April 17, 2014

Will hustle for food; MacLaren Academic All-Conference

Somebody in FIU Athletics better start raising some money.

This was brought up to me by a veteran of similar-sized athletic departments after the NCAA Legislative Council declared schools should be able to give their athletes unlimited meals or snacks in connection with games or practices.

The NCAA was embarrassed by University of Connecticut point guard and Final Four Outstanding Player Shabazz Napier saying he sometimes went to bed "starving." With the whole "should they be paid?" argument swinging away from them, this rule made for a better public relations move than saying, "Clearly, Napier needs to learn how to handle his money because, looking at some of his portly pals on the football team, there's no shortage of food available to athletes and that football team is batspit compared to the basketball team."

Anyway, this becomes another expense for any athletic department. It's a bit more onerous on a department that's near the top of the nation in relying on student fees for funding. This is in addition to the meal plan that's part of an athletic scholarship.

People think about how much extra this means when feeding the football and basketball teams. Yeah, that's no trip to Hamburger Wednesday at McDonald's, but think about everybody else getting fed. Think about track throwers and baseball players. Take a look at the softball, volleyball (sand and indoor) and soccer (either gender) teams -- not many salad-eaters there. Parents of swimmers can tell grocery bill stories that give Publix owners a Saturday night happy. 

FIU can't hit up the students again. Well, it can, but not without drawing the appropriate ridicule. No, somebody in FIU Athletics better start kissing some rings or things and getting some money from some new wallets.

Time to feed the family.

NCAA ADOPTS IT'S OWN "TOM BRADY RULE"

This new football flagable from Wednesday, according to NCAA.org...

"The rule specifically covers a scenario in which a quarterback is in a passing posture with one or both feet on the ground. In that situation, no defensive player rushing unabated can hit him forcibly at or below the knee. The defensive player also may not initiate a roll or lunge and forcibly hit the quarterback in the knee area or below."

GOLF

Sophomore Meghan MacLaren, who led FIU to the Sun Belt Conference title last year and has a 3.49 grade point average, has been named to the Conference USA Golf All-Academic team. The Conference USA championship will be Monday through Wednesday in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

April 15, 2014

FIU no longer grounded by grades; more water women;

The official Academic Progress Rates for 2012-13 won't be announced until June. But the Dean Wormers at the NCAA have seen FIU's grades and have decided there was enough APR upward movement in the season under Richard Pitino to take FIU off punishment and let the men's basketball team return to postseason play next season.

 

SWIMMING & DIVING

Johanna Gustafsdottir went back home to Iceland to rip through her native land's national meet, walking out with three firsts, two seconds and a national record in the 400 individual medley of 4:53.24. She also won the 200 freestyle with a 2:04.94 and was part of the 800 free relay winners.

FIU's 400 IM ace, Sonia Perez, was named an Honorable Mention All-American by the College Swim Coaches Association of America this week. Perez became the first FIU swimmer -- and was the only Conference USA swimmer this year -- to score at the NCAA meet, taking 13th in the 400 IM. She also swam the 200 IM and 200 backstroke at the NCAA meet before being named Conference USA's Swimmer of the Year.

 

April 12, 2014

The end of Spring, 2 months before summer

Let's make this clear -- spring football is spring football. Unless you've got an offense of experienced clones or a defense of accounting majors, your offensive execution does well to simply better Obtuse. Screw up, get moved down the depth chart, you've got a few months to rectify the situation before the first game. The Chopped-kitchen sense of urgency of losing your job while the clock of regular season games ticks away isn't there. New guys who might help aren't there yet.

And the Spring Game's ridiculous scoring system, which was changed after the start of the game and had the press box arguing with the scoreboard, reminded me of Fizzbin.

 

So, the ceiling on enthusiasm about the spring should be just above eye level. That said, here's what we saw at eye level Saturday:

Alex McGough might not start the season as FIU's quarterback, but there's all but an informal pool among those of us media types paying attention as to how many games pass before he gets his first start. If Saturday's Spring Game had a standout offensive player, it was McGough. Yes, he was playing against the second team defense. Yes, in his only series with the first team, he didn't see Dominique Rhymes breaking open on the medium post and went deep instead. And it's not as if E.J. Hilliard didn't look OK Saturday and has looked better this spring than he did last fall (sometimes I wonder, for all the social media fussing from some players wanting Hilliard to play more, why he seems to get hung out to dry so often with drops, bad patterns, etc.).

But McGough already shows a talented arm. His 23-yard throw to Ya'keem Griner Saturday almost taunted defenders on the downward float to Griner's hands. Achingly beautiful, best pass of the day. He tends to make good decisions. Also, his ballhandling is excellent. Most quarterbacks sell a play action fake like they're killing time by throwing game at a girl they don't really like. McGough sells it like he's trying to find Scarlett Johansson's end zone. It's an underrated skill that can exasperate defenders. He said he worked on that facet heavily after his senior season. 

