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Coach May Week 12 Presser Notes - January 22nd, 2024

Rolling with a four-game winning streak following recent victories over Wichita State and UTSA, the Florida Atlantic men's basketball team looks to keep this momentum going in their favor when they take on Rice on January 24th before returning home to host North Texas on January 28th.

Head coach Dusty May spoke with media on Monday to evaluate the current state of the team and their preparations against Rice.

Below are some of the highlights from the session.

Opening Statement on this week's set of games

"We're in Houston today. We got in late last night, and we're going to focus on academics. We had film first thing this morning, focus on academics. We'll get some treatment, work on our bodies, and then we'll have practice at Rice tonight and then start a preparation for another conference road contest."

Being more disciplined defensively while being potent on offense

"I think it's good and it's bad. It's good that we're capable of going on runs that we are and we're as explosive as we are. The downside of it is sometimes, we're relying on that and we're expecting it as opposed to getting back to the mindset that our defensive abilities, rebounding, and defensive focus are what we're going to put our attention on. And then the offensive is simply the icing on the cake. So it's a blessing and a curse. I'm grateful that we have such capable offensive basketball players, but we have to figure some things out on the other side of the ball. But once again, UTSA played extremely well on that side of the floor. They're explosive, they're skilled, so it's not as if they didn't have a lot to do with that as well."

Other players helping Davis and Martin with the scoring load

"It's exciting that they're playing efficient, offensive basketball, and I think we're still evolving where we're finding the right times to use those guys as screeners and as decoys. We're still a work in progress on both sides of the basketball. We still think we have a lot of growth on the offensive side even though we're not going to put much emphasis over there right now. We're probably on pace to make another jump from an efficiency standpoint, where we're going to play some teams to slow us down, but we've got to clean up a few things. It's January; this is where we are and we know where we need to get to."

Evaluating Tre Carroll, Brenen Lorient, and Brandon Weatherspoon's growth off the bench

"Tre's made a big improvement defensively. Tre, before last game, had some some illness issues and definitely wasn't himself. But yeah, Tre's improved vastly on the defensive end and he played a lot of minutes. It's tough because we're probably not going to play him over Vlad, so it's got to be in conjunction with Vlad needing breaks and foul trouble. We all know how important Vlad is to our team on both sides of the ball, but Tre's carved out a nice role."

"And Brenen Lorient, in just a few minutes, I thought he played well and made positive contributions. I don't think the stat sheet was indicative of what he was able to do and I think that will earn him more immediate minutes. We're gonna need everyone. I'm so happy for Brandon Weatherspoon, he played so well early and then he had a couple games where the ball just didn't drop. He got great looks and he stayed the course and man, he was aggressive yesterday. We needed it and he settled us in just like Tre did when we played Illinois and Tre did against Butler in Orlando. I thought Weatherspoon, when we were struggling early, settled us down, and that really ignited our runs."

Preparations for Rice

"Max Fiedler is probably the premier passer here in our conference. Anytime you have their center away from the basket, it pulls your center away from the hoop and changes the rim protection and he throws guys open. He throws it into space and he's a very important player for them. And then obviously Travis Evee is always capable of going off for 30 points. And he's played much better than last season. He looks comfortable; he looks like he's at a really good flow and rhythm. And obviously Mekhi Mason, the big powerful wing that can make shots."

"They've got a lot of weapons, so it's a good basketball team. They sit at 1-4 and very easily could have been 4-1, much like UTSA. UTSA gets a tough call to end regulation to end up losing in overtime at Memphis. It's just these one possession games; they can go either way and it's a balance here, it's a play here or there, and it's a break. We obviously know how capable Rice is and they easily could turn it on like UTSA did against us and light up the scoreboard."

Seeing the parity in competition throughout The American

"If you're a casual fan, it's incredible. These games are going to the wire. The top of the preseason rankings or the bottom of the preseason rankings are going to the wire every night. It's tough to predict who's going to win. For us, it's one of those things where so many people seem disappointed and frustrated with where we are. You listen to commentators and you would think we only played two games this year, Bryant and FGCU. But we're trying to build a body of work. We're trying to grow as a team, we realize we're not going to be at our best every single night, but we also have to realize that that's where we are right now. For us to be tied for first six games in and us feeling like we have a lot of room for growth, it's a good sign."

"But now we have to start taking steps towards our ceiling. And if we do that, then I think we'll find some ways to stack some games together and whatever the case, but this is a big road game at Rice on Wednesday, just because each and every night on the road is so difficult. Right now, we've played three games we're two and one so in our minds, we're plus-two and if we're gonna have a chance to win this league, we're probably going to need to be plus-four or plus-five to win a conference championship. Just assuming, you never know, every year is different but we feel like we at minimum need to get to plus-four. So this gives us a great opportunity on Wednesday night to get to plus-three and naturally, we have to take care of home and whatnot. But if you follow college basketball, especially in the top eight leagues or whatnot, rarely are teams losing at home, even the bottom teams versus the top."

The Owls will continue practicing at Houston before facing Rice on Wednesday night to conclude their two-game road trip in Texas.

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