He’s not longer at Florida Atlantic, and he doesn’t coach basketball, but with the way the Owls have been talking about Tennessee basketball this week, they seem to be channeling Lane Kiffin. It should make for an exciting March Madness matchup.
All of this started on Sunday with FAU head coach Dusty May. After beating the No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson Knights to get to the Sweet 16, May said to prepare for the Vols that they would study “Australian rugby rules.”
The comment was clearly a shot at the level of physicality Tennessee basketball displayed when facing the Duke Blue Devils in their NCAA Tournament Round of 32 game last Saturday. It’s what a lot of Duke fans and national media homers have been saying.
Building off what May said, FAU center Vladislav Goldin said the Vols play “dirty sometimes” when he was interviewed Wednesday afternoon. Goldin is the one inside player in their starting lineup and the reason they are a dangerous matchup.
Of course, the main culprit for this narrative of playing dirty is Uros Plavsic. Both Goldin and Plavsic are seven-footers starting for their respective teams, and both hail from Eastern European countries, so this could get interesting.
This narrative is beyond ridiculous. Plavsic threw one elbow against Duke, and refs called the foul. The only other play people can point to is a rough box-out, which is laughable to say out loud.
Still, national media piling on because of its massive bias towards Duke is one thing. FAU deciding to join in on the fight, when they are the underdogs and are a No. 9 seed while the Vols are No. 4 seed, is a curious move.
For what it’s worth, May seems to have realized his team took it too far. He reportedly said he meant his comment as a compliment and hadn’t even seen the Vols’ matchup with Duke.
Who believes that? FAU played a day later and only had to worry about a No. 16 seed. You know May had assistant coaches and staff members already scouting the Vols.
That may have been a reason FAU struggled to put Fairleigh Dickinson away. Sure, they beat the No. 1 seed Purdue Boilermakers, but they made the tourney by default, as the team that won their conference wasn’t even eligible. They weren’t good.
Anyway, all of this adds fuel to what is already an interesting matchup, as it’s two schools coached by Kiffin in football. Also, Danny White’s brother, Brian White, is FAU athletic director, so it’s a sibling rivalry.
Although Tennessee basketball is favored, they can’t take FAU lightly. Fortunately for Rick Barnes’ team, FAU has done enough talking that the Vols likely don’t plan to.