FIU is going for the sweep this afternoon and looking for a 6-0 start to the season.
It's senior night and FIU will honor Marlon Bright, Cedric Essola and J.C. Otero before the game.
Baseball side note: Got several e-mails from you good people asking where was the LIVE BLOG from the FIU/Oral Roberts game on Friday night. I had planned on LIVE BLOGGING just the season opener last Friday against Maryland, but since that was quite popular, I'll continue LIVE BLOGGING FIU's home baseball games beginning with Sunday's 1 p.m. game against ORU.
Now back to the hardwood as FIU and WKU get ready for the tip....
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.
ISIAH'S POST GAME THOUGHTS
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."
"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?
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 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."
BAND IS BACK
FROM DAZZLER TO DOLPHIN
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.
FUTURE FIU BASKETBALL SEASON TICKET HOLDER?
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?
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.
** Thanks to Alex J. Hernandez for the IT and T.Y. photos.
Down to 2 regular season games remaining for FIU before the Panthers fly up to Hot Springs, Arkansas next Friday for the Sun Belt Tournament which begins on Saturday, March 6.
These last two games should be good preparation for the tourney as the Panthers play two of the top teams in the conference in Middle Tennessee tonight and then host Western Kentucky on Saturday night.
FIU defeated the Blue Raiders 65-58 back on Jan. 14. Let's see if the Panthers can sweep MT....
Good start to the season for the FIU baseball team by sweeping Maryland over the weekend -- capped off by a grand slam by Pablo Bermudez (left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo). Although it's just three games, the Panthers looked solid in all three aspects of the game: pitching, defense and hitting.
But a better measure of how much FIU has improved from last season awaits this coming weekend when Oral Roberts comes to Miami for a 3-game series. The Golden Eagles have won their conference 12 straight years.
Still, there was plenty to be encouraged about from the first 3 games of the season.
First a look at the pitching, because everything in baseball begins with pitching. Friday's starter Scott Rembisz had one bad inning in an otherwise good outing. Starters Corey Polizzano and Aaron Arboleya pitched well too. CP moves up in the rotation this season with the Red Sox loss of Tom Ebert. Arboleya goes from mid-week starter last season to the Sunday guy this year.
While the starters gave up just 2 earned runs in 16 innings against the Terrapins, they weren't really challenged. UM batters seemed to be swinging like they just got out from under the snow in Maryland -- which they might have. Look for a more challenging test from the Oral Roberts lineup next weekend. Those Eagles can swing the bats.
The Panthers bullpen started out the season in dominant fashion. In 11 relief innings in the series, FIU relievers gave up 1 run. When Friday's game was still hanging in the balance, reliever Eric Berkowitz made quick work of the Terps in his 3 innings until FIU put the game away late.
On Sunday, R.J. Fondon -- who for now will pitch out of the bullpen, because he's the only lefty FIU has in the pen -- prevented the series finale from becoming interesting. R.J. (right, thanks Sam Lewis photo) allowed just one run on a wild pitch when he had to work out of a bases loaded, no out jam in the sixth inning.
FIU's defense looked better this past weekend than it did most of last season. The Panthers are certainly going to need better D this season, especially with the lack of a strikeout pitcher in their rotation. There are going to be a lot more balls in play from opponents' bats this season.
Among the defensive highlights from the opening series: Garrett Wittels (left, thanks AJH photo) acting like Brooks Robinson and diving on the 3rd base foul line to snare a grounder and throw out the runner at 1st. And freshman left fielder Jabari Henry showing off his cannon from left field to throw out a Terp at the plate in the 2nd inning of Saturday's game.
At the plate, FIU has always been able to hit and that's no exception this season. Although in Sunday's game, the Panthers gave away some at-bats that if they had been more patient would have had better swings and possibly put up double digits in runs again.
Wittels (7 for 12) and Bermudez (6 for 11) led the Panthers in hitting against UM. Wittels woke up the FIU lineup with a bunt base hit on Friday that sparked a 4-run rally. Of course, it also helped that after 4 innings of trying to pull everything UM starter Brett Harman was throwing, the Panthers started going opposite field and got their bats going.
In that 4-run rally, Bermudez had a 2-run single to bring home FIU's first two runs of the season and on Sunday the sophomore from the Miami Springs-to-FIU pipeline hit the granny to provide the Panthers runs.
Bermudez was named the Sun Belt Baseball Player of the Week on Monday.
Newcomer Yoandy Barroso had a good series going 4 for 8 in his FIU debut. Tim Jobe hit 1 of FIU's 2 home runs in Saturday's win. The other came from Jabari Henry, whose moonshot in his first college at-bat landed around mid-field of the FIU soccer field.
Henry (right, thanks Victoria Lynch photo) has played just 2 college games, but he looks like he will be a very special player. Yes, his throw from left field and his 3-run bomba were impressive for the freshman's first game, but what stood out just as much was his 2nd college at-bat after the dinger.
In his 2nd at-bat, Henry fell behind 1-2 and had the discipline to lay off two consecutive borderline strikes [pitchers' pitches] that were called balls and worked a walk. I think 98% of freshmen would have swung and missed at one of those two pitches. That's one reason Henry was drafted by the Texas Rangers out of high school and I'm not talking about the Chuck Norris Walker Texas Rangers.
Will have a LIVE HOOPS BLOG from Thursday's FIU/Middle Tennessee game. It's the second to last game of the regular season before the Sun Belt tourney begins on Saturday, March 6 in Hot Springs, Ark. Will be live blogging from there too.
