May 30, 2015

Very Few Quick Thoughts on UM 6, FIU 2

*Senior shortstop Julius Gaines is a man.
In the midst of the worst first inning since the Bad News Bears lost their opener to the Denny's-sponsored Yankees -- two errors defensively, hitting into a double play offensively -- Gaines refused to wallow in self-pity, self-flogging or just self. He went to the mound to steady freshman pitcher Andres Nunez by telling him, basically, don't let my struggles mess up your game.

Afterwards, in a postgame media session he could've avoided if he chose (or coach Turtle Thomas chose for him), Gaines said exactly what most present and paying attention had to think after the four-run first: Nunez started off throwing well. FIU should've been out of that inning with little or no damage. The errors extended things into the badlands.

*East Carolina used five pitchers in losing to Columbia Friday afternoon. FIU used two.

*Nunez allowed one extra base hit. Once his curve got going, he confounded Hurricanes hitters. They didn't hit him hard at all. The decision to start him produced plenty of "Huh?" but with a little more defensive help, he'd have given FIU a pitching gem instead of a rock.

*You won't get that kind of THE-place-to-be energy for every FIU-Hurricanes regular season game, especially if the teams play more often than every four score and seven (minus four score) years ago. But, how could anybody at Mark Light Friday night not want two or three games a year with even half that atmosphere? It clearly demonstrated that whatever issues prevent these teams from playing yearly count as high school clique-type pettiness unworthy of grown folks making six figures a year. To paraphrase Cordelia Chase, get over it -- embrace the pain, spank your inner moppet or go out back and punch everybody's accents out of them.
Then come back and get this thing going again.


May 27, 2015

APR, Adidas, Athletics Cash

As the baseball team practiced (with adidas bats -- more on that later), the 2013-14 Academic Progress Rate numbers dropped. Not literally, but in the modern popular music vernacular.

Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale concerned African-American women and early 1990s relationships, not APR. But, it does tend to describe FIU around this time of the year. It's entirely possible one of the breezes I felt at the baseball stadium today came from the department exhaling over an APR report without any red flags or even yellow flags.

Men's track (indoor and outdoor), women's track, volleyball, softball, golf, women's cross country each registered perfect single-year APRs of 1000. Golf owned the lone perfect multiyear APR.

Proving that bad APR falls somewhere between tires and herpes in durability, men's basketball came in with the lowest multiyear APR, 879. That's still represents progress from 858 in 2011-12 and 866 in 2012-13 and allows basketball to proceed penalty free for the first time since the Richard Pitino-coached season of 2012-13.

Multiyear APR

Golf 1000

Women's basketball 995

Women's cross country 987

Tennis 982

Men's cross country 977

Women's outdoor track 977

Women's indoor track 975

Swimming & Diving 973

Volleyball 973

Softball 971

Men's soccer 970

Women's soccer 969

Men's outdoor track 958

Men's indoor track 956

Baseball 938

Football 933

Men's Basketball 879

2013-14 Single Year APR

Men's indoor track 1000

Women's indoor track 1000

Women's outdoor track 1000

Men's outdoor track 1000

Women's cross country 1000

Volleyball 1000

Golf 1000

Softball 1000

Women's soccer 979

Women's basketball 967

Swimming & Diving 962

Tennis 955

Football 935

Men's basketball 933

Men's Soccer 932

Baseball 931


Businesses show love by showing material and money. As detailed here in the February post "Getting Dressed," the FIU athletic team Adidas loves most is baseball. No other program gets the amount of equipment under Adidas' agreement with FIU Athletics that baseball does. No other FIU head coach gets $4,000 of free product annually as FIU's baseball coach does.

According to Camp Mitch sources, baseball's love of its Adidas clothes and gear didn't extend to the bats. So FIU brought other brands along with Adidas to the plate throughout the season.

Apparently, somebody at Adidas noticed FIU's bat diversity as the Panthers battered Conference USA tournament opponents. That's not a problem unless there's a clause in the agreement between the school and the athletic wear company stating "each Sport...shall exclusively use or wear Adidas products whenever School's athletic teams are playing one of the Sports (including games and practice sessions)..." and that failure to do so constitutes a material breach of contract.

FIU swung Adidas bats at practice Wednesday and you can bet they'll do so this weekend in Coral Gables.


USA Today's annual college athletics finances report demonstrated little of surprise beyond Oregon taking over the Total Revenue title from Texas.

Of the 230 schools ranked, FIU placed 90th in total revenue ($28,104,962), 92nd in total expenses ($27,542,910), 16th in subsidy ($22,540,365) and 36th overall, second to Eastern Michigan among FBS football schools, in percentage of total revenue that comes from subsidies (80.2%).


Click here to see the current real world job of former FIU running back Darian Mallary.


May 25, 2015

Friday Night (at Mark) Light; MacLaren Finishes T25

The NCAA didn't overthink this one.

FIU, which started the season ranked in some national baseball Top 25s and played like it over the last week in the Conference USA tournament, gets its first shot at the Hurricanes since 2008 in the NCAA tournament's Coral Gables Regional: Friday, 7 p.m., on Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Park.

The Hurricanes come into the double elimination regional as the No. 5 national seed with a 44-14 record. FIU, 29-29, rolled up 11 runs per game in the conference tournament against some redoubtable pitching.


