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“Run it back.” FAU’s return to the NCAA tournament and the difference from last season – UNIVERSITY PRESS

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“Run it back.” FAU’s return to the NCAA tournament and the difference from last season – UNIVERSITY PRESS
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Final season, Florida Atlantic College’s males’s basketball staff made their historic Cinderella run to the Ultimate 4 within the NCAA match. 

Now, the Owls are heading again to March Insanity as a No. 8 seed within the East Area at the moment to play No. 9 Northwestern, marking their second consecutive 12 months within the massive dance, however they’re bringing expertise with them this time. 

“It appears extra acquainted. The fellows appear equally excited. It’s simply completely different,” head coach Dusty Could stated. “It simply appears way more acquainted than final 12 months the place every part appeared new to us.”

The gamers have had this second “circled,” in response to Could. All through this season, they performed with a brand new objective: to get again to the stage. 

“We love this kind of setting. We have been fairly profitable in tournaments, and we’re simply excited to play them,” Alijah Martin stated. 

Could believes that taking part in within the match is a dream all faculty basketball gamers share as a result of the world is watching.

Head coach Dusty Could strolling throughout the courtroom forward of the FAU’s Ultimate 4 matchup in opposition to San Diego State at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on April 1, 2023. (Nicholas Windfelder)

“I bear in mind being somewhat child, and also you’d get off the varsity bus, and also you’d dash inside as quick as you may as a result of the NCAA match was on,” Could stated. “It’s the best sporting occasion on the earth, for my part. We’re simply honored and privileged to be part of it and as soon as once more put our guys on the nationwide stage.”

Enjoying within the NCAA match introduced the Owls way more media consideration than earlier than. ESPNU produced a movie over the summer season titled “Run It Again.” It highlighted the behind-the-scenes of the staff and recapped their memorable season.

Each common season sport this 12 months has been broadcast stay by completely different websites, comparable to ESPNU and ESPN+, in addition to two video games making nationwide tv. Final 12 months, 17 out of the 31 common season video games have been proven on ESPN+. 

FAU performed within the three most-watched AAC video games this season. Their final dwelling sport in opposition to Memphis had 922,000 viewers on CBS. The Dec. 5 sport in opposition to Illinois had 768,000 viewers on ESPN, and their sport in opposition to Arizona on Dec. 23 had 735,000 viewers.  

Having further protection has introduced mild not solely to their basketball program however to the college as a complete. 

“It’s been an honor to signify this place on this scale,” Could stated with a smile. “From the time we landed in New York final 12 months earlier than we went to the Ultimate 4, our guys have been recognizable. They’ve been figures throughout South Florida, they usually’ve been acknowledged all over the place.”

Throughout the Fall of 2022, FAU had a complete of 29,614 college students. As of Fall 2023, the variety of college students elevated by 1,240 for a brand new complete of 30,854. The current scholar physique development is the biggest that FAU has skilled within the final 5 years. 

Freshman Jordan Lasky stated that the Ultimate 4 look final season was the main think about his choice to return to FAU. He needed to attend a college that had sports activities packages he might get enthusiastic about. 

For the Owls’ dwelling opener, choose college students camped exterior the sector for twenty-four hours to make sure they received one of the best seats in the home and to indicate their highschool spirit. They battled a wet evening, sleeping in tents and hammocks, however this occasion set the tone for the intense assist the staff would have this season. 

Alijah Martin hyping up the FAU Scholar Part through the staff’s 86-77 comeback win in opposition to Wichita St. (Jaden Wiston )

Within the 2022-23 season home-opener in opposition to Lynn College, just one,314 of the two,900 seats have been stuffed. However this 12 months, neighborhood members and college students struggled to search out open seats. 

On Oct. 23, season tickets have been bought out for the primary time at school historical past, and college students needed to get to the sector no less than an hour earlier than tip-off to safe their seats. 

“It was superb. I all the time take into consideration once we didn’t have what we’ve got now, which is supporting followers and being grateful. I’ve all the time tried to provide them a present to look at, one thing to be happy with,” Martin stated. 

In the course of the Owls’ final dwelling sport of the season in opposition to Memphis, the followers made such a vocal impression that Memphis’s gamers couldn’t hear their coaches play. 

“I’m simply going to provide credit score to their crowd,” Memphis ahead Jayden Hardaway stated through the post-game press convention after dropping to the Owls 92-84. 

Many alternative celebrities within the sporting world have attended as effectively, together with Jimmy Butler, Aleksander Barkov, Cris Carter, and Antonio Brown.

NFL HOF Cris Carter (high left) and Former NFL All-Professional WR Antonio Brown (high proper) in FAU’s sport in opposition to Memphis. Miami Warmth All-Star Jimmy Butler (backside left) and Florida Panters all-time main scorer Alexander Barkov (backside proper) at FAU’s sport in opposition to Wichita St. (Jaden Wiston)

“Our scholar physique, our followers, our local people, they supplied a spark that received us over the hump a number of nights at dwelling in opposition to very high quality opponents, so it’s appreciated. We’re very grateful for it, but additionally our guys deserve it,” Could stated. 

The Owls shall be in Brooklyn, N.Y., to tackle No. 9 Northwestern College Wildcats, and tip-off is ready for 12:15 p.m. 

Megan Bruinsma is a workers author for the College Press. For extra data relating to this or different tales, electronic mail her at [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @megan_bruinsma or X(Twitter) @MeganBruinsma.

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