How Dusty May turned FAU into one of the nation’s hottest basketball teams

BOCA RATON — When guard Michael Forrest first arrived at Florida Atlantic, Owls basketball games were not the hottest ticket in town. In his freshman season, FAU averaged only 1,190 people in the stands.

But lately, Eleanor R. Baldwin Arena has no room to spare. FAU is one of the nation’s hottest basketball teams, winning 18 consecutive games and earning a spot in the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in program history. Now Forrest, a senior and a Blanche Ely grad, has friends hoping he can help them squeeze into one of the gym’s 2,900 seats.

“People bug me all the time,” Forrest said, “but I just tell them, ‘You’ve got to buy them.’”

Forrest, a Lauderhill native, arrived at FAU’s Boca Raton campus right as coach Dusty May was taking over the program. The former Florida Gators assistant coach had never been a college head coach before, and he was taking over a program that went 12-19 the season before and had gone seven seasons without finishing above .500. The program’s one trip to the NCAA Tournament (in 2002) was distant in the rearview mirror.

But things started looking up quickly. The Owls went 17-16 in May’s first season and slowly improved, finishing two, then three, then four games over .500 in his next three seasons. This season, FAU picked up a big win Nov. 14 against Florida in Gainesville, which keyed the current streak. Since then, the team has clicked and rolled to a 19-1 record and the No. 21 spot in this week’s AP poll.

Forrest said May has deve