March 23, 2023
New York, New York, USA
Madison Square Garden
Sweet 16 Postgame Media Conference
FAU 62, Tennessee 55
DUSTY MAY: After the first seven minutes or so, we felt like we really settled in and played good basketball. Despite the score at the half, we felt like we were playing our type of game. We got back to moving the ball. We were playing with great physicality. We did an unbelievable job on the glass in the first half despite our size, and once again, it's a testament to how hard these guys play and their drive and determination.
Q. Nick, Elite 8, how does that sound?
NICK BOYD: It sounds just right, man. We're where we're supposed to be. We're going to keep moving, keep working. We're going to stay humble and hungry. I can't count us out no more. We're here to stay and we're going to keep fighting no matter who we line up against, who we play.
I've got a group of brothers that play together and I feel like there's nobody in the country that loves each other like we do and works like we do, so we're going to keep making statements.
Q. Nick, I know this is a team effort, but obviously you're a local guy. This is your first game at the Garden. What's it like for you personally playing your first game here, and how many family and friends and stuff did you have?
NICK BOYD: I had a lot of people in attendance. Shout out to the administration at Florida Atlantic. I know the tickets was tight, but they made it happen for me, and it was great to see them out there. I just did my best to try to block it out and just focus up. But it felt great. I don't know, I just had to stand on the table and celebrate; I don't care.
Q. You hit a couple of threes there late in the second half to sort of put you guys ahead. How important were those, and were you feeling it in the second half there?
MICHAEL FORREST: Oh, man, I don't even know how to explain it, just my teammates set me up perfectly just so I could make the open shots. I've been having a rough time lately, but my teammates kept the positivity with me, so I owe it all to them.
Q. The 18-2 run, you guys always looked like you blocked the first half, then you get ahead 18-2 and you play like this is our game. What went into that run, and was that such a confidence boost you figured you had it?
ALIJAH MARTIN: Yeah, on that run, we always had it in us. We just got to stay the course, stay positive, and stay together through the game. We're going to make that run every time.
MICHAEL FORREST: Yeah, we've got a group of guys that no matter what night it is, somebody is going to step up and make a big play. Everybody stays together through the ups and downs, so that's really what separates us.
NICK BOYD: I've got to give credit to Tennessee. Their defense is great. They put a lot of pressure on us at first, and it took a little bit to get used to as a unit. But once we settled in, we were just playing our brand of basketball.
Q. Nick, what did you figure out about their defense at halftime?
NICK BOYD: They're long. They're big and physical. I threw a couple passes in the beginning of the game that got deflected. Usually in our league those are lay-ups, so we had to adjust. And I give them credit, they push up into you, they're physical, and they make you uncomfortable.
Like I said, I've got a group of brothers that pick me up no matter what happens, no matter how I'm playing, and I just made plays at the end.
Q. Mike, today it was you that hit the shots and other times it's other players for this team. What does it say about this team that every night it's someone different making the big shots?
MICHAEL FORREST: That just goes to show the group of guys that we have and all the work everybody puts in, all the hard work and hours everybody puts into it. It could be anybody's night, so everybody just stays together all the time.
Q. Nick, you guys struggled a little bit in the first half, then came out in the second half, looked a little bit more comfortable. I know Coach May has mentioned that this is a player-led team. What was said in the locker room between you guys and how much did that help you guys?
NICK BOYD: The locker room was kind of laid back. We felt like we played terrible the first half, and we were still down four points, five points. We referred back to the Memphis game where we were down four at halftime, and we just stuck with it and found a way to win.
Today the shots just fell, and when the shots fall for us, I feel like there's nobody that can line up with us. We stayed poised and we stayed positive in the locker room.
Q. Considering the successful season that you guys have had, respectfully, have you sensed at all that some of the talk amongst some of the other mid majors and so forth that have gotten wins, is that something that -- not as many people have been talking about Florida Atlantic. Has that fueled you guys a little bit because you are technically the Cinderella slippers?
NICK BOYD: I don't feel like we're a Cinderella. We proved that tonight. We just played good basketball. We played as a unit, we played together, and we played physical. I know we're undersized, we're small. You look at me, I'm not the strongest guy. Go down to Mike, he's not the tallest guy, but we play hard and we play with heart.
ALIJAH MARTIN: Yeah, it feels a lot -- we don't feel like we're Cinderella. We feel like we're supposed to be here, doing exactly what we're supposed to do. Credit to our coaches getting us ready, players staying in the gym, getting ready, staying sharp, and just a lot of guys stepping up.