The offensive line, a year after recalling The Berlin Wall post-reunification, shows the effects of a year of experience and maturity. There were holes Saturday and the protection usually gave the quarterbacks enough time. The sacks seemed to be Ken O'Brien sacks, where the quarterback holds the ball too long.

Anthon Samuel, Bowling Green transfer, just got cleared from a concussion suffered last fall. His academics are in order. FIU coach Ron Turner hopes Samuel can play again because FIU's short on running backs. Poor Lamarq Caldwell got run as ceaselessly Saturday like he did in some of those games last year. But Shane Coleman ran with the ones, Silas Spearman suffered a knee owwwy (he's lucky it wasn't worse) and Alfonso Randolph still isn't cleared for full contact. Freshmen Alex Gardner and Napoleon Maxwell, that's not a thumping bass you hear. That's Opportunity banging on your door. 

Turner wants to redshirt Chris Flaig, a 2013 recruit from Vero Beach who stayed with FIU through the coaching change. Flaig, diagnosed with epilepsy a decade ago, has undergone two brain surgeries in the last year and took several snaps Saturday.

Officially, middle linebacker Luis Rosado has 3 inches and two years experience on Treyvon Williams. Williams possesses instincts, however, that Rosado doesn't have. That's why Williams saw some first team time last season and should this season before long. He named speed, ability to change direction, footwork and eye discipline as what he needed to most work on during the offseason.

"No, there's a reason behind everything," Williams said when I asked if he was surprised he was back on the second team this spring. "Coach has me on second team for a reason. It could be multiple number of things."

The paucity of "explosive plays" -- runs longer than 10 yards, passes longer than 20 yards -- said FIU still doesn't have enough skill position pop and the defense tackles well.

 

 

April 11, 2014

Good News, Bad News about FIU's Commissioner's Academic Medalists

Conference USA honors those athletes with a 3.75 grade point average or better with the Commissioner's Academic Medal. These FIU athletes received that hardware:

Swimming & Diving: Klara Andersson, Anna Jonsson, Lily Kaufmann, Marie Therese Nord, Marina Ribi.

Women's Basketball: Marita Davydova, Katrina Epnere, Zsofia Labady.

Women's Soccer: Ellen Crist, Johanna Volz, Paula Zuluaga.

Sand volleyball: Morgan Crawley, Aren Cupp, Savannah Davis.

Volleyball: Jessica Egan, Anabela Sataric

Golf: Ashley Shimmel

Softball: Samantha Green

Men's Cross Country: Orlando Rodriguez.

Good news for them.

The bad news is 19 medalists represents the fewest of any full-time Conference USA school.

 

April 10, 2014

154 FIU athletes make C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll; Sand up to 6th

These athletes maintained at least a 3.0 grade point average. Those with a 3.75 GPA will be announced Friday as recipients of the Commissioner's Academic Medal.

FIU's 154 tied them with North Texas for 12th most in Conference USA. The team with the most on the list for FIU? Swimming & Diving, which starts their days earlier than any other team and remain the athletic department's staunchest supporters as far as attendance at FIU sporting events.

For those on whom subtlety is lost, that's a nice way of saying, "Spare me the excuses by those athletes and teams that come up short academically."

Baseball (13): Alex Beyersdorf, Nathan Burns, Zachary Carter, Charles Cormier, Kolby Follis, Julius Gaines, Aramis Garcia, Mike Gomez, Carlos Lopez, Louis Silverio, Tyler Sullivan, Zach Sweety, Roche Woodard.

Men's Basketball (3): Adrian Diaz, Marco Porcher Jimenez, Dominique Williams

Women's Basketball (12): Aleksandra Bodlovic, Jerica Coley, Marita Davydova, Katrina Epnere, Karrah Johnson, Zsofia Labady, Tynia McKinzie, Timeyin Oritsesan, Kiandre'a Pound, Taylor Shade, Nikolina Todorovic, Brianna Wright

Men's Cross Country (7): Brandon Ballard, Dylan Cook, Daniel Fernandez, Brandon Jones, Eli Monzon, Daniel Puentes, Orlando Rodriguez.

Football (10): Richard Burrows, Ricky Fernandez, Cody Hodgens, Yousif Khoury, Fred Porter, Donald Senat, Austin Taylor, Delmar Taylor, Cory White, Mitch Wozniak.

Golf (6): Coralia Arias, Shelby Coyle, Sophie Godley, Carla Jane, Meghan Maclaren, Jasmine Wade.

Sand volleyball (6): Marina Boulanger, Ellyssa Citron, Maria Coukoulis, Alexa Diaz, Tina Toghiyani, Airam Trillo.

