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16 posts from April 2009

April 30, 2009

Isiah On Recent Signings and Recruiting

Isiah Yesterday in a conference call, FIU hoops coach Isiah Thomas spoke about the newest Panthers (F Marvin Roberts, G Stephon Weaver, G Antoine Watson and G Phil Gary, Jr.) and what's next in recruiting.

No surprise, with him being a Hall of Fame guard, IT's first path on the recruiting trail had him focusing on the guard play.

Said IT: "We wanted to improve our guard play and increase scoring at those positions and we did that with the signings of these players. All of them are versatile and can play the 1, 2 or 3 positions. When I was in the NBA, these were guys who were highly touted as high school seniors and went on to junior college, and you had to be ready if one of them left junior college early and went to the pros."

IT on the style he expects his team to play: "We want to get up and down the court and exploit the three-pointer. We want to be an aggressive, defensive team."

Will IT add some size with the next round of players that he signs?: "We will go out and look for some size, but we want the best players. We will look to add size with these next couple of signings."

IT did not get into the specifics of this coming season's schedule. He said: "We're continuing to work on the schedule. We have had some interesting proposals."


FIUJM: Pete, what schools were recruiting these kids that IT added? Thanks in advance

PP: Roberts (Cal State Fullerton, Rutgers, High Point); Weaver (Arkansas, Arkansas State, Xavier, Ole Miss); Watson (right) (Western Kentucky, Missouri State, Rhode Island); Gary Watson (Southern Cal, Fresno State, Central Michigan).

FIUBlueandGold: Pete: can you find out what sort of renovations will done at "The Bank ??"

Pete, I understand you removing and censoring my comments back to CC, done as a response to his insult about my mom....Look, I get it, this is just a Blog/internet banter and nobody cares anyway.....yada, yada..blah, blah, blah...Seriously though, this idiot is worthless...do us all a favor and use that CLAW permanently and block his IP address from posting here. Either that or I take it up with the Data Center ops folks and get it done myself. - Thank you

PP: The plans are currently being drawn up for the renovated Bank. From what I've heard there will be a whole new entrance to the arena with a more modern look. There supposedly will be more courtside seating and likely a new Banco floor and new bucket seats. Won't really know for sure until the plans are finalized.

As long as posts are kept clean they will remain. The folks from across town care about FIU, if not they would not be trolling on the GPP. You don't see any green/orange folks visiting Ted Hutton's FAU blog, because the g/o don't care about FAU. Just remember this is Why the green/orange care about the blue/gold

blkpanther: Are J.C. Otero, Nikola Gacesa & Cedric Essola still on the team? I think the range 6'8 to 6'9. Similarly, I am not sure if Badara Ndiaye is still with the team & can apply from Med Reshirt for this year.

PP: Otero, Gacesa and Essola are still on the team. N'Diaye is gone, he graduated.

Jimmy: Pete: What affect will losing all of these players pre-graduation have on FIU basketball and the sports program as a whole in light of our current probationary status? Are we looking at possibly losing additional scholarships or other sanctions?

PP: Been told we won't know until the final hoops roster is set, but the effect is expected to be minimal. Each of these new players academic backgrounds was carefully researched. There was a post player among the recruits that was turned away, because of his grades.

Apaw You've just been named FIU hoops recruiting coordinator....

April 28, 2009

Nation's Leading JUCO Scorer Signs With FIU....1 of 4 New FIU Hoopsters

New FIU hoops coach Isiah Thomas signed 4 players on Tuesday that will take the U.S. Century Bank It Arena court this November.

Among the new Panthers is 6-5 forward Marvin Roberts, the nation's leading scorer in junior college basketball. Roberts led the NJCAA averaging 29.6 points per game this past season for Redland Community College.

IT also signed three guards: Stephon Weaver (left), Antoine Watson and Phil Gary, Jr.

22stephonweaver Weaver led Connor State to the 2009 NJCAA Final Four. He averaged 17 points per game and six rebounds per game.

Weaver, a 6-3 guard was named the Bi-State Conference Player of the Year and Third Team JUCO All-American.

Watson (right), a teammate of Roberts at Redland CC, averaged 24.8 points per game -- which was the fifth best average in the NJCAA. Watson also led the NJCAA in steals per game (4.7) and three-point shooting percentage (72% on 54-of-75 shooting). He also averaged 8.4 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game.Watson

Gary, Jr., a 5-10 point guard from Chicago Malcolm X Community College averaged nine assists per game to go along with 19 points per game. Gary recorded three triple-doubles this past season where he scored at least 30 points in those three contests.


