A Few Thoughts on FAU vs Texas A&M
One FAU team trait not discussed a lot by fans is worth considering here after the 19th-ranked Owls’ 96-89 victory over No. 12 Texas A&M.
The Owls now are 14-0 since the beginning of last season in games played a day or two after a previous game.
Last year they were perfect in all 13 such opportunities—one pre-conference, eight (four away from home) on the backside of the Thursday-Saturday or Saturday-Monday swings in Conference USA, two in the C-USA Tournament (where they won three games in three days) and two in the NCAA Tournament (against Fairleigh Dickinson in the round of 32 and Kansas State in the Elite Eight).
There’s more to that than coincidence or even talent. As assistant coach Todd Abernethy told me for a story I wrote last year: “I’ve never been part of a team that’s been so locked into a scouting report.”
One of the things FAU does best is absorb and execute game plans, most of which are pretty detailed. That was true Friday against an A&M team with edges in height, length and general physicality—especially in the continued absence of injured backup post player Giancarlo Rosado. But assistant coach Kyle Church’s scouting report on the Aggies provided the blueprint for working around those disadvantages, and the Owls followed it.
Guard Johnell Davis (photo above Bob Markey II) told Ken LaVicka in a postgame radio interview the Owls knew that the Aggies’ tendency to over-help in certain areas on defense would leave openings for three-point shots. Not by coincidence, 30 of FAU’s 56 field-goal attempts were three-pointers and a school record tying 16 went in—six by Davis, five by Alijah Martin, to each by Jalen Gaffney and Bryan Greenlee and one by Brandon Weatherspoon.
Davis also shared with LaVicka’s listeners that the coaches said A&M’s physicality would remind the Owl’s of 2023 Sweet 16 opponent Tennessee’s. Comps like that can breed a sense of familiarity that helps relax a team facing a brand-new opponent (and by the way,FAU is compiling a useful library of comps).
Speaking of Greenlee, special kudos to him: Davis (26 points) and Martin (25) did their thing, and then some, but Greenlee’s12 points—including two clutch threes at potential inflection points down the stretch—came with a backstory not to be overlooked.
May told LaVicka that eight minutes before tipoff he was informed Greenlee would be unavailable to play because of a foot problem the coach described using the phrase “long term.” But the training staff fitted Greenlee with a shoe insert that mitigated the discomfort to within his tolerance level, and while he didn’t start—another nice game from Gaffney, who started in his place—he managed to gut his way through 23 minutes in a reserve role. Further, he was hitting big shots and otherwise flying around the court as part of the closing lineup.
The championship game of the ESPN Events Invitational, 1 p.m. Sunday against Virginia Tech. Is enough recovery time to enable Greenlee to give it a go for another 20 minutes? The Owls already are shorthanded, without Rosado and injured starting point guard Nick Boyd.
Rest assured, FAU coaches will have a good game plan ready for the Hokies, this time, based on scouting from assistant coach Drew Williamson.
The question is who will be in uniform to execute it.