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13 posts from December 2007

December 27, 2007

Interview with "El Monstruo" Antwan Barnes

Abs_2    Former FIU and current Baltimore Ravens linebacker Antwan "El Monstruo" Barnes and his Ravens teammates lost to the Dolphins two weeks ago when Miami snapped a 16-game losing streak and avoided infamy winning its first game of the season 22-16 in overtime.

After that game, AB graciously sat down with the GPP for this interview.

What's your first NFL season been like now after 14 games?

AB: After the 12th game, it becomes a mental thing, because you're so used to shutting down. Ever since high school you've probably played in probably 12 games unless you went to the state championship. After 13 games it becomes mental, especially when you're a rookie. You don't want to hit that rookie wall. That's the main thing everybody is looking for. The only thing you can do is motivate yourself.

What was it like for you to get your first two sacks in the NFL against future Hall of Famer Tom Brady and a team like the New England Patriots (picture above left)?

AB: It was tremendous going against a team I grew up not liking, the Patriots, because I was a Colts Pm fan. I was a big Peyton Manning fan, I've been a Colts fan since 1998. I grew up watching the Colts and they could never beat the Patriots. I just wanted to get that sack on [Brady] so bad.

Now you get your third sack just a few hours ago against the Dolphins and in front of your hometown fans. What was that like for you? I saw you dancing around after the sack and pointing to some fans in the stands, was that your family?

AB: You got to play happy no matter what goes on in the game. You have to play like you want to win, play happy. Tommorrow is not promised to you, so you have to play like it's your last game. Play with Bos_2 excitement and enjoyment. My family was there and so was [former FIU linebacker] Alex Bostic.

How much did you follow FIU this year?

AB: I followed them pretty well, especially when they go up against teams that some of my teammates played on.

Did you make any friendly wagers with your teammates?

AB:Mcg I made a wager with Willis [McGahee] and it was like 25 cents. Willis thought his team was going to blow out my team, but I was like it ain't going to happen (23-9). So I won 25 cents.

Where were you the Saturday that FIU broke the 23-game losing streak?

AB: I was up in Baltimore. We had a team meeting that night. When I found out all I could do was smile. Coach Cristobal is trying to make a tremendous effort to bring a good program to FIU.

Coach Cristobal recruited you for Rutgers back in the day. How was that recruiting process?

AB: It was pretty good. I remember when he came out to recruit me, he came to the front of my house Cart_2 and said if I go to Rutgers he would do a cartwheel and he ended up doing two cartwheels. It was kind of exciting seeing two cartwheels.

Have you seen the new stadium that's going up at FIU?

AB: Oh yeah I've seen it. It's getting bigger and bigger. It's something to attract many recruits. It shows that in the future, we are going to be one of the powerhouses.

What did you see in this year's FIU team?

AB: There's a lot of youth there. When I went to practice one day all you saw was a lot of new faces and a lot of young cats there. By the time they get to their junior and senior years you better watch out for them.

What kind of message do you want to send out to the FIU team and their fans that are going to be reading this on the award-winning GPP blog?

AB: Keep believing. Life is not over, because of some bad seasons. Just go at it fast pace, fast speed. Don't let nobody talk down to you, because anybody can make it.

PANTHER PAWSEGppaw

UltimateFIUFan: Unfortunately, Chandler Williams won't be on the Dolphins active roster this Sunday for the season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Fins had a rash of injuries hit their secondary and about three or four defensive backs were added to Sunday's roster.

Roman: Get your pipes warmed up, FIU baseball opens the season in 57 days at home against USC. Of course, anyone who read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas at FIU would know that.

gpantera: I'm not quitting my day job, but I thought for taking a stab at a little poetry, the FIU Christmas poetic tale came out all right. I guess, I'll have to write another one of those on the GPP in the near future to convince you.

Messod: 'Twas took me a couple of days to come up with. The line "the new FIU sports show" I wrote meant - a new athletic administration now in charge.

Hall BBPanther: Welcome to the GPP. We are nearing the New Year holiday, but if the FIU hoops team doesn't play its best in the next two games: at Purdue (Saturday) and at Mm Kentucky (Monday) it will seem like Halloween (Michael Myers-style) for SR and the hoopsters. Bet they can't wait to get back home for FAU next Saturday.

GO_PANTHERS & WhosHouse: Welcome to the GPP.

December 24, 2007

'Twas the Night Before Christmas at FIU

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through FIU Ab_5

Not a creature was stirring, not even El Monstruo;

Bells_2

The retired hoops jerseys were hung by the arena wall with care,

In hopes that more great FIU basketball players would soon be there;

The Golden Panthers athletes were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of future championships danced in their heads;

And the Herald's GPP, and I with a computer on my lap,

Had just settled down for an FIU Christmas yap,

When out on the field there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,Mc_2

Tore open the shutters to see if it was another MC Gatorade splash.

The moon on the crest of a new FIU sports show

Gave the lustre of mid-day to the Golden Panthers below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

Sleigh_2

     But a blue and gold sleigh, and eight shiny leaders,

With a bold driver, so lively and fleet,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Pete.

More rapid than eagles his coaches they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Mario! now Turtle! now, Sergio and Cindy!

On, Munga! on Thomas! on, Danijela and Casely!

To the top of the Sun Belt! to the top of it all!

Now win this way! Win this way! Win this way all!"

