n the Pharmed Arena court on the beautiful campus of Florida International University, two giants arrived to provide hope for Golden Panthers basketball.
Then a pair of animals emerged to also help with the FIU basketball cause. And over yonder beyond the 3-point arc and in the paint, a trio of archers - one of them a Redd sharpshooter - returned to supply the bulk of scoring to lead the Golden Panthers to what can be one of their best seasons and maybe a fairy-tale ending where FIU finishes the 2007-08 season living happily ever after wearing a Sun Belt crown.
"This is my most talented team from 1 through 11," Rouco said. "It's the tallest team I've had. It's the team that I've had more players returning on our roster. I like my group. The question mark is at point guard. If we can get the job done at the point, we have a chance to win the conference."
"The first thing that comes to people's minds are the two giants," SR said. "Russell is a presence on both [offense and defense]. Badu is one of the quickest big men I have ever coached. When we run sprints we put him with our guards, because he just blows away from the big guys. Russell has a 7-6 wingspan. Badu has 7-4. We are going to score in the paint. We've never scored in the paint. It's been a while. Badu is a cat in the paint."
Hicks arrived last year from Pepperdine after making the All-West Coast Conference Freshman team. N'Diaye, no relation to former FIU guard Ismael N'Diaye, comes from Southeastern Iowa CC where Ivan Almonte, one of the best Golden Panther hoopsters ever, attended.
Helping the 2 giants, are a pair of "animals". Guard Erick Nsangou and forward Nikola Gacesa. The sophomores, according to SR, are two of the strongest Golden Panthers.
"Erick has to play, because he's an animal," SR said. "We feel he can play any position, but the post, because he's so strong and athletic. Nikola is probably the most-improved physically and basketball-wise from last year. He's another animal. He's ripped. He's strong. He went from 215 to 235."
SR thinks the main scoring is going to come from the trio of Alex Galindo, Chris Fuller and newcomer and former Texas A&M guard Kenneth "Redd" White.
"Those three can combine for 50 points a game," SR said. "I think those three guys can carry us offensively and all the other guys are threats as well."
While FIU waits for former Florida State point guard Josue Soto to be eligible next season after transferring from Tallahassee, senior Michael James and freshman Tremayne Russell will handle the point guard duties this season. Nsangou could fill in at the point if James and Russell struggle.
"Mike is going to get the nod and should be the starting point guard," SR said. "Tremayne will back him up, but we always have Erick there."
FIU has 17 home games this season and plays at Purdue and Kentucky at the end of 2007. "If you don't play them, you can't win them," said SR, about playing the two hoop powers.
This basketball story begins, Monday, Nov. 12 against Florida Tech, but we won't know how it ends until early March 2008, where there may be Madness on the Pharmed Arena court or in Mobile, Alabama, site of the Sun Belt championship.
"We won 3 of our last 4 to close the regular season," SR said. "We battled everybody. We won some or we were right there. This year you have two giants and another year of experience. This could be a good year."
Was going to have the FIU baseball blog before the basketball, but rain cancelled yesterday's intra-squad scrimmage. Look here for the baseball blog in the next few days after I check out some of the scrimmages.
UltimateFIUFan: Turtle inherits some hitters, but he needs to recruit and stockpile pitchers. FIU hit last season and I believe they will hit again this year.
Yandro: Glad to have you back on the GPP. The baseball roster is not set, because TT is still evaluating what he has. The FIU baseball signing class is announced on Nov. 21 - national signing day for baseball.
sunblazer69: The FIU witches love the Golden Panthers baseball team. Remember they helped in finding TT to come on over here and lift the baseball program. The girls haven't been around the GPP lately, so here they are.
CJ: MC and his staff are going after every position. They need to stock as much talent as possible and they know that.
Quijote: As far the APR issue for FIU, nine scholarships have been forfeited. If FIU has to surrender more after the recent NCAA letter of allegations, the athletic department will find out in February when they meet with the NCAA.
CrazyPanther & FIU Alumni Relations: Welcome to the GPP.