Center Freddy Asprilla (below, left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo), according to his AAU coach Art Alvarez, has asked for his release from FIU. Point guard Josue Soto is off to Puerto Rico to play professionally. FA went back home to Colombia after the spring semester ended last Friday. FIU has not Asprilla granted FA's release.

Alvarez said: "We have nothing against Isiah Thomas or the FIU basketball program. But Freddy didn't come to FIU to play for a new coach. He came to FIU to play for Sergio Rouco under those conditions. . . His coach was just dismissed and the combination of Josue leaving left him with uncertainty. Freddy has asked for a release and we're awaiting to get that release.''

The irony of it is that FA would be playing for a new coach -- that is not SR -- wherever he ends up anyway. So this is NOT really about "a new coach". But unfortunately, we have not heard from FA directly.

IT said: "We want to do what's best for Freddy. We understand this is an emotional time for him with his coach being let go. We want to leave the door open at FIU for Freddy and I would like to talk with him when the time is right. I believe the players we have signed thus far will complement him real well.''

As far as Soto's decision, IT said: "We will do everything to assist Josue in his decision to play professional basketball in Puerto Rico.''


Apaw With Michael Dominguez and Harley Fuller deciding to go play closer to home, there are now 6 returning players: FA (to be determined later this summer), Tremayne Russell, Cedric Essola, Nikola Gacesa, J.C. Otero, Martavius Kee (transfer from Temple under SR). Although Otero and Kee are Alvarez's former players -- so stay tuned on whether those 2 guys stick around FIU.Timh


Former TCU assistant coach Anthony Anderson is the first assistant to join Isiah's staff. IT has interviewed 12 to 15 coaches for his staff and hopes to have his staff in place by the end of July. I asked IT about the possibility of Tim Hardaway (right) joining the FIU staff and IT said: "Tim is high on the list."



Congratulations to the FIU women's tennis team in making the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers open the NCAAs next Friday against Princeton in the Coral Gables Regional.


Haven't forgotten about the MARIOS Spring Football Awards, but the FIU hoops train is gathering steam of late. Will wrap up FIU spring ball later this week.

So what's your take on the Freddy situation:

April 26, 2009

Marshall The Buccaneer

Bucs Mmcduffie FIU safety Marshall McDuffie signed a free agent deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the NFL Draft concluded on Sunday.

The 6-2, 212-pound McDuffie had 26 tackles and three interceptions last season. MM worked out for the Bucs and Dolphins last week before the draft.

MM might get a chance to go against former FIU and current Falcons receiver Chandler Williams twice should both players make their teams out of training camp. The Bucs and Falcons are in the same NFC South division and play twice each season.

MM & CW along with El Monstruo are the 3 FIU players currently in the NFL.



Congratulations to Mark Rosenberg on his new job as FIU President. There was not a better candidate out there than Mr. Rosenberg. Rose


Another series win for the FIU baseball team. The Panthers defeated ULM on Sunday to take 2 out of 3 and are just 4 games from first place Western Kentucky. The last 3 home games of the season for FIU are this coming weekend with a 3-game set against Arkansas State at University Park Stadium. FIU has only lost 2 series (Middle Tennessee and New Orleans) this season.

Your Q&A

FIUAL: Hey Pete hows the construction of the field house going?

PP: Going just fine and on target to open June 30. Will have a tour of the fieldhouse on the GPP soon.

Ab alt7787: He came up with EL Monstrou didnt he?

PP: Yes, JDC came up with the nickname for Antwan Barnes (left).

FIURage: Does anyone know if Rosenberg is a sports guy or not. I would hope that the next president keeps the sports ball rolling at FIU.

PP: Like cabin001 posted: Rosenberg beat and dunked on Isiah in a pick-up game. Rosenberg ran past MC along the offensive line and sacked the quarterback and Rosenberg struck out TT on 3 pitches looking. Yeah, he's a sports guy.

Apaw For our poll question on this post, we are only going to go with seniors. Yes, FIU will eventually have some juniors ready for the NFL, but for now let's stick to this year's seniors:

April 23, 2009

Marshalling To The NFL; JDC Is FIU

Mcduf English teachers and some particular GPP readers will correct my use of the word marshal in the title of this blog post, but who cares it's sports not Shakespeare we're talking about here and in particular, it's safety Marshall McDuffie (left) -- FIU's best hope for the NFL in this year's draft.

Had a quick chat with MM recently to see how he's preparing for the NFL Draft. At 6-2, 210 pounds, MM has the size and skill set to play on Sundays. He is projected as going anywhere from the 6th round to signing as a free agent.

How has this week been for you with the Draft this weekend?

MM: I've been extremely busy with school that way I don't think about the draft so much. It hasn't hit me yet that I could be picked to play in the NFL. I'm just hoping for the best.

Have you had any recent workouts with NFL teams?

MM: Yes, I worked out for the Dolphins at their camp in Davie and I was brought up to Tampa to work outTbbucs Dolph for the Bucs. I thought I did well in both workouts.

The projections for you are anywhere from the 6th round to free agent signee. What are your thoughts?

MM: I really don't think about it too much, because the draft is so unpredictable. I know I performed well on my Pro Day at FIU. The scouts asked me to stay after the Pro Day was over and perform again for them.

If selected you would be the 3rd FIU player ever drafted to the NFL. Have you sought out any advice from the first two Panthers drafted in Antwan Barnes or Chandler Williams (left, thanks Sam Lewis photo)?

Cwill MM: I've talked a lot to Chandler and [former FIU defensive back and the first FIUKtim player in the NFL] Kevin Timothee (right). They have helped walk me through the process. They've told me to stay focused on my goal and if I do get a shot in the NFL act like you've already been there before.


We all know the popular commercial the FIU athletic marketing department came up with last year  I AM FIU and there are t-shirts with the slogan all over campus. Well, good suggestion by you good people on the GPP in nominating Jerry Del Castillo for FIU football's play-by-play job.

JDC (english translation: Jerry of the Castle) has broadcast every single FIU Iamfiu football game in the 7-year history of the program and can give you the history of the football program in both Spanish and English, which he speaks fluently. He's seen the good (first Division I win on Nov. 5, 2005 vs. Louisiana-Monroe; winning the last football game played at the Orange Bowl on Dec. 1, 2007 vs. North Texas), the bad (7 OT loss to North Texas in 2006) and the ugly (the Rocky 7 auditions in 2006).

There is no other broadcaster out there with the knowledge of FIU sports that JDC has. JDC (right) was onceJdc the Spanish voice in football, basketball and baseball of the green/orange across town before joining FIU in 2002. At FIU, he has called football, basketball and baseball. You can also hear JDC on his weeknight sports talk show -- Descarga Deportiva -- on 1550 AM.

Haven't spoken to JDC since the last football game vs. Western Kentucky to close out the 2008 season. But dialed him up to see if he had read your comments. JDC read about your push for him and is interested in the job.

"I really appreciate all the nice things the FIU fans have to say," said JDC. "I love FIU and it's wonderful that I have been able to be there since the beginning." 


A big setback for the FIU baseball team. Second baseman Ryan Mollica (.379, 8 HR, 49 RBI) is out until probably the final series of the season at Florida Atlantic. Mollica came down with mono and the Panthers hope to have him back for the Hooters, if not the Sun Belt Tournament at Troy.

Freshman Raiko Alfonso (.307 batting average) will likely fill in at 2B until Mollica returns.


Yes, it's been 3 weeks since the FIU Blue/Gold Spring Game, but FIU spring football does not end until we dole out the 3rd Annual MARIOS Spring Football Awards on the next post.

Until then, tell us how you really feel about FIU football's new radio deal.

April 22, 2009

New Radio Home for FIU Football

Fiuhelmet FIU football is switching radio stations this fall and will have its games broadcast on Tik 790 The Ticket beginning with the season opener at Alabama on Sept. 12.

"We've very excited to have the opportunity to be on 790 The Ticket -- the number one sports station in South Florida," said FIU athletic director Pete Garcia, whose program signed a three-year contract with 790. "We're the only college team on 790. It's the
beginning of a great relationship as we continue to build the FIU athletic department."

When Golden Panthers games conflict with Marlins or Panthers games, FIU can be heard on WMCU 1080.

Last year FIU football was heard on 940 WINZ.

The football broadcasts will have new announcers as FIU chose not to retain color analyst Randy Kassewitz and sideline reporter Michael Mandich.

Last year's play-by-play announcer Jeremy Marks-Peltz is considered a candidate for the FIU play-by-play job on 790.

The new announcers are expected to be named later this summer.

April 20, 2009

Baseball Adds A Game; Tennis SBC Champs

FIU baseball added a game to its schedule -- tommorrow (Tuesday) home vs. Florida Memorial at 6 p.m. -- to make up for the 2nd of 3 rain outs this season. Unless the Panthers, add 1 more game, FIU will play 55 games as opposed to the scheduled 56 games.

Not a good weekend for the Panthers dropping 2 of 3 to New Orleans. In Sun Belt baseball, every teamMm hits the snot out of the ball, the difference always comes down to who has a little bit more pitching.

Of course, if Mike Martinez's line drive in the 8th inning has 1 foot more of height, we're talking about FIU winning 2 of 3 vs. UNO. Martinez's double hit off the top of the left field wall. If it would have gone over the wall, it's a 2-run walk-off HR and it would not have been a surprise with the way Martinez (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) is tearing the cover off the ball this season. The freshman 1st base/DH is one of the smartest hitters on team with the way he uses the whole field.

But the liner didn't go over the wall and you know the old saying: If ifs and buts were candies and nuts, we'd all have a party.

Cn Right now, FIU does not have enough pitching to get by when the Panthers are not playing their best. There really isn't anyone out of the bullpen stepping up and saying give me the damn ball and let me take care of business. Might take another signing class or two for TT to assemble a solid pitching staff. For the record, TT has had only 1 full recruiting class and he was missing nearly 2 scholies because of the NCAA stuff he inherited.

Despite the sloppy series against UNO, FIU moved up to 4th in the SBC, because Louisiana-Monroe (FIU travels to ULM this weekend for 3 games) was swept 3 games by Middle Tennessee.

The current SBC standings are: Western Kentucky 14-4; Middle Tennessee 16-5; Troy 11-5, FIU 10-8 ULM 11-10. With 12 SBC games left for the Panthers, there is still plenty of time to win the regular season title, especially considering FIU has tiebreaker advantages over WK and Troy. FIU lost the series to MT.


Congratulations to the FIU women's tennis team and rookie coach Melissa Applebaum on another SunTenn Belt Championship. FIU won its 4th SBC title in the last 5 years with a win over Denver in the tournament final. The Panthers now move on to the NCAA Tournament where a regional appearance awaits them in either Coral Gables or Gainesville.

FIU's Marianna Muci was named the Sun Belt Tournament MVP. You can see and hear the trophy presentation and an interview with Muci here: Don't drop that trophy Rick ,  Muci Bueno .

The FIU part of the trophy presentation is about 1:00 minute into the video after Denver receives the runner-up hardware from former FIU AD Rick Mello.


Missed updating the GPP Worldwide Readership Scorecard on the last post. With the addition of Isiah to FIU, we also added 2 more countries with readers from Gillenfeld, Germany and Nigeria saying hire Isiah and voting that it was a great hire for FIU. Our friends down in Guatemala City, Guatemala say FIU baseball will need 35 to 36 wins to get into the NCAA Tournament. Might need more than that with the recent losses. Anyways, here's the latest updated scorecard:



34 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela, Vietnam.

1 DISTRICT: Washington, D.C. and 1 TERRITORY: Puerto Rico.


Max: Pete, you seem on board with what TT and Mario are doing, how do you feel about Isiah as a It coach?

PP: Isiah Thomas (right) is exactly the jolt that FIU hoops needed. Let's face it, hoops is an afterthought in South Florida and FIU hoops has been down for about 10 years now. Getting a name coach, that has plenty of solid hoops connections and that will be able to recruit, has brought a strong buzz to FIU hoops. Supposedly, about 350 prospective players have already called FIU about playing for IT and PG said FIU received about 1,000 calls for season tickets. And don't be surprised if FIU hoops starts getting more air time like the Pistons Joe Dumars said in the Sunday IT story .

FIUPantherFan: Pete, the whole talent evaluation line, sounds like you are getting us ready for the departure of Soto and Asprilla.

PP: I was not referring to Freddy Asprilla and Josue Soto on the last post. I know that IT wants FA and JS back on the team. You are 100 % correct when you wrote on the last post: "If Coach Thomas can't keep them, it's not because he doesn't think they're talented, it's because they wanted to walk away." What I wrote on the previous post is about players on the bubble. Some of DS and DP players were not good enough for MC and TT and the same will happen with some of SR's players for IT.

Mmcd Outofthecage88: Does anyone know if we have any players that might get drafted in the NFL next week?

PP: FIU's best chance for an NFL draftee this year is Marshall McDuffie (left 22, thanks Sam Lewis photo). Spoke with MM recently and will have his draft thoughts on here later this week. He is projected anywhere from the 6th round to free agent signing.

NYCFIUFan: I heard a rumor that our President continuously mispronounced Isiah Thomas as "Isiah Thompson" is that true?

PP: That was FIU Provost Ronald Berkman, who twice mispronounced "Isiah Thompson".

FIU President Modesto "Mitch" Thompson played basketball growing up and is a huge basketball fan and never would have had that happen.

