Let's face it. When UCF left for the Big East, the pressure was on Conference USA to find replacement Florida schools to open up those valuable recruiting and television markets in the Sunshine State. FAU and FIU both got added for their football potential, not necessarily their basketball programs. That being said, this week we get to know the youngest men's basketball program in the new conference and their odds for success in 2013-2014:
1 NCAA Tournament appearance (2002)
0-1 NCAA Tourney record
The Owls have only been playing Division 1 men's basketball since the 1993 season. In that 20 year span, the Owls have had only 5 winning seasons and have won 20 games only once, during the 2011 season. That year FAU received a 1 seed in the Sun Belt tournament but lost its first game to underdog North Texas. FAU's best year would have to be the 2002 season that saw them reach the NCAA's. That year the Owls finished with a 13-7 record in Atlantic Sun Conference play, but won the tournament to earn the automatic bid.
Last NCAA Appearance
In that 2002 year, the red hot Owls were cooled off in the opening round game against regional #2 seed Alabama. The Owls actually led at the halftime break 40-38 before the Tide, led by Mo Williams, pulled away in the second half.
Florida Atlantic has only been able to put together back-to-back winning seasons once in its history, in the seasons of 2006 and 2007.
FAU Arena, Capacity 5,000
2012-2013 Average Attendance = 2,122
Mike Jarvis, 6th year at FAU (first 5 years has gone 6-26, 14-16, 21-11, 12-19, 14-18). Before FAU, Jarvis coached at Boston University for 5 years, George Washington for 8 years, and most notably at St. John's for 6 years. He has racked up 9 NCAA Tournament appearances in 24 years as a head coach, but none so far at FAU. His deepest runs in the tourney have been a Sweet Sixteen run with GW in 1993 and an Elite Eight trip with St. John's in 1999.
14-18 Overall, 9-11 in Sun Belt play
The Owls were essentially a .500 team in Sun Belt play last year. They beat eventual conference tourney champ Western Kentucky twice, but were swept by regular season champ and fellow C-USA newcomer Middle Tennessee. They had 4 overtime losses on the season that was the difference between a 14-18 losing year and an 18-14 winning year.
2013-2014 Prospective Roster
G - Jackson Trapp, 6-4 SO
G - Pablo Bertone, 6-4 SR
G - Richard Morrow, 6-4 JR
F - Kelvin Penn, 6-6 JR
C - Dragan Sekelja, 7-0 JR
C - Grant Pelchen, 6-11 FR
F - Javier Lacunza, 6-9 SO
C - Brian Hornstein, 6-10 JR
G - Deandre Johnson, 6-0 FR
G - Marquan Botley, 5-10 FR
C - Justin Raffington, 6-9 JR
G - Tyler Pate, 6-3 FR
The Owls lose their two most productive players offensively from a year ago. Greg Gantt was a senior who averaged 21 points per game and Stefan Moody, who added another 15 ppg, left the team due to academic struggles. That means the scoring burden will likely fall on their trio of 6-4 guards, Argentine senior Pablo Bertone, junior Richard Morrow, and sophomore Jackson Trapp. The Owls will also likelly start a 7-footer at center in Baylor transfer Dragan Sekelja. Forward Kelvin Penn is not much of a scorer, but is a decent shot blocker and plays physical. We'll see how that defense translates to Conference USA, where he might be undersized.
Mike Jarvis carefully built his program from a 6 win team his first year to a 21 win team by his third before having to start over again in year 4. Last year, (year 5) the Owls appeared to be on the upswing again and showed marked improvement. The team could have easily been above .500 and considered a challenger in the Sun Belt. But with the loss of the Owls' two best scorers as they enter a much deeper conference, keeping that upward trajectory will prove extremely difficult in 2013-2014.