So up to the conference-top the coaches they flew,

With a sleigh full of wins, and St. Pete too.

     And then, in a twinkling, I heard from the Herald sports boss,Nhfp

"More FIU, more FIU" another FIU foe suffered another loss.

As I drew my hands, and started to type,

First came the FIU football team with a new stadium so bright.

The Golden Panthers were dressed all in blue, from head to foot,

And North Texas was all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of wins began after that first,

And FIU looked like an athletic program about to burst.

Fans

     The FIU fans' eyes -- how they twinkled! their dimples how merry!

Then Turtle and his team made the winning customary!

The Golden Panthers started out with USC,

And continued with a final sweep of UCG;

The Sun Belt baseball slate soon then arrived,

And Turtle's boys did more than survive;

With a real pitching coach and pitchers with promise,

Bats that produced, and a defense that was no novice.

The Golden Panthers played baseball past May,

As the five-year playoff drought was banished away.

That's how the FIU baseball season began in twenty-oh-eight,

To see how it finishes, you'll just have to wait;

     Year two of football under MC would soon follow, Mcc_2

And the chances are the win column won't be as hollow,

The rest of the FIU teams took a turn for the best,

And this was not something that was typed in jest;

PG sprang to his sleigh, to his coaches he gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like a Paul McCall missile.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."

December 19, 2007

Turnbull a Bengal; FIU Hoops a Bungle

Nt Former FIU safety Nick Turnbull signed a free agent deal with the Cincinnati Bengals yesterday and joins Antwan "El Monstruo" Barnes in the same AFC North Division. Last spoke with NT at the Don Shula Bowl last month and he said he had healed from an abdominal injury and was receiving interest from the Dolphins and Carolina Panthers. I guess the Bengals also had interest.

Oh boy, from good news to the bad. The Golden Panthers hoops team dropped another Sun Belt game last night against Middle Tennessee. Just don't see any kind of chemistry or consistency from FIU hoops. In the question I posed two blogs ago:

With a current 3-6 (now 6 was 4) record, the GPP would like to know: How do you think FIU hoops will finish this season and what are your expectations for the Golden Panthers at the end of the season. Which of the 4 is your choice:

1) NCAA tourney, 2) Sun Belt contenders, 3) FIU baseball can not get here soon enough or 4) When does spring football practice start??

Alex, I'll take option 3 for $100 dollars: The answer is: mid-January.Wfsc Jeo_2

GPP buzzes in: What is when FIU baseball begins "spring training" for the 2008 season?

PANTHER PAWSE

MRA: FIU hoops next home game is Friday against George Mason at 7 p.m. Could get ugly, these hoops Patriots will seem like the NFL Patriots to the Golden Panthers.

Yandro: Way to keep the FIU baseball countdown going. I used to do that for MLB Opening Day, but with the changes made to FIU baseball, the countdown is on for that.

China Baltimorepanther: Maybe you can get FedEx or UPS to deliver you a caja China and a lechon for the 24th. I will have FIU football recruiting stories coming out soon. The Herald has a countdown to signing day series of stories planned. From what I'm hearing FIU has 16 to 17 oral commits, with probably some surprises on signing day. Sure would be nice to land Booker T's defensive studs: Jonathan Jackson, Kambriel Willis and Tarvis Pullins. All have received interest from FIU with Willis committing. But I think what FIU also needs is a workhorse, every down running back with speed.

UltimateFIUFan: Tremayne Russell has looked OK, but none of the Golden Panthers have yet to stand out. Center Bada N'Diaye has gotten off to a slow start, because he had a left shin stress reaction to begin the season.

Messod: For someone living in the heart of college basketball country in North Carolina, you've kept pretty good tabs on FIU hoops. See above for your answer to N'Diaye.

Puma: With plenty of time left on SR's contract, I don't know if FIU can buy him out and bring someone else in. That's a decision that might be addressed sooner rather than later if this season keeps up the way it has.

alt7787: Thanks for the props on El Monstruo's story. He had plenty of good things to say about FIU in the interview that will be posted on here soon. EM also talks up FIU to his Ravens teammates. EM will get in the Herald's NFL "local report" soon.

CJ: We will have a comprehensive update and another tour of the new FIU Stadium in January and post Dd_2 it right here on the GPP. How in the world can Jessica Simpson be a jinx? Look at that jinx on the right. Tony Romo needs to man up.

FIUJM: On the channel 7 sports show the other day, MC was pumped up about recruiting and pumped up the stadium when Ch. 7 anchor Steve Shapiro asked him where FIU was playing next season. When SS brought up Paul McCall's play and who FIU's QB will be next season, MC responded that it will be like monster.com:  go out and get yourself a job.

FI-UM Fan: Thanks for the kind words, but I prefer Peter Gammons when it comes to reporting.

gpantera: Idaho's finest meant potatoes (sacks). Audric Adger and his four sacks. I knew writing that bit was a stretch. My bad.

Roman: With your unending enthusiasm behind the microphone at FIU games, we'll honor you with the Apolo Apollo Award....Not named after Creed from Rocky, but instead for the God of the Bou_2 Sun, because regardless of the game's situation, Roman always kept a sunny disposition on the PA. Unlike Ueck's Harry Doyle..................

NY/OC Panther: You might be right about FIU hoops. PG already made some good moves in hiring MC and TT for football and baseball.

