to come here, it’s not about any one individual,” he said. “One of my things is I would never allow any one person to become a cancer to this program. At the end of the day, everything is going to say Florida A&M. It’s not going to say myself or any individual player.

“We’ve got to do it together because when we are together we are much better.”

Asia Royster

He’s convinced his team is good enough to compile a winning record in the MEAC. They begin conference play Saturday against North Carolina Central, after enduring a hectic schedule of non-conference games against mostly power teams.

The only wins FAMU managed in its 2-9 record came against Johnson University and Trinity Baptist. The wins matched their conference wins total that came against Savannah State and Delaware State last season.

Since the season started Nov. 5, they’ve played at home three times, while making road trips to Texas, Mississippi and Baton Rouge, where they played their final non-conference game against LSU.

It was the second SEC team the Rattlers faced. Florida was the other SEC opponent in a game that Asia Royster, a fifth-year transfer forward from St. Leo University, said helped to make the team stronger. Never mind the 84-40 setback in Gainesville, she said.

“UF was a very good experience for us, but unfortunately we didn’t get the outcome that we wanted,” Royster said. “It was a testimony on how we can come together; how much we can work.”

Yet it had been quite a challenge keeping his players healthy, Lynum said.

Especially the three returning players. Twin sisters Keziah and Jhakta Dilworth have missed several games with injuries. Jasmine Ballew, another key contributor, has missed a few games as well.

However, as a team the Rattlers are averaging 63.3 points per game with 41.8 rebounds per game.

Lynum calls his squad a growing team that should be at full strength by the midway mark of conference play. 

“They are learning each other’s mannerism, tendencies; good situations is kind of what we are going through in the non-conference play,” he said. “We’ve learned a lot about ourselves which I think is going to help us going into conference play.”