FAU won’t be directly flying home after its March 9 game at Marshall. The Owls will instead fly straight to Dallas for the Conference USA tournament, which starts on March 13.
“I feel like that’s not an excuse,” forward Xavian Stapleton said. “We should be able to come out and take care of business in the conference tournament, and knock some guys off and win that thing.”
While FAU coach Dusty May echoed much of the same sentiment, he acknowledged that “everything changes” for his players on extended road trips, such as more independent studying and online work in lieu of the missed class time.
There are positives, however, as May said the extra traveling gives his players more time to bond with the season nearing its end.
And with that bonding comes plenty of pranks. Exactly how many? Stapleton, the self-proclaimed biggest prankster on the team, lost count, saying with a wry smile “that’s all we do.”
“You want guys to be interacting and having fun,” he added. “Because if you’re not having fun, then it makes it hard to win. It’s easier to win when you’re having fun.”
That road trip will be Stapleton’s last as a collegiate athlete. He’s traveled a lot over the past four years – his freshman season at Louisiana Tech with May and the previous two at Mississippi State – and learned to love the opportunity it gives him to connect with teammates.
And he’s taken full advantage of that opportunity since becoming an Owl.
“It’s not about where you are, it’s about how you play and what you do,” Stapleton said. “I came down here to Florida Atlantic, a smaller school than where I was at last year, and I’ve enjoyed playing with these guys better than I did playing with the guys from where I was previously. I learned it’s just all about family; and when you put the team first and just be all about the team, good things come out and good things happen.”
NORTH TEXAS GOING SOUTH?
Before that season-ending road trip, the Owls will make a one-off stop at North Texas on Thursday.
The Mean Green cratered after a blazing 20-4 start, dropping its last four games, including one to FAU on Valentine’s Day. The losing streak isn’t as lousy as it seems, however. North Texas played its last three games on the road and without some key players who’ve dealt with injuries.
“They’re starting to get guys back, so I anticipate that they are going to be at full strength ready to make a stretch run here,” May said. “They’re a good basketball team.”
DIAGNOSING ADGER’S SLUMP
Guard Anthony Adger is struggling of late. The reserve-turned-star converted only four of his 24 shot attempts over the past two games, including 2-13 from deep.
May said there’s “probably” some physical wear down on Adger, who’s shouldering the load of being FAU’s top scoring option, perimeter defender and distributor. But the Owls need him to persevere through the fatigue for them to make some noise in the C-USA tournament.
“If you love the game and you love to compete, then the season doesn’t get long and you shouldn’t be fatigued,” May said. “But, without a doubt, they’ve keyed on him for so long, he’s had to work extremely hard just to get touches, just to get looks; and some of the other guys need to step up and lighten the load on Ant a little bit.”