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Dusty May, FAU Men's Basketball Head Coach

Zach Gleb Show / Zach Gleb
The Truth Network Radio
March 20, 2023 6:44 pm

Dusty May, FAU Men's Basketball Head Coach

Zach Gleb Show / Zach Gleb

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March 20, 2023 6:44 pm

Dusty May joined Zach to discuss how his journey to becoming a head coach has helped shape him and if reality has sunk in yet that the Owls are advancing to the Sweet 16. 


MUSIC The Mayhem of March Madness, it is the Zach Gelb show on CBS Sports Radio. Florida Atlantic, the FAU Owls are going to the Sweet 16.

And coming up on Thursday night, they'll be playing right here in our backyard at the world's most famous arena in Madison Square Garden. And the Owls on the year are now 33-3 with two big wins to open up the tournament with Memphis and then Fairleigh Dickinson. And now joining us is their head men's basketball coach in Dusty May. Coach, first off, congratulations. Really appreciate you joining us here for a few moments. Thank you for having me on, Zach.

So how do you process it? FAU is going to the Sweet 16. When you hear that, what comes to mind? I have to pinch myself. When did it really sink in for you, what you guys were able to accomplish over the weekend?

It still hasn't. To be honest, I've said this over and over and over and it's as sincere as I can be. When you're in the eye of the storm, you're on to the next thing. We're so focused on Tennessee now, trying to formulate a game plan, get our guys ready, get a schedule together that you don't have time to even digest it. But I know just watching the film this morning, seeing our families in the background, our fans celebrating how awesome it is to bring so many people together. But for those of us in the mix, we don't have time right now to feel too good about ourselves when you're staring down the barrel of Tennessee volunteers. And that's what I love about this tournament because we talk about upsets before teams that you don't expect to go to a Sweet 16, potentially even Elite 8.

We'll see how far you guys can take this. And there's always a certain confidence and you don't sense that the moment's ever too big for those teams. Just where does that confidence come from when you look at your basketball team? Well, we got guys that love ball, they love to prepare, they love to hoop. So I think anytime you have guys that have played as much as our guys have, they're not afraid of the moment.

They're not afraid of competition. And they've got a lot of belief in each other where there's a lot of nights where a couple of our best players are maybe having an off game and they look around our huddle and they know some different guys are going to step up. Even Jaylen Gaffney, a New Jersey kid who's been primarily a distributor for us last night, FDU went up seven points and he bangs in a big three and he's usually not really aggressive looking for a shot.

So I think just our guys believe that they don't know who but somebody's going to step up. And the game up against Memphis was wild and then you guys able to go on to beat Fairleigh Dickinson. Just when you look back at those two games, what are the real big takeaways from this weekend with those two games? Well, like we've proven all year, our reputation is that we have really good shooters and we space the floor and we share it and we shoot it well. We haven't moved the ball nearly as well as we did throughout the season and partly because the way we're being defended and we just haven't shot it well. We've still been able to find ways to win because of our scrappiness and grittiness. And everyone made such a big deal about FDU's lack of height being the smallest team in the country. I think we're only bigger than about 29 and 30 teams out of 363. So our guys have a lot of heart, a lot of fight. Just them being able to figure out different ways to win each and every night has been a pretty special deal. Coach, I know these preseason polls turn out to mean nothing.

Like you could use them as motivation if you're not picked in the spot that you think that you should be as Dusty Mays here with us. Before the year they had you finishing fifth in the conference. What type of team though did you think that you had before the season started?

Well, we actually were a little surprised that we were picked that low. But when you think about it, UAB had a team that won the league last conference tournament last year. Went to the NCAA tournament, played Houston tough and had everybody back and added some established players out of the portal. Western Kentucky had a lot back and they added some highly acclaimed players out of the portal.

North Texas, the name speaks for itself and the job Grant McCaslin and his staff have done there. They're perennially winning 25 games a year now. Probably one of the best coaching jobs that he's done was this year. And then Middle Tennessee State actually beat us in Conference USA East last year. We were neck and neck going down the stretch and they won the East and we finished second. And they had everybody back as well.

So the fifth is one of those things that it looks like you're underrated or undervalued. But in reality, there were four extremely talented teams that were picked ahead of us. And until we proved that we could do it, I get it. You know, it was one of those things where we had everybody back. We were on the verge, but we still needed to prove that we knew how to win.

I get it. You're always gonna believe in your team and go to battle with your guys. But if I would have told you before the season coach that we'd be sitting here in March, you only have three losses on the year. Would you ever believe that?