FIUDad: UNO was supposed to be easy, and we go out and lose 2 of 3. Talk about embarassing. Pete, how do these losses, coupled with the mid week losses last week, hurt our chances to go to the postJa season?

PP: I wrote it earlier this season and I'll write it again. At this moment, FIU baseball is not good enough to coast against any team. That's the game of baseball for you....where a team wakes up hitting like crazy and then goes out and gets a few outs and before you know it you've lost to a team you should not have lost to. Remember our GPP friend, Joaquin Andujar (right): "You can describe baseball in one word: Youneverknow".

Unless, FIU can finish 1 or 2 in the Sun Belt standings or reach the final of the Sun Belt tourney, I don't see the Panthers getting an at-large bid. The mid-week losses are killers for any team.

At 23-14 and currently 4th in the Sun Belt, FIU will finish where:

Vote and tell us your thoughts:

April 17, 2009

FIU BASEketball

Mol 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.

And you thought the title of this post was about a sequel to the "BASEketball" movie from the South Park creators? Sorry to disappoint.Bas

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.U

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 Dd  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 thoseBerko 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.

Tell us your thoughts and vote in the poll below the Pawse.


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 saidTh 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 Sch 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.

FIUPantherFan: Pete, second follow up question. Did we really fire Jim Mandich's production company.Madd

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.

April 15, 2009

1st Commitment For Isiah

Dw Gillette (Wyoming) JUCO guard DeJuan Wright committed to FIU this afternoon to become the first player to join new coach Isiah Thomas's team. Wright, who played at Ferris State last season, was the No. 7-ranked (rivals.com) high school player out of Michigan.

Wright, who is 6-4, averaged 18 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals last year at Ferris.

"Isiah Thomas's name really speaks for itself," said Wright, via phone about an hour ago. "He's a great coach and it's honor to play for him at FIU next season."

Wright will don the blue and gold at FIU for the 2010-2011 season when he will be a junior.

PG said at the press conference that he had received more than 500 texts or e-mails from prospective student-athletes after they heard Thomas was hired. Wright is the first.

April 14, 2009

It's Official, It's Isiah

Isiah Thomas signed a 5-year contract this morning to be the next FIU basketball coach. He is flying into It Logo town this afternoon and will be introduced as the Panthers coach on Wednesday.

Dollars figures have yet to be disclosed on the 5-year deal.

Along with a new hoops coach, FIU's basketball arena is going to get a makeover. The U.S. Century Bank Arena is about to undergo a $5 million renovation thanks to the Capital Improvements Trust Fund that FIU has received.

While Isiah won't be able to play point guard for the Panthers, what does his hiring mean to FIU hoops:


April 13, 2009

It Will Be Isiah & Arena Improvements On The Way (Updated)

Thomas Got some late confirmation that Isiah Lord Thomas III will sign a contract on Ith Tuesday to become FIU's next basketball coach. He will be introduced as the Panthers coach on Wednesday. Yes, Lord is his middle name.

Also, FIU received $5 million to renovate U.S. Century Bank Arena. Designs are being drawn up to re-do the Bank. When we have them, you will see them here.

The former NBA All-Star point guard brings a name, plenty of basketball experience and expectations to U.S. Century Bank Arena.

In five years coaching in the NBA with the Indiana Pacers and New York Knicks, Thomas compiled a 187-223 record. He reached the NBA playoffs all 3 years with the Pacers, but did not reach the postseason with the Knicks.

Having never coached in college, we'll have to wait and see how his recruiting and coaching turn out.

Your thoughts?

New Hoops Coach for November (Updated)

Sergio Rouco has been re-assigned within the FIU athletic department and relieved of his basketball head coaching duties at FIU today.

Although plenty of internet Dick Vitales have already started confirming that FIU hired this guy or that guy, here is what is going on as of this afternoon.

First of all, no one has been hired as the FIU hoops coach as of 5:36 p.m. on Monday.

Several interesting names have surfaced this afternoon for the newly vacant FIU head hoops job. Among them: Reggie Theus, Isiah Thomas,  Ed Pinckney, Tony Pujol, Shakey Rodriguez and Jorge Fernandez are among the more prominent. However, several sources have told me the list of coaches interested and that have called about the FIU job goes well beyond these 6 guys.

When I get more info, will post it on here. For now vote on the 6 names above:

April 09, 2009

Halfway Home

We're one game past the halfway mark of the FIU baseball season and here's the difference between last year's record and this season's record after 29 games: FIU in 2008 (11-18, 5-4 Sun Belt); FIU in 2009 (19-10, 8-4 Sun Belt).