Men's Soccer (9): Roberto Alterio, Luke Bray, Gonzalo Frechilla, Sebastian Frings, Marvin Hezel, Nicholas Midttun, Daniel Mion, David Mitchell, Robin Spiegel.

Women's Soccer (16): Shelby Bowden, Ellen Crist, Marie Egan, Talia McMurtrie, Crystal McNamara, Morgan Morris, Jessica Palacio, Nicole Rios, Alyssa Robinson, Ashleigh Shim, Marlena Stablein, Sara Stewart, Patrica Tomanon, Johanna Volz, Madlen Weinhardt, Paula Zuluaga.

Softball (11): Samantha Green, Corinne Jenkins, Breanna Kaye, Brianne Kimura, Christine Marte, Marisa GcGregor, Kennah Orr, Rebekah Sanchez, Rachel Slowik, Gabriella Spallone, Stephanie Texeira.

Swimming & Diving (20): Jennifer Alfani, Klara Andersson, Sabrina Beaupre, Mary Boucher, Jessica Chadwick, Sarah D'Antoni, Katelyn Duranso, Nadia Farrugia, Anna Jonsson, Lily Kaufmann, Jean Madison, Danielle Meara, Melissa Moreno, Maria Therese Nord, Sonia Perez Arau, Valeriia Popova, Marina Ribi, Alaina Smith, Courtney Vander Schaaf, Rebecca Wilde.

Tennis (6): Giuletta Boha, Valentina Briceno, Tina Mohorcic, Nina Nagode, Carlotta Orlando, Aleksandra Trifunovic.

Men's Track & Field (7): Jamal Dorviller, Pablo Espitia, Christopher Lickfield, Garry Louima, Christopher Prophete, Roberto Salvador, Aubrey Smith.

Women's Track & Field (14): Maria Alea, Chantae Barnett, Destiney Burt, Cierra Campbell, Chandra Fulwood, Jessica Gehrke, Adrienne Gerzeny, Anna Heinzman, Tiffani Hernandez, Michelle Howell, Tetisheri Menna, Isolda Montiel, Bianca Morrison, Caroline Reiser.

SAND VOLLEYBALL

Wednesday's American Volleyball Coaches Association Sand Volleyball poll saw 13-2 FIU tied for sixth with UCLA. FIU began the season ranked No. 9 and moved up to No. 7 the last two weeks. Southern Cal ranks No. 1 with preseason No. 1 Pepperdine at No. 2. Hawaii is third and Florida State, which handed FIU one of its losses, 4-1, is No. 4. 

This weekend, they'll be at the Fiesta on Siesta Tournament in Siesta Key.

 

 

April 09, 2014

FIU jumper gets C-USA honor for service

FIU sophomore Marcus Ghent finished sixth in the long jump at the Conference USA Indoor Track meet, sailing 23 feet, 4 inches, and eighth in the triple jump, hop-skip-jumping 46 feet, 11 3/4 inches.

Ghent also spends part of Thanksgiving helping feed the homeless and helps promote breast cancer awareness with the Susan G. Komen Foundation among several other community service activities. For this, Ghent's one of 16 Conference USA Spirt of Service honorees for the winter sports (the basketballs, swimming and diving, indoor track and field).

Reminder in the blog comments, guys: keep it reasonably clean. 

April 07, 2014

Mourelle C-USA Pitcher of the Week

Freshman Chris Mourelle's complete game 1-0 shutout of Old Dominion Sunday, during which he allowed five hits, walked none and struck out five, earned him Conference USA Pitcher of the Week honors. The shutout was Mourelle's second of the season and he ranks sixth in the nation with a 0.59 ERA.

FIU's team earned run average, 1.63, leads the nation. Tied for No. 2 at 1.79 are South Carolina and Houston (University of, not the Astros, although the college might have a better staff).

Mourelle's gem was one of two by FIU pitchers Sunday. Sophomore Corinne Jenkins whirled a three-hitter at FAU Sunday in the Panthers 3-1 win that gave them the weekend series.

Oh, and by the way, FIU posted the job opening for the last open spot in the media relations department referred to a few posts ago. Salary of $37,000 to $43,000 per year.

April 05, 2014

Friday Night (Not Kool) Lights

Things seen during Friday night’s scrimmage at Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium at Camp Mitch:

Some good hitting. Demarkus Perkins took batting practice on the receivers.

An eventful night for fifth-year senior-to-be wide receiver Glenn Coleman. During the special teams portion, Coleman worked as kickoff returner and punt returner. He ran with the twos most of the night, causing me to wonder if Ron Turner’s certain of Coleman’s eligibility for next season. Remember the last time the best at his position kept running with the twos, it was a hint last August that cornerback Richard Leonard might not be around for the fall.

