By Robbie Lastella
Something about the FAU men’s basketball team is that whether they win the previous matchup or lose it, the team is going to use it as a learning opportunity going forward. Coach Dusty May spoke with many different people prior to the season about what to expect this year, and one thing that was common feedback was that a tough stretch will come, and the team will need to respond to it.
“Even though you know something is coming sometimes it’s unavoidable and you’re going to have to go through stuff. I remember early on, I said we’re probably going to have to lose a game or two early, because I felt like we thought it was going to be easier than what it was going to be.
At the end of the day these last 2 games are one possession games and we got some bad breaks and bad bounces, and we knew going into it if we’re in a lot of one possession games we’re going to win about half of them, so we talked about being able to avoid them. We just have to be a little bit better; we’re not trying to play whack a mole and fix everything, we’re not a team without efficiencies. But what we’re trying to do is fix the things that are the most immediate and can contribute to winning and alleviate some stress in some other areas so we can overcome bad shooting nights or whatever may be the case,” Coach Dusty May said in his weekly press conference.
One possible adjustment Coach May mentioned post-game following the loss to Charlotte, was lineup adjustments. Going forward the team is looking at possible changes, but as it has been for the past few years now the adjustments are geared towards getting the best 5 on the court, rather than looking at the starting lineup against coming off the bench.
“We tweaked with some lineups today. If you have followed us, you know the starting lineup is not all that important; we go with whoever’s playing well. We’re gonna tweak some different lineups, we need to get back to where our second lineup is giving us a significant jolt every single game and so it might be a matter of trying to beef up the second lineup a little bit more. We’re always evaluating who’s playing well together, who has good chemistry, who has good rhythm, who are the guys that are looking to score and putting them with the pass first guys. We don’t know exactly what it looks like now, but we’re going to tinker and tweak and try to be playing our best basketball come March,” Coach May said.
Next up for the Owls is a tough road battle against Tulane and it’s another part of an unforgiving schedule for FAU. Coach May knows it will be a battle and the team respects Tulane, but FAU looks to flip this around and instead of it being a tough battle for FAU on the road, making it a tough battle for Tulane facing an Owls team coming off a loss.
“Tulane is a good basketball team obviously at home, they’re going to be a little bit different of a team. We couldn’t have more respect for their team, their style of play and how different they are. I say that in a complimentary way, when you play differently teams don’t see every single day what they’re going to see against you.
They have a lot of positive attributes that we respect, and we know how difficult it is going to be, we just have to get back to playing with the aggression that we know is the best way for this team to play… Tulane has several tough covers, Cross, Forbes, Holloway, Kolby King. They just have so many really good basketball players that are skilled, versatile and have great positional size, they don’t have a traditional center, but they have good size and strength across the board.
It will be a battle for FAU as Tulane comes into this game with 5 starters averaging double figures and a very high-powered offense. FAU will be looking to get back to having a chip on their shoulder, as it was something mentioned by Coach May following the Charlotte game and again in his weekly press conference.
“We’ve got to focus on our daily habits. Alejandro Ralat brought up a great point after the game, that we’ve got to empty our tank for each other, and if you play 2 minutes or play 4 minutes at a time and you come out of the game and you are not exhausted then we’re not playing hard enough for each other. Today in practice we emptied our tanks, and we got back to practicing how we did in the preseason.
It was great to see our guys get uncomfortable, they were great teammates and they responded really well to what we went through this past weekend. That’s all you can ask, does it guarantee success this Thursday, absolutely not. We feel like it definitely puts us in a position to be going in the right direction and moving up the mountain. Very rarely is the path to the top of the mountain a straight perfect line, we’re navigating, as long as we’re moving forward, we’re going to be fine,” Coach May said.
FAU managed to hang on in the polls following the loss to Charlotte, checking in at #24 on this week’s edition of the AP poll. Although rankings are important to many Owls fans, it’s the last thing on the mind of Coach May and this FAU team.
“I don’t think that (rankings & national media) does. We never talk about that, ever since we talked about it last year when we brought it up the first time we were ever ranked, I think that was the last time we talked about it. What we struggled with I think, is that you know it’s the other team’s biggest game and you watch them play on film 5 or 7 games and when you play your game against them, they’re playing with so much more energy, juice, focus, enthusiasm and all the winning intangibles that they didn’t play with 3 days prior.
We have got to find a way to make every game one of our big games, because I think when you look at our season, we have played much better that went into the season with bigger reputations, we’ve just played better against the best teams and that’s something we are going to have to correct quickly because we’re getting everyone’s best shot,” Coach May said.
FAU will have a few more days of practice before the team heads to the Bayou and takes on Tulane in New Orleans. Owls fans can watch that one on Thursday at 7 pm and the game will be another linear broadcast for FAU, broadcasting on ESPN 2.