- Covers college basketball
- Joined ESPN.com in 2011
- Graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato
HOUSTON — Minutes after a buzzer-beating jump shot by San Diego State’s Lamont Butler sent his team home in a 72-71 loss in the Final Four on Saturday, Florida Atlantic guard Nick Boyd didn’t pout.
Although he said he was “in shock” when Butler made the winner, Boyd spoke positively about his team’s experience and journey, which included the program’s first NCAA tournament win and a trip to the Final Four.
“It’s a bittersweet moment,” said Boyd, who finished with 12 points. “I’m not dwelling on it much. I’m ready to get back to work. I’m happy for our team. I mean, we put FAU on the map. That’s most important to me. When I came to this school and I committed here, I said this is what we’re going to do. And we took it to a new height. All I can do is smile and be appreciative of the run we went on.
Most losing teams arrive at the postgame news conference in tears after a tough Final Four game. But the Owls were not the typical heartbroken crew. Disappointed? Yes. But they were also proud of what they achieved.
They expect that buzz to continue. The key players from the squad are all expected to return for the 2023-24 season. Plus, head coach Dusty May recently signed a lengthy extension.
“It feels good because we really took this university from the bottom to the top,” said Alijah Martin, who scored a game-high 26 points. “And to know what we did to get here, it just feels amazing. Just got to keep our heads down and keep going at it.”
After the game, May said his team will reflect on the loss but not at the expense of focusing on the future. May led this program on one of the most remarkable runs in recent NCAA tournament history. He said his players will be remembered forever.
“These guys have created memories and a legacy for a lifetime,” May said. “People will be talking about this group for the next 50 to 100 years.
The Owls play in a gym that holds just under 3,000 fans. According to the NCAA, the average attendance at FAU home games last season was 1,400. The Owls were picked to finish fifth in Conference USA’s preseason poll. Now, they’re a Final Four team looking toward a bright future that includes a move to the American Athletic Conference next season.
“Obviously, we’re very proud of the ride that we just went on,” May said. “Our players, their consistency, their effort, day in and day out, their camaraderie amongst themselves. … They’re special, special people. And their parents should be proud. We’re anxious to get better. That’s the way we’ve been from day one. … We’re going to hug each other for this season, and then we’ll start thinking about how we can improve individually and collectively.”
At halftime of Saturday’s game, the Basketball Hall of Fame’s latest additions were honored. That list included former NBA star Dwyane Wade. When asked about Florida Atlantic’s run by ESPN, Wade praised Florida Atlantic’s fearless mentality.
“They ain’t scared of nothing,” Wade told ESPN. “No one believed in them, in their mind, in the first place, but this team that they’re on, so they’re playing with so much toughness, so much focus, so much confidence.”
When Martin learned afterward about Wade’s comments, he paused.
“It feels good to know that a legend is giving us some credit,” he said. “And it just feels amazing.”
At the end of the news conference, Boyd rose from his seat and prepared to walk back to the locker room. Then, he stopped and made another statement.
“We are going to be back.”
Source: Read Full Article