MICHAEL FORREST: Yeah, just we all have high standards for ourselves, so we try to keep those standards throughout every workout, every practice. Anytime we step on to the court or in film, everyone is always locked in and giving their best effort.
Q. As those final kind of frantic 40 seconds and shot after shot was going up, I was watching the bench and you guys were almost, we're going to win this game. There wasn't a huge celebration afterwards. Does that just speak to the idea that you guys feel you belong here and you have a ways to go? You would think there would have been a much bigger celebration.
DUSTY MAY: Well, our guys, our staff, players, everyone in our program certainly feel like we belong here and a lot goes into that. Number one, how long they've been able to sustain their effort, their energy, especially when you're the hunted like they've been all year. People are starting to take notice how good our league was this year, so we're battle tested.
But our guys, I think they really believe in what we do, and when it's not working, they don't panic. They just stay the course and trust over the course of 40 minutes, 60, 70 possessions typically -- 50 possessions in tonight's game -- that we're going to figure it out.
In the first half we didn't have one spurt, and we're known for our spurtability. Credit Clark Kellogg that made that term popular. And in the second half we made a couple spurts.
Yeah, our guys definitely feel like they belong on this stage.
Q. I think Johnell had just one basket in the first half, got going in the second. What was the domino effect of his offensive output in the second half for you guys?
DUSTY MAY: Well, he's a really unique talent where he can drive through physicality. He can get in the paint and finish. He was in foul trouble in the first half, and typically we'll play him with two fouls in the first half. But we were kind of hanging around, we were out of rhythm, so we just thought if we can keep it at this margin, then we'll get to the half and he can play with aggression. Because he's as aggressive and physical as anyone in our program.
So we just wanted him to go out and be able to play with that same level without having to overthink the fouls.
Q. Nick mentioned the idea of having adjusted to their physicality and their length. Did you make any changes tactically in the second half that helped you figure out what they were doing on defense?
DUSTY MAY: Well, we stressed a few things just to open up some gaps in space so our drivers could get downhill, and then we just passed it much better. The first probably several months of the season, we really passed it, and then some teams adjusted where they were staying at home on our shooters.
We just talked about when we pass it, now we have to shot fake drive and just continue to get guys open shots and off balance because they are bigger and stronger at each position. So we just need more space to create, and then our guys banged in some shots.
Q. What does it mean for you for FAU to make the regional final for the first time in school history?
DUSTY MAY: It's awesome for our university, our athletic department, and our community, and we are extremely proud to represent them. Our guys have done it with professionalism all year, so it's awesome for everyone, especially as we've put a lot of time -- these guys have put a lot of work, elbow grease into building a program.
And so for it to be to this point, it's very rewarding, but we'll focus on all that later after the season.
Q. When we were talking about before in the season about Mike Forrest and how you want to send him off great when it was senior night, scoreless in the tournament and then this game he had a crucial 11 points, I think it was. Can you talk about what you've seen from him this tournament? Was he frustrated with the scoreless games and you saw his energy rise up this game?
DUSTY MAY: I think when you put as much into it as Mike has for five years and the game means as much as it does, I felt like he was putting too much pressure on himself and he was overthinking it. In the second half, whatever clicked it looked like he wasn't thinking anymore and he was just hooping. When he does that, he's a special player.
Q. It seems like such a small thing from a basketball standpoint, but at the same time when you get Madison Square Garden on your side, even the neutral fans perhaps left over from the first game on your side, chanting the name of your school in this building, what does that do for a team from a mental standpoint and perhaps energize them on the court? What does that do for them mentally?
DUSTY MAY: You said it, it energizes them, especially on the defensive end. On offense, you don't really want to be that energized. You want to play with a much quieter mind. So on defense without a doubt, it probably helped us get the basketballs a little quicker, the loose balls, the 50/50 balls. Because I thought in the second half we were a little bit quicker to the ball during that spurt.
Q. I saw you kind of watching the Kansas State and Michigan State game. Can you talk a little bit about maybe what you've seen from Kansas State, your opponent obviously in the next round?
DUSTY MAY: Well, I've watched them a lot this year just because I enjoy watching them play. And as a coach, that's probably the greatest compliment you can give someone, you enjoy watching their team play. And obviously I've known Keyontae since he was young in high school, and I'm friends with a couple of the guys on staff and Coach Tang. So so much respect for them. We know how hard it's going to be, but our guys aren't going to back down. If we lose on Saturday it's going to be because Kansas State beat us.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports