Seeing their record 19-game win streak at home snapped following an upset defeat to the Bryant Bulldogs, the Florida Atlantic men's basketball team looks to bounce back as they will be heading up to Orlando to take part in the ESPN Invitational at Disney World.
They will first take on the Butler Bulldogs on November 23rd.
They will later face either the Penn State Nittany Lions or Texas A&M Aggies on November 24th, and then conclude the invitational with one last game on November 26th against an opponent to be determined.
Head coach Dusty May (pictured via Bob Markey II) spoke with media on Monday to evaluate the current state of the team and their preparations against the Bulldogs.
Below are some of the highlights from the session.
Opening statement on the team going to Orlando
"95% of our focus is on Butler. And after that, we'll look for anything different or odd that we might see that's outside of our normal preparation for the second round. And then we'll have a day of preparation for the third game hopefully in the championship game. So right now, all eyes are on Butler trying to figure out the best way to compete with a top college basketball program, especially in recent memory."
Nick Boyd's playing status
"It's tricky now with HIPAA and other things with injuries. I defer all questions to the medical staff. I think that's best for all parties."
Given May's response, Boyd should be considered questionable.
Cleaning up the mistakes made against Bryant
"It was odd because we got off to a great start and then it was almost as if our guys felt like it was going to be easier than what it was going to be, and we kind of let off the gas a little bit. We had a couple of careless turnovers, they made a couple of difficult shots, and then we looked like a team that was surprised we weren't winning by more and surprised how close it was, and we just didn't have that same look that we had last year."
"This is all new for all of us, the position that this group is in and there's a reason that 1976 was the last time there's an undefeated basketball team because it's extremely difficult to not have some bad nights, but it is odd to have so many guys that have an off shooting night on the same night. But probably the two things probably that stood out the most was that we didn't come up with very loose basketballs. They were quicker to the ball, they were more determined to get the extra possessions, and then we just didn't finish well in the paint. We felt like a lot of our shots were open but they weren't in rhythm, and that's kind of what Bryant suckers you into doing."
Looking back on Butler making back-to-back title games in the early 2010s
"Actually, I was on staffs that competed against those groups and they had a special mix of talent, continuity, coaching, togetherness, but most importantly toughness with good players. When you factor in Gordon Hayward was a lottery pick and Shelvin Mack was a multi-year pro, and then they had some great college role players and a lot of those guys are in coaching now, which is a testament to how much they love the game and their intangibles. I grew up in Indiana, I knew the staff well when that staff was there and I know a lot of those players so it wasn't a surprise once you saw that group come together and the way they worked from a distance standpoint and toughness, they were an impressive group."
Managing the team's depth throughout three games in four days
"It's extremely important, especially three games in four days. Obviously, early in the season, you're not in the same type of shape that you'll be in late. But yeah, we need more positive contributions and sometimes it's scoring, sometimes it's rebounding, sometimes it's defense, sometimes it's simply an energizing play that kind of ignites your team, and we didn't have a lot of those on Saturday. And for whatever reason the ball just wouldn't drop, the shots wouldn't fall. So when those things happen, someone's got to step up and find a way to make an energizing play that can kind of rally the guys."
Goals to achieve during the invitational
"First and foremost, when we lose the rebounding battle the last couple of years, it's been catastrophic for us. Fortunately, that hasn't happened very often, and we lost it significantly in the second half against Bryant, we lost it for the game. We've got to do a much better job of getting those extra possessions and then I don't think we're gonna have an off shooting night like we did."
"Vlad had three or four shots; Tre Carroll comes in and has the layup, I don't know how it didn't drop. It felt like we had several of those, and it just made us kind of question ourselves and be on our heels where we've got to be able to play with the same energy and enthusiasm even when the shots aren't falling. So that's priority number one, not letting our offense affect our defense and overall our defense has been really solid for three straight games."
The Owls will continue practicing at The Burrow until they go on their road trip to Orlando on Wednesday.