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Coach May Week 17 Presser Notes - February 28th, 2024

Going 1-1 in their last two games following a win at home against SMU and a road loss against Memphis, the Florida Atlantic men's basketball team will play one game at home this week when they host Tulane on March 2nd.

Head coach Dusty May (pictured via FAU Athletics) spoke with media on Wednesday to evaluate the current state of the team and their preparations against Tulane.

Below are some of the highlights from the session.

Opening statement on their last three games of conference play

"We are excited to be back home with the final three-game stretch playing against quality opponents and a lot of stake. Most importantly, we want a top-four seed in the conference tournament and to be playing and clicking and gelling at the right time."

The importance of securing a top-four seed in the conference tournament

"That means we continue to win games. Obviously, we drop these last few, then we wouldn't have it. It's rare to see a team win four in four days and it's not that it can't happen or hasn't happened, but it's much less likely to happen. Just another game, a potential game before you're hopefully preparing for the NCAA Tournament. It's more wear and tear but for a number of reasons. Most importantly, we're trying to win and play good basketball leading up to the conference tournament."

Benefits of the final bye week

"The bye week was much needed. It is in the right timeframe. We were a little bit banged up. We seemed a little mentally fatigued at times. So this gives us a chance to regroup, to do some self-evaluation, and also just get refreshed and energized going towards the stretch run. So we took two consecutive days off. Other than having some individual meetings and crossing paths with guys, we wanted them to get away from each other and get away from organized basketball. They wanted to shoot and lift, whatever then. They could, but we were fine with them doing whatever they needed to do to be really excited to be back here today for film and weights and practice and they had a great day today, so we're obviously optimistic that we can continue to enjoy playing and be excited to play."

Reflecting on their loss at Memphis

"We've flushed most of it, to be honest. But there are several things for us right now that are contagious. So we just want to really refocus on playing a really good team defense and trusting each other, trusting the guys that have had my back and so forth when you're on the court… and then also just not making the compounding mistakes that we made at South Florida and Memphis."

"At the time, they don't seem near as big and then you'd go back and review the film and realize that Memphis did a lot of really good things and they played extremely hard, they played very well in spurts. But if we could have back some of the controllable mistakes, the mistakes that maybe are simply a poor response to something that happened: adversity, an official's call, a turnover. But whatever the case, if our response was just more consistent, then we probably still would have had enough to get the win. So it's a good problem because these guys are all so competitive and they really want to win and sometimes we make mistakes trying a little bit too hard."

Maintaining the recent performances from Vlad Goldin and Alijah Martin

"If Alijah plays and shoots well, great. We have to be able to find ways to win when he doesn't and that's what my point was. We were not a team that has to rely on Steph Curry scoring 45 tonight for us to win. We're very confident and comfortable with those guys not being volume scores like they were last year when we pull up the box scores during our run and yes, they had some big moments but there were several games when they were the supporting cast and they were the ball movers and they were the defenders or they were in foul trouble or they were injured."

"So I think that is something that maybe externally people expect more, but within, we want all of our guys to play efficient, but we also want to figure out a way to make everyone feel good about this process, and feel a part of this basket, and feel good about this run, and this four-minute mini game we call it between the media. Do we sit here saying, 'man it's so nice having Alijah,' I don't think that. We look at how well we're playing the game of basketball as far as our standards and if the shot goes in, then we're obviously extremely happy. But if the shot doesn't go in, then we don't define how well we're playing if the shot goes in. Obviously, it's awesome to see Vlad playing back with physicality and dominating the paint and giving us extra possessions with rebounds and it's nice to see Alijah look like he's having fun playing basketball and connected to his teammates."

Preparations for Tulane

"Sometimes it comes down to matchups, sometimes it comes down to just a shot or possession here and there. I thought UAB did a really nice job attacking their matchup zone and their zones. They're big, they're athletic, they're able to guard them one-on-one, in space, and Tulane has big physical wings that can give us problems at times. They're still playing well. It's very difficult to win in our league. You look at the teams at the top and the teams at the bottom and there's not much disparity. To be honest, if you did a seven-game series with the team that's gonna win it and the team that finishes 14th, the margin of victory probably wouldn't be very much and I think you could go down the list with that."

"It's going to be a tough game. We know how talented they are. Obviously, it took us a buzzer-beater situation to beat them with two free-throws as time expired, essentially, to beat them there so we know it's going to be tough. But once again, we're so much more consumed with how we're playing and how we're feeling as a group."

The Owls will continue practicing at home before hosting Tulane on Saturday.

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