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No. 1 Center in Nation To Visit FIU

Christmas is in March for FIU. We should know later this summer if the Panthers get to open the presentRakeem_christmas that is on coach Isiah Thomas's Christmas wish list.

The nation's No. 1 center for 2011 -- Rakeem Christmas -- will visit FIU in March, likely near the end of the month.

Christmas (right) has several perennial Top 25 teams also hoping he lands under their X-mas tree. Among them: Florida, Georgetown, Oklahoma, Texas.


Here's what IT had to say about the 32:09 he was a part of Thursday's game against Middle Tennessee, which saw the FIU coach ejected with 7:51 left in the game. A game which had one of the worst officiating crews seen in an FIU game in a long time.

IT's opening thoughts about the game:

"I will fight for my team. We play tough. We play scrappy. We play with a lot of heart, but I think the perception of our team right now is hurting us. In the last 6 games, we’ve lost by four points or less. If we win those 6 games, we’re 10-7 and that would put us tied for first, second or third in the conference. The last 6 games we’re averaging 70 points and opponents are averaging 73."

"I think what’s happening to us is the perception of our team I hope going into tournament play will be different than what it’s been in the first half of the season. I hope we can change that perception. I think our kids play hard. They are doing all the right things out on the floor and hopefully the perception of our team will change and I hope it can change quickly."


It What did you think happened on the non-call foul on Tremayne Russell that brought you off the bench?


"I thought when Tremayne went up he got hit on the arm. I could have been wrong, but that’s what I thought. It was more than just that. I just think that what I need to try to figure out is how do we change the perception of our team going into tournament play. Forget what the record may say, over the last 6 games if we get a call here or there you’re sitting at the top of your conference as opposed to being at the bottom of it."


Do you think it's just a matter of winning to change the perception of your team?


"I think winning changes perception. When you’re coming from the bottom and this is what I told our players. There are the haves and the have nots and right now we’re the have nots. The haves don’t want you to have it and the only way you’re going to get it is to take it. And that’s the only way you are going to change perception, you have to go and take it."



"I think going into tournament play we got to be a little bit more mentally tough and win a couple of basketball games. There are 4 games next week that we got to win."


(FIU wins 4 SBC tourney games and they go to the Big Dance)


Normally, you are not one to jump up and holller on the sidelines. Do you think you will be that way now?


"I’m not one to react and when I do react there is damn good reason for it and I thought tonight I had a good reason for reacting. Now did I go over the line? Yes. Is that my normal behavior? No. I felt that I needed to stand up and fight for my team. The perception of my team right now has got to change, because our kids are playing really good basketball over the last 7 to 8 games and you have to give them credit for that. If people haven’t noticed, then my job is to kind of make them notice it."




FIU is bringing back the marching band. The university will make an announcement on Friday. We'll haveKelly to wait until then to get the details.




Former Golden Dazzler Kelly (right) dropped by the baseball press box last weekend so that she could get her picture on the GPP. No, kidding. But Kelly did drop by and told yours truly she is now a Miami Dolphins cheerleader.


Si Been quite a fall for the Dazzlers. One Dazzler -- Vanessa (left) --- was Sports Illustrated's Cheerleader of the Week and a former Dazzler is now cheering for the local pro football team.












JH: Hey, T.Y. these are some good seats here in the FIU student section.Jhty


T.Y.: Yeah, it's a Good-Buy and they're so easy to order that a caveman can do it.


JH: So let me get this straight: you guys have Isiah Thomas as coach, you have the No. 17 signing class in the nation playing here next year and the Golden Dazzlers cheer at every home game....Where do I get FIU Basketball season tickets?






Aaapaw Will have a LIVE HOOPS BLOG on Saturday night starting at 7:56 p.m. of the FIU/Western Kentucky game. It's the season finale for the Panthers before they head up to Arkansas for the Sun Belt Tournament beginning next Saturday. Tip-off Saturday is at 8 p.m.


Aaapaw Spring football practice begins next Wednesday, March 3 at 3:45 p.m. Going to have Jimmy Buffet drop by the GPP to help me preview the Panthers 2010 Spring Football.


** Thanks to Alex J. Hernandez for the IT and T.Y. photos.



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