Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.

UNIVERSITY PRESS

Full of promise

SPORTS

Most people might look at a team that is coming off a 14-16 season and whose star player is a 5-foot-6-inch guard as a team in need of a makeover.

For FAU, those are just the initial building blocks as it prepares to achieve its lofty goals, which include making a historic appearance in the highly-touted NCAA tournament.

“[Our goals are] going to be to win the Sun Belt Championship regular season and the tournament, and then get to the NCAA tournament and start competing,” said Ray Taylor, the pint-sized sophomore guard who is entrusted by head coach Mike Jarvis as the Owls’ offensive orchestrator.

Taylor, along with forward Brett Royster and the majority of the players that composed last year’s team, are back. Guard Sanchez Hughley is the only notable subtraction.

FAU has also added two talented freshman in 6-foot-4-inch Pablo Bertone and 6-foot-3-inch Dennis Mavin.

“They’re really good players, they all do different things, and they all love to play and compete,” said Jarvis.

The makeup of the roster, along with a 10-day off-season trip to Europe to play against other teams in August, has the Owls brimming with confidence as they get ready to live up to the hype carrying over from last season.

“I feel like this is the first time since I’ve been here we have a legit shot at winning the Sun Belt Championship,” said Royster, who last season averaged 10 points per game and was a nationwide 12th best in blocks per game with 2.9.

“This is a really good team. It’s the most excited I’ve been basketball-wise in a long time.”

The only senior on the roster, Royster is also being depended on to carry more of a leadership role on the fairly young squad, explained Jarvis.

Taylor, too, is expected to see his role change when the season officially kicks off against UC Davis on Nov. 12, according to Jarvis. Having scored 14.2 points per game in his freshman year, Taylor is expected to do more distributing this season.

“Last year, coming in as a freshman, a lot of [us] didn’t know what we could do and couldn’t,” said Taylor. Last season, Taylor averaged 5.9 assists, good enough for 11th best in the nation. “So now everybody on the team really knows their roles and are accepting them well.

“It’s exciting as a point guard to see all the pieces that I’m having, and that’s going to make my job even easier to score. I’ll probably have around the same numbers as far as scoring, but my assist numbers are definitely going to be higher, and my field goal percentage is going to be better because I’m going to take less shots.”

Taylor, who admitted his individual goals include leading the country in assists and leading the conference in steals, is also surprised by the number of fans that have expressed interest in the team.

“It’s crazy that we have this buzz after a 14-16 season,” said Taylor. “Imagine when we do start to gel and actually win games.”

If the Owls can translate their attractive style of play into more wins, drawing more fans out to games may not be out of the question, and neither would landing a spot in the NCAA tournament.

 

Home games played in The Burrow on the Boca campus:

Date                            Opponent                             Time

 

Wednesday,  Nov. 17   Warner Southern                   7:00 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 20        American                               1:00 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 04        South Florida                         8:00 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 30       Manhattan                              7:00 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 03          Florida Memorial                    7:00 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 06        South Alabama*                     7:00 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 08        Arkansas State*                      7:00 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 22        Arkansas-Little Rock*              7:00 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 27        Middle Tennessee State*        7:00 p.m.

Saturday,  Jan. 29        Western Kentucky*                 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 05        Florida International*               7:00 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 12        Louisiana-Lafayette*               7:00 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 24       Troy*                                        7:00 p.m.

*Sun Belt Conference game

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