Start of an important week for FIU hoops and baseball in next few days.
With 4 games left in the regular season, the Panthers hoops team is battling with 4 other Sun Belt teams for the 2 remaining spots to host a 1st round Sun Belt game. At 5-9 in SBC play, FIU is neck and neck with Louisiana (6-8), Arkansas State and ULM (both 5-9) and New Orleans (5-10) for the final 2 home game berths in the tourney's 1st round. Coming off a last second loss to South Alabama where Alex Galindo (left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez) drained 8 3-pointers, FIU plays next vs. Troy at home on Thursday and has 3 of its final 4 games at the Bank (at Western Kentucky, home vs. Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic). FIU needs to start the SBC tourney at home, because it does not travel well with a 2-11 road record.
The FIU baseball team, led by All-Sun Belters Tyler Townsend and Ryan Mollica (below left to right, thanks Sam Lewis), opens the 2009 season with a 3-game series against a tough Jacksonville team at home on Friday night at 7 p.m. It should be an improved Panthers squad with better pitching and a pretty good freshman class that should see some playing time from the beginning. You can catch the FIU baseball preview in Thursday's MH in print and on-line. Junior right-hander Scott Rembisz, the Florida JUCO Pitcher of the Year, is scheduled to be the FIU Opening Day starter.
Last year nobody won the 1st annual Win A GPP Blog (Baseball Edition) after everyone predicted too lofty a record for the Panthers, who finished 20-36. So we'll try it again this season. The person to guess FIU baseball's final record or closest to the final record without going over the loss total will get to write their own GPP Blog. Second place gets an FIU Baseball Media Guide.
Since there are only so many records you can guess for a 56-game season, the first tiebreaker will be guessing how far FIU advances in the postseason or does not make it at all and the second tiebreaker will be how many runs FIU scores this season -- and like the Price Is Right it's the number closest to FIU's losses and runs scored without going over.
Here's a sample entry to help you out: 30-26, Sun Belt semifinals, 422 runs.
We'll continue our FIU football spring tour on the next post.
CalPanther: I know we are investing a lot in the football which is awesome, but I was wondering if the U.S. century bank arena will have a new make over as well?
PP: Once the football facilites are done, the Bank would be next on the to-do things list. There have been some recent renovations at the arena such as new bathrooms.
FIUBlueandGold: Will the team be practicing in the stadium for spring ball or at the rec fields? Pete: what's the latest with FC Barca and Claure's bid with the MLS ??
PP: The team is expected to practice spring ball at the stadium. March 19 is supposed to be the day when MLS makes Miami its newest franchise.
KJHarris02: By the way Pete, are you going to be doing any interviews on some of the new and upcoming players that redshirted last year?
PP: Not sure yet what my plans are for spring ball, but I should have updates on those guys throughout the spring.
FI-UM Fan: Are any of the recruits going to start school early to participate in spring drills?
PP: The only recruits expected to participate in spring drills are Wesley Carroll, Jack Griffin and Thatcher Starling. The other 20 new Panthers begin practice in August.
blkpanther: Is there not a way to finish the bowl before the north side building is constructed in the same way that the field house is being done?
PP: The plans are for the north side and the student services center to be done at the same time by 2011-2012. However, money talks and if MLS Miami wants to get that north side enclosed before their opener in 2010, then I'm $$$$ure they can find a way to do it.
FIUFPL: 2) Whatever happened to the "march to the stadium" of the football players+band? I remember you said it couldn't happen until they got a locker room or something.
PP: FIU Fanatic answered question 1 & 3 for you. Here's question 2: The Panther Walk should take place with the first home game this season with team now having a locker room.
FIU0406: I have one question regarding this year's recruting class? How did we fare in comparison to th rest of the sun belt?
PP: It's like reviewing a restaurant: it depends on who you ask. For example, several sites have FIU second among Sun Belt teams and then another (scout.com) has FIU at No. 4 -- guess that site doesn't really know what South Florida high school talent can do for a team. See Hilton, T.Y. We won't really know until about 2 or 3 years from now, but this was definitely FIU's most talented recruiting class in the 7-year history of the program. As far as FIU vs. FAU on this year's recruiting, I have yet to find any site that has the Owls on top of the Panthers.
Now it's your turn to review or predict how FIU hoops will finish and how FIU baseball will do.