No, absolutely not. I thought we would have between a 20 and 25 win team. And we thought our schedule was probably thought we overscheduled a little bit this year.

We tried to find as many mid majors that would be picked first or second in the league. And some of those schools just didn't have the type of season that the prognosticators had thought they would. For example, we scheduled Bryant and they were supposed to win their league. Eastern Michigan was supposed to have the best team they've had. And those teams, not that they didn't have good years, but they didn't have special seasons. And any time you're scheduling at our level, we can't get high majors at home. We can't even get high majors on a neutral site.

So scheduling is difficult. But we knew we had a chance to have a special season. Since last year, we had everybody back. We had a Nick Boyd, we had a Jalen Gaffney, and we felt like we were guard short last year. And adding two more guards, we actually had probably too many.

But the guys have really meshed well together and sacrificed a lot. What has impressed you with this program and also the university with Florida Atlantic? I know that right now you're in your fifth season as the coach. How do you kind of look how the program has kind of grown, but also what's impressed you about the university? Well, it's a booming university. We're in South Florida in an unbelievable place to live in Boca Raton. It's a little bit different than the hustle and bustle of South Florida. It's a little quieter.

There's not the spring break crowd. It's a great place to raise a family. It's an awesome place to go to college. Our university, our campus looks like a five star resort. It does. I've been there.

It's incredible. And our administration is committing to growing the university with athletics being a big part of that in addition to the medical school and some other things. So it's a case of being here at the right place at the right time.

And a lot of people have contributed to this. And then as far as our program, we felt like we had the right guys in our program that really fit our staff, that fit who we want to be. And these guys are hard workers. They're tough. They're competitive.

And like I said, they love ball. I don't know what your future will look like and how much longer you stay at FAU, but what's the long term goal for this program moving on from here? Long term goal is just continue to get better and be in position to win championships every year. You know, we talked about it this year in the last two weeks of the season. We want to be in position where we're competing for a championship. We were last year.

We came up a little bit short. We lost two home games in a row that really set us back. But we just wanted to be in position to win a championship and the same thing next year. You know, I don't think we'll ever have a year where we keep everyone healthy like we have, where we have a complete team ego without any selfishness, without anything really changing despite the attention and accolades our guys were getting.

So this has been a special year mainly because of the personality of our team more than anything else. Coach Dusty May here with us for a few more moments. FAU off to the Sweet Sixteen.

They'll have a game at Madison Square Garden coming up on Thursday night up against Tennessee. Coach, you were a student manager at Indiana for Bobby Knight. What do you recall about that experience and what did that mean for you all these years later? Well, now that I'm a head coach, I refer back to so many things that Coach Knight taught or did that I didn't even realize I was picking up at the time. He's just such an unbelievable teacher, communicator, and everyone in the program has to elevate their level of intensity, focus, preparation in everything that they do. So that experience definitely prepared me for the, I guess, the climb or the rat race or what you have to go through, the ascension of college basketball where you have to work like crazy and you still may not get your break and you still might not win because everybody works hard and everybody puts a lot into it. I went there as a volunteer.

You're paying your own way through school. You're working 40 to 80 hours a week just for the opportunity to learn from possibly the best teacher in the history of the game. It's a different era now, but that's all I wanted out of it was I thought I would be prepared to be a high school Farsi coach after I got out of college if I worked for Coach Knight. When did you start to realize the vision? I know you were assistant coach for a long time, for basically two decades before you got this opportunity to be a head coach, but when did you start to say, okay, I could be a head coach in college basketball?

I've tried to prepare myself since I was young. My first experience after Indiana was at USC under Henry Bibby, and at that point when I got on a college staff receiving a salary, the video administrative operation position, running camps, doing all that type of stuff, I knew that there was a chance if I got in the right situation and worked hard, and a lot has to fall into place. There's so many great basketball coaches at all levels that you have to get some breaks, and I was fortunate that several people poured into me and gave me opportunities and, you know, just grateful for that because there's a lot of guys that can do this job that just aren't in the right place at the right time.

Had the opportunity of you being a student manager at Indiana just like come about, like how'd you end up getting it? Well, out of high school I was recruited by NAIA's Division II's, and I'd known Dr. Rink. I'd done some work for him, and I actually worked for one of his close friends, so that's how I knew him, and he always encouraged me that if I wanted to be a coach, I needed to go work for Coach Knight. I know you still want to play ball, and it's great, but if you really are serious about the coaching profession, you need to go work for Coach Knight.

