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HOUSTON – A wise coach of the Owls once said. … Oops, sorry, but this was going to happen at least once with the Florida Atlantic Owls in the Final Four here.
But FAU coach Dusty May did just publicly agree in principle to a new contract after authoring one of the greatest NCAA Tournament stories in history, which is still dribbling fast. The No. 9 seed Owls (35-3) play No. 5 seed San Diego State (31-6) at 6:09 p.m. Saturday on CBS.
Last year at this time, May’s team finished 19-15 and played in the College Basketball Invitational. When he arrived in 2018, he inherited a 12-19 team after FAU’s seventh straight losing season. The only previous NCAA Tournament for the Owls was in 2002.
FAU athletic director Brian White promises to see to it that May will get a raise from $430,000 a year to approximately $1 million a year in a new, long term deal. May has made more than $500,000 this year in bonus money after reaching the Final Four. His Owls knocked off No. 4 seed Tennessee and No. 3 seed Kansas State last week to get here.
“We’ve had many discussions,” White told the Palm Beach Post on Thursday. “We plan to iron out the details after the season.”
Dusty May Sounds Like He Is Sticking
Nothing is signed yet, though, and in the coaching profession, one never knows what a new sunrise may do. Offers could still come worth more than $1 million a year. But May, 46 and in his first head coaching job, sounded convincing Friday that he is long for Boca Raton, Florida.
“I learned a long time ago, you never mess with happy,” he said, turning the “Don’t Mess With Texas” anti-litter campaign that started in 1985. “And so, I know what makes me happy. And right now at this point in my career, I couldn’t be any more pleased and happy with where we are and just excited to continue building.”
No schools throwing money at May have been named, but May sounds like that happened.
“It was never that tempting,” he said. “Because of my affection for the guys in our locker room, staff, players, support staff, everyone, our administration. Nothing’s changed probably in the last six or seven weeks. This was always on the table. But I felt obligated to focus on our season and our team versus all the other stuff. So, let’s go ahead and put it out so we know what our intentions were.”
Florida Atlantic May Return A Strong Team
May also returns 6-foot-4 sophomore guard Johnell Davis (13.9 points, 5.5 rebounds), 6-2 sophomore guard Alijah Martin (13.1 points, 5.2 rebounds), 7-1 sophomore center Vladislav Goldin (10.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 47 blocks), 6-3 sophomore guard Nick Boyd (8.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists) and 6-0 junior guard Bryan Greenlee (7.4 points).
Barring any draft entries or “poached” transfers, that is.
“I’m not accusing any coaches. It’s usually a third party. There are middle men, third parties that have incentive to get kids in the portal and help them find another spot,” May said previously in stories that trended largely. “And then with the new rules who knows what happens after that? You’re always concerned because they’re getting recruited.”
Maybe, players could announce a new NIL deal and their commitment to staying?
Dusty May Says He Didn’t Say ‘Poaching’
“I wasn’t accusing anyone. I never said the word, ‘poaching,'” May said. “I just said our players are being.”
And he stopped.
“There’s a lot of avenues to get directly to players now,” he said after starting over. “And there’s third parties reaching out to coaches and assistant coaches to change job. It’s part of our industry. I thought it (the stories) were a little overblown, to be honest. There’s probably not a program in our country at any level that’s not facing that obstacle in some way, shape or form.”
And at the moment, May is concerned with San Diego State, which is significantly taller than his team and plays as physical as anyone in the country. Just ask No. 1 seed Alabama, which struggled against the Aztecs’ defense in a 71-64 loss in the third round last week. How does he prepare?
Florida Atlantic Playing Tennessee Was Good Preparation
“I think you schedule a Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament and do it recently as well,” he said. “I think that helped prepare our guys. But if I’m in a foxhole with anyone, I want to be in there with our guys. They’re physical as well, as we’ve shown night in, night out.”
And don’t call the Owls “Cinderella,” even if no No. 9 seed has ever won the Final Four.
“The term ‘Cinderella’ has always been that team that maybe hit a spurt late in the season and got hot,” he said. “It’s more a flash in the pan versus a five-month body of work,” May said.
The Owls won 20 straight games this season from November through January and have won their last 11 in a row.
“When you’ve done what our guys have done, with so much longevity and consistency,” he said, “they don’t consider themselves a flash in the pan.”