Anyway, Coleman had two of the most disparate plays you can have in a practice. In the 7-on-7 period, it looked like he short-armed a sideline throw from quarterback Alex McGough. A sideline throw…did he hear footsteps from the first down marker? Later, Coleman turned the corner on an end around, treated linebacker De'Shawn Hazziez like Reagan did Mondale, then proceeded up the sideline before getting pushed out of bounds after about 20 yards. Coleman came up with a hop-limp and didn’t participate in the rest of the scrimmage. In between those plays, he created a 30-yard catch-and-run from McGough on a crossing pattern that set up one of the few scoring chances in the scrimmage. Chris Ayers couldn’t get a subpar snap down for Serge Sroka, blowing that chance.

(Oh, sidelight – until FIU renews its deal with U.S. Century Bank Arena, the former Sunblazer Arena, former Golden Panther Arena is officially FIU Arena. I vote we call it Former Sunblazer Arena.)

The first team running backs were redshirt junior-to-be Shane Coleman and sophomore-to-be Silas Spearman. Coleman’s faster, but Spearman’s a better runner. Determined plodder Lamarq Caldwell took second team running back reps. For the beating he took last year, they should’ve given Caldwell two scholarships, but he doesn’t bring the explosiveness this team sorely needs at the skill positions.

Redshirt junior-to-be Dominique Rhymes lined up at first team wide receiver. He dropped one deep ball in his breadbasket from E.J. Hilliard and failed to lay out for another one that looked nicely placed. Rhymes remains football young, but he’s got two years to keep from being Jairus Williams if he wants a shot at playing for cash here or in Canada.

There will be a quarterback competition between McGough and Hilliard. Much as FIU coach Ron Turner tries to compliment Bud Martin and give Akil Dan-Fodio some reps at quarterback, there’s a clear separation already between the top two and the next two even if Turner won’t say it.

“E.J. is doing a good job making good decisions, seeing the field the way he’s supposed to see it,” Turner said. “Getting in and out of plays. He made some mistakes, sure, but he’s doing some really good things. He’s had a very good spring.

“A much different quarterback than he was in the fall,” Turner continued. “He’s become more of a student of the game. He got a very good understanding of what we’re doing. He’s in there studying all the time. We’re having very goodfootball conversations about what we’re seeing, some of the little adjustments that we’re able to do that we couldn’t even dream of doing a year ago. Alex is doing the same thing. He obviously doesn’t have as good a grasp as he’s been in the system for 11 practices. But he’s a quarterback. He’s got a quarterback demeanor.”

McGough threw the night’s only interception, a bad decision into double coverage that sophomore-to-be Wilkenson Myrtil picked off.

Myrtil was a state track champion that FIU managed to snag in the 2013 recruiting class that looked strongest in defensive backs (on paper).

“He’s playing really well,” FIU coach Ron Turner said. “We know he’s an athlete, he can run. A year ago, he was a typical freshman – very undisciplined. We couldn’t put him on the field. If we did, we had to be careful because he’s extremely undisciplined. He was undisciplined off the field. He’s been very disciplined on the field. He’s been very disciplined off the field.

“Same with (junior-to-be Jeremiah McKinnon). (McKinnon) looks like a completely different guy than a year ago. Unbelievably undisciplined a year ago…on and off the field. Couldn’t trust him for anything. I’m not saying anything I haven’t said to him (and didn’t make apparent by McKinnon’s disappearance from practice for several weeks). He’s been outstanding this spring. Outstanding focus.”

In the Home Depot jerseys Friday were safety Justin Halley, defensive end Wonderful Monds II and tight end Jonathan Pavlov.\

In the first round of punting drills, Karson Dietrich outpunted Ayers with a 43 and a 45-yarder. Later, Argentine import Jose Laphitzondo blasted a 55-yarder. I still say that competition doesn't really get going until All-State punter Luke Medlock shows up in the summer.

 

 

April 03, 2014

Stars of Pro Day

 

Defensive tackles Greg Hickman and Isame Faciane doing three of the first four drills at FIU's Pro Day.

Football practice report

It was closed. And, Ron Turner wasn't speaking to any outside media after practice. So, any complaints about the lack of a Herald blog report or story on FIU's practices, please call or e-mail Camp Mitch.

FIU's Pro Day is later this afternoon.

Friday presents an interesting dilemna for the discerning FIU fan. At 7-5 in Conference USA and 23-6 overall, the baseball team hosts an important series against Old Dominion, starting with a 6 p.m. Friday game. The open football scrimmage got moved to a 7 p.m. start.

So, you've got a paid admission game involving FIU's most successful team this school year now up against a free admission game involving FIU's most popular team. As if daily life wasn't enough competition for attendance in either case.