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

Takeaways from the AAC Basketball Media Day

Men’s team ranked first in AAC and women’s team projected fourteenth
The+FAU+student+section+getting+hyped+up+during+a+basketball+game+last+season.
Jaden Wiston
The FAU student section getting hyped up during a basketball game last season.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated as of October 10 to include how the men’s basketball team have been officially ranked first in AAC preseason poll.

On Monday, the American Athletic Conference (AAC) kicked off the new basketball season by introducing the 14 teams, including the FAU men’s and women’s basketball teams. The event occurred in Dallas, Texas. It was the first time since 2020 the event was in person. 

This past July marked the 10th anniversary of the AAC’s creation. 

Six new teams joined the AAC conference for the 2023-24 year. These schools are University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Texas at San Antonio, Rice, North Texas, Charlotte, and FAU. With the new teams, three previous universities left the conference: University of Houston, University of Central Florida and University of Cincinnati. 

Many previous rivalries will be continued, with only new ones forming this year. 

AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said, “I think that rivals develop because of the skill and success of our teams. Our conference is very competition driven.”

Aresco said they are continuing to celebrate the reinvented conference. With the addition of the six schools, six out of the 14 teams in the conference have been to the Final Four. He feels that the conference has been underrated throughout time. 

“I think that FAU has a great culture. They kept all their players from last year, which serves as a great template for other schools on how to keep players even after having a Final Four appearance. They kept their coach, too. He could have made more money somewhere else but he likes it at FAU,” Aresco commented on FAU men’s basketball team’s success both during their historic run to the Final Four and during the offseason. 

FAU men’s basketball head coach Dusty May said the players stayed at FAU because of their strong relationships with each other. 

“They love playing with each other. They share the ball. They share success. They trust and love their teammates. They didn’t leave because of the unknown,” stated May.

Aresco admitted he was rooting for Memphis in their matchup with FAU last year because they were in the AAC. Once FAU won, he wanted them to go all the way. 

“Both teams are very strong, they play hard. We just want to play good basketball,” said May in reference to FAU and Memphis. 

Junior guards Johnell Davis and Alijah Martin share the Preseason Player of the Year title. Mike O’Donnel of ESPN recognized redshirt sophomore guard Nick Boyd as one of the players to watch for this season. 

Looking back on the Final Four appearance last season, senior guard Bryan Greenlee said, “I would say when we first got there experiencing everything, the environment, and experiencing the atmosphere. Obviously, it was a first for me and the program. Every moment was a pinch for me.” 

May and Greenlee emphasized the love that the team has for each other. 

“We built it from the ground up and have built that brotherhood. It’s not something that just connects when we first got there. We’ve had to go through a lot of trials, losses, and tough days together,” said Greenlee. “The brotherhood between us is real. We’re always cracking jokes and hanging around. We love to be around each other.”

The Owls were voted preseason favorites to win the AAC men’s basketball title. The Owls were also ranked first in AAC preseason poll.

May said that teams need to be prepared for two completely different styles of play depending on who’s playing, either juniors center Vladislav Goldin or forward Giancarlo Rosado. FAU also has a different style of defense, depending on who’s in. 

“Coming into The American we know there’s new competitors and it’s going to be difficult. We need to take a day-by-day approach and attack each day as we can,” said Greenlee.

The men’s basketball team has eight out of nine of their main competitors from last season returning. Senior guard Michael Forrest will not be coming back because he graduated. He holds the record for FAU’s all-time 3-point shooter and second all-time in school history in scoring. 

“Losing Forrest will hurt, but we have other guys that are ready to play, that have been ready to play. Because of circumstances they had to take a backseat. We’re excited to inject some young size and versatility. We’ll be a little different but very versatile,” said May.

Like the men’s team, the women’s team has all their starting five coming back this season. 

“Having so many returning starters is exciting. You get a chance at practice to say, ‘okay returners step out there and run a play, run a drill, and everyone knows what you’re talking about’,” said women’s basketball head coach Jennifer Sullivan.

Sophomore guard Aniya Hubbard leads the team in steals. Hubbard won the Conference USA Freshman Player of the Year last year. Sullivan said that Hubbard is a phenomenal player on both offense and defense. 

“She’ll make an impact right away and we’re excited about having her,” Sullivan stated. 

The team was picked to finish 14th in the AAC preseason poll.

“We can’t focus on that. We can’t lose sight of what we’re doing. All we can do is trust the work that we’ve put in,” said Sullivan.

This season, Sullivan wants the team to work on their assists, moving the ball, three-point shooting and continue to play fast. Last year, she felt that they did well with their rebounding. 

The women’s team’s first game will be on November 1, at 7 p.m. against Barry University in Boca Raton. 

The men’s team’s first game will be on November 8, against Loyola University Chicago in Chicago. 

Megan Bruinsma is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email her at [email protected] or DM her on Instagram @megan_bruinsma. 

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

Do you have something to say? Submit your comments below
All UNIVERSITY PRESS Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *