March 28, 2015

Sand Spikes; Spring Practice Accessibility

Pepperdine won the American Volleyball Coaches Association sand volleyball national championship in 2012 and 2014, was the runner-up in 2013 and came into Saturday's match with FIU ranked three spots above the No. 6 Panthers in the AVCA Sand Volleyball poll. Pepperdine skunked the Panthers twice, 5-0, during FIU's inaugural sand season two years ago.

So, Saturday morning's 3-2 win against Pepperdine at the Palmetto Invitational sits as a landmark for the direction of FIU's 12-1 sand volleyballers, who have won all their three matches against other top 10 teams. 

There's 50 Division I sand volleyball teams in the nation now. The NCAA will take over running the championship next spring. 

SPRING FOOTBALL

There's a bit of confusion over whether spring football practices were open or closed to fans. Here's the 411:

Practices are officially closed to fans and media. That was in a release to the media that was mass e-mailed to the media as usual by FIU Athletics media relations, but wasn't also put on the FIU Sports website as such things usually are (such as the previous two spring practice releases saying practice would be open).

BUT if you've been invited into the seats of La Cage, you can check it out. This seems cut and dried.

In practice, however, it's a bit of a clusterkibibble.

For one thing, invitations aren't exactly Willy Wonka gold tickets shining with a blinding glare the moment you pull them from your pocket. Sometimes, it's a Tweet from a coach to select fans or a group of potential fans. It can be a phone call or a verbal "Come on, down!" Also, gates are open for several practices either out of convenience for folks working around the stadium or allowing access to students attending a class in one of the suites.

So, if you happen to walk in one of the open gates, take a seat in the stands and aren't disruptive to anybody, everybody might assume somebody else invited you to be there and you'll get to watch practice. Not that I'm recommending you do this.

I hope this clears everything up on this topic. Back to vacation and my bed or balconies.

March 27, 2015

FIU & UCF Move Football Season Opener

Guess the message to FIU hardcores is "start your Labor Day Weekend on Thursday night, college-style!"

The season opener for FIU and Central Florida, up at the Knights place, has been moved from Saturday Sept. 5 to Thursday, Sept. 3. Time not announced yet, but every electron of good sense says it'll be a night game.

 

March 22, 2015

MacLaren, Golf Rolling Well; Spring Practice, Day 2

After going almost two years between conference team titles in all sports, FIU could get two in three months.

The golf team, which brought home the 2013 Sun Belt Conference title, finished second in the Mountain View Collegiate with junior Meghan MacLaren (7-under 209) getting medalist by three shots. Freshman Katerina Krasnova (2-under 214) tied for 10th.

Finishing ahead of FIU: Ohio State. Among the 18 teams finishing behind FIU: Purdue, Kansas State, Iowa State, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and BYU. 

BASEBALL

Junior Edwin Rios went into Saturday's game against Charlotte barely hitting his weight. He came out a chunk closer to C.C. Sabathia's weight, up to .256, after going four for four with three home runs in a 23-1 Saturday mercy rule rout of Charlotte. It was the first homer hat trick in Conference USA since June 5, 2010.

Senior Brian Portelli went four for five with four RBI and a homer as FIU finally stopped making every lefthanded opposing pitcher look like Warren Spahn. The Panthers need to use this weekend against Charlotte and next weekend against Marshall to turn around this 10-13 season that's been the epitome of underachievement.

(I'm sure all the FIU players and coaches had the same thought you just did -- boy, wish they could store some of those runs...)

FOOTBALL

FIU football held its second spring practice Saturday morning. Ron Turner would address the outside media for the first time this spring. Practice was closed.

Not enough of a draw for me to wrestle South Florida/South Beach traffic on a scheduled day off with the NCAA tournament, naps and vacation staring me in the face. If something serious happens while I'm on vaca (i.e., coach firing, notable player transferring in or out, players showing full or just too much monty at the beach), I'll suit up and get back in the game. Otherwise...

IMG_1495

 

Silvia School Record, Gets 19th; Gustafsdottir 44th at NCAAs

Seems like I've read this before...

FIU freshman Silvia Scalia, the heir to Johanna Gustafsdottir as the top swimmer on FIU's roster, reset her own 200 backstroke record during the Saturday afternoon prelims at the NCAA Championships in Greenboro, North Carolina.

Scalia's 1:53.54 knocked 26 hundredths of a second off the record she set in taking the event at the Conference USA Championships. It placed her 20th in the field at the NCAAs.

Gustafsdottir swam the 200 breastroke, the last swim of her FIU career, Saturday in 2:13.57, the 44th fastest time. 

March 20, 2015

Scalia School Record, 20th; Gustafsdottir 33rd at NCAAs

FIU freshman Silvia Scalia, the heir to Johanna Gustafsdottir as the top swimmer on FIU's roster, reset her own 100 backstroke record during the Friday afternoon prelims at the NCAA Championships in Greenboro, North Carolina.

Scalia's 52.46 knocked 16 hundredths of a second off the record she set in taking the event at the Conference USA Championships. It placed her 20th in the field at the NCAAs.

Gustafsdottir swam the 400 individual medley Friday in 4:12.70, the 33rd fastest time. Saturday, the final day, Scalia swims in the day's first event, the 200 back, and Gustafsdottir swims in the 200 breaststroke.

March 19, 2015

First Day of Spring Football Quick Hits

Practice was closed, sort of -- classes in the suites weren't cancelled, so someone who cared to look noticed that junior Anthon Samuel got the first running back reps of the drills seen with sophomores Alex Gardner and Napoleon Maxwell behind him.

Alex Gardner's laptop screen saver is a shot of the play against Marshall on which his season ended last year. It reminds him of how much he missed.

Freshman Anthony Jones said he lined up at wide receiver Thursday. Not a tall young man, but a thick one -- big chest and arms, looks sturdy enough to take some hits without breaking.

BASEBALL

An injury to the groin area will cost senior third baseman Josh Anderson a month of this season. And so does FIU's baseball season continue to spin out. The 9-12 Panthers get a chance to turn things around with Charlotte coming in for three games this weekend.

 

 

Gustafsdottir Starts NCAAs; Horner Extended -- UPDATED

The swimmer who most helped Randy Horner lift FIU from mud to magnificent, senior Johanna Gustafsdottir, begins the benediction of her fantastic FIU career with the 200 individual medley at the NCAA Swimming & Diving Championships this morning. FIU chose this same morning to announce a contract extension for Horner through 2018-19.

Horner's deal was set to expire at the end of April.

Regular blog readers know the transformation that's occurred under Horner on all fronts: from Sun Belt non-entity to 2015 Conference USA champion and a No. 5 national ranking among mid-majors by CollegeSwimming.com; the most consistently academically strong team at FIU; the most consistent supporter of fellow athletes by attending their games (and that's saying something on a campus where the athletes tend to be each other's biggest fans.).

 

This started with Horner's first recruiting class, in 2011. CollegeSwimming.com thought the ace in that deck was Gustafsdottir, a stud international swimmer for Iceland at one point. Funny because Horner certainly didn't. Neither did she. She spent most of her freshman season shedding weight and the crust from burn out and two years away from competitive swimming.

Her emergence at that year's Sun Belt Championships, at which she won Swimmer of the Year, ignited a career that put firmed up a soft FIU record book and picked up enough hardware for an aisle at Ace: 2012 Sun Belt Swimmer of the Year, 2015 Conference USA Swimmer of the Year, 10 individual conference titles, four relay titles, including the baddest relay anchor leg you'll ever see in this year's C-USA Championships 400 freestyle relay.

Gustafsdottir loves FIU. She said she cried during that relay. She cried when FIU beat the Hurricanes to finish this year 10-0 in dual meets. At the welcome home from the Conference USA meet, when FIU CFO Kenneth Jewell recounted the 400 free relay for those gathered, she almost lost it again. After the conference meet, she sounded almost giddy when talking about the program's future and that she can't wait to be a proud alumnus.

(She also said "I've got to get ready for NCAAs. Hopefully, I do better than I have in the past.")

I asked her before the conference meet if she at all envisioned her FIU life going this way when she first came.

“No, never," she replied. "I didn’t swim for two years before I came here. I was happy that I was started back up. I never thought my success would be this good. I’m happy with it.So now after conference and NCAA, I have the Olympics to focus on. I’ll stay here. I’ll most likely stay here (to train).”

UPDATE

Gustafsdottir, with a 1:57.33 seed time that was 27th fastest, swam 1:58.18 Thursday morning, the 28th fastest time.

Friday, Gustafsdottir swims the 400 IM and freshman Silvia Scalia does the 100 backstroke.

 

March 18, 2015

MacLaren Gets Golfer of the Week

Junior Meghan MacLaren led FIU to the Sun Belt Conference title as a freshman. Looks like she's ready to do the same in Conference USA this season.

MacLaren won her third conference Golfer of the Week award of the season off a tie for 10th in the Notre Dame Clover Cup with an 8-over 224. FIU finished fifth as a team behind No. 22 Arizona State, Notre Dame, Texas Christian and Oklahoma.

 

 

March 17, 2015

Spring Football Practices Now Closed

FIU announced today that spring football practices will be closed. Below is the schedule for the practices you won't be able to attend and the spring game for which you'll be invited to come in and sit a spell.

Mar. 19, 21, 24, 28, 31, Apr. 2, 6, 7, 9, 13, 14, 16: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Mar. 26: 10 a.m.

Apr. 3: 7 p.m.

Apr. 17: Spring Game, 7 p.m.

For what it's worth, if this scuttles your football practice viewing plans, the sand volleyball team practices around the same time and they're 7-1 with a No. 7 ranking in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association poll.

 

 

Rosenberg on Garcia

FIU President Mark Rosenberg did the most recent evaluation of Executive Director of Sports and Entertainment Pete Garcia in January.

Rosenberg complimented Garcia on improvements in several administrative areas and student-athlete academic performance. Rosenberg showed displeasure with fund-raising, attendance and some other areas.

Here's the full evaluation, done in the same two-page letter form as the previous evaluation.

Download Pete Garcia 13-14 Manager Evaluation


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