PETE: I have another very important question for you: DO YOU THINK FOOTBALL WILL DO SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR THE OPENER AGAINST RUTGERS? SOFTBALL TEAM WORE JERSEYS THAT THEY AUCTION AFTER THE GAME. FOOTBALL CAN MAKE A KILLING DOING THAT!!
PP: FIU softball will get in the colleges column in this coming Saturday's paper. I've heard there are ideas being kicked around for the home opener against Rutgers on 9/11. How about FIU football wears khaki-colored camouflage jerseys similar to what the San Diego Padres (right, two photos) wear to honor the military during their Sunday home games throughout the regular season?
Three games left in the regular season for FIU and all are at the friendly confines of the Bank. First of the three games is tonight against the Del Boca Vista Phase 2 Hooters who steamrolled the Panthers 106-88 on Jan. 30 in Boca Raton.
Middle Tennessee comes into town next Thursday and the regular season concludes next Saturday against Sun Belt power Western Kentucky. FIU and the GPP will then travel to Hot Springs, Arkansas for the Sun Belt Tournament on March 6.
But first things first and it's the Hooters tonight....
IT's segment will air on PTI later that day during the show's "5 Good Minutes" segment. PTI hosts Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon will talk with Isiah about all the erroneous information about FIU basketball in a recent new times article.
The PTI segment will be taped from outside the southwest corner of the Graham Center by the water fountains.
Pitchers and catchers started reporting to major league camps today and tommorrow throughout Florida and Arizona. They're breaking out cases of new pearly, white baseballs all throughout the two states. It's a great time of year.
In less than 48 hours, FIU right-hander Scott Rembisz will take one of those pearly, white baseballs and fling it across the plate with some Terrapin standing in the box to open the 2010 FIU baseball season.
Let's get some thoughts from FIU coach Turtle Thomas (left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) on the upcoming season that begins with a home 3-game series this Friday against Maryland.
Several players and coaches have mentioned that the bullpen seems to be the strong point of the team. Would you agree with that?
TT: I think it would be the bullpen. We have 4 or 5 good guys down there. We're hoping Eric Berkowitz can be that middle reliever for us along with Dillon Vitale. Eric gave us some good innings last year. Bryam Garcia and Jorge Marban will start out the season as the closers. Garrett Wittels, who closed in high school, has got some good stuff. Alberto Cardenas has also got the ability to close and pitch in the late innings.
With lefties Mason McVay and Justin Leith out with arm injuries there are no lefties in the pen. Is that a concern?
TT: Freshman Dillon Vitale throws like a lefty. He throws a lot of change-ups like lefties do. Now Justin Leith we could have him back by March. He's begun his throwing program and the doctors have said he could be back pitching sometime in March. Mason might not be out for the year. That's not 100% that is he out for the season. He's well ahead in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.
TT: Scott Rembisz (right, thanks AJH photo) will be our Friday night starter and Corey Polizzano will move up to the Saturday spot, because he has the experience and he's done it before. The Sunday spot is up for grabs between Aaron Arboleya and R.J. Fondon. They both pitched well in fall ball. I'm not 100% sure who the guy is going to be there. We need consistency. Last year there were some games where these guys were real good and then there were some games where they were not real good. You got to see that consistency.
Obviously, you don't replace a hitter like Tyler Townsend (Orioles) with his 24 home runs and 77 RBI last season and same thing with Ryan Mollica (Mets). So how do you think you'll make up for the production lost from those 2 guys?
TT: You really lost some good players there. The entire team has to take Tyler's place to equal out what he did for us. Ryan Mollica is that kind of player too. You want consistency. Ryan was Mr. Consistency.
You guys had the best turnaround in the 37-year history of FIU baseball last season by winning 14 more games than you did in 2008. How can you keep up that progress and build on it this season?
TT: A lot of it has to do with how well the starting pitchers do. If we can get 6 good innings each game, then we get to our bullpen. Our starters have the capabilities to pitch 6 good innings each time out. It's a matter of consistency. If we have a lot of inconsistency then you're talking about a .500 ballclub.
What does your projected starting lineup look like?
TT: This is a projected lineup with an emphasis on projected, because things can change during the season. Junior Arrojo (left, thanks AJH photo) is one of our better defenders and will be our shortstop and will probably bat leadoff. Pablo Bermudez is in center and will probably bat second. Mike Martinez will bat third and play right. I think Tim Jobe will be our cleanup batter and play first. Rudy Flores looks like our fifth batter and DH, but he can also play first and Tim can DH.
We'll probably have our left fielder batting sixth and that's kind of between 4 players right now: Michael Vargas, Jabari Henry, Yoandy Barroso and T.J. Shantz. Nobody there has really stepped up nor has anybody stepped down there either. Each of them can do good things and it will be a matter of who's swinging the hot bat. Our 7th and 8th batters could flip flop in the lineup. Hitting seventh and playing third base will be either Jeremy Patton or Garrett Wittels. Jeremy's like a Ryan Mollica-type of hitter. Good line drive type hitter. Garrett's been hitting the ball well this spring and he can also play second base or shortstop if we need him there. Raiko Alfonso is our second baseman and he'll bat either seventh or eighth. Raiko had a good fall and hit well for us last season. Our ninth batter will be our catcher which could either be Jose Behar or Sean Reilly and we also probably play Doug Joyce. We could play 2 or 3 catchers.
