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Coach May Week 14 Presser Notes - February 5th, 2024

Protecting home court at the Burrow with a 32-point blowout over Tulsa, the Florida Atlantic men's basketball team will have a two-game road trip as they head out to Birmingham to face UAB on February 8th before traveling to Kansas to take on Wichita State on February 11th.

Head coach Dusty May (pictured via Bob Markey) spoke with media on Monday to evaluate the current state of the team and their preparations against UAB.

Below are some of the highlights from the session.

Opening Statement on blowing out Tulsa last weekend

"It was nice to see some shots go in as we shot the ball relatively well. Also, we've gotten back to establishing an inside presence with Vlad Goldin. I thought he set the tone of our starts. Obviously, there's a recency bias to it. But as of late, we haven't gotten off to great starts for the last four to six games, with the exception of Tulane. So getting it inside to Vlad early, I think is something that going forward, we need to make a much more conscious effort of in the flow of the offense and not trying to run sets and things like that when we're trying to get into the flow. But overall pleased with that. I thought we defended and I thought our discipline showing our hands on drives was the difference in the game."

Evaluating their performance at the midpoint of conference play

"I didn't think about any of that. We knew we had a team that would be capable of competing for a championship. Am I looking at it saying, "I think we'll be 12-1 or 13-3?" No, none of that. I'll look at KenPom, and sometimes, he puts the expected outcome and I'll laugh and say, "Hey, can we just take this result without bouncing the ball?" But other than that, no. We're 8-1 after nine games. I know it's the midway point. I know we have a lot of basketball in front of us and against really quality programs. We're not looking too much further than the practice tomorrow and UAB preparation. Everything after that, we'll cross that bridge when we get there."

Feeling more rested as they look forward to their nine remaining conference games

"That we're prepared for it. We've been in these battles before we know what we need to do as far as preparation and things like that. We've got to continue to take care of our bodies and stay as mentally fresh as possible. Everybody in college basketball knows how difficult this month is, and fortunately for us, we're extremely confident because we have guys that have great work ethics and also enjoy the game and have a loyalty to each other where they're not going to let each other down because of a lack of effort or a lack of focus. If someone beats us, it's going to be because they beat us not because of our guys not taking responsibility for their roles and what they bring to the table."

Having Vlad Goldin be more assertive on the glass

"We do it a little bit different. So their starting center had one offensive rebound. I don't know if that's when Vlad was on him. We don't really ever just say, "you had x number of rebounds"; it's team rebounds. And to be honest, we try to get them to buy into it. If their guy crashes and they're around the basket to play with physicality, and usually the guy that doesn't block anyone out gets the rebound because he's free and he can jump and he can see the ball quicker. There's just so many things that go into it. So we really never talk about defensive rebounding with Vlad unless he just doesn't block out and his guy gets it."

"He had the face blockout foul. We didn't like that. That was an extra possession for them. And on the offensive glass, I thought they were very physical with him. But also he was in the short roll, he would catch it and he would kick it out to a wide open shooter. And they were getting good blockouts on him. It was obviously a point of emphasis. So he was about 12 or 15 feet out, we were making our threes, they weren't coming long, and there was one or two possessions that I didn't think Vlad did a very good job. But looking at the stat sheet saying, "he's got to get more rebounds", I'd have to go back and really evaluate those possessions because if Alijah Martin has a running start and Vlad's wrestling with their center, I expect Alijah to get it. As long as we get it, I don't care whose stat-line that's it's going to."

Maintaining their perimeter defense from the Tulsa win

"I thought we had great personnel awareness. If there's a 28% shooter over here, his gaps are gonna look a lot different than it is if you're guarding a 45% shooter. I thought our guys were just really locked into the scout. Their self-awareness was perfect. You don't guard Cobe Williams with one player. He's too fast. He's too dynamic."

"So I thought the guy on the ball, which was Nick Boyd a lot, I thought Nick had a really good defensive game. Of recent memory, it was his best in a while. His energy was good, he was containing the balance, he was at his gaps, he had great life. BJ Greenlee's always a pitbull on the ball, Weatherspoon's gaps were great, Alijah's were great, Nelly did a really nice job in the gap, and Vlad was moving well and protected the rim a couple times and blocked one of his layups. So a lot went into containing him, but it was it was a great team effort and our guards did a nice job building a wall against him."

Preparations for UAB

"It's difficult playing UAB anywhere. Their coach has won about a million games and a lot of those in the SEC at a very difficult job. And since he's taken over UAB, they haven't missed a beat. I was at UAB as an assistant years ago, and it's a very proud basketball program, has a lot of tradition, and has had a lot of great players. FAU has never ever won in Bartow Arena, so this team has an opportunity to do something that's never been done. In addition, they snapped a 20-game winning streak there last year. They played well, they deserve to win and then we were able to get the make-or-break game, the rubber match, in the conference tournament."

"But we know how difficult it's going to be. Eric Gaines, Lendeborg, Davis, Johnson's really come into his own the last few games. He's playing like an all-league guard. They just have a lot of weapons and not to mention Vazquez. He's really come out more aggressive lately and been very solid on both sides of the ball. They have a lot of weapons. It's a great program. They're well-coached, so we know how difficult it's going to be so we choose to spend most of our time worrying about us."

The Owls will continue practicing at home before heading out on the road to play UAB on Thursday.

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