24/7: Glad to hear you've become an Antwan Barnes fan. We'll let you know next time he visits FIU football practice.

December 18, 2007

1st Annual GPP Football Awards

It's been more than two weeks since the 2007 FIU football season ended with a bang as the Golden Panthers closed out the Orange Bowl and their season with a resounding win over North Texas.

Been talking about the 1st Annual GPP Football Awards on the last few blogs, but some blog housekeeping and a little Dolphins work (yours truly broke the news of the possible Dolphins sale last Tuesday and covered El Monstruo in his return to Miami) has delayed our first FIU football awards show Czj_2 until now. So without further ado, please welcome our lovely awards presenter Miss Catherine Zeta-Jones as we dole out the GPP's Football Awards. . .

The Cheers Award....and the winner is Lionell Singleton. Like the great sitcom Cheers, LS had a rough start, but finished strong. We didn't know if a half-hour show about a bar was going to make it. After four fumbles in the season opener at Penn State, LS gave us the same doubts, but he recovered to return two kicks for touchdowns -- the last, an 84-yard kickoff return in the final game of the season and of LS's college career.

The "Hey I Can See the Orange Bowl from Up Here" Award....and the winner is Chris Cook. The FIU punter had a 66-yarder against Maryland, but hit the heavens with a 71-yard punt against Troy.

Elling The Mahi-Mahi Award....and the winner is Greg Ellingson. Be honest when you go to most restaurants isn't the catch of the day always Mahi-Mahi. Well, here (left) against Troy, Ellingson pulled down this 49-yard pass for the catch of the year.

The Sunrise/Sunset Award....and the winner is The fake double reverse/fullback or tight end pass play. Just like we can count on the sun rising in the east and setting in the west, FIU quarterbacks could count on this play. Tight end Moses Hinton scored Tt_2 the first touchdown on this play against Maryland and fullback Trenard Turner made it an art form scoring on it against the Hurricanes and North Texas.

The Jessica Simpson Award....and the winner is Ashlyn Parker. The honor is Js named after a knockout and it honors the knockout of the year. Parker delivered the hit against Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick. AP obliterated CD on a sack and gave the QB a concussion and broken ribs. Now, Jess, let go of the award and hand it over to Ashlyn.

The Coast of Utopia Award....and the winner is Wayne Younger. I had to look up the Broadway play of the year (The Coast of Utopia). I didn't have to look up the FIU play of the year. That goes to Younger's Houdini-like escape of 3 Arkansas State defenders on a 2-point pass play to Moses Hinton to tie the game at 24.

The Idaho Potato Farmer Award....and the winner is Audric Adger. AA started the season with a sack Adger against Penn State and finished it with four sacks against North Texas. Next up for AA is a TV spot plugging Idaho's finest.

Best Impersonation of a Little-Regarded Former Michigan QB That Becomes a Future Hall of Famer....and the winner is Paul McCall. Yes, it took the engraver a lot of time to get this title on the award, but it was well worth the wait sort of like McCall's performances in FIU's final two Pmcall games. While the storyline is eerily similar to Tom Brady's debut back in 2001 (Drew Bledsoe gets knocked out, Brady enters and plays like an All-Pro from the get-go), let's not anoint PM as TB just yet. Even though his FIU teammates serenaded him with chants of "Brady, Brady, Brady" when PM entered the Orange Bowl locker room after the North Texas win. Still, the sophomore had a dazzling finish to 2007: 34 of 54 for 409 yards and 5 TDs in just six quarters of football.

The Superman II Hologram Image Game Award....and the winner is Michael Dominguez. Like in Superman II when the Man of Steel produced several images of himself to fool the Krypton villains in the Fortress of Solitude, the ULL Ragin' Cajuns must have thought the same when MD posted Supe2 19 tackles in the game.

The Stockbroker Award....and the winner is Audric Adger. We all hope our stockbrokers give us the best possible quote. AA did so after the North Texas win: "It was the last game and you got to let it hang loose. It was awesome to win the last game here. It's something other teams couldn't do so we're proud to close this building the right way."

The Peyton Manning Has Got Nothing On Us Award....and the winners are Scott Bryant and Greg Ellingson. Yeah, Peyton does all the ads on TV nowadays, but SB and GE made a splash (just Mcgator ask MC) with their inaugural Gatorade shower.

The Winemaker Award....and the winners are all FIU fans. You people displayed the patience of a winemaker of fine Italian merlots by riding out the 23-game losing streak and enjoying the fruits of the 38-19 win. Raise a glass to yourselves and toast a new era of FIU football.

The "I'd Say Thank You If I Could Speak" Award....and the winner is the Orange Bowl. The OB says: Don Shula visited me one last time in the FAU/FIU game this season and a college team from Miami closed me out the right way.

For Catherine and Jessica, I'd like thank you for the attending the 1st Annual GPP Football Awards. We'll get to your questions from the previous blog in our next GPP blog. The GPP sat down and interviewed El Monstruo after Sunday's game against the Dolphins and we'll post that interview on here in the coming days.

December 14, 2007

A Lot to Prove in Little Rock

We'll start getting a better gauge of what the FIU hoops team is all about when it begins Sun Belt play on Saturday night at Arkansas-Little Rock.