Of course, you would like to get off to a fast start against Maryland this weekend, but what else would you like to see from your team in these first 3 games?
TT: It's going to be interesting to see how things play out this first weekend. We want to see how some of these guys perform when there is another team with a different uniform out there. I really like to see how some of the young guys perform. Guys like a Jabari Henry, Alberto Cardenas and T.J. Shantz.
Will have a LIVE BASKETBALL BLOG of FIU/Florida Atlantic when the Hooters from Del Boca Vista Phase 2 visit the Bank for game two of the Pat Riley Classic this season. Will be on-line at 7:54 p.m. Tip-off is at 8 p.m.
Note to FIU fans when the Hooters visit on Thursday night -- Stay classy. Don't go acting like the baseball team across town did ("--uck Turtle Thomas, let's kill these guys") when they visited FIU for their first game against the Panthers and Turtle Thomas back in April 2008.
And don't act like the Hooters fans did on Jan. 30 when FIU played over there in Del Boca Vista Phase 2 Arena.
Just in case you were wondering, looking at Hooters coach Mike Jarvis's bio -- nowhere does it state that he was a physical therapist, occupational therapist, family therapist, marriage therapist or animal therapist -- so don't go calling MJ a therapist when he takes the court at the Bank on Thursday.
A few more intrasquad tidbits to pass along as the Panthers prepare for their baseball season opener against Maryland on Friday at 7 p.m. at FIU.
Here are some highlights from 3 innings of a recent intrasquad game.
Outside of another single, this one by freshman All-American Mike Martinez to right field, DD escaped his first inning of work unscathed.
The bottom of the first brought the first look at new pitcher/3B Dillon Vitale, a freshman from Punta Gorda. DV made one mistake in his inning when Pablo Bermudez's smooth swing on an outside pitch ended up in the preserve for a solo shot. Bermudez (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) is part of that emerging Miami Springs to FIU pipeline.
DV walked freshman slugging 1B Rudy Flores, but got new RF Yoandy Barroso to fly out to right to end the inning.
DeSimone came out for a second inning of work and got touched up for a run by a couple of newcomers.
Catcher Jose Behar, a Miami Dade College transfer, who apparently knows how to hit, fell behind 0-2 in the count. So Behar (left) shortened his stroke and slapped a single up the middle into center. The nice piece of hitting got a "good AB" from coach Turtle Thomas coaching at 3B.
Heralded freshman Jabari Henry, who has a similar smooth swing to Bermudez, went opposite field for a single which moved Behar to 3B.
DD got Michael Vargas to bounce into a DP scoring Behar. Vitale, who also hit, flied out to center to end the inning.
The bottom of the 2nd brought to the mound walk-on senior right-hander Jose Velazquez.
Velazquez, a sidearmer, tried out for the team last fall and made the squad.
Sophomore catcher Doug Joyce singled to right to lead off the inning. I'm noticing a lot of players are catching on to Turtle's preaching of taking an outside pitch to the opposite field. Instead of trying to pull it and hitting a weak grounder to shortstop.
Velazquez got himself into a jam by hitting catcher Sean Reilly with a pitch and walking Raiko Alfonso to load the bases.
But maybe this is why the FIU coaches brought Velazquez back after the tryout. The righty struck out Flores, who by the way looks like a guy who can hit 20 HRs. In fact, with his natural opposite field stroke, Flores reminds a little of Tyler Townsend.
Barroso then grounded out to 3B to end the inning with no runs across. Garrett Wittels, who will play infield and be one of FIU's closers out of the pen, made a nice play on a short hop of Barroso's grounder.
Guy reached on an infield single in the 5.5 hole that shortstop Junior Arrojo had no play on. But Guy got caught stealing by Joyce.
EB's inning ended when Arrojo made a nice play on a tough hop off the bat of Martinez.
Andre Vazquez took the mound in the bottom of the third inning.
Bermudez continued his good work at the plate lining an opposite field single to right. He would come around to score when the left-handed hitting Flores laced a single to the opposite field in left center.
Vazquez would get out of the inning allowing just one run.
Will have a Happy Blog Hour 2-for-1 special in LIVE BLOGS this week. Log on to the GPP on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7:54 p.m. for a LIVE BASKETBALL BLOG of FIU/Hooters basketball when the Hooters from Del Boca Vista Phase 2 visit the Bank for game two of the Pat Riley Classic this season.
SouthPaw: Hey, Pete, can you give us any updates on who FIU is offering preferred walk-on status for Spring camp?
PP: Will know more when we get closer to spring practice. The walk-on program has produced some pretty good players. With last year, defensive lineman Andrew Mattox (Osceola Defensive Player of the Year) and before that O'Darris D'Haiti among the more productive walk-ons.
Most of you -- like Ricky Bobby's dad (Reese Bobby) -- believe "if you ain't first, you're last". So most of you believe FIU will finish 1st in the Sun Belt this season with 63% of you voting the Panthers in 1st place on the last poll question.
FIU starts its 54-game regular season schedule on Friday. Vote and tell us how many games the Panthers will win this season?
TAMPA -- Apparently, FIU baseball brings out a much more spirited debate than some people thought. The 2010 season is just 6 days away when the Panthers open next Friday, Feb. 19 against Maryland at University Park Stadium.
Went out to another intrasquad game the other day and this time caught four innings. Since FIU baseball brings out such passion in some of our readers, there will be a comprehensive FIU baseball blog on the next post. And you can look for the Herald's FIU baseball preview in next Thursday's paper.
