ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — For the first time ever, the men’s NCAA basketball Final Four does not have a 1, 2, or 3 seed. Three of the four schools are actually making their first trip to Final Four in school history.
One of those schools is No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic University and the Owls are counting on a Rochester native to literally keep them functioning.
Victor grad Zane Scott was named the director of strength and conditioning for Florida Atlantic last July. He knew back then that this Owls team had the chance to be special.
“A lot of times as a strength coach you have to teach people how to work hard or teach people how to be disciplined or committed,” said Scott. “You always have to have those conversations. When I walked in and I was like ‘Oh I can just do my job.'”
That job has played a role in the best season that FAU has ever had. Scott’s friends and family back home in Rochester have taken notice.
“I don’t even know who I’ve answered and who I haven’t answered,” said Scott.
Even if for some sports isn’t their cup of tea.
“A lot of my family doesn’t even like sports to be honest,” said Scott. “They’re trying to figure out basketball as they go along. Like my Mom and Dad have been troopers with it.”
Scott said this tournament run has been a whirlwind. Going into this weekend’s Final Four, FAU will have played 10 games in a month and only spent four days at home.
One of the tougher parts of Scott’s job is to keep the team healthy and competing at a high level despite all of the constant travel.
“The most important thing that I can do is have a relationship with the guys and understand the guys subjectively,” said Scott. “Just being able to ask them questions and give answers in terms of nutrition. If it’s ‘Hey man I want an ice bath how can we facilitate that?'”
Entering the 2023 NCAA tournament, the Owls didn’t have a single tournament win in school history. They’ve now become just the 3rd No. 9 seed in history to reach the Final Four.
But FAU isn’t your traditional Cinderella team. The Owls entered the big dance with a 31-3 record and won both Conference USA’s regular season and tournament championship. Even with the impressive resume, Scott understands how hard it is to succeed this time of year.
“Making a run with the travel, the lights and the distractions, anything can happen and that’s the beauty of it,” said Scott.
In the Final Four, No. 9 Florida Atlantic will face the South region winner, No. 5 San Diego State on Saturday, April 1st.