By Latesha Johnson | email@example.com
In recent years, the Flagler College men’s basketball team has faced off against high-caliber, Division I competition at the start of each new season. This year, the Saints took on Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) contender Florida State University in an exhibition game.
Flagler traveled to the Donald L. Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Fla., where they were defeated 76-47 by the Seminoles. Although they suffered a 29-point deficit, the team believed they played well and garnered a boost of confidence going into the regular season.
“Playing against bigger, stronger and faster players is going to help us win the Peach Belt [Conference],” junior forward Adam Jones said following the game. “Although we lost the game, it showed us that we can battle and play with the big dogs.”
Jones, who scored 10 points, grabbed six rebounds and tallied three steals for the Saints, said moments like these are “unbelievable.”
“Playing against a great school with 6,000 fans there; there’s no better feeling since we don’t have 6,000 fans at our games on a regular basis,” Jones said. “There’s such an adrenaline rush when you step on the floor.”
Not only was this a sensational experience for junior forward Desmond Gibson, but it was also a homecoming for the Tallahassee native.
“When I first heard we would be playing FSU, I was excited to be able to play in front of my family and friends again,” Gibson said.
The Saints prepare for games like these the same way they would prepare for any other competition; they have practice the night before, and participate in a shoot around the morning of. Yet, once the game starts, the atmosphere is totally different.
“They get to play in a big arena and in front of a good crowd,” assistant coach Jake Pickett said.
The Saints returned back to St. Augustine with a good idea of what worked and what needed improvement heading into the season.
“This game showed that we have a team ready to compete on both ends of the floor, but to be better we have to execute on offense and focus on limiting turnovers going in the regular season,” Gibson said.
And even though the Saints rarely come out on top in these DI exhibition games, the coaching staff will continue to schedule them.
“I will always try to schedule at least one Division I game a year because I think it’s a good experience for our team and something that each player will remember.” Pickett said.
The Saints will begin conference play Dec. 14 against the Mountain Lions of Young Harris. According to the preseason coaches poll released by officials, the Saints are picked to finish 12th in the 14-team conference