Van Chancellor: A surprise pick to win it all

Florida Atlantic men’s basketball coach Dusty May high-fives fans as he walks towards the team buses at Baldwin Arena on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, in Boca Raton, FL. On Wednesday morning, the FAU men’s basketball team departed for Houston, Texas, where they will play against San Diego State in the NCAA Tournament semi-final on Saturday.

Van Chancellor: A surprise pick to win it all

Van Chancellor is a former head coach of women’s programs at Mississippi, LSU, and the Houston Comets. He won four WNBA titles with the Comets, won a Gold Medal as an Olympic team coach, and reached five Elite Eights and a Final Four in college basketball.

Florida Atlantic University and head coach Dusty May have proven that with hard work, dreams can come true. A team has to believe that it can compete on the highest level. Florida Atlantic proves that you can prosper when you concentrate on what you have, not what you don’t have. When Dusty May accepted the head coaching position at Florida Atlantic in May 2018, the program’s facilities were far from the best. The Owls have proven that when you set your goals high, work hard, and believe in yourself, your teammates, and your coaching staff, you can reach heights you had only dreamed of achieving. 

After taking the Florida Atlantic job, May called it “career suicide,” in his own words. It was his first head coaching position, but he thought returning to Florida as an assistant might look good. Instead, he sold what he did have at Florida Atlantic: a great university in a fantastic location with a committed administration. When recruits visited FAU, May impressed them with the school’s positive features and smoothed over concerns about its facilities. He sold a dream, and this year’s team is making that dream a reality. 

Never one to avoid tough decisions, Coach May realized that his future was not on the college basketball court, but in coaching. He left Oakland City University after his freshman year and became a student assistant for the legendary Bobby Knight at Indiana University in an attempt to learn all that he could about his future career. Mattress Mack and Dusty May must be the same kind of salesman. May now has players that make up a Final Four team with a balanced attack. Three players average double figures in points – Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin each average 13 points per game, while 7-1 Russian center Vladislav Goldin averages 10. Still, the most important characteristic of Florida Atlantic’s basketball players is that they stay in the fight. Down 10 points to Kansas State in their biggest game to date, the Owls did not panic. Winning is much easier when nobody cares who gets the credit, and that is how Florida Atlantic plays. 

If you want to beat Florida Atlantic, you better bring a sack lunch, because it is going to take all day and all that you have to do so. For that reason, I’m picking Florida Atlantic to capture the dream. Houston, it is time to come out and help a dream come true. See you at the game.

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