Now that the new basketball school known as FIU has introduced its new hoops coach, time to turn the attention back to the diamond where your Panthers (left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) are coming off a doubleheader sweep of the Big East's No. 1 team in the Tampa/South Florida Bulls.
FIU baseball led by coach Turtle Thompson, is currently sitting in 4th with 6 losses in the Sun Belt behind 1st place Western Kentucky -- 3 losses -- (who FIU beat 2 out of 3), Middle Tennessee -- 5 losses -- (FIU lost its only series this season to the Blue Raiders) and Troy -- 5 losses -- (who FIU beat 2 out of 3).
New Orleans comes to University Park Stadium on Friday for a 3-game weekend series, but don't let the Privateers last place standing in the Sun Belt fool you or fool the Panthers. UNO (the team, not the card game) can hit and if FIU overlooks them this weekend it could put a dent in the Panthers hopes for having a chance to win the regular season Sun Belt title come mid-May or even for an NCAA regional berth.
Good to see FIU's mid-week pitching take some steps forward this past week. Freshman R.J. Fondon, who has been pretty solid for most of the season, delivered in the first game against USF and Daniel DeSimone (near, left, AJH photo) did as well in the nightcap. Reliever Eric Berkowitz (below, right, thanks Sam Lewis photo), who his teammates call Harry Potter because of a resemblance with the glasses he wears, has also shown some magic out of the pen.
At 22-12 and 9-6 in the Sun Belt, FIU has 20 games left, but only 7 of those games are at home and after next Wednesday at home against Bethune-Cookman, FIU will only have 3 home games left May 1-3 vs. Arkansas State.
In the final 20 games, there are plenty of tough games: at Louisiana-Monroe for 3 games, visits to Fla. Gulf Coast, Stetson, Florida State, South Alabama for 3 and finish the season with 3 games in Boca Raton against the Hooters. We should get an indication, especially with the road games, if FIU can make the postseason for the first time since 2002.
Unless, FIU wins the Sun Belt Tournament or reaches the tournament final in Troy at the end of May, the thought here is that the Panthers would need to finish 14-6 or 15-5 to have a 36-18 or 37-17 regular season and get back to a regional.
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alt7787: Pete, I have a Marlins question. Is there a reason why the Marlins use Ronnie Paulino when Josh Johnson pitches?
PP: The reason Paulino has been in there on JJ's starts is that the Marlins have faced a left-handed pitcher each time and Paulino is a right-handed batter. John Baker, the starting catcher, is a left-handed batter and manager Fredi Gonzalez does not like the lefty versus lefty matchup. In JJ's first start, lefty Scott Olsen started for the Nationals. Last Sunday in JJ's start he went up against Mets lefty Johan Santana.
FIUFP&L: PETE!!! Glad your posting. Couple of things: 1) Tim Hardaway as assistant coach? Isiah said on 790 that he was in consideration. Have you got any info 2) I heard on 560 that you were taking a job with FIU's Media Relations. Is this true? 3) How many emails/phone calls/text did you get from national media trying to get information on FIU?
PP: 1) I called Tim Hardaway on Tuesday afternoon to ask him about that and TH said: "Nothing yet, I'm just waiting for the call. I have a great relationship with Isiah. I'm happy he got the FIU job. He's going to do great things at FIU."
2) Nobody at FIU has talked to me about a job. I enjoy what I do at the MH.
3) Several national media contacted me. I was interviewed on ESPN radio on Wednesday morning. The talk show host said during the interview that FIU has got a solid coaching trio now in MC, TT and IT.
Max: Pete, any news on players that will be staying/going because of this?
FIUPantherFan: Pete, can you account for the current players? Who stays and who goes? Any hints?
PP: A little too early to tell Max & FIUPantherFan. What I do know is that IT will have a full complement of scholarships for his first recruiting class. I know IT has met with several coaches and met with Freddy and Josue Soto's former coach Art Alvarez. There could be some turnover, because a new coach, regardless of the sport, always has a different idea of talent evaluation than the former coaches in whatever sport we're talking about. i.e. MC from DS and TT from DP.
Ultimate FIU Fan: I heard Michael Dominguez transferred to a Div II school. Pete is this true?
PP: Yes, Dominguez transferred to Mesa College.
PP: Mandich no longer holds the broadcast rights to FIU football. There will be new announcers for FIU football this season. Hey, John Madden retired from TV today, maybe he wants to do radio now?
NYCFIUFan: Pete, I have a question. Just like in the draft teams do a psychological test on possible players, was there a similar test done on IT to ensure he is stable?
PP: As PG said in Wednesday's press conference, FIU thoroughly researched the situation. PG said he had an advantage in the process, because he personally knows IT. Since he became FIU's AD in October 2006, PG has only had FIU athletics on the rise and has made all the right coaching hires as MC and TT have proven to the doubters.