Galindo_2 At 3-4, the Golden Panthers have not exactly had a promising start, but with so many new players adjusting to veterans like Alex Galindo, Chris Fuller, etc., 3 wins out of 7 games is not a shock. Now comes the Sun Belt competition, an area where FIU could and should be able to win a number of games. Just what number is that, remains to be seen.

Of the 21 games left this season, 18 are against Sun Belt foes. The other three games are against NCAA powers: George Mason (at FIU) and on the road at Purdue and Kentucky.

With a current 3-4 record, the GPP would like to know: How do you think FIU hoops will finish this season and what are your expectations for the Golden Panthers at the end of the season. Which of the 4 is your choice:

1) NCAA tourney, 2) Sun Belt contenders, 3) FIU baseball can not get here soon enough or 4) When does spring football practice start??

PANTHER PAWSE

Will still be taking questions for TT past Saturday since he is out of town and the Q&A will be pushed back a few days.

Due to some housekeeping in the last two blogs, the 1st Annual GPP Football Awards will now debut early next week. This will not be your typical awards show with the exception of having a lovely presenter handing out the awards.

FIUBlueandGold: That was CrazyC's unedited blog in its entirety.

24/7: The reason for CC's blog getting an immediate response from the GPP is because this is an FIU blog. The GPP is more than happy to sacrifice getting only 8 to 10 posts on a certain blog to ensure the integrity of the GPP. We're not selling out here. There will be plenty of "golden opportunities" to increase readership and blog hits down the road. Once FIU starts winning on a consistent basis, which it will, the traffic will increase on the GPP drastically, because of the bandwagon nature of this town. When I was pumping gas in my car yesterday I came across some blog material. A perfect example of Mar Heat bandwagon Miami. The guy on the pump across from mine had those little flags on top of his car of a Marlins World Series champion banner and a Heat NBA champion banner. I asked the guy where's your Dolphins flag? His response: nah, they suck. Now if the Dolphins were 9-4 and thinking playoffs, I guarantee you that flag would have been atop that Honda Element.

December 13, 2007

Doing It the GPP Way

Thanks to FIU Fanatic for bringing to mind one of the most celebrated persons ever to get behind a microphone. Yes, FIU Fanatic, like Frank Sinatra and his dulcet sounds, the GPP is "Doing it My Way" Fs_2 when it comes to posting blogs.

Yes, the previous "guest" blog does not belong on the GPP, but as a blog of its word, the GPP still posted the drivel.

Since the GPP is doing it my way, here's what CrazyC meant to write in the previous Top 10:

Top 10 Reasons Why CrazyC is secretly an FIU Football Fan:

10 - FIU considers itself the Harvard of West Miami. Why not? Harvard has won 7 National Championships in football (The GPP did a little research to help CC). Harvard was college football's king in the following seasons: 1890, 1898, 1899, 1910, 1912, 1913, 1920. Not kidding, look it up. Also, Harvard still holds the NCAA record for most points scored in one season (765 points).

9 - It doesn't matter where pre-game meals are from, with hungry players and a hungry new coaching staff the program will rise.

8 - Try the bistec empanizado, con moros and maduros at La Carretta, good stuff. That's breaded steak with black beans and rice, plus fried plantains. The meal of champions.

7 - After CC had dinner at the FIU cafeteria, CC saw MC recruiting at Northwestern and Booker T. football games.

6 - God, CC loves Cuban coffee.

5 - They are building it (a football team and a new stadium), they will come.

4- Didn't know they gave IQ tests to football fans?

3 - Fans might see soccer, along with football, played at the new state-of-the-art stadium.

2 - The players on the current roster closed out the Orange Bowl the right way with a convincing win, unlike a school in Coral Gables, who finished their tenure at the OB with a convincing loss (48-0).

1 - I wish the FIU beat writer was my team's beat writer and pitched for my softball team.

Win a GPP Blog 2nd winner: CrazyC's Guest Blog

We had two readers finish with perfect records of 12-0 in predicting FIU football games this season, so here is our second Win a GPP Blog winner's guest blog. Regardless of his collegiate affiliation (if there is one to begin with) the GPP delivered on letting the following reader write his blog. The following is CrazyC's unedited blog on FIU football....

Top 10 Reasons FIU Football WILL Never Succeed

10- They consider themselves the Harvard of West Miami

9- Pre-game meals are sponsored by Pollo Tropical

8- When recruits come to town, UM provides sirloin and lobster at Capital Grille. FIU serves picadillo y tres leches at La Carretta

7- MC recruits his players in the school cafeteria

6- Half the fan base is located in Cuba and hence, can't attend most games. The other half is still Cuban, so they dont show up until midway through the third quarter and by then, the game is long over.

5- With more than 100,000 alumni and over 50,000 students, less than 6,000 show up on gameday

4- The Football team has more wins in two years than there are currently intelligent fans

3- Fans show up for games expecting to see soccer

2- For reasons that are known to only those who need to know, the players on the current roster are either terrible or suspended

1- The FIU beat writer and biggest supporter (who thinks if certain plays went the other way, the team could be undefeated 2 years running) wears a UM hat and jersey while pitching for his softball team.

December 11, 2007

73 days until Opening Night vs. USC

The Major League Baseball Hot Stove season is well underway as the flea market Marlins have shown, so figured why not turn on the FIU Stove baseball hot stove as well.

As of this blog there are 73 days until FIU opens the 2008 baseball season at home against the USC Trojans on Friday, Feb. 22. There have been many of you craving some baseball blogs and guess what, Christmas is coming early for you people.

Start sending in your questions here on the GPP for new FIU baseball coach Turtle Thomas as the GPP will conduct a question and answer session with TT and you folks ask the questions. We'll try to get to as many of your questions as possible with TT and post the answers on here soon. Please have your questions in by this Saturday, Dec. 15.

Not exactly an earth-shattering performance by the FIU hoops team the other night against the Hurricanes. The way the Golden Panthers played made um look like North Carolina or Kansas. I know I mentioned it in the live hoops blog, but FIU hoops needs to hit the weight room as Hoops last Saturday's domination in the paint by um showed. It seemed like FIU was very tentative to attack the basket and settled for jump shots. Also, I'm not too sure what is the purpose of the FIU offense. It just seems like guys are standing still waiting for a pass. There is not much movement or cutting to the basket. Not saying they have to become the Phoenix Suns, but there just doesn't seem to be much life when the Golden Panthers have the ball.

Yes, it was not a conference game for FIU, but the Golden Panthers have not shown any consistency this season that allows you to believe they will compete for the Sun Belt title. Sun Belt play begins at Arkansas-Little Rock on Saturday night. It's still early, but I was expecting a better start by the Golden Panthers hoops squad. Maybe 5-2 now instead of 3-4 with USF and um having better teams than FIU.

El Monstruo Antwan Barnes comes back home to Miami on Sunday when the Ravens take on the Dolphins at Dolphin Stadium. With the Swiss cheese Miami O-line, it could Ab be a big day for EM. I'm scheduled to cover the Ravens on Sunday for the Herald's game coverage, hopefully EM can get a few sacks, an interception and score a touchdown while he's in town.

***BLOG ADVISORY: The next blog posted on the GPP will be the guest blog of our second winner of the Win a GPP Blog contest. That would be CrazyCane.

But after that blog is posted, we'll roll out the red carpet for the 1st Annual GPP Football Awards. Red

PANTHER PAWSE

UltimateFIUFan: Good to meet one of the GPPers in person at last Saturday's game. The Raja Bell video can be seen on the fiusports.com website. The FIU athletic department is a fan of this blog and read it daily so they got the Bell tribute on their website. As far as FIU students and fans at the game, you got to remember this is a bandwagon town we're living in and in the past FIU students and fans have not had much to cheer about. I was somewhat surprised not to see a better turnout last Saturday, but when FIU starts winning on a regular basis and it will, then you'll see plenty of FIU people in the seats. And you will even see people, who have no connection to FIU start showing up and supporting the Golden Panthers. That's just the way this city works.

FIUJM: Talk and write about all the recruiting you want on the GPP. It's all welcomed here and positive when you have some of the more talented players in this area wanting to come to FIU. My big issue with recruiting is that we rely on the words of these 18-19 year olds, who have not signed any letters. Most of these kids are easily influenced and cannot make up their minds on such simple things like picking Oreo between Rocky Road or Oreo at Coldstone (go for the Oreo, kid) and yet the public gets all excited about what a kid says in the months before signing day. I'd like to see the John Hancock on the dotted line in February before writing anything about it. Although, I know the Herald will have me write FIU recruiting stories as signing day nears.

CJ: We'll have another GPP New Stadium Tour in early January and we'll post updates and new pictures on FIU's new home. I know fiusports.com already has some new photos up if you people want to check that out.

Baseball Fan & Blonde2864: Welcome both to the GPP. And yes, baseball is right around the corner.

December 08, 2007

Live Hoops Blog from Pharmed Arena

About five minutes from tip-off and the arena is filling up quite nicely. Let's see what the Golden Panthers bring to the court tonight. . .

December 07, 2007

Live Hoops Blog during Saturday's game

In what is looking like the first of the final four games between FIU and the Hurricanes in the three major sports, we'll have a live hoops blog on Saturday night sitting courtside at Pharmed Arena. Game time is at 7 p.m. on Saturday and the GPP expects to be on-line at around 6:45 p.m. for the live blog.

With the football series between the two schools done with, the Golden Panthers and the HCs play in hoops this season and next season in Coral Gables. The word is the series will not be renewed after 2009. And the two baseball teams meet for the final two games of their series this upcoming baseball season. FIU and HCsBell likely will not play thereafter unless they both land in the same regional.

FIU will retire Raja Bell's (right) number on Saturday and that may be one of the few Golden Panthers hoops highlights on the night.

Yes, FIU defeated Buffalo on Wednesday by 13. The same Buffalo team that beat South Florida earlier this season and the same USF team that routed FIU. But the whole common opponent stat is overrated. If the Golden Panthers do not consistently score, hit their free throws and play some interior defense Saturday then it could be a 20 to 30-point blowout by the orange and green. FIU hoops has not shown any consistency this season and its interior defense has been non-existent. HCs centers Anthony King and Dwayne Collins could have huge nights in the paint. Not that the Hurricanes should book a ticket to the Final Four, but they have some pretty good athletes on that team and FIU is a work in progress.

One Golden Panther hoopster, who has stood out lately has been sophomore guard Erick Nsangou (below left). The 6-foot dynamo has been one of the scoring leaders the last couple of games for FIU putting up 17 last Nsang Sunday against Florida Gulf Coast and a double double of 15 points and 10 rebounds against Buffalo. EN got his first start of the season against Buffalo and was all over the court offensively and defensively. Now I know it's a small sample of games, but Nsangou is looking like the Paul McCall of FIU hoops. A guy that is showing what kind of talent he has when given the chance. The last few games and at other times this season coming off the bench, EN has been the best FIU hoopster out there.

PANTHER PAWSE

Nice job by FIUrulez in his rookie blog debut. CrazyCane must be writing a novel for his blog. No word yet from CC or his lawyers (24/7 and NY Josh) on his blog.

Ab El Monstruo TV alert: Colts at Ravens this Sunday night at 8 p.m. on NBC. Watch EM take down Peyton Manning.

Puma: Glad to know we don't have a GPP reader with no-name. My understanding is that former AD Rick Mello gave SR a four-year extension just before he got canned last September. As far as El Monstruo, I too cannot find anywhere to watch the sacks (I did see them live on ESPN), with the exception of the NFL Network, which nobody gets on their cable system. You might want to try Inside the NFL on HBO when they show the Pats/Ravens highlights. I believe the show airs on Saturday at 11 a.m. By popular demand, will keep the Cowgirls Fsuuu_2 as   regulars on the GPP. Although, we need to find some FIU Cowgirls at the new stadium next season. That's right FIU girls: Here's your chance to become regulars on the GPP. IMO, FIU has much better looking girls than FSU.

Puma & Quijote: I think that clause in MC's contract is good for him and the football team. If the players he recruits are academically eligible, then MC doesn't have to go through all the red tape to get those guys in. I know state universities are tightening admissions, but if FIU is committed to building a top notch athletic program it all starts with the football team and getting those eligible players in, because that's the sport that will bring the athletic dept. and the school the money and recognition. Again if those players have the grades and test scores, then there should be no reason why they cannot attend FIU especially if they are going to help the football team get better. I know this may sound narrow-minded, but that's the point we are discussing here to make the football team better.

fiugrad78: Please move away from the horse. I promise we got the baseball blog on deck soon. Next week after the GPP's Football Awards Show, we'll start taking questions for FIU baseball coach Turtle Thomas for our Q & A blog with the new Golden Panthers coach. Just like we did earlier this year with Tt MC, it will be a chance for FIU fans to ask TT their pressing baseball questions.

CJ: The FIU coaches are out and about on the recruiting trail. But until I see some signatures on the dotted line of national letters of intent with FIU's logo atop of it by February, then there really isn't much to say about recruiting.

FIU Student: Welcome to the GPP. Did not see Audric Adger get the helmet sticker on ESPN, but I heard about it. Two days later on ESPN, El Monstruo gets his first two NFL sacks.

XorZero: Welcome to the GPP.

December 06, 2007

Win a GPP Blog winner: FIUrulez's Guest Blog

Mcgadade_3 Here is the first of our two GPP readers winning blogs for correctly guessing the outcome of each FIU football game this season.

The following is FIUrulez's guest blog. . . .

The season, the streak and the Orange Bowl have all come to an end.

Our team was left in shambles in 2006 but Saturday proved this team has the potential for greatness. The thorough lambasting that our Golden Panthers dealt out was awe-inspiring.  Now we look towards the future, where baths will be common place like in the above picture.

Every day our stadium continues to grow just like our football team. Right now our coaches are combing the gridiron desperately trying to fill the ranks with the best talent.  With the great talent that will come and fans like us, FIU’s new stadium will be rocking for years to come.

Will Paul McCall be leading this team next year? Only time will tell. If we were to base our decision on Saturday, we might as well start building his statue outside of the stadium. I was not only impressed with the way he played on Saturday, but also with his patience. Shelved all season, he came out and won the first game he started. Some will wonder what would have occurred had McCall started earlier in the season. I will not. It is inconsequential. Our program was 1-11 but that one was so sweet, gratifying, wonderful and any other synonym for kick ass!

I want to thank, and congratulate the entire coaching staff for putting forth all their effort and ending that streak. Right now, being an FIU coach is tough. I also want to thank all the players, especially the seniors. They gave their all every game no matter what. Lastly, we FIU fans have to pat each other on the back. We are patient folk and take nothing for granted. All we wanted this year was a win and we got it. Most of all, thanks Pete. What would Golden Panther Nation be without our fearless leader?!Logo_2

December 05, 2007

The Monstrosity

Monster Wednesday on the GPP: El Monstruo terrorizes the New England Patriots. It could be a week of horrors for the FIU hoops team and a monster win for the FIU ladies last night.

Barnes Congratulations to "El Monstruo", Antwan Barnes for recording his first two NFL sacks on Monday Night Football and against the New England Patriots. Barnes, a former FIU defensive end/linebacker and current Ravens rookie, took down Tom Brady twice. Here is one of them on the left. On each of EM's sacks, MNF play-by-play man Mike Tirico happened to mention "Antwan Barnes from Florida International". Who does Barnes think he is Audric Adger?

The Golden Panthers hoops team returns to the hardwood tonight against the Buffalo Bulls at Pharmed Arena. Question: Is it a city law in Buffalo for every team to have some kind of bull or toro nickname? Buffalo Bills, Buffalo Bulls and Buffalo Bison (minor league baseball team).Bills Why don't they just call their next team the Buffalo Wings.

