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A New Beginning

As the seconds on the FAU Arena game clock dwindled down last night while covering the FIU Panthers season sweep of FAU, thoughts of my bartending days came to mind.

Not just because a robust adult beverage was what the occasion called for, but also because of the hit song "Closing Time" by Semisonic.

Agg_2 In the tune, there's a line that goes: "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end".

While a loss to the Hooters last night would have for all intents and purposes been the end of FIU hoops this season, maybe, just maybe the Panthers can build some momentum with their third straight win and have their own "new beginning".

Maybe this was the beginning's end of bad FIU hoops and a new beginning of a promising future that includes some solid recruits next season. Stay tuned. Before a quick trip to Troy on Saturday, the Sun Belt's top two teams (Western Kentucky and South Alabama) descend on FIU's Pharmed Arena next Wednesday and Saturday.

By the way, nice job by FIU Prez Maidique to get more than 100 Panthers fans on a bus up to the Mouth of the Rat (that's the Boca Raton translation for our non-Spanish speaking readers) for last night's Parting of the FAU Moses Red Sea. That's the kind of enthusiasm FIU fans are waiting to unleash when the Panthers teams make winning a habit. And unless, you actually heard the entire "Ole, Ole, Ole FIU" cheer from the FAU student section, who were standing and sitting behind yours truly on press row, you could have sworn it sounded like they were cheering for FIU. Don't start pounding your keyboards, Hooters fans, I know you weren't cheering for FIU.

Back to FIU hoops, the top 3 Sun Belt teams get tournament byes and seeds 4 through 8 get 1st round home games. FIU (6-9 in Sun Belt) is now No. 9 with three games to play. The Nos. 5-8 teams are all 7-7 in the Sun Belt.

Tt A new beginning starts tommorrow night against USC on the FIU baseball diamond.

While the Panthers baseball squad is not talking Omaha just yet (unless you count gpantera and his prediction of 56-0) -- at least from watching practice and new coach Turtle Thomas's detailed instruction, work ethic, enthusiasm and relentless conditioning program, and talking to FIU baseball players and reading your comments on the GPP -- there is definitely a sense of hope springing eternal at the FIU ballpark.

The biggest concern is going to be the pitching depth with the season compacted into a little more than three months. The hitting should be there, especially with TT's instruction and the fielding can only get better. Team speed is also an issue, with pitcher Akeem Francis probably being the fastest Panther.

If you need proof there is constant instruction under TT, here's a snapshot from a recent practice. A Panther went for a ground ball in the hole and missed it. Last season, when the Panther missed that kind of grounder, the former coaches would ask why did you miss it? This season when that grounder was missed, the first thing the new coaches said was: "Here's what you have to do to get that grounder"Bb  and showed the Panther how to field the play. While all that may sound a bit like the old "Baseball Bunch" TV show hosted by Johnny Bench, it's exactly what the Panthers needed.

Regardless of what happens at this weekend's three-game series with USC, I wouldn't read too much into it. First of all, it's the first three games of the season and either team or both may not be at their best. Second, while the point is to try and win every game, the experience of these 3 games against the 12-time National Champions Trojans will help the Panthers get ready for conference play where the Sun Belt is ranked No. 6 out of 31 Division I conferences when it comes to conference strength.

So if FIU sweeps, takes two out of three, loses two or gets swept, if you want a better gauge of where TT's team stands check the record on March 24 after FIU has played 25 games and has just come back from Arizona and a brutal four-game tournament against College World Series teams: Arizona State and UC-Irvine. By then, we should have an idea of how much work needs to be done at University Park.

Speaking of work at University Park, if you're going to the game tommorrow night, you will see a spruced-up FIU Baseball Stadium.

The inside of the stadium got a fresh paint job and if you happen to be one of those fans that bought one of the sold out suites or was invited to a suite to watch the game, then you may feel like you're watching the game from a major league stadium suite. There has been some serious re-modeling there.

Also, there are plans to build field level suites behind home plate to give fans a catcher's view of the Dodge game. There is a ton of unused room under the seats on the second level. The field level suite will be sort of like they used to have at Dodger Stadium before they re-modeled Chavez Ravine. And you thought the Turtle was only making FIU baseball better on the field.

Gppaw PANTHER PAWSE

If you want to see one difference a good pitching coach makes, then check out my FIU baseball preview in Friday's Miami Herald.

Last chance to send in your prediction on the FIU baseball season for the Win a GPP Blog II is before 7 p.m. tommorrow night (Friday). Once Chris Allen throws the first pitch, the contest closes. I'll list all the entries with records and postseason results in an upcoming post.

And I haven't forgotten about your stadium questions. Will have all the answers, soon.

FIUJM: MC is currently interviewing several candidates for the O-coordinator position, but last I spoke with him, there is no leading candidate. MC previously said he would like to have the position filled six days before spring practice starts. So by my count that would be in 10 days on March 2. FIU opens spring ball on Saturday, March 8.

FIU0406: You are correct the GPP would have to get another name after the "Golden" is dropped. I'll take suggestions for re-naming it from Panthers Prowl to whatever you good people of the GPP can come up with. Maybe we'll have a Win a Blog contest for the new name of this blog.

Jim: Welcome to the GPP. Yes it would be a great deal for MLS, FIU and Miami-Dade County taxpayers for soccer to come to the new state-of-the-art FIU stadium. MLS gets to play rent-free, FIU gets exposure and financial rewards, and the taxpayers don't have to help pay for a $120 million soccer stadium next to the new Marlins ballpark for a soccer team that may not be here in five years.

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I posted my undefeated season prediction yesterday, went to bed, woke up today and my prediction remains tied for first place in this contest (eternal optimist, rabid fan, i know).

Go G-Panthers!!!

Guys the men's hoops team needs our support NOW as we head toward the final stretch. They are playing vastly improved basketball with improved guard play, cohesion among the team and much fewer turnovers. How about making it a point to attend & bring friends to the final two home games next week. This NOISE they definitely need!

GO FIU!!!

Pete, I forgot to ask. I was told by someone in the community that knows the NCAA, that we are the ONLY Div IA school that DOES NOT have basketball on the radio for all games. Is this true? I'm not talking about the WRGP radio broadcast, which is GREATLY appreciated since the alternative is NOTHING! I'm referring to a package affiliated with a local station similar to what we ALWAYS had before. The guys that did the football games would do the hoops games. I checked the Sun Belt and the lowly Atlantic Sun Conference and ALL teams had radio packages. If this is true, it’s embarrassing. Is this going to change next season?

GO FIU!!!

Guys, I just read an article about FAU's fans at the arena the other night. The article stated that they were yelling expletives at FIU fans and players, as well as, to one of their own students who writes for the school paper. I don't know about you but, this seems way immature and very classless. I haven't heard much about this on this blog but, could anyone confirm this account that went to the game?

I just never think that it is right to do that. I mean, there are kids in the audience and have to hear these kids dropping the F-bomb! I don't care who it is, even if it is FIU fans doing it, its just not right.

TNPanther, I can confirm that for you. I was at the game. Visit the forums at www.fiugoldenpanthers.com to see posts about the fan situation at their arena. It was really bad, but the worst part to me was that after they lost, the students threw their red shirts on to the court in disgust.

I'm sure at least some of their more 'rational' fans are embarrassed by their own behavior. However, judging from what I read sometimes at their board, and what I saw at the OB football game this year, this kind of actions kind of not surprise me that much.

Now, baseball. Tonight we start our season with a 3-game series against perennial power Southern California (USC). Please make sure to try and attend, support our team and new leadership and enjoy the festivities with your family....

On to hoops...I agree with UltimateFan. All of you in South Florida should make a point and support our team, especially since the two best teams in the SBC are coming to Pharmed to play. We need to go first to Troy and win there...and 'steal' one of the games at Pharmed against either USA or WKU....It could make a difference in seeding, and perhaps even getting to host one Sun Belt playoff conference game!!

Go FIU!!

Real sad and immature, to say the least.

you guys im not goin to go in here and say droppin ght F-bomb is respectable or warrented for any sport. but lets get real here. fan is short for fanatic. kids go crazy. you think the major programs like duke north carolina or memphis have a "vocabulary" code. No. they dont kids are goin to do what every they can to get into the apposing teams head. thats what sports is. we cant be a school of saints.

Well, there is a line, in my opinion...I've gone to hundreds, if not thousands, of FIU games and events in my 23 year association with FIU., and not even when in my 'worst' behavior (with a drink or two on me) did I ever shout the "F" word. Now, I understand that it's mostly a thing of being loud and obnoxious at the other team..plus it's part of being a fanatic...After all that's my name...but, sometimes you have to choose some restraint, particularly when there are adults, women, and children around from the other team. Respect should have no limits.

CJ, it's one thing to be a fanatic and be as obnoxious as possible to psychc-out the opposing players, but it's another thing to be down-right disrespectful of women and children around you. If you want to yell that the opposing teams "sucks", fine, I'm cool with that, but, dropping the F-bomb and giving the middle-finger the whole time, not cool.

again i agree fanatic that there must be some sort of restraint . you cant go in to a game and start throwing F-bombs everywhere (although i have occationally let one slip in anger) but the way that it has come across on this board is that some want a group of saints watching in the stands and that really wont happen. but i do agree Fbombs shouldnt be the words of choice

Right on FIU Fanatic & TNPanther! CJ as stated, I am OK with getting into your opponents head and distracting the other team, however if you and your buddies are sitting at a game and there are little kids around you, go ahead and scream, distract and upset the other team as much as you like, heck those small kids can scream right along with you, however be cognizant of your environment and keep it at a classy level.

GO FIU!!!

TN you seem to be mis reading what i said. i never said it was respectable to do so i just think its soemthing that happens in sports and is something that decent fans must put up w/ and if opposing teams start dropping fbombs everywhere. take it with a smile and it would piss them off

No...I don't think I, or most people on this board, want saints on the stands...When I get into it, I become as vocal as any, with the blood and passion running through me like anybody else. I yell, criticize referees, and sometimes make comments to get in player's head. However, the fact we don't want saints doesn't mean we want thugs or embarrasing behavior by our fans, especially in front of kids and families. One thing doesn't necessarily exclude the other. You don't have to be disrespectul and embarrasing, in order to not be a saint. I think we can agree with that...

To put it in perspective, when we played UCG this season in basketball, their fans were loud and showed a lot of pride. However, there was nothing like that coming from their students. FAU's fans showed a real lack of class on Wednesday, hopefully their fans can move on beyond that because it really looks bad.

MaXx, you're correct! I too attended the UM @ FIU game and their fans were respectful.

The WRGP announcer made reference to the FAU fans verbal attack on our guys, which I have no problem with, however if that low-life language was used then its unacceptable.

GO FIU!!!

I think we all agree on this one. F-bombs have no place in sports, by fans.

F-bomb F-bomb F-bomb F-bomb...

sorry...

Couldn't help myself.

dont worry pike i know what you mean... it comes second nature lol

Ok...now...who is going to tonight's baseball game? I just learned from a friend of mine, who normally doesn't go to many FIU events (unless I'm there and 'invite' him...lol), and he just e-mailed me asking if I was there in Miami, because he was going to tonight's baseball game....Caught me by (pleasant) surprise...

So, who's there?

honestly doubt i will be. not that big of a base ball fan in general but i will on weekend games try to take my godson to a couple of them.. he loves baseball and is 5.... so ill try to influence him to be a golden panther..

on a plus i will def be at the wed. basketball game

Regarding someone's question above... I don't know for sure, but I truly doubt FIU is the only D-I basketball program without a radio deal. Remember, there's over 300 schools that are D-I in men's basketball. Plenty of them are small schools, both literally and figuratively. Many of those schools, like FIU, use their college stations to broadcast games. Those that have them, that is.

With that said... I do think FIU's the only SBC school without a basketball radio team. That's not exactly news for FIU, though. Before FAU joined the conference, FIU was the only baseball team without a radio deal. It sure benefitted my career when I was at WRGP, but it's definitely not a good thing in general for FIU. Hopefully that'll change soon.

can someone tell me about the game last night please? I read pete's recap but I know the paper has to edit it so it can fit, I want to know, how our kids look and how was their demenor after they were behind 10 -0. how did the pitchers reacted, who took over pitching in the 3rd and all the positives about the game. I am sure most of us were expecting 0-3 this weekend, but I want to know the things to look up for in the future when we play teams more at out level.

Tough loss yesterday. That is a pretty good USC team we played yesterday.

BP, I was at the game last night and what killed FIU was fielding and pitching. Chris Allen made some mistakes hanging some pitches, but the fielding in the 4th inning didn't help either(Error on second baseman and there was also a throwing error on 1B Castillo). I think the coaches can work on correcting that; it was only the first game of the year.

What impressed me is the lineup. Our teams is definitely going to be able to score some runs. We have like 3-4 power hitters(in my opinion)in our lineup. Another bright spot was freshman Javier Sujo; he came in when game was out a reach. In this first collegiate AB he hit a bomb!!! This kid is a local product(Sunset High).

Just hope we can possibly get a win tonight and try to win the series tomorrow.

Good luck to men's basketball team at Troy.

GO FIU!!!

Pete, heard that there is another standout hoops player that coming to play for SR's team. Last name is Otero. Any info on him? From the local hoops community I hear raves about him.

Good luck to the Panthers playing @ Troy! Keep building the momentum and lets role through SBC!!

GO FIU!!!

TT - what a difference maker!!!

Thanks FIUJM, I know they will have plenty of adjustments to make, but I hope they keep a positive outlook, Mario didn't let the football players get into a looser mentality last year, your could see in the games they were loosing but they didn't give up. I know we are not going to win them all, and we will be swept by better teams, but I hope TT keeps the boys positive and hungry. I'll be in Miami next month and I hope to attend a game or two. In a week or two some of the pitchers will settle down a bit and if the batters get hotter then we will put some w's on the board.

I couldn't make it to tonight's game but I'll definitely be out there tomorrow.

Just wanted to share with you all an article I read on Yahoo.com Sports and the NCAA baseball option.

http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaabb/news;_ylt=Asr.JMDQV.39nEhm_QjoEvwMwLYF?slug=ap-flainternational-turtlestime&prov=ap&type=lgns

GO FIU!!!

Do all of the FIU fans who picked the baseball team to lose 14, 15, 16 or 17 games care to reevaluate? GPantara - maybe you can try again, maybe try the other extreme - 0-for the season. You would at least be closer to winning then. Ha ha ha. FIU stinks. TT was the wrong choice, just like MC was. Stop eing delusional FIU fans, the problem was not Strock or Price - the problem was the players, the school, and the overrule stigma of FIU.

I hate to admit it, but Crazy might be right. Like many ofyou, I thought FIU football was going to be MUCH better than a 1 win team last year. I also thought the TT was going to make us relevant in baseball, but after an opening sweep against USC (who may or may not be in the collge baseball elite this year) I am truly disappointed. And to make matters worse, UM baseball goes out and sweeps Cincy in a dominating way. I think we all (the GPP community) need to check ourselves and our expectatons. I want to be a pwerhouse like the rest of you, but I would rather be a 1-AA powerhouse than the laughing stock of 1-A in every sport. Anyone agree?

Please......

Get lost CC!!! FIUDad, can't agree with you. You'll see how FIU football(and other sports) progess the next 2-3 years. Just be patient.

Pitching has been our weakness, but that was a good USC team. Would have been nice to win today . Remember people, there are still 53 games left; we'll get our first win on Tuesday.

GO FIU!!!

FIUDad,

No, I couldn't disagree more.

Being a powerhouse in D-1AA means nothing. FIU is one of the largest universities in the country, with outstanding academics, a diverse student body, a beautiful campus located in a large media market, and new colleges of law and medicine. There's nothing small-time about FIU. We're a sleeping giant--it's only a matter of time before FIU wakes up. No amonut of small-thinking by FIU fans or alumni or jealous anti-FIU posts by UM "fans" is going to change that. You're either on the bus, or you're going to get run over.

Crazy Cane, you are absolutely right, lets skip the rest of the season and the world series and give UCG the title and lets all agree that FIU will loose every game. Now that you heard that here, go on with your life and come back to visit again next year genious.
PS take FIUDAD with you and create your own blog where everyone else will agree with you two and you can continue with you FIU batching and UCG praises. Maybe somewhere in Hades where you both belong

Guys remember, stay above the NOISE (a.k.a. C. Cane). Got to give NOISE credit, "it" wrote about 4 or 5 sentences and only had two words misspelled. "It" might have invested (NOISE that means buying something) on "Hooked on Phonics". Hey Noise keep practicing.

GO FIU!!!

Three games does not a season make.

Perspective, people... perspective.

I was thinking we'd get swept this weekend when I predicted my record. It'll take time for this team to get to where they can compete with the likes of USC... but there's plenty of ball left. And outside of USC, there's not many other schools on this schedule that should scare FIU.

Just curious... how was the crowd this weekend? That's posed to those of you who did go.

