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Coach May ECU & Charlotte Presser Notes - January 1st, 2024

Coming off a brutal defeat to Florida Gulf Coast to conclude their non-conference schedule, the Florida Atlantic men's basketball team is preparing for their first set of conference games as a member of the American Athletic Conference when they play East Carolina later tonight and then head out on the road to take on Charlotte on January 6th.

Head coach Dusty May (pictured) spoke with media on Monday to evaluate the current state of the team and their preparations against the Pirates and 49ers.

Below are some of the highlights from the session.

Opening statement on beginning the first set of conference games in The American

"We're excited to begin conference play at home in 2024. See where we are after a very daunting pre-conference schedule where we challenged ourselves and played in incredibly tough environments against quality opponents. And hopefully, it propels us into playing really good basketball in conference play."

Reflecting on their performance against non-conference opponents, especially against FGCU last Saturday

"We're optimistic that it has us prepared. Obviously against quality opponents, you get better by playing really good teams. So we felt like we got everybody's best shot and we're gonna continue to do so. And we've got to be up for the challenge."

"Ideally we learned through winning, but hopefully, we learned through a tough loss but I don't want to take anything away from Florida Gulf Coast. They played extremely well. They had guys that stepped up and made big play after big play. Zach Anderson, an older player, made some huge shots and he was a tough cover and I thought they got great contributions from a lot of guys. So as I'm going to say often, we're not walking into any gym where we expect to win. We think we're going to be in great position to win as long as we put in the work but it's difficult to win every single night. And hopefully it's a learning lesson going forward for us."

Helping Alijah Martin return to top form

"He's got to find ways to get some easier baskets. If you look at his shot profile, he's taken a lot of difficult shots and he's not getting to the line enough and he's not getting those layups or transition baskets or tip-ins. Part of that is the way he's been defended. I think anytime you're a conference preseason Player of the Year, guys are coming after him and there's even a bigger target on him and Nelly's back."

"I use this example to the team; you've seen a lot of stuff on Twitter lately about the big man at Indiana State Robbie Avila being a college [Nikola] Jokic. And he goes on the road to Michigan State and I thought Michigan State was a little bit flat on Saturday, but you could tell their players were going at Avila. And that's just part of it, [regarding] preseason accolades and things where guys are coming after you so I think he's got everyone's best shot. But our challenge to him is he's got to find ways to get some easy baskets before he takes as many threes or shots off."

Preparations for East Carolina

"Really capable scorers in and out of their system. They can break the play off and go play one-on-one and they've got three guys that are first team all-league caliber players. They're athletic, they're long, they get to the rim, they draw fouls as well as anyone in our league. They present a number of challenges. They're a good basketball team, they're talented."

"Obviously when everyone's still figuring out ways to come together as a group, they added Cam Hayes a couple games ago because he was one of the two-time transfers so everyone's still trying to figure out their synergy. But as far as the quality of players and the way they play, we've got a lot of respect for their program and their staff and their players so we know how tough it's going to be. We look forward to the challenge though."

Sneak peek at Charlotte

"I've always seen them in passing. They're a big team. They're well coached. They've got a tough game Tuesday night at SMU. I don't know that much about them other than just watching them. I watched them play UCF. I've seen him play on TV a few times. Big guards, they're huge up front. Milicic is having a great season so far. So they're gonna present a number of challenges but all our focus is on East Carolina right now."

After tonight's matchup, the Owls will be practicing before taking their trip to North Carolina for Saturday's matchup against Charlotte.

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