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23 posts from March 2010

March 31, 2010

Spring Practice Update

FIU returned to the football field Tuesday afternoon and practiced again Wednesday in shorts and shells.Helmet

The Panthers are back to practice on Thursday. The team might scrimmage Thursday, but all practices this week have been closed to the public and media. If the Panthers scrimmage Thursday, will try to get some info from the scrimmage on here for you on Thursday night.

After Thursday, FIU will have 2 spring practices left, including, if they play the spring game. A decision on the spring game is expected to be made at the end of the week. Of course, will post it on here when we know.


Apaw Opportune time for FIU baseball to get on a winning streak. The Panthers (15-9) play 8 of their next 11 games at home beginning with a 3-game series against Louisiana on Friday.

Florida Gulf Coast visits FIU next Tuesday before the Panthers go to Tennessee for a 3-game set againstDazz an always dangerous Middle Tennessee. FIU then hosts Bethune-Cookman for 1 game and New Orleans for 3 games.

Apaw As if you needed a reminder.....the Golden Dazzlers make their 2010 baseball debut on Friday as they perform during the FIU/UL game. The Dazzlers are back Saturday and again on April 16 when New Orleans comes to town. Thanks to Alex J. Hernandez for Dazzling photo.

The LIVE GAME BLOGS return to the GPP beginning with this Friday's baseball game. Will be on-line at 6:54 p.m. on Friday. First pitch is at 7 p.m. Will have all 3 games of the series for you on here. Saturday's LIVE BLOG begins at 5:55 p.m. and Easter Sunday's LIVE BLOG starts at 12:56 p.m.


roary: Pete, Will the team retire #19?

PP: No decision has been made, but I'm sure FIU will do something to honor KB this coming season.

March 29, 2010

KB Memorial

Kb An emotional Monday afternoon at U.S. Century Bank Arena as FIU celebrated the life of Kendall Berry in a standing-room only ceremony that brought together his family, teammates, FIU students and nearly 2,000 people.

Some of the ceremony's more poignant moments included FIU Board of Trustees Chairman Albert Dotson, who channeled Dr. Martin Luther King during his speech when he said: "We have to learn to live together as brothers and sisters or die together as fools. God looked down the other day on his great field of flowers and he said, I want to pick a flower today. And he picked a beautiful flower in Kendall."

Marcus Bright, KB's former academic advisor, spoke of how KB influenced Bright and receiver Junior Mertile with their schoolwork. Marcus (Marlon Bright's brother) remembered when himself, KB and Jr. all went to work on their respective class assignments in the library. They arrived one night around 8 p.m. and at about 10 p.m. Marcus and Jr. were ready to pack it in and call it a night, but KB kept at it and encouraged them both to keep working. So the 3 friends continued their schoolwork. Marcus and Jr. eventually left at midnight, but KB stayed until 1 a.m. -- which is when the school library closes. Marcus called what KB did "positive peer pressure".


With his voice rising during his speech, Marcus implored other players on the FIU team to walk away from a fight saying: "[Kendall] has to be saying with the same sense of urgency today to all of us to not to let his death be in vain. He'd tell [his teammates] it's OK to walk away [from a fight]! It's not worth it!''


Receiver-turned-defensive back Marquis Rolle, who said KB was his best friend, was the only Panther to speak at the podium. Surrounded by his teammates, MR brought a little laughter to the ceremony when he talked about how Kendall used to always tell him to clean his dorm. No surprise to see MR act like KB and make an unselfish position switch to help the team this coming season.


MC talked about what a leader and how unselfish KB was when KB asked before last summer what he could do to help the team the most. With a bevy of receivers, FIU needed some help at running back and that's the position to where KB switched. Eventually, climbing the depth chart to lead the team with 7 TDs.




Apaw There was no announcement Monday as to when exactly spring practice would resume. Although, it might be as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.


From a team's first spring practice, the NCAA allows 30 days to complete spring ball. FIU started spring ball on March 3. But with Easter this weekend and the Panthers still having 5 practices, FIU might ask the NCAA to get an extension considering what has occurred the last few days.