Meghan MacLaren moved up four spots to finish in a tie for 25th at the NCAA Women's Golf Championship. MacLaren's 2-over 74 final round Monday gave her a 13-over 301 for the tournament.

Closing Strong

I thought I saw a finishing kick with Juan Pablo Montoya surviving a terrible start and torn up wing to win the Indianapolis 500. Montoya ran third in that regard to some athletic types from Camp Mitch.

An FIU baseball team that didn't seem to have much chemistry or gumption all season showed it in beating Rice twice when it needed to just to get into the tournament and survive the first round of the Conference USA tournament. Then, they looked like the Big Blue & Gold Machine -- a .370 team batting average, 44 runs in four games -- as they blasted through the tournament to their first conference title since the 2010 Sun Belt championship, possibly saving coach Turtle Thomas' job in the process.

What a storybook finish for senior Josh Anderson after a tough testicle injury (is there any other kind?) earlier this year: hitting .467 with three homers and nine RBI.

So, now everybody waits for lunch to find out of FIU stays local to face the rivals in Coral Gables they never play or head for somewhere like Louisiana for the NCAA Regional.

In women's golf, junior Meghan MacLaren as she did in the Conference USA meet, scorched her third round with an even par 72, jumping 24 spots up the NCAA Women's Division I Championships leaderboard into a tie for 29th. Then, she beat Tulane's Gemma Drybaugh in a playoff for the ninth and final individual position that keeps her playing Monday.


May 19, 2015

Rios, Portelli, Dopico All-C-USA Cats

A little baseball before I go watch some baseball on vacation...

Junior Edwin Rios led Conference USA in home runs (18), RBI (55) and slugging percentage (.633) while hitting .314 overall. That's why Rios made First Team all-conference, the lone FIU player to do so.

No Panther hit better than senior outfielder Brian Portelli's .336 average. Junior reliever Danny Dopico piled up 49 strikeouts in only 39.1 innings with a 1.60 earned run average. Both made Second Team all-conference.

FIU opens Conference USA tournament play against top-seeded Rice Wednesday.





May 18, 2015

Gaines All-Academic; FIU Has C-USA's Fastest Man

Yeah, I know this comes late. After dealing with the major job changes now customary when I cover the Marlins and get a lightning fast game, I exhaled into vacation mode (it's late May).

So I didn't get up last night that junior Alton Eliphar, the fifth-seeded finalist, provided FIU's highlight of the Conference USA track & field championships by winning the 100 meters in 10.38. Or that junior Jaylaan Slaughter's 1:00.97 in the 400-meter hurdles got her a second, the weekend's best placement for the FIU women. Phillicia Fluellen's 20-foot, 2 1/2-inch long jump was good for third.

FIU coach Ryan Heberling confirmed what the results sheet suggested when they didn't include, among others, junior long jumper/triple jumper Marcus Ghent, throwers junior Miriam Pierre and senior Raqurra Ishmar -- injuries hit some FIU strengths. Both men's and women's teams finished last in their respective team standings.


FIU senior leadoff hitter and shortstop Julius Gaines' 3.63 grade point average put him on the Conference USA All-Academic Team, announced Monday.  Gaines finished the regular season hitting .266 with 22 RBI.

The baseball team faces No. 1 seed Rice in the first round of the Conference USA baseball tournament Wednesday.


May 16, 2015

More Rice For Baseball

This is why you take care of business early.

Saturday's pair of losses to Rice dropped FIU to No. 8 in Conference USA, but, thanks to Friday's win and a series win at Marshall, no farther.

So the Panthers get into the conference tournament and open Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. against...No. 13-ranked and tournament top seed Rice, against which FIU won two of 12 games over the last four seasons. But, FIU beat Rice when it needed Thursday so Wednesday isn't exactly The Charge of the Light Brigade.


FIU Track & Field at C-USA Meet: Day 2, Points 6

FIU's best events, including most of the throws, launch today and Sunday. Friday featured the 10Ks, hammer throws and the finish of the decathlon and heptathlon.

The men picked up its four points in the decathlon from junior Chris Sullivan's sixth (6,551 points) and sophomore Pablo Espitia's eighth (5,759 points). The women's two points came from Tetisheri Menna's 164-foot, four-inch hammer throw, seventh best.


May 15, 2015



FIU avoided the indignity of missing the Conference USA tournament by taking care of its business in the first of the three-game season-ending series with No. 13 Rice. An 11-1 win, FIU's second against Rice in the last 10 games, finished the job with a flourish. Junior Edwin Rios clobbered another home run, drove in three runs and scored four.

The last two games will be for seeding position in the tournament, which will be next week in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The Panthers remain alive.

Not everyone got out of Thursday so fortunate. RIP B.B. King.



May 13, 2015

Malcom, Officially

FIU officially announced Wednesday what's been known for a few days -- former University of Delaware player and eight-year assistant coach Tiara Malcom is now an assistant under new FIU women's basketball coach Marlin Chinn.

Malcom was a Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year and three-time All-CAA player at Delaware. During her coaching years, Delaware won 20 games six times and made the NCAA tournament three times.

The next interesting development with women's basketball: watch the roster turnover. This year's 3-26 team included only two seniors. Let's see how many of the rest are left a year from now.



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