Coach May Illinois Presser Notes - December 4th, 2023
Extending their winning streak to five after beating Liberty and Charleston in the Field of 68 Classic, the Florida Atlantic men's basketball team will be heavily anticipating their matchup against nationally-ranked Illinois in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 5th.
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 Fighting Illini.
Below are some of the highlights from the session.
Opening statement on returning to the Empire State for the first time since March Madness
"We're extremely excited to be leaving for New York today to be a part of this prestigious event in Madison Square Garden, honoring Coach Valvano and his legacy and his cause of cancer research. Very good week we can ask for our program and we look forward to continuing to improve and trying to play great team basketball."
"I'm excited to be able to walk from the hotel to the gym and enjoy that. A lot has happened since then. I'm sure once we're there, the emotions will change a little bit but we're just excited to be playing in this event. And when you think Florida Atlantic is playing Illinois, followed by (North Carolina) and UConn, it's just such an honor to be included. It's a testament to how good of players we have in our program."
Reflecting on their performance in the Field of 68 Classic
"I'll start with Charleston just because of recency bias. I thought we did a nice job of maintaining our poise and composure when the ball wasn't going in in the first half. We faced a lot of adversity the first 20 minutes. Several layups rimmed in and out, they made some very difficult shots, we didn't adjust well to how deep and how quickly they shot threes. I thought it took us maybe a half to figure out that even though they're 25 feet and it's off of one pass, they're gonna launch it, and then they're gonna send three or four guys after it.
"So it took us a little bit of time to adjust, but also when Vlad's out for extended minutes and there are rotation changes, and then Nelly's in foul trouble and then Alijah's in foul trouble, we're not the same basketball team obviously. But I thought that the other guys held it in the road and then we were able to allow those guys to play with aggression and whatnot and they took it over. And it was nice to see Vlad turning into a dominant force on both sides of the ball. And it was nice to see Alijah and Johnell both have big moments this past weekend."
Status updates on Nick Boyd and Johnell Davis
"Nick Boyd is the same as he's been. He's moving in the right direction."
Given May's response, Boyd should be considered questionable.
Having taken a tough fall near the end of Saturday's contest against Liberty, May said that Davis "looks great today" as he expects him to play.
Preparations for Illinois
"We can't get tempted into taking the first somewhat-open shot. They do a great job of forcing low-value shots across the board. It's tempting to take the floaters and mid-ranges, and if we can find a way to get to the second or third side quickly or to create an advantage within the first eight or 10 seconds, then we'll have a much better offensive output night than we would if we just tried to attack the first seam. They're really sound offensively, they're big, strong, physical, and they're sound in their game-plan and execution. So we're gonna have to do some things really well. We're gonna have to make some difficult shots. We're gonna have to find some extra possessions. So it's going to be a challenge, but we're excited for the opportunity."
Limiting Illinois star Terrence Shannon Jr.'s impact
"It's a group effort. He's a dynamic downhill driver that also makes three threes a game. There aren't many guards at all in college basketball that's more explosive, more dynamic and more proficient than he is. There's gonna be a lot of bodies we throw at him. Hopefully we can give him some different looks with some smaller guys and some bigger guys to keep them off balance where maybe he's thinking a little bit. He's a guy (that) we're not going to shut him out. We're not going to shut him down. We just need to do a great job of making sure he scores inefficiently."
Being careful with not fouling perimeter shooters frequently
"We want to challenge and contest everything. And sometimes through the course of 70 possessions, you're going to foul. Some of these shooters are getting very creative; if they're able to kick their legs out in a Y and I've coached guys that are able to draw fouls from three-point shots. There's an art to it. Obviously, we never want it to happen, but we also don't want to just quit on plays when we're behind. We worked on it today. We'll work on it next week. We'll continue to work on it. And if we could trade guys not hustling and not contesting versus an occasional foul at this stage of the season, then we're going to take the errors of aggression 24/7, 365."
With today's practice already concluded, the Owls will depart for their flight to New York to finish their preparations against Illinois for Tuesday night.