The crowd was pretty good on both Friday and Saturday night. I tailgated with a bunch of my fraternity brothers and alumni on Saturday afternoon and we had a good 15-20 guys in come into the game. By far more than any other greek organization. The crowd seemed into the games but it was hard to cheer for them after being down the majority of the series.

In game two, I noticed a mistake on TTs parts (at least, in my opinion). It was a 5-3 game somewhere in the either in the 5th or 6th innings. We had a man on first and second with no outs. Instead of bunting the guys over to second and third, TT elected to have the hitter swing away. Well, he hit into a double play and then Townsend came up and popped out to center. Inning over... game over.

I'm not a college baseball coach but I was calling for the sac bunt and the people in the crowd looked at me funny until the double play where everyone praised me.

Other than that... these kids proved that they can hit. Once the pitching comes around, these team will be a force in the SunBelt.

pikedanny, no disrespect but your comment is silly. you don't sac bunt your 3-hole hitter (fuentas) who was swinging the hottest bat on the team all weekend. you would just hope in that situation that he gets a pitch to pull and hits behind the runners. unfortunately, he hit a ball out over the plate early in the count and hit it hard right at the shortstop who easily turned the DP. everyone's entitled to their opinion but in this case, it was a no-brainer to swing away.

As silly as it may seem to you. I am of the belief that when you're down to a team that is that much better than you, you need to put yourself in the best position to win. I think townsend at the plate with men on second and third is better than Raimey up there with guys on first and second. I know I am playing the result but my call was better than yours and TTs. For the record, playing the result is terrible but i was right this time. Even if it did seem unconventional.

That's cool - I like debating and enjoy hearing different philosophies. I personally never, ever sac bunt a 3 or 4 hitter. You already have a guy in scoring position at 2nd so let's drive in a run. Why would you give up an out with your hottest hitter? I play for a big inning - you play for one or two runs. This particular case, you looked like the genious though. :)

Are you kidding? Of course you let Fuentes swing away. There's a million reasons why bunting's a dumb idea there.

1) You don't beat better teams like USC by giving outs away. Especially in the 5th or 6th inning of a game. I don't care if it's the guy in the 9-hole who's up... don't even think of a bunt in that situation unless you need one or two runs and it's the 8th inning or later. And just because said batter hit into a double play does not justify bunting. For all you know, he could've laid a bad bunt and still hit into a DP.

2) What kind of message are you sending the team if you tell one of your BEST hitters to bunt in that situation? I'll tell you what it is, because I used to see Danny Price do it all the freakin' time. It's that you have no confidence in their abilities. It's that you don't trust them to make a play. Bunting at that time is not playing smart. It's playing scared. You don't become the best by letting fears influence your decisions.

3) The whole point of playing a USC-type school is to see how good you are against them. W's or L's aren't as important now. It's to use those games as experience when you see them later in the post-season. You don't see what your guys are capable of when you tell them to bunt with 2 on in the middle of a game... unless you think said batter can beat the throw to 1st. Which is doubtful with the lack of speed on this team.

Again, people... a sweep isn't the worst thing in the world. Using this as experience for May and June is more important.

Messod, I'll agree to disagree with you on the bunt. Like I said, I would have done things differently because they are a better team and you need to scrape as many runs as you can when you're playing a better team. Small ball is how I would play against a team I know is better than mine.

I will agree with you that playing the result (in the case, the fact that swinging away got us into a DP) is never a good thing. That being said, I stick by my call and still believe that it would've changed the whole game around.

I don't think it would send a negative message to team. Especially if I convey to them that this is the style of ball we're going to play against teams like this. Anyway, to each their own. Just do me a favor Messod, take that tone down a notch. Don't pound on the keyboard because of one little comment. Have a good day and remember... we're on the same side.

I'm just glad we're talking FIU baseball. Personally, I think TT made the right call with Fuentes. He's been hitting the ball well and in that position you can't force him to bunt.

Anyways, hopefully the USC series was learning experience for rest of the year.

GO FIU!!!

Hopefully, we can continue discussion about the weekend on the next blog as I am sure this one is running out and there are some things I would like to discuss, but thinking that Fuentes should have bunted in that position is not one of them. There is no way in the world that anyone would bunt in that situation, down two with one of your better hitters at the plate against a team that everyone knew was not done scoring runs.

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