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Clueless about FAU basketball? (Who isn't?) Here's what you need to know to not sound dumb for the Final Four.

Chris Perkins, South Florida Sun-Sentinel on

Published in Basketball

The Florida Atlantic University men’s basketball team is enjoying a breakthrough year. The Owls were ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time, they had a nation’s best 20-game winning streak, and now, they’re remarkably playing in the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four, which puts the Owls at an elite level.

Not bad for a university not known too much outside of South Florida and team that had only been in the NCAA Tournament once before, in 2002.

Now that the Owls (35-3) are playing in the national semifinals against San Diego State (31-6) at 6 p.m. Saturday in Houston, it’s time to brush up on the local team so you can have a conversation with the person next to you at the bar or at a watch party — or be able to talk smack with San Diego State fans on social media.

— Homegrown: Three Owls players went to high school in South Florida: Giancarlo Rosado (Palm Beach Lakes), Michael Forrest (Ely) and Alejandro Ralat (St. Andrew’s).

— Regrets? Not so much now: Dusty May, a former assistant coach at Florida, is in his fifth year as head coach at FAU. He recently revealed he accepted the job before seeing the FAU facilities, and after he did, he thought he’d made a mistake accepting the job. He was asked what Dusty May’s 2023 self would tell Dusty May in 2018. His reply: “Stop being a big baby, stay the course.”

— Johnell Davis is the Owls’ best player: The 6-foot-4 sophomore guard from Gary, Ind., called “Nelly” by coaches and teammates, is the Owls’ leading scorer at 13.9 points per game. A versatile scorer, Davis can finish with either hand, shoot 3-pointers, mid-range jumpers and run the floor.

 

“If Nelly was 6-foot-7,” May said, “he’d already be playing in the NBA.”

The other starting players are Nick Boyd, Alijah Martin and Bryan Greenlee and Vladislav Goldin.

— Sound like you have been watching the whole tourney: The Owls, the tournament’s No. 9 seed in the East Region, have defeated No. 8 seed Memphis (66-65), No. 16 Fairleigh Dickinson (78-70), No. 4 seed Tennessee (62-55) and No. 3 seed Kansas State (79-76) on their way to the Final Four.

— What is it they are doing? The Owls don’t necessarily have any pregame traditions. However, before player introductions the players lean into each other and do this body check/shoulder bump/forearm bump type of thing. They do it among players and with assistant coaches and staffers on the bench. May doesn’t participate.

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