Can Florida Atlantic bounce back next year?

Lamont Butler’s stint as the buzzer in Houston was a coup for Florida Atlantic’s storybook season. From being picked fifth in the pre-season conference tournament to blazing through their schedule, the Owls served up wake-up calls to each of their opponents en route to the Final Four.

Unfortunately, Dusty May’s team collided with the Sandman in the final 14 minutes of their national semifinal matchup against San Diego State, getting outscored 30–15 including Butler’s buzzer-beater. The loss was especially painful for FAU as the field was cleared of top seeds and the story felt like something was stolen from someone. ted lasso script.

May had the quality of Ted Lasso. Maybe it’s the result of being a student manager who witnessed the passing of Bobby Knight, but May’s coaching demeanor was a complete 180 from the eccentric old coot, who retired as the winningest coach in men’s college basketball history. Was. In the real world though, May doesn’t depend on her assistants to hide her incompetence.

Even after the loss, May Sr. was lamenting the loss of Michael Forrest and reliving the saccharine Coach-ism sentiments you get at the end of a sitcom.

“In this age, great teammates are hard to find and we have a locker room full of them,” May told Jeff Goodman Of the stadium

TV studio audience: “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa… (applause)

Like his fictional AFC Richmond counterpart, May looked abroad for the foundation of his coaching philosophy. He has talked extensively this season about how his offense evolved from Euro-ball, which emphasized ball movement, player movement, and an egalitarian share of the scoring load. It is rare to see one ball handler or scorer dominate an FAU possession.

As great a story as San Diego State is, it’s not as juicy because they’ve lost their mid-major aura. They have appeared in the tournament more than a dozen times so far and the Aztecs Pac-12 Invitational any moment now.

future prospects

Final Four doesn’t have to be series finale for FAU’s limited run series. So what will it take to bring The Owls show back to the Final Four for a season two run?

He has all the ingredients, including a cohesive ensemble cast. Most modern programs are a compilation of disconnected teams, juggling entirely new rosters for each new chapter. FAU’s entire rotation has eligibility remaining in 2023. If they can storm through their schedule and into the NCAA tournament as the strongest mid-major in the country, there’s nothing stopping them from repeating that using Saturday’s loss as motivation.

FAU was not a one-year wonder like St. Peter’s. They were an undersold 9-seed who should have been higher. Before the tournament, he was still considered top mid-major Was ranked in the final top 25 of the AP Poll, in a field of 68 according to Pivot analysis, and a are top-20 team According to KenPom’s adjusted offense and defensive system. If Mays were to leave for greener pastures, you can be sure that Jonelle Davis and 7-footer Vladimir Goldin would come with him.

May’s coaching style may have leaned toward clumsiness, but it has molded FAU into a team with arguably the best on-court chemistry in college basketball. Not bad for a program that was playing in its first NCAA tournament.

He always found the open man, the rock never stopped and his high-IQ off-ball movement slid him into opportune scoring position. Although down the stretch, college basketball’s AFC Richmond zava, a playmaking virtuoso who could heat up the offense when caught in a funk. UConn has some offensive cheat codes that can break and end a dry spell. San Diego State’s defense was their trump card.

However, not a single player from FAU would be drafted in the first round of the next NBA draft. Their whole is greater than the sum of their parts. Maybe they also look at transfer portals for upgrades or to change forests. The prospect of playing on that Boca Raton campus for a year entices some gradual relocation and rakes up FAU’s NIL en masse. they were short of flour before, They’ll also be able to guarantee exposure under a more niche spotlight than they’ve operated under the radar this season.

Or they’ll run it back with the same group and their incoming freshman class. A dozen years ago, Brad Stevens and Butler made a repeat trip to the Final Four and even advanced to the national championship game a year after Gordon Hayward was drafted.

A year after sniffing out the Final Four to 9-seed Wichita State, they embarked on an undefeated regular season demolition tour. Throughline between FAU, Wichita State, And Butler is their veteran roster who is developing an addiction to crushing foes and retaining a coach who instills a winning culture. After refusing to jump on the coaching carousel, May looks to be on board for another run. That may not happen in 2024 if Florida or Florida State Jobs reopens. Of course, he won’t always be a popular name in coaching circles if FAU falters early next season. This year was not Florida Atlantic’s time and May’s professional ascension is only the beginning, but this may not be the last time we see them step into the Final Four.

Follow DJ Danson on Twitter: @cerebralsportex