The Basketball Podcast: EP265 with Dusty May on the Final Four

RELEASE DATE : 27/04/2023

In this week’s basketball coaching conversation, Florida Atlantic head coach Dusty May joins the Basketball Podcast to discuss coaching a team to the Final Four.

Dusty May led Florida Atlantic to what is undoubtedly its greatest season in school history in the 2022-23 campaign. May guided his Owls to the Final Four while posting a program-best 35-4 record. Prior to this season, the Owls had one previous appearance in the NCAA Tournament, but this year, May led the Owls to not just their first win in the big dance, but all the way to the Final Four in Houston. In April of 2023, May and Florida Atlantic reached an agreement on a 10-year contract extension.

Dusty May has been well-decorated, as he was named the CBS Sports National Coach of the Year, as well as the NABC All-District 17 Coach of the Year and Conference USA Coach of the Year this season. May is the Owls’ all-time leader in coaching wins with a record of 101-60, despite having only been on the FAU sidelines for five seasons. FAU has not had a losing season in the five years of the May era. The Owls also captured the Conference USA Tournament and Regular Season Championships, both for the first time in school history.

Under May’s guidance, the 2022-23 Owls have the most wins in school history, the most conference wins in school & C-USA history (18) the longest winning streak in school history & had the third-longest streak in C-USA history (20 games).

Dusty May joined FAU after three years as an assistant coach at Florida, where he helped the Gators compile a 69-37 record, including back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. He also served six seasons (2009-15) as assistant coach and associate head coach at Louisiana Tech. He was started his career as a student manager for the Indiana University men’s basketball team and after graduating, he began his professional career as an administrative assistant/video coordinator at USC from 2000-02. He returned to Indiana in an administrative role for three seasons before taking his first step as an assistant coach with Eastern Michigan (2005-06). He has also served as an assistant at Murray State (2006-07) and UAB (2007-09).

Members of Basketball Immersion check out the Masterclass with Dusty May: Masterclass with Dusty May on Shot Selection

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Dusty May Quotes:

“When you recruit in January, when you’re in the heat of the conference battle, you’re recruiting toughness and intelligence and consistency and skill level. And then as soon as the season is over, we go out in April and we’re recruiting vertical leap, arm length, hand size, upside potential, all of those things.”

“we’re going to make a conscious effort to go on the road and recruit like it’s January 15 or February 3 . . just to remind us of what makes us happy as coaches during the year. And it’s guys eager to learn, it’s guys that love to work, that enjoy the game, but also the relationship piece and fit us.”

“For us, we love the high school players because the time, the growth, the development, we feel like our continuity is probably our biggest strength this year outside of our talent. We went to The Portal a few times, but it’s been plug and play where we think that you’re going to have a real impact on our program.”

“Our job here at FAU is to provide the absolute best environment for our players short and long term. And if they don’t feel like this is it, then we’ll help them go someplace else and we’ll cheer like crazy while also having the cell phone in the other hand, making recruiting calls. So, it’s part of the business.”

“With a few games left in the season, we started addressing how much pressure was on every game. We said, ‘If our guys can’t handle the pressure now, we’re probably not going to be able to handle it in the conference tournament, NCAA tournament.’ And so, we started talking about the magnitude of every game. With about maybe three or four weeks left in the regular season, we had talked about the day by day, minute by minute, frame by frame process.”

“We’re going to be in every single game. There’s not going to be pressure because we have so many talented scorers. We’re going to find a way to score enough points. And the nights the threes are going in, we’re going to win by a wide margin and the nights they’re not we’re going to grind it out and still find a way.”

“We felt like we got a lot of movement. We had a lot of cutting, but we also had off ball screening. And it’s all just created and borrowed and researched based on what each one of our players do really well. That was a starting point. Let’s take what our best players do well offensively and then let’s work down our roster. But let’s begin with that in mind. What do our best players do? How can we put them in position?”

“At every moment the ball needs help or it needs space, and the guys off the ball need to decide, and that’s part of the decision making. So, our guys have gotten really good at playing off of each other and staying away from the ball and cutting as opposed to gravitating towards the ball.”

“We feel something that we do really well: we never put them in compromising positions, we never reward the outcome. It’s the process that leads to it. And then that process word is overused. But we’re not outcome based. We could lose by 30 and when the players walk in the next morning, it’s about getting better and learning from what happened and why we lost. Or, if we win by 20, let’s learn why we won by 20.”

“We’re never afraid to fail. We’re never afraid of the expectations as long as we’re trying. We’re working like crazy every day to get better and we’re being intentional and we’re thinking ahead. We feel like we’re going to find a way to figure it out and get it done. And if not, then we keep searching.”

“Last year’s team was last year’s team, but this year’s team is this year’s team. How we carry ourselves, how humble we stay, how we work, will determine our success, not last year’s season or expectations.”

“There’s no way we would have been playing in the Final Four without what our staff and players and everyone in our program has learned from you and the platform that you’ve created. I can’t thank you enough. Your questions, your podcast, your videos have been invaluable for us.”

Dusty May Breakdown:

1:00 – Final Four
4:00 – Battling the Temptation
6:30 – Keeping Players
10:30 – Win
13:30 – Handling Distractions
16:00 – Humble Mindset
20:00 – Defense
24:00 – Value of Space
27:00 – Modern Leadership
29:16 – 29:51 – B.I. Ads January
30:30 – Level of Success
35:00 – Preparation
39:00 – Experience at FAU
41:00 – Continue Improving
43:00 – Communicate Openly
46:00 – Conclusion

Dusty May Selected Links from the Podcast:

The Basketball Podcast: E02 with Dusty May on Taking Over a Program

Dusty May

Bill Self

Brad Stevens

A.J. Graves

Doug Lemov

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