But for now will let you catch your breath from the last post whether you were talking baseball or talking about which school has the better apple pie in their food court.
Yours truly is in Tampa for the weekend working a soccer tournament, but here's a little mix of FIU sports stuff going on in case you missed it.
Three members of the FIU football coaching staff are among some of the candidates being considered for the open running backs coaching job. Among them are special teams coach Apollo Wright, who coached Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook at Villanova. Grad assistant Dennis Smith and director of football ops Juan Navarro.
Congratulations to FIU receivers coach Frank Ponce (above left making a "W" sign for Willis Wright, thanks to Alex J. Hernandez photo) who was named by ESPN as the top recruiter in the Sun Belt for securing ManChild to join the Panthers. Former FIU OC James Coley, now the OC at Florida State, was named the ACC's top recruiter. Click on this link: Top College Football Recruiters for more info and notice that it looks like ESPN used a mug shot of Coley wearing an FIU coach's shirt.
HOOPING IT UP
A pretty inaccurate article in the new times about FIU hoops. Hey, we're in America and you can express whatever opinion you want, but when you use facts (i.e.: actual numbers and actual people that said certain things -- "Isiah Thompson") at least get those right in a story.
FIU athletic director Pete Garcia fired back at a recent New Times article on FIU basketball.
Garcia noted several inaccuracies about the story which chronicles Golden Panthers coach Isiah Thomas’s first season and the program’s ticket sales.
Among some of the misinformation from the article that has Garcia perturbed is FIU basketball’s average attendance numbers.
Garcia is also upset about the article’s writer misidentifying FIU President Mark Rosenberg as the person to wrongfully introduce Thomas at the coach’s hiring news conference.
Former FIU provost Ronald Berkman, now the president at
“This is a classic example of irresponsible and sloppy journalism from someone who uses inaccurate numbers and inaccurately quotes President Rosenberg with introducing Isiah Thomas at his hiring press conference which he never did,” Garcia said. “This is the end result and it’s unfortunate, because the quality of journalism in
The Times article states “. . . the basketball team has averaged a paltry 120 attendees per home game this season. The arena seats 6,000.”
U.S. Century Bank Arena, which seats 5,000, has averaged 1,163 fans per FIU basketball game this season, according to figures FIU ticket operations manager Jeremy Lamb provided the Miami Herald.
Lamb added it’s an increase from the 2008-09 FIU basketball season’s average attendance of 487 fans per game. Lamb said FIU has also sold 46 of 50 courtside seats added to the arena this season.
The Panthers are 7-20 this season, but Thomas has signed the No. 17 2010 recruiting class in the nation.
WARMING UP IN THE BULLPEN
Catch your breath yet about FIU baseball? Apple pie? (Cracker Barrel has a pretty good one). Ok, then.
FIU was picked to finish third in the Sun Belt by the conference's coaches on Friday. Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky were picked ahead of the Panthers. But don't take the SBC coaches word for it, you decide in our poll question below.
Several publications and websites are picking FIU baseball to finish near the top of the conference, but I think you have to wait and see how the Panthers starting rotation and bullpen shake out.
FIU is going to miss projected No. 2 starter Logan Dodds (academically ineligible). Dodds -- like Scott Rembisz 2 years ago -- was the Florida JUCO Pitcher of the Year last season at Miami Dade College. R.J. Fondon, Corey Polizzano and Daniel DeSimone are going to have to step up.
A bigger concern could be the Panthers bullpen. It could be a closer-by-committee until someone nails down the job. Among the candidates are freshman Alberto Cardenas, last season's part-time closer Jorge Marban and third baseman/pitcher Garrett Wittels.
Eric Berkowitz (a.k.a "Harry Potter" as his teammates call him, because of the Potter-like glasses he wears) is likely moving to middle relief where he had some pretty good outings last season.
Will have a Happy Blog Hour 2-for-1 special in LIVE BLOGS next week. Log on to the GPP on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7:54 p.m. for a LIVE BASKETBALL BLOG of FIU/Hooters basketball when the Hooters from Del Boca Vista Phase 2 visit the Bank for game two of the Pat Riley Classic this season.
Then log on to the GPP the next night, Feb. 19 at 6:56 p.m. for a LIVE BLOG BASEBALL of FIU's season opener against Maryland from the House that Mike Lowell Built. Yes, I know she is one of the FIU Witches.
Gooch7: Pete: Who will the closer be? Any input about him?
PP: Hope the two paragraphs above at the end of the baseball section of this post answers your question.
Yandro: Pete, thanks for the update. Do we know who the starters will be come Opening Night, or are positions still up in the air with a week left?
PP: Competition still going on at several positions. Will have TT come on here next week and give you an update straight from the head coach's mouth.
Wes Kendall: Hey Pete, I've heard rumors that Rosenberg is rebranding FIU, which might again lead to another logo change/color change. Have you heard anything?
PP: Nothing to it. The university changed their logo to block letters not too long ago and the athletic program went to block letters with a more fierce Panther just 2 years ago.
Just 9 days from FIU baseball opening night vs. Maryland at University Park Stadium (Feb. 19, 7 p.m.). Went to catch a couple innings of the Panthers intrasquad game last Saturday morning before FIU basketball tipped off against North Texas later that afternoon.
Here are some observations from the 12 outs I got to see:
Apparently, the Dave Feeley FIU Fitness strength training program is working pretty well.