Anyhow, FIU fell apart last Sunday against Florida Gulf Coast. The Eagles have competed with the Golden Panthers in their past two meetings that FIU has won, but FIU should not be losing to FGC.

Buffalo already has knocked off South Florida this season. For those scoring at home in that game it was the Bulls beating the Bulls. We all saw what USF did to FIU earlier this year, so it could get monster ugly tonight. Then the green and orange from Coral Gables come to FIU on Saturday night. Los Hurracanes are unbeaten this season and if FIU continues its sloppy play of late then Saturday's game will be a 30+point victory by the visiting team. Like it's been written here before, early indications through five games are that the Golden Panthers hoopsters are soft both physically and mentally. Let's see if that changes tonight.

Iva The same cannot be said of the FIU lady hoopsters and I mean that as a compliment. FIU strolled into Coral Gables last night and rallied from a 10-point deficit to beat the lady Hurracanes 60-58. Today's game story . Pretty big win for FIU, since it had been on a five-game skid after losing their two best post players for the season in: Elisa Carey and Marquita Adley. Guards Iva Ciglar and LaQuetta Ferguson carried the Golden Panthers scoring 41 of the 60 points.

On a separate note and this has nothing to do with the GPP, but got a little rant before last night's women's game at BankUnited Center in Coral Gables. Apparently, the media cannot park near the arena and has to use the event parking garage behind right field of the Hurricanes baseball field. Now I don't mind walking, in fact I encourage it, but something is amiss here. When there is only one media outlet (Miami Herald) covering the game and there are only 50 fans in the building watching the game. I actually counted 82 people in last night's game and FIU fans made up 44 of those. Why the heck is parking about two blocks away when there are more than 100 parking spaces next to the arena? My apologies about bringing this to the GPP, but needed a little keyboard therapy here. Glad to be parking tonight in the friendly confines of Pharmed Arena. Pa_3

PANTHER PAWSE

Still have not heard from our Win a GPP Blog (patent pending) winners: FIUrulez and CrazyCane. They must be writing up a storm. Take your time winners, we got plenty of space for you here.

Thank you: yippee, FI-UM Fan, Quijote, UltimateFIUFan and all the faithful GPPers for your readership this football season. Although football is the most popular sport among the readers, the GPP is not going into hibernation just because the season is over. We got hoops, baseball and football off-season to blog about all year round.

gpantera: Next time I see Audric Adger I will let him know about his fan club in Pembroke Pines. Maybe they can get your kid and AA in a TV commercial.

Messod: We won't call you Mr. Irrelevant for coming in last, because you're a loyal GPPer. But your parting gifts from the GPP for your last place finish include a Don Strock bobblehead and the former Strokc_2 head coach's locker stall from the old fieldhouse. In this photo on the left the claw is about to dig out the locker for you.

Baltimorepanther: The Dolphins got a shot against Buffalo, Baltimore and Cincinnati, but not if they play like last week against the Jets.

CJ: Little Gore from Columbus, that's running back Jakhari Gore has already FIU's attention, but also interest from a number of other schools. Let's see what happens.

New Comment Submitted: Welcome to the GPP. You got to give yourself a GPP name like the readers listed above. I will double check, but I believe Rouco has 4 years left on his contract.

FIUBlue82: The cowgirls belong to FSU. The witches have been adopted by FIU. If we can find some FIU cowgirls in the stands at the new stadium next year then we'll say goodbye to the witches. Or if someone knows how to replace the FSU in these lovely ladies outfits with FIU then we could go that route. Either way, here you go with an early Merry Christmas gift from the GPP....Fsu_2

NY Josh: Didn't know you were such a big El Monstruo fan. I'll bet you got a FIU No. 42 jersey in your closet somewhere.

December 03, 2007

That Winning Feeling

The quarterback being carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates. The head coach Mcgator_3 gettting a Gatorade shower from linebacker Scott Bryant and receiver Greg Ellingson. The defensive end acting like a "Monstruo" and the kick returner finishing his career with a sprint and winning an award for it.

Pmcall There was plenty of winning  at the Orange Bowl on Saturday night thanks to your Golden Panthers, who buried North Texas 38-19 and the 23-game skid. Great to finally be able to write a winning game story after 728 days. FIU sends OB out a winner

Looks like FIU may have found its quarterback for the next two years after Paul McCall's (below, left) performance on Saturday night. The sophomore looked like a senior All-American with the way he directed the offense going 11 of 19 for 228 yards and 3 TDs. (I know it's been repeated here before: McCall is a sophomore on the field and a senior in the classroom. He still has two years of eligibility on the football field).

Mccall I have not seen an FIU offense look as productive and as in sync since possibly the last few games of 2005. Not too shabby a debut by PM. Could he have played earlier this season? Saturday's game sure made a case for it. Here's what impressed me the most from PM against North Texas. Early on when the offense couldn't get in rhythm, PM did not panic. PM looked so poised out there sort of like he had been running this offense in a video game or since Pop Warner football. He took what the defense gave him. When protection broke down, PM scrambled and made smart plays such as throwing a ball away when there was no one open or tucking the ball and running. As for PM's running, he looked pretty nimble to me when he did take off. On that 9-yard run in the third quarter, PM made a move to fake out a NT linebacker to get the 9 yards. He sure did not look lead-footed. PM also went through his reads and did not stare down his receivers which had the Mean Green DBs off-balance.

