Michigan ‘felt right’ for new men’s basketball coach Dusty May

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WOOD) — The University of Michigan was the best fit for Dusty May.

There were plenty of other schools with great basketball traditions that were contenders, such as Louisville and Vanderbilt, but ultimately becoming a Wolverine just felt right.

On Tuesday, March 26, it became official. May is the 18th head coach in Michigan men’s basketball history.

“For me and my family, it just felt right,” May said. “I’m a big feel guy, I’m a big fit guy, and from day one I just felt this was one that matched me and allowed me and those around me to obtain the highest level of success the way we enjoy doing it.”

May is replacing Michigan basketball legend Juwan Howard, who went 8-24 in 2023-24 and missed the NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season. In his time as Michigan’s head coach, Howard went 87-72 overall in five seasons.

Michigan Athletic Director Warde Manuel thanked Howard for his time at Michigan, but also explained why he was excited to start with May leading the program.

“I don’t know how many people we called to get information about Dusty, normally in every search I’ve ever contacted you hear something negative,” Manuel said. “Some issue arose about them not handling an issue or a student athlete right. Nothing. Everything was positive (for May). I was looking for a great leader, great person and someone who had that consistency for being a head coach.”

Dusty May’s first head coaching job was with the Florida Atlantic University Owls when he was hired to take over the program in 2018. He never had a losing season at FAU, posting a combined record of 126-69. His final two seasons included the school’s first Final Four run; the Owls went 60-13.

Here is a list of his records season-by-season:

  • 2018-19 17-16 (8-10 Conference USA)

  • 2019-20 17-15 (8-10 CUSA)

  • 2020-21 13-10 (7-5 CUSA)

  • 2021-22 19-15 (11-7 CUSA)

  • 2022-23 35-4 (18-2 CUSA)

  • 2023-24 25-9 (14-4 American Athletic Conference)

When FAU made its run to the Final Four in 2022-23, its win in the first round over No. 8 seed Memphis was the first NCAA Tournament win in program history. They went on to win three more tournament games (No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson, No. 4 seed Tennessee and No. 3 seed Kansas State. The Owls were one second away from making it to the National title game, but San Diego State’s Lamont Butler made a shot as time expired to give the Aztecs the 72-71 victory.

May, 47, does have ties to the state of Michigan, with his first assistant coaching job being with Eastern Michigan in 2005-06. He also coached as an assistant for Murray State (2006-07), UAB (2007-09), Louisiana Tech (2009-15) and Florida (2015-18).

While he didn’t play at Indiana, May attended the University for college. He was a student manager for Bob Knight during his time there, a legendary figure in college basketball. He was born in Solsberry, Indiana, so he knows what it’s like to be around the Big Ten and learned a lot under Knight.

“The job interview started with, ‘If you can work for coach Knight, you can work for anyone and unless you’re the village idiot, you’ll be hired in a couple days,’” May said with a smile. “Working for coach Knight, you learn the values like preparation, work ethic, all those things ignited and started my career.”

May hasn’t been able to meet Howard’s previous recruits, including Durral Brooks from Grand Rapids Catholic Central, but has began watching film on them and is looking forward to getting to know them.

“I’m going to develop relationships with the players and I’m sure they are evaluating me,” May said. “Once they are here, it’s no longer speed dating, relationships take time. I’m going to get to know them, if they want to be a part of the program and they fit then they’ll be here, if not, we will help them with whatever is next. It’s early for roster construction right now because I don’t know what all of them are thinking.”

After taking FAU to the Final Four in 2022-23, May agreed to terms with a 10-year contract extension. He would receive a 5% pay raise each year, along with other incentives based on performance. If May were to take a job elsewhere, FAU would be owed $1 million after Feb. 29, 2024.

All roads have led May to Ann Arbor, where he hopes to turn the program around from where it has been left to being a contender in the Big Ten and making the NCAA Tournament annually.

The words he learned from Knight still echo to this day for doing just that.

“Coach Knight used to say, ‘If you’re competing for Big Ten Championships, you’re competing for a national championship,’” May said. “Our goal is to hang Big Ten Championship banners, therefore, we will be competing for National Championships.”

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