But I was not sure it was Arboleya, because he did not throw as hard as this guy that was on the mound last Saturday. So just to make sure who this pitcher was I asked pitching coach Sean Allen. Well, it was Arboleya, who increased his velocity on his fastball from 86-88 last season to 92-93 mph this season.
Arboleya got help from his defense right from the first batter he faced. Lammar Guy hit a sinking line drive to left where freshman T.J. Shantz dove forward and made the catch.
The lone hit off AA that inning came on a double that Mike Martinez roped down the left field line. AA got highly-touted freshman Jabari Henry to line out to center to end the inning.
The starting pitcher for the other team was senior lefty Corey Polizzano (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo).
Junior Arrojo led off the bottom of the first with a perfectly placed bunt single just to the left of the first base line. After a sac bunt by Pablo Bermudez, Raiko Alfonso (left, thanks AJH photo) singled home Jr.
Freshman first baseman Rudy Flores then singled to right. Then outfielder Yoandy Barroso, a Miami Dade College transfer, got hit by a pitch, but it's an intrasquad game so he stayed in the box for another at-bat. CP managed to strike out YB to end the inning.
Arboleya came back with another scoreless inning. Michael Vargas led off with a walk and stole second. But AA got the next 3 batters to end the inning.
Polizzano threw a bagel in his second inning also. CP struck out the first batter. The lefty walked the next batter, but picked him off on the first throw. CP got the next batter to pop out to 3rd base.
Will be heading out to another intrasquad at some point this week to have some more for you and will have Turtle Thomas drop by to talk about the upcoming season.
Cassano re-joins Mark Whipple. The two previously coached together at UMass from 1998-2004 where Cassano was the RBs coach and Whipple the head coach. The Minutemen won the Div.I-AA national title in 1998.
During Cassano's three years at FIU, the Panthers ground game averaged 119.1 yards per game (2007), 98.8 yds per game (2008) and 105 yds per game last season.
Now the running backs job and the recruiting coordinator job are open at FIU. No known candidates as of now, but there's a possibility the positions could be filled from within the Panthers coaching staff.
Before we get to the Q&A, there has been a rowdy and funny group of high school kids that have attended the last 2 FIU basketball home games that give the opposing teams some hell. These kids all had FIU basketball shirts, but appeared to be too young to be FIU students. So after asking around, it's turns out they are Ultimate FIU Fan's sons and their friends. Listen to them at the next home game, they sit in the stands to the right of south sideline table. Here they are with FIU's finest.....
Wes Kendall: Guys, where can I buy FIU baseball caps? There are none in the book store and I want an authentic on the field one, you know similar kind of to what New Era does with the MLB.
PP: I asked TT and his coaches and here is the response: "We will have game hats ready to sell opening day at the game. We are the only ones that have them. They could call our office." (305) 348-7403 or (305) 348-3166.
alt7787: Pete, since MLB has basically forced the Marlins to spend more do you think they will actually hold on to Uggla for the entire season or do you see them trying to deal him regardless?
PP: If they get the right offer during spring training, I could see the Marlins dealing Uggla. If not, then you have to see where the Marlins are in the standings come the trade deadline (July 31). If the Marlins are out of the race, then they would probably trade Uggla to a contending team in need of a power-hitting 2nd baseman.
KJHarris02: Hey Pete, was wondering if your going to go more into depth about the "weight lifting"/training that the FIU Football players are going thru now thru Spring Football! Would love some updates!
PP: Like last year, will get strength coach Rod Moore on here after spring football to talk about the team's strength and speed gains.
u?: It would be great to see the completed view of the new weight room, Pete i heard its stacked with weights can you post up some pics?
PP: Will get some on here.
Baltimorepanther: hey Pete ,Is Cassano going to UM? I heard a lot of rumors about this, also if he goes, who will hire the new RB coach MC or the new OC? who will become the new recruiting coordinator? I might be wrong but it seems that Mirabal would be a good recruiting coordinator.
PP: Your answer on Cassano is above. There could be another move on the FIU coaching staff. Can't say for sure, but if it happens will have it for you.
MC does all the hiring. We'll have to see on a new recruiting coordinator. And yes, Mirabal would be a hell of a recruiting coordinator. He has done a terrific job in his Tampa recruiting area for FIU.
Jimmy: Hey Pete, when do you anticipate the Sun Belt will release its 2010 football schedule?
PP: In 2 to 3 weeks. FIU is expected to open the season on the road vs. a Sun Belt team (North Texas or Louisiana) on Sept. 4.
FIU coach Isiah Thomas is not going to the Los Angeles Clippers and has not been contacted by the Clippers. A report from foxsports on Friday said IT was contacted by the Clippers to their coach, general manager and president.
After a loss to North Texas on Saturday afternoon, Thomas said: "I'm very happy here at FIU. We have a great recruiting class coming in next year. One of the best recruiting classes in the school's history. My 2011 class I hope that's even better. I think we have a chance to build something really special here. I love what I'm doing. I love being in between the four lines. I love coaching."
Let's go blogging....
But ESPN has contacted two senior executives from the Clippers who have denied the foxsports report saying: "I can't deny it more strongly," one of the executives said. "We haven't called him and we're not planning on calling him." The other executive called the story "ridiculous" and "irresponsible."
I placed calls to Isiah and PG tonight and both have not returned those calls. However, we should have a clearer picture on Saturday, because FIU hosts North Texas.