At that time, a lot of the managers had went on to do some pretty great things. Lawrence Frank, George David, a lot of those guys had been very successful in basketball when they left, and so at the last minute I got an itch to go play, and I went to Oakland City University, a small school. I ran cross country and played ball there, and about three weeks in I realized this isn't what I thought, what I really want, and my mom told me to finish the year, but at that point I knew I wanted to go back to Indiana. I'd already been accepted into the university, so I started, you know, preparing to be a freshman manager as a sophomore, and fortunately Dr. Rink and some people helped me get back in the door, and because it's very demanding, I tell people there are probably 100 to 150 applicants each year at that point, and for three or four spots, and usually out of those three or four spots, 75% at least are going to go to people like Coach Knight's former players' sons, or people that are affiliated with the program, so there's usually one out of 100 spots that you can just go interview for and get it, so fortunately I had some ends. They liked the fact that I could at least jump out and play defense, pass the ball, those types of things, so, you know, it was hard, it was stressful, but man, what a great opportunity, though. It's unbelievable, the story, to now, like, you look 20-something years later, you're coaching the Sweet 16, it's really like a movie, your journey and your rise. Yeah, and a lot of people don't know this, Joe Pasternak, the head coach at UCSB, they were eliminated the other night by Baylor, he was a student manager with me, Mike Schragge, he was on Duke's staff, was the head coach at Elon, so there were three Division I head coaches that were all student managers at the same time at Indiana, so it's just a testament to what you learn, the principles you pick up, all those types of things to prepare you to go forward into this, like I said, coaching journey that, it's a marathon. Had you come up with the Australian rugby rules line, saying you study that before Tennessee?

Well, I don't even think I called it the Australian rules football or whatever the case, it was the most physical thing that I could think of at the top of my head, and I know people have taken that personally, but I'm a physical guy myself, when I played I was accused of fouling about five times per possession, so there's nothing negative towards it, we're gonna have to play with great physicality and discipline, but that's a compliment to them, I wish people would say that about us, that we're physical, we're tough, we're strong, we're competitive, those are all things that I value as a coach, and it's a shame that people look at all those things as a negative, but yeah, it was the most physical thing that I could think of, and those guys don't wear pads like we do in the States playing football, so I know it rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, but it was a joke, but they are, they're very very physical. I thought it was hilarious, but before we let you run, I know that you said it's always in the moment, and you're figuring onto the next one, and this one's Tennessee, when you get on that plane, and you're traveling to New York, and you know that you're going to a Sweet 16, and you're gonna be playing Thursday at Madison Square Garden, that flight over, outside of just the constant preparation for Tennessee, when you get a moment to reflect, what do you think you're gonna be thinking about? Well Zach, actually we came up today, our band, cheerleaders, administration, families all went back to Boca last night on the charter, we took a commercial flight up this morning just got here, I'm at the Marriott Marquis on the 36th floor, looking out my window right now watching film, talking to you, so it's surreal for a guy from Greene County, Indiana, to be where these players have taken us, but it's surreal, it's awesome, but obviously this is the biggest stage, the brightest lights being in the garden, I'm excited for our guys because I know there's no moment too big for them. Well enjoy it, you may want to make your way over to Katz's Deli and get a pastrami, alright? Say that again, which deli?

Katz's Deli and get a pastrami sandwich. I don't think they'll make you wait in line coach, you're a pretty big deal now. Hey this is the first time I've ever been recognized, my wife was annoyed, we go on Sunday walks, I'm walking around the neighborhood and everyone's yelling at us, she said can we please go back to being anonymous?

That's awesome, well coach great to hear your story, your team's been fun to watch, good luck coming up on Thursday. Thank you Zach. There's nothing better than feeling comfortable in your own shoes, and that doesn't mean flopping down on the couch with bunny slippers, maybe you're a parent raising a little rock star, or a tech nomad working from anywhere and jumping from one thing to the next. Whoever you are, Allbirds wants you to be comfortable in your actual shoes too. Their wool runners, pipers, and loungers are designed for a level of coziness that makes you feel like you can do anything, you might even forget you're wearing them. And their shoes are so stylish, they go perfectly with a wear whatever I want attitude. Allbirds is all about loving mother nature too, because no one wants to leave a bad footprint. Each shoe is carefully crafted from natural materials that tread lightly on our planet. From ZQ certified merino wool, to a bouncy midsole made from sweet foam, the world's first carbon negative EVA material made from sugarcane. So get comfortable in your shoes, get to know the wool runners, pipers, and loungers at, that's A-L-L-B-I-R-D-S dot com.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-20 20:12:40 / 2023-03-20 20:20:06 / 7

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