Several Golden Panthers carried PM off the field afterwards and when PM entered the Orange Bowl locker room his teammates serenaded him with chants of "Brady, Brady, Brady" for New England QB Tom Brady. Since Tb PM wears No. 12 and had a Brady-like game on Saturday.

Going into spring practice in about 3 or 4 months, MC and offensive coordinator James Coley will have a great situation on their hands -- 2 QBs that can play. Although it's only been one game and a half, PM may be a more complete QB than Wayne Younger. But you cannot discount WY's athleticism. Heck, we may even see him at receiver next season (like Hines Ward), just a hunch. The great situation sort of plays out like the LSU QBs. This year LSU has a passer in Matt Flynn and a runner/passer in Ryan Perrilloux. Not to mention, you have to see how Colt Anderson progresses in year two and don't discount freshman Darold Hughes, who ran the scout team this season while redshirting. Hughes showed some talent and a strong arm. Regardless, FIU's QB situation is 100 percent better than it was before the opener at Penn State just 3 months ago. Some college teams don't even have one good QB. U interpret as u like.

How about defensive end Audric Adger (right) saving his best performance for his last college game in the Adger_2 Orange Bowl's last college game. AA tied Antwan "El Monstruo" Barnes' school record of 4 sacks in one game. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Afterwards, he gave some kid the Joe_2 wristband he wore during the game. Almost like Mean Joe Greene in that old Coke ad. AA also may have had the quote of the year when I asked him about his final college game and the OB's final college game, Adger said: "It was the last game and you got to let it hang loose. It was awesome to win the last game here. It's something other teams couldn't do so we're proud to close this building the right way." Wouldn't it have been funny if FIU would have scored 48 points??

Lionell Singleton finished his FIU career in a hurry with that 84-yard blaze of a kickoff return for a touchdown that put FIU up for good at 14-12. He also had an interception. This morning LS was awarded the Sun Belt Special Teams Player of the Week honor.

If you read this morning's Miami Herald, then you know MC and his coaches did not wait long to hit the recruiting trail. FIU coaches recruiting . From watching this season, some of FIU's needs are impact pass rushers (a la El Monstruo, Alexander Bostic, Keke Bouie). FIU also needs some beef on both O & D lines. Could also use an impact, workhorse running back, defensive backs and a kicker.

Let's see what February's signing day brings. Already mentioned spring practice is in 3 or 4 months. Here are the official countdowns as of today for: 2008 opener at Kansas (271 days) 2008 new stadium opener vs. USF (292 days). Ending the 23-game losing streak in the OB's final game: priceless.

PANTHER PAWSE

Cham Whoa! Everyone settle down. I've consulted with the FIU witches (here they are on the left with the Win a GPP Blog winning cake) and I've read everyone's comments regarding the Win a GPP Blog. Since I got a little lax enforcing the in-times for scores, we'll have two guest bloggers as the winners of Gpp our Win a GPP Blog. By count of our final leaderboard, FIUrulez and CrazyCane were the only two readers to finish with perfect 12-0 records by correctly predicting FIU to win last Saturday. CC may actually be an FIU fan after all who has a closet of blue and gold.

FIUrulez and CrazyCane write your blogs to my e-mail: ppelegrin@miamiherald.com and also include whatever photos/art you want me to put on your blog -- whether you send the art yourself or you want me to go find the photos/art that you want on your blog. When I have read your blogs to make sure they are clean, then I will post them in their entirety on the GPP.

For the FIU faithful, FIUrulez will have his or her blog up first and then CrazyCane. I will advise when CC's blog is up so that if you do not want to read it, then you don't have to.

Here is the final Win a GPP Blog leaderboard:

12-0: FIUrulez 236, CrazyCane 326.

11-1: FIUPantherFan 232, NY Josh 246, Fomenter 264.

10-2: FIU Fanatic 261, GPP 280, 24/7 303.    7-5: Messod 286.

On to the GPP reader mail....

Quijote & Baltimorepanther: We may have gotten a glimpse of Paul McCall's talent in the 2006 season opener at Middle Tennessee when Josh Padrick got knocked out for one play. PM entered. MT went with an all-out blitz on PM on the first play. PM scrambled through the rushers and on the run hit Chandler Williams for an 18-yard completion. Could he have come in sooner this season? Like I wrote above, if we use the last two games as an indication, then yes. WY had a better spring, but once PM got comfortable in the spread throughout the season you saw what he can do. I thought before the season that PM and WY would split quarterback duties the whole season until one emerged. But coaches thought WY was better suited to the new spread offense. Now we know both can equally run the spread with McCall being the better passer.

Andy D: Though this is not an FAU blog, we'll take your coincidences since the Dolphins got hammered Scar yesterday. How about that wise old Owl Howard? Tell your boys to try the beignets at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans and say hello to the Scarlett Johansson look-a-like bartender at Luke's on Charles Street. Tell her it's your first rodeo in the Big Easy.

Puma: Judging from the first five games, the FIU hoops team does not have it together physically and mentally. The team is not aggressive driving to the hoop, many times settling for jumpers. There is no Ivan interior defense. Opponents have had a field day with easy baskets in the paint against FIU. And the Golden Panthers don't have that one horse they can count on when they need a basket like they had when forward Ivan Almonte was here a few years ago. IA is currently playing in Europe. At this rate, TT and baseball season cannot get here soon enough.


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