It's very unlikely the spring game will be Wednesday. Should the NCAA grant FIU extra time for spring practice, then you might see the spring game happen Friday, April 9 or Saturday, April 10. NOTHING HAS BEEN SET ON THOSE DATES. That's just a guesstimate here.


When I have more info on spring practice resuming. I will post it on here.


Apaw Got an e-mail from Kendall's aunt and she says a memorial scholarship is being established in Kendall's name at Bank of America. She will e-mail me more details on this.


Apaw The LIVE GAME BLOGS return to the GPP beginning with this Friday's baseball game between Louisiana and FIU. Will be on-line at 6:54 p.m. on Friday. First pitch is at 7 p.m.


In case you missed it on an earlier post last week, the Golden Dazzlers make their 2010 baseball debut on Friday as they perform during the FIU/UL game. The ladies will be back on Saturday and again on April 16 when New Orleans comes to town.


Will have all 3 games of the series for you on here. Saturday's LIVE BLOG begins at 5:55 p.m. and Sunday's LIVE BLOG starts at 12:56 p.m.



March 26, 2010

KB Memorial Monday at the Bank

Kb One-time FIU walk-on defensive back Quentin Wyche surrendered to police Friday night as the man who stabbed Kendall Berry. Click HERE for more on this.

FIU will be holding a memorial for KB on Monday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. at U.S. Century Bank Arena. The memorial is open to the public. 


Adam Beasley sent me an e-mail about Connecticut coach Randy Edsall. Classy move by Edsall, who contacted MC on Friday night to offer condolences. UConn dealt with a similar situation a few months ago when Jasper Howard was killed.

Click HERE to read about Edsall calling MC.

Kendall Berry R.I.P. 1987-2010

From my experiences covering FIU football, I can tell you Kendall Berry was one of the mostKb humble, sincere, down-to-earth Panthers.


KB unselfishly switched from receiver to running back -- even though he would have to battle 3 other RBs for playing time last season. And he would only go on to lead FIU with 6 rushing TDs, most of them entertaining runs out of the "WildBerry".


KB never complained, always had a positive energy even when he was not playing while rehabbing his torn knee that he sustained on the first day of 2008 training camp. He will certainly be missed. Here is a story I wrote after talking to some of his former teammates:



   Last summer FIU defensive back O’Darris D’Haiti remembers when he was on the verge of quitting the Golden Panthers team.

   D’Haiti, who walked on to the team in 2007, was getting limited reps in practice and was not sure if he would ever get regular playing time on defense.

   Despite being one of FIU’s standout special teams players, D’Haiti wanted to play more on defense, but was unsure the opportunity would come.

   Just when D’Haiti was ready to hang up his helmet, FIU running back Kendall Berry had a talk with him.

   Kendall had a similar situation going on offense,” D’Haiti said. “But he told me continue competing and your chance will come. I thought of quitting the team, but Kendall was the reason I stayed on there and eventually I got my chance. It’s hard that he’s gone now.”

   Last season, D’Haiti became a regular on defense for FIU and finished seventh on the team in tackles.

   Like D’Haiti, Berry was also battling for playing time last season.

   Berry -- a former receiver-turned-running back before camp last August – started the season fourth on the depth chart after FIU signed Darian Mallary, the Miami-Dade’s leading high school rusher.

   Yet, a determined Berry persevered and ended up leading the Panthers running backs with six touchdowns and even became the focal point of a new wrinkle in FIU’s offense – the “WildBerry”, in which he took the direct snap from the center and had the option of running or passing.

   Berry, who missed the first five games of last season while he recuperated from knee surgery, thrived in the “WildBerry” especially in a two-game stretch against Middle Tennessee and North Texas where he rushed for a combined 185 yards and five touchdowns.

   Kendall battling back from that ACL tear and running the ball like he did was a testament to his character,” former FIU quarterback Paul McCall said. “Kendall had a big heart. He never had a problem with anyone. He never ran his mouth. Kendall was easy to get close to. He was a kind spirit and light-hearted guy.”

   Former FIU offensive lineman Joe Alajajian, one of Berry’s closest friