Getting ready to begin the 2023-24 season, the Florida Atlantic men's basketball team will be hosting their first game of the 2023-24 season against the Eastern Michigan Eagles on November 14th. They will later take on the Bryant Bulldogs on November 18th.
Head coach Dusty May spoke with media on Monday to evaluate the current state of the team and their preparations against the Eagles and Bulldogs.
Below are some of the highlights from the session.
Opening statement on the team entering the home opener
"We're excited to get back and play in front of our own fans and in front of the students. We're very confident that there's going to be great energy in the building and the one thing we'll probably have to be more conscious of that we haven't been in years past in this season opener is playing much more calm when the ball is in our hands because I know our guys are excited. There's going to be great energy and intensity in the building and we need to figure out a way to channel that and play really good basketball in the process."
"They all seem to be extremely excited. They've been in great spirits. They've had a hop in their step. They look fast. They look athletic. And that was one of the things that really jumped out to me in Chicago; it was how much intensity our guys played with. And with as many bodies as we can throw at people, we have to take advantage of every second on the court and play with maximum effort and hopefully, we'll go do that in game two and hopefully many this season."
Cleaning up the mistakes made against Loyola Chicago
"We have to value the basketball. We had too many turnovers but I'm going to take this as a credit to where we are as a program, where you can go on the road and beat a top 70 team in the country from the Atlantic 10 that is probably the most successful mid-major program in the country last five years and and have your fans and media somewhat disappointed that you're only up 18 or 20 with five minutes to go. So yeah, we're always trying to clean things up and we're trying to get better, but we were very pleased with where we were for the first week of November, without Johnell Davis having one of his better games, BJ Greenlee struggled to make good shots that he makes consistently, and then Alijah Martin obviously missing a significant period of time and just recently coming back so hopefully the fans weren't too let down."
Preparations against Eastern Michigan
"They always have good individual players. They haven't had the continuity where they've been able to string together consistent success. But the Tyson Acuff kid, I mean he's really good. He's a special player, he should be an all-league mat guy. He could play in any league in the country and have several guys much like that. They've got good size. Legend Geeter, their starting center, was a top 75 recruit played at Georgetown transfer, back home to Michigan. So they've got some tools, some pieces. They had a huge win Saturday against a good Sunbelt program in Georgia Southern and we're not taking them lightly because like everyone else, they have good players and on any given night, shots start dropping, they start feeling good. We're obviously very confident at home, but we're also respectful of Eastern Michigan."
Exploiting the Eagles' weakness in committing turnovers
"We're gonna do what we do. For the last couple of years, especially last season, we've really ramped up our ball pressure, our intensity on the ball, and gotten more aggressive in the gaps so we'll continue to do what we do. I was a little disappointed at Loyola that we fouled. We had some careless fouls early in the game, and then those translate into one-and-one free-throws earlier than they should be. So we've got to be a little more judicious with our fouls, especially ones that don't affect the play early in the game so we keep teams off the free-throw line. I hate giving up free points at the line when we don't feel like they necessarily had to earn it."
Early preparations against Bryant
"Bryant has really good players. They've had a coaching transition and they're playing a little bit differently than they were a few weeks ago and even last season, but all of our focus is on Eastern Michigan. The minute the game's over, we'll take a couple hours off. I'll review the film, and then start preparing mentally for Bryant that night or the next morning. We're not taking anyone lightly. We haven't really looked too far ahead. We'll have one assistant that's already working on the Bryant scout. Other than that, the rest of us all focuses on the Eagles of Eastern Michigan."
With today's practice already concluded, the Owls will continue warming up as they gear up against the Eagles entering Tuesday night.