NEW YORK — Relishing in the unadulterated cheering from the red-and-blue clad supporters sitting in the front rows of Madison Square Garden, a few of the Florida Atlantic players stood on press row, with guard Nick Boyd popping out his jersey before shrugging his shoulders while in near silence.
Words weren’t necessary, as the “Florida Atlantic 62, Tennessee 55” scoreline on the scoreboard encapsulating everything that needed to be conveyed about the latest milestone in the Owls’ historic basketball journey that has taken them one step away from the Final Four. Besides, the Owls would prefer us to come up with the words to describe them…or so it seems that way.
Given its laconic nature of postgame interviews throughout a number of members of its squad, the Florida Atlantic’s men’s basketball team, if it was paid by the word, would have been bankrupt a long time before arriving in the city of Park Avenue and million-dollar high-rises. But if you were part of a team that has the most wins of any in Division I and is one step away from appearing in college basketball’s biggest stage, you’d clam up and let your play do the talking as well.
“Yes, sir. That’s what we go by and we try to stay as humble as possible,” Boyd said to A Lot of Sports Talk about the team’s “short-on-words” mentality.
The togetherness and depth of the Owls is as impressive as their in-game and postgame comments are terse. FAU’s head coach, Dusty May, regularly goes past one sentence during his on-court interviews, even after his teams have won and the built-in excuse of having to get back to the team’s huddle isn’t an option.
Brevity is the soul of wit…and it’s also a source of Florida Atlantic’s identity.
Sophomore guard Johnell Davis, the team leader in scoring on Thursday with 15 and on the season averaging 14.3 per game, also led the Owls in the postgame gab fest upon his team reaching the doorstep of becoming just the second No. 9 seed to reach the Final Four (Wichita State, 2013).
What was it like playing at Madison Square Garden and in front of almost 20,000 people?
“Crazy. It was so loud in there you can’t even hear yourself,” Davis said.
That was his entire response.
When describing the audibly joyous atmosphere inside of the FAU locker room after the victory, Davis responded in a way that would make Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator role look like a stand-up comedian.
“We’re just staying composed, focusing on our next game. Whatever the coach’s game plan we got, we’re going to focus on that.” The end.
Any time to celebrate, Johnell?
“Ain’t no time to celebrate. We’re going back home, getting our rest, getting ready for the next game.” The end.
Ok, then! Surely, there will be more to say in the event that the Owls pull off one of the great Cinderella runs and make it to the Final Four with a win on Saturday night against No. 3 Kansas State.
“We’re going to celebrate at the end, when it’s 0-0 and there’s no more games left,” Davis said.
Clearly, the words will flow if the Owls become the most unlikely national champion in the 64-team NCAA Tournament era. There would have to be something to be said about that.
But with the Owls, silence — and their skill on the basketball court — may ultimately prove to be golden.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Thursday evening’s game, with all photos taken by ALOST senior photographer Robert Cole. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 33 pictures in total.