Although the last two games beg to differ, we've seen an improved Panthers team in several areas whenBull you look at 2008 and before compared to 2009. Yes, FIU still has plenty to get better on the diamond, but let's take a look at the 2009 Panthers at the halfway point of the season before a pivotal 3-game series at Middle Tennessee for 2nd place and possibly 1st (depending on what Western Kentucky does this weekend).

Taking a page from former Durham Bulls catcher Crash Davis (far right), we'll follow his memorable quote to check on the Panthers: "This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains."

This is a very simple game....

Remb Sure has been when Scott Rembisz (thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo), Tom Ebert and Corey Polizzano have taken the mound. Tyler Townsend and his .456 average and 10 bombs have made it look simple too. As has Ryan Mollica already with 40 RBI, plus a .350 avg. and 7 home runs.

You throw the ball....

Besides the three starting pitchers, freshman R.J. Fondon has pitched very well of late, not counting the Gulf Coast game on Wednesday.

The FIU bullpen, as we all know has not been good, but there is talent there with the freshmen and sophomores. These young pitchers have to learn to trust their stuff, attack hitters and not nibble soMmcv much. Turtle doesn't just hand out scholarships like dinner mints at a restaurant. If TT gave a scholie to a pitcher, then he has to have talent. Among some of the freshmen hurlers: Mason McVay (right, AJH photo), Andre Vazquez and Aaron Arboleya all can pitch in Division I, they just got to be more aggressive going after hitters and trust what they throw.

You catch the ball....

The fielding has been much better for FIU this season, but there is still room for improvement. Leading Jr the way has been Junior Arrojo (left, AJH photo), who has been smooth at shortstop and much better now in his junior season. Freshmen Raiko Alfonso and Garrett Wittels have done a good job at 3rd. Lammar Guy has filled in just fine in center field for Pablo Bermudez, who has had a nagging hamstring all season long. Townsend has made the adjustment to right field from 1st base with no problems.

You hit the ball....

A .331 team average, scoring 10 or more runs in 12 of 29 games and scoring at least 20 runs twice, FIU can hit. When your No. 9 hitter, Arrojo, is hitting .341 -- your lineup can hit. One of the more impressive hitters this season besides the regular mashers (Townsend, Mollica) has been freshman Mike Martinez (right, AJH photo). At the plate, MM doesn't look like a freshman, spraying the ball around Martinez and using the whole field when he hits. Tim Jobe has got monster power as evidenced by the bomb he hit against Florida Gulf Coast that is about to land at U.S. Century Bank Arena some time later tonight.

Sometimes you win....

Until the mid-week hiccup games this week, FIU has won more than just sometimes this season -- which has created a buzz for the baseball program that had been missing since the Super Regional run in 2001. TT (left, AJH photo) has changed the culture of the program Tt where guys are excited to come to the park every day and are playing a much cleaner game on the field. You see guys constantly backing up plays on the field where that wasn't always the case. Players are running the bases much smarter as FIU already surpassed its stolen base total from last season (32). The Panthers have already stolen 39 bases this season.

Sometimes you lose....

We're not making reservations for Omaha just yet. As seen by some of the losses, FIU still has to acquire more pieces to the puzzle. For one, you can never have enough pitchers. As TT said Wednesday, FIU only has 10 pitchers right now. Another recruiting class worth of pitchers will only help. As will having fireballing Dominican right-hander Miguel Mejia and Bryam Garcia eligible next season. Getting some more power in the lineup might be on the to-do list as FIU keeps building its baseball program.

Sometimes it rains....

With a relatively young team, you can expect some ups and downs with the Panthers this season -- such as the wacky mid-week losses that within the next couple of seasons FIU won't lose those games anymore. Then there are the two 20-run wins for FIU against Jacksonville and Arkansas-Little Rock. Or  that FIU has not lost a series this season and won series against 3 of the top 5 teams in the Sun Belt (Troy, Louisiana and Western Kentucky). FIU and Middle Tennessee would be the other 2 top teams in the conference. On its 32-man roster entering this season, FIU has 19 underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) and 11 juniors of which 7 are playing Division I baseball for the first time. There are only 2 seniors on the roster (Mollica and Steven Stropp).


Apaw FIU Stadium will now host 5 games on Miami FC's schedule beginning on April 24 to make the 7 screen names/1 person on the GPP happy.

Apaw Quijote is reading us from Scotland so let's tack on another country to our worldwide readership. So the 44/30/1/1 Club has been renamed to the 44/31/1/1 Club:



31 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela, Vietnam.

1 DISTRICT: Washington, D.C. and 1 TERRITORY: Puerto Rico.

Apaw There is no college baseball All-Star Game at the halfway point of the season, but you can still vote on your Panthers in 3 polls:

April 08, 2009

FIU/Florida Gulf Coast Baseball LIVE BLOG

Last minute idea here of a LIVE BLOG from tonight's FIU/Florida Gulf Coast baseball game.....So follow along in the comments section.

April 06, 2009

It's A Start

Base On my personal national holiday today -- Opening Day -- but checked the old e-mail in the morning and got this from FIU photographer Sam Lewis:

Sam writes: Did you happen to catch this?  FIU's baseball team received a vote in Bunt
the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll.

The USA TODAY/ESPN Top 25 Coaches Poll#
The USA TODAY/ESPN Top 25 Coaches' Poll
(Records through April 5, 2009)
     TEAM                                   PTS   PVS
     ----                                   ---   ---
  1. ARIZONA ST (14) (23-5)                 737     3
  2. NORTH CAROLINA (3) (24-7)              685     6
  3. GEORGIA (7) (25-5)                     678     1
  4. LSU (5) (23-8)                         670     5
  5. MIAMI FL (23-8)                        614     7
  6. CS FULLERTON (2) (20-7)                586     2
  7. RICE (21-7)                            547     9
  8. GEORGIA TECH (19-6)                    538     4
  9. ARKANSAS (22-6)                        534     8
10. UC IRVINE (19-8)                       506    13
11. OKLAHOMA (25-7)                        495    10
12. TEXAS (20-8)                           397    14
13. BAYLOR (20-8)                          390    12
14. VIRGINIA (26-5)                        331    16
15. TEXAS A&M (20-11)                      311    11
16. EAST CAROLINA (25-5)                   267    18
17. OLE MISS (22-8)                        263    20
18. OKLAHOMA ST (21-10)                    260    15
19. COASTL CAROLINA (24-7)                 207    19
20. CLEMSON (20-10)                        171    17
21. SAN DIEGO (22-11)                      146    25
22. OREGON ST (18-6)                       115    NR
23. TCU (19-9)                             112    NR
24. CAL POLY (21-7)                        106    NR
25. FLORIDA ST (18-10)                      69    23
Dropped Out: No. 21 FLORIDA, No. 22 OHIO ST, No. 24 NEW

Others Receiving Votes: SAN DIEGO ST 52, FLORIDA 47, UC

Considering the Panthers baseball program has been in the dark the last 7 years, this is a start. Now, I'm not saying let's start the parade from SW 8 Street and 112 Avenue all the way east to downtown Miami or book a flight to Omaha just yet, but it's been a long time since FIU baseball was 19-8 after 27 games -- which is 1 game shy of the halfway mark of the season -- and received recognition in the national poll.

We'll have a mid-season look at the Panthers on the next post.

April 03, 2009


Fiustadium Welcome to FIU Stadium for your Panthers Blue/Gold Spring Game. Fiuhelmet They are about to kick it off in about 15 minutes.

Before we start the LIVE BLOG,  the Sun Belt Conference released their football schedules today and there are 3 changes to FIU's road schedule this coming season, which might be due to possible TV outings -- the TV sked has not been released yet.

Here are the changes: Original sked had Oct. 10 at Middle Tennessee; New sked has Oct. 10 at Western Kentucky.

Original sked had Oct. 24 at Western Kentucky; New sked has Oct. 24 at Arkansas State.

Original sked had Nov. 7 at Arkansas State; New sked has Nov. 7 at Middle Tennessee.

There are no new bye weeks added and the FIU home schedule remains the same with the home opener on Sept. 26 vs. Toledo.

We'll start the LIVE BLOG now -- inside the comments section of this post.

April 02, 2009

Free FIU Doubleheader, Free Food & Free LIVE SPRING GAME BLOG

Date You're a cheap date and FIU has got your stimulus package on Friday.

FIU is taking you out to the gridiron and the diamond and feeding you (while supplies last) all for free on Friday and the GPP is LIVE BLOGGING  Gat for you free of charge as well.

The FIU Blue/Gold Spring Game begins at 6 p.m. at FIU Stadium where I heard the featured menu item will be some pulled pork sandwiches (No Arroz Con Pollo from Chef Sandra until football season).

The GPP LIVE SPRING GAME BLOGGat   begins at 5:45 p.m. with a pre-game blog and depending who drops by the FIU Stadium press box, maybe some live guests. Then we'll have play-by-play of the spring game after that.

At the spring game, you will receive a voucher to walk into University Park Stadium for free and watch Free you're Panthers (3rd place in the Sun Belt) take on the Hilltoppers (2nd place in SBC) of Western Kentucky.

Now that we have your Friday night planned out, here are a few more notes from the last 2 days of spring practice to get you ready for the spring game and again FREE of charge.

Wy It's been the Wayne Younger (thanks, Alex J. Hernandez photo) show the last couple of practices. WY threw a nice tight spiral to Ty Frierson for a 60-yard TD during team drills. In red zone drills, WY placed a nice touch pass to Greg Ellingson in the corner of the end zone for 6.

And in some pretty tight coverage where there were about 3 or 4 defenders, WY found Goodbye down the middle of the field for a 30-yard completion.

WY also got in some punting after practice and hit a 45-yarder. MC says WY is punting insurance, because the Panthers punting has been so-so this spring. WY punted at Cocoa High (photo right, WY is wearing No. 1 jersey) and should he be the FIU punter it would give special teams defenses a lot to think about.Wyhigh

FIU is still holding out hope that Carlos Munera gets a medical redshirt for the 2009 season for the appendectomy CM had in junior college 2 years ago. Should know more by August.

Receivers will be one of the strengths of the Panthers this fall, but noticed too many dropsies with the receivers on Wednesday. Need to clean that up.

Jgriff The D-line overpowered the O-line in Wednesday's practice.

Something to keep in mind down the road, today, we saw kicker Jack Griffin (left) hit a 50-yard field goal off the tee and with no rush coming at him. JG has a strong leg.

Safety Derrick Clark, the state's interceptions leader in 2007, leaped up like a cat and batted down a pass with one hand for Thursday's defensive play of the day.

New D-lineman Josh Forney visited practice today and looks ready to put on the blue and gold.

You can see it all for yourself Friday at 6 or ask about it here on the GPP at the same time if you are in one of the GPP's 44 states or 30 countries or you're in a new area and want to join the GPP Worldwide Readership.


Apaw  Update on center Freddy Asprilla (right, AJH photo) is that he tweaked his ankle and will be just fine.Fa Still got 7 months until the hoops opener. Breathe easy FIU hoops fanatics.


Good to visit with FIU Fanatic out at practice today. 

blkpanther: Pete, Some homework for the spring game.1. How did James Jones Surgery go. How is he rehabbing? 2. After Spring Ball is over are the players going back to the weight room with the emphasis on getting bigger. 2b. When the freshmen come in the Summer will the be going through coach Moore's program before getting into spring camp? 3. How Far apart are PM & WY? I will leave the rest for a POP quiz on Friday.

PP: Geez, I was not a fan of school blkpanther, but I'll do my best: 1) JJ is doing fine and there's a slight chance he could be back this season.

2) Yes, players will be back in weight room, but from what I was told their getting bigger period was in the winter before spring ball. 2b) Yes, the frosh will hit the weights with Coach Moore.

3) PM is the starter, but MC said on Wednesday that WY has moved ahead of CA for the backup job and gaining. MC also said it's great to have Wesley Carroll in camp, because it has helped WY get better, because WY is not just going to inherit the starting QB job next season. It will be a battle between WY and WC and whichever other QB MC brings in.

Question for you: if you announce a POP quiz, then doesn't it lose it's POP quiz status? It now just becomes a quiz?

Dolp LonePanther: Pete, What are the chances of having Younger moved to play another position vs. staying as a backup to McCall? Who do you believe is the front-runner thus far for starting QB next year, Younger or Carroll?

PP: Unless, it's adding punting duties to his QB duties I don't believe WY will become a WR or any other position, because he's too valuable this season if something happens to PM. Of course, WY can always be a WR in a trick play, ala the Dolphins Wildcat offense. Of course, it would not come as any shock to see a WildPanther offense this fall, especially with all the athletes FIU has.

At the beginning of spring practice, I would have said the 2010 QB job was Carroll's to lose, but WY has had a pretty good spring. Not that Carroll has done anything to hurt himself, because on the contrary Wes looks like a veteran running the FIU spread, has a great arm, makes solid decisions with the football and is a mobile QB.

NYCFIUFan: Any chance friday's scrimmage being on panther pass?

PP: Panther Pass will be at the ballpark for FIU/Western Kentucky. Your viewing options for the spring game is LIVE at FIU Stadium or LIVE GPP BLOG.Gat I'll try to be as colorful as I can describing the Mad action.

Golden Panther 90: Pete- Any word on SR's status? I heard that there were meetings between him and PG today.

PP: SR will be back and there were no meetings. SR is in Detroit for the Final Four and PG is in Miami for the spring game.


You be John Madden and tell us who will win the Spring Game and why?


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