Will have A LIVE HOOPS BLOG during the game tommorrow. Tip-off is expected to be about 2:30 p.m. -- 30 minutes after the women's game. LIVE BLOGGING starts at 1:56 p.m.
Whether this rumor about IT has any legs to it we'll soon find out. But get used to coaching rumors with IT, because right now FIU is not in a po$$$$ition to compete with pro teams and more established college programs when those teams come calling for FIU coaches. FIU does not have enough boo$ter$ or enough alumni invested in the athletic program yet to compete with more established colleges.
Maryland was interested in Turtle last season and although the Terps could offer more money, the Terps baseball facilities and the location of the school to lure top baseball talent are not as good as what FIU has to offer -- FIU does not have a trailer for the baseball coach's office and baseball is played year round down here with no snow to worry about.
In this case, if the Clippers rumor has any truth to it, you have to believe it is NOT about money for IT, but rather a chance to get back in the NBA. So, if that's the case IT will have to decide if he wants to go back to the NBA or continue building an NCAA basketball program that could be like a Memphis one day -- without the John Calipari-NCAA violations (good for Bobby Knight).
Although, any of the other 29 NBA teams are better to work for than the Clippers, because they have the cheapest owner in pro sports in Donald Sterling. Try getting marquee free agents to sign with the Clippers -- Sterling won't pay for them. Sterling has been the main reason the Clippers have been the laughingstock of the NBA forever. He's like the Marlins owner -- at least until Major League Baseball came out and ordered the Marlins to spend money on players.
Alonzo: Pete, Is Man-Child Wright academically eligible?
PP: Yes, he is.
Mike: Pete please evaluate our spring 2-man depth chart. When you Look back at our 3 last recruiting classes how are they shaping up? 1. how many Spring 2010 starters came from each class, from walk-ons, and from transfers? 2. how many Spring 2010 players on the 2-man depth chart came from each class, from walk-ons, and from transfers?
PP: Will have an updated football roster soon. Your idea sounds like a good blog post. Will get to it in the downtime we have until baseball season and spring football start.
Miri: Pete, we recorded the Early Show yesterday morning on the DVR, and we did not see the Dazzlers at all. We recorded this morning's show also just in case they showed up. What happened to them?
PP: CBS did not want the Dazzlers wearing their uniforms, but other outfits and the squad passed on the show.
If real estate is all about location, location, location, well, then the 2010 FIU signing class is about size, size, size. With the latest signing class, FIU addressed several positions of need, particularly getting bigger on both the offensive and defensive lines -- which was missing from both lines last season.
Of course, when you talk about this FIU class you have to start with receiver Willis "Man-Child" Wright, who just made the FIU offense that much better with his size and strength. That's M-C on the right there shaking hands with high school and newest FIU teammate Randy Williams. (Thanks to Phil De Stefano at the River Cities Gazette for the photo)
Both players bring much needed size with M-C at 6-2, 205 and Williams, a safety, enters FIU at 6-2, 210.
So much for opponents double and triple-teaming T.Y. Goodbye, because now FIU foes will have to pick their poison when they want to double cover. That triple-teaming of Goodbye last season, that won't happen again.
Not only does the addition of Man-Child make Goodbye even more dangerous -- if that's possible -- but suddenly the other FIU receivers: Wayne Times, Greg Ellingson, Ty Frierson and tight end Dudley LaPorte have a lot more room to roam with defenses having to figure out ways to stop the 2 former Miami Springs playmakers.
MC [the FIU coach, not the new WR] said he was looking to add size to his receiving corps. With M-C (6-2) he did that and also with the additions of receivers Glenn Coleman (6-2) and Mitch Wozniak (6-3).
POWER LINES & LINEBACKERS
The primary recruiting focus was on the lines. FIU got 2 massive O-Lineman that are physically ready to start vs. TBA Sun Belt team on Sept. 4. David Delsoin (6-6, 280) and Ceedrick Davis (6-4, 305) now have to prove in fall camp that they can pick up the offense and have the technique to earn starting spots.
The FIU D-Line needed help from last season and they got it on Wednesday. Jordan White (6-4, 330) and Jerricho Lee (6-0, 285) are the kind of big bodies the Panthers have been looking for to plug into the interior D-line. Again, the size is there, now they have to go and grab the starting spots in August.
FIU struggled with its pass rush last season. MC believes he got some defensive ends to solve that problem. Isame Faciane (6-5, 265) and Jeremy Jermin (6-3, 235) both have the credentials and Bryan Robinson (6-4, 240) also will help sophomore Tourek Williams and the return of Jonathan Jackson should also fortify the D-line.
The FIU linebackers also got bigger. Another new Panther with tremendous size is linebacker Greg Hickman (6-1, 270). You could picture Hickman (left, trying on his new FIU cap) stuffing offensive backs with Aaron Davis, Big Ontario Smith and the young FIU LBs.
You remember last season's lack of depth in the FIU secondary, because of the injuries and past years scholie limits. The Panthers got better there with 3 All-Miami-Dade first team defensive backs and 2 big safeties.
MC gave a preview of what the returning FIU DBs and this trio of new DBs are in store for on D:
"[Defensive coordinator Geoff] Coach Collins is implementing several things that they did at
The 2 very long and rangy safeties are Williams and Justin Halley (6-1, 190).
Let's not forget about the talent FIU added in the offensive backfield. Quarterback Jake Medlock (6-3, 210) has all the tools to be an elite QB in Division I football. Medlock has healed fine from his injury. He's been throwing a football since December and is currently playing on the Fletcher High basketball team.
Running backs Kedrick Rhodes and Jeremiah Harden give an immediate boost to the FIU running game. And again with the influx of additional receiver talent [see Man-Child], not only do the other FIU receivers benefit, but so do the running backs. It's like adding a power hitter to a baseball lineup -- everyone else in the lineup suddenly gets to see better pitches. Everyone else on the FIU offense suddenly has less attention from defenses.
OTHER NSD NOTES
FIU still has 3 to 4 scholarships available. MC said he might be saving them for "mature JUCO bodies".
MC also said FIU for another two years will not be able to recruit to redshirt. Until FIU has a full roster of 85. FIU had a roster of about 60 players last season. The main reason for not having the full roster is due to the past APR/NCAA issues.
Former Central Florida DB Corey Ammons did not qualify academically so he is not expected at FIU.
Whatchu signin 'bout Willis?.....FIU (for a better view, click on Phil De Stefano's photo on the right)
Below in the Pawse, vote on what you think of FIU's 2010 Signing Class.
Will have a LIVE HOOPS BLOG from Saturday's FIU/North Texas game which is a rare afternoon game. The LIVE BLOG will begin at 1:56 p.m. Tipoff for the hoops matinee is 2 p.m. or 30 minutes after the FIU ladies take on NT.
Gooch7: PETE: Big question. Do you think this recruiting class will be better then last years? I know the best way to judge that is in 2 or 3 years but what do you think?
PP: Yes, in 2 to 3 years we might have a better idea, but as of right now I think this is the best FIU recruiting class in the 8-year history of the Panthers football program. Here's why: not only did FIU add a T.Y.-like receiver, but the pressing needs along the lines were met. Although, it would not hurt if FIU can sign 1 more big O-linemen from JUCO that is ready to come in and contribute. Also getting 3 All-Miami-Dade first team DBs is huge. We're talking about 3 of the best DBs from the area where the best high school football in the country is played. And I think Greg Hickman is going to have a big impact on D.
PP: Off-field issues that are not needed at FIU.
PP: Looking like FIU is targeting more beef for the lines, but they could also go after the best players available regardless of position. I'll look into the JUCOs and see who shows up for spring ball.
OC FIU PANTHER: Hey Pete, I know its been crazy but I got used to your live blogs of the FIU Basketball games.
PP: The team is in Louisiana tonight. I'm in Miami. But come back on here on Saturday at 1:56 p.m. for the next LIVE HOOPS BLOG.
LadyInRed: Are we going to hear at anytime this year about BASEBALL????????? You know a glove, a bat, and a ball?? Season starts in TWO weeks!!!!!
PP: Had to re-read the question, when I first saw BASEBALL in all capital letters I thought of BABEBALL (yes, any reason to get Dazzlers photos on here). No, but seriously, I'm planning on heading out to FIU baseball practice this weekend and will have some baseball posts on here next week.
Willis Wright is an FIU Panther. The Miami Springs receiver just grabbed the FIU cap over the West Virginia and Nebraska caps in the Miami Springs library.
With his high school coach Alex Pacheco and Wright's family cheering him on: "Come on ManChild, put on a hat", WW picked FIU.
FIUsports.com is sitting right next to MC's fax and they are posting the NLIs as they come into the FIU Fieldhouse. Click here: FIU Signing Day Central to find out who are the newest Panthers.
As of this post, here are the players who have signed with FIU:
Justin Halley, Mitch Wozniak, Sam Miller, Randy Williams, Khambrel McGee, Richard Leonard, Jordan White, Glenn Coleman, David Delsoin, Greg Hickman, Isame Faciane, Willis Wright, Kedrick Rhodes, Jerricho Lee, Ceedrick Davis, Bryan Robinson, Josh Brisk, Jeremiah Harden, Jake Medlock, Caleb Vincent, Jeremy Jermin.
Will have some of the newest Panthers and some thoughts on here later on.
Before we get to that, you can check out the Willis Wright interview right below this post.
Also, check back here on Wednesday morning for FIU signings on National Signing Day.
Early Wednesday morning, I will be visiting a few high schools where future Panthers will sign their letters of intent. As those letters roll in, will have the newest Panthers on here for you.
Just like T.Y. Hilton 3 years ago, Wright (left) will have his ceremony in the Miami Springs library on Wednesday morning and like T.Y. he will have an FIU and a West Virginia hat in front of him. When he picks one, you will know here.
The FIU Athletic Department also will have their own ticker of signings at fiusports.com. So check that out too.
MC will take to the podium at 12 noon in the President's suite at FIU Stadium to announce and comment on the entire class of new Panthers. You can also attend the NSD event at the Stadium Club at FIU Stadium on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. where MC will talk about his newest players and new OC Scott Satterfield and new DC Geoff "GYCH" Collins will be introduced.
Let's finish the FIU Recruiting Prowl with a look at the Panthers receivers. By now you know there is 1 DAY UNTIL NATIONAL SIGNING DAY.
It all starts with Goodbye, but with another season under the belts of several other FIU receivers, opponents may think twice of double and triple teaming No. 4.
Junior Mertile (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) returns from injury this season and he only runs a 4.4 and has one of the better sets of hands in the Sun Belt. Wayne Times showed plenty of potential last season and is only going to get better.
Greg Ellingson and Ty Frierson will be seniors and provide the experience.
We'll get to the potential recruits that might sign tommorrow in a second, but a couple of freshmen from last season could make the position battles here pretty intriguing.
Rockey Vann is as fast as any Panther -- check that blocked punt last season. Jairus Williams and all 6-5 of his frame can be a weapon in the red zone.
As far as the caballos (horses) expected to possibly sign on Wed. and we call them horses, because of their size and speed are: newest FIU commit Javon Bell (6-1, 4.4 -- 40), Glenn Coleman (6-2) and Mitch Wozniak (6-4).
But what would be the creme de la creme of this class would be signing Willis Wright, 6-2 with size, speed and hands -- just my 3 cents.
$.03 for 2010: Quarterback Wesley Carroll will be like a kid in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory with these receivers and the ones expected in. Let's see does WC throw to the fast ones, the tall ones, the ones with good hands. Oh hell, he couldn't go wrong to whoever he throws to in this bunch. Of course, and this is the BIG IF.....if WC has time to throw from his O-line's protection.
You say there are more weapons on the FIU offense? You are correct.
What we saw from tight end Dudley LaPorte (left) last season was a tantalizing glimpse of 2010. Remember, his only TD before breaking his foot. If you were watching it on ULM's web TV or you were at Malone Stadium in Monroe, La. then you saw DLP making a one-handed catch across his body in the corner of the end zone for 6. The only bad thing about the play was he broke his foot.
Jonathan Faucher had his moments in 2009, but the biggest surprise among the tight ends was quarterback-turned-TE Colt Anderson.
CA displayed lots of athleticism at his new position, even making a couple of one-handed catches. And at 6-4, he provides a good size target. Joey Harris returns to his original position after a stint on the D-line.
As of this post, FIU has no commits for tight end.
$.03 for 2010: Although the receivers might be the focus for opponents to stop in the spread offense, you can't overlook the tight end spot here, because of the players on the unit. DLP could have a monster season.
One of the players that will be most missed for the Panthers D and special teams in 2010 will be punter Carlos Munera. As consistent as they come, CM was usually on point putting the FIU D in good field position.
Former Duquesne punter Josh Brisk takes over the punting duties for FIU. Brisk was an All-Broward punter while at American Heritage.
Heading into spring practice, Jack Griffin (right, thanks AJH photo) will get first crack at the placekicking job with the graduation of Dustin Rivest. There is the distinct possibility that FIU brings in another kicker to compete with Griffin.: We've talked about how crucial the plays of the O & D Lines will be for FIU in 2010, but the kicker and the punter will also figure into the Panthers success. The hidden yardage Munera provided will be tough to replace. And with a lot of games in the Sun Belt being tightly contested, field goals might figure into several of the outcomes.
In our last poll question regarding who would win the No. 1 running back job for FIU, you good people believe it's Jeremiah Harden and by a mile. As of this post, 72.5% of you voted for JH. Poll is still open.
Our latest GPP Worldwide update gives us:
The GPP is now read in: 45 STATES: ALA, ARI, ARK, CA, COL, CT, DEL, FLA, GA, HI, IDAHO, IL, IND, IOWA, KAN, KY, LA, MASS, MD, MICH, MIN, MISS, MISSOURI, MON, NEB, NEV, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, ORE, PA, RI, SC, TEN, TEX, UTAH, VA, VER, WASH, WEST VA., WISC.
39 COUNTRIES: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Mexico, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Scotland, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, U.S.A., Venezuela, Vietnam.
1 DISTRICT: Washington, D.C. and 1 TERRITORY: Puerto Rico.
On Wednesday morning in the same Miami Springs library that FIU receiver T.Y. Hilton chose FIU over West Virginia, Miami Springs receiver Willis Wright will have the same two choices: FIU or West Virginia.
This past season at Springs, Wright had 677 receiving yards and 10 TDs.
Got a chance to speak with WW and learn more about his thoughts as National Signing Day approaches.
PP: You're 2 days from National Signing Day. How are you feeling as the day gets closer for you to choose which college you'll play at?
WW: It's a normal day for me. I can't really say if it's FIU or West Virginia.
PP: On your official visit to FIU what did you think of the university and the football stadium and fieldhouse?
WW: Everything is good. It all looked very good. T.Y. has told me it's good place to play football and get an education. It's a growing program.
PP: How well do you know T.Y. and who else on the Panthers team do you know?
PP: Did you play in the spread offense at Miami Springs and if so what do you think of that type of offense which FIU runs?
WW: Yes, we run the spread at Springs. The spread is a good offense for me, because I'm a receiver. The spread is a good offense for receivers.
PP: What did you think of the FIU coaching staff and how they handled your recruiting?
WW: It's a good coaching staff. Coach Cristobal is a good guy. FIU has been with me since the beginning and they always were checking up on me.
PP: Does playing college ball close to home going to factor in your decision?
WW: Not really. Football is football whether I play here or I play somewhere else.
PP: Were you surprised by the immediate success T.Y. had as a freshman at FIU 2 years ago? And if you do choose FIU, do you think you have that kind of impact in your first season of college football?
Yeah, I can make that kind of impact like T.Y. did in my freshman season.
PP: I've read in other articles where some teams have backed off of you, because the teams are concerned about your grades. What do you think about teams that have backed off, because of your grades?
WW: My grades are going to take me to college. I don't know what those people are talking about. My grades are fine and I'll prove it.
PP: So with less than 48 hours until you sign someone's letter of intent, are you favoring one team over another?
WW: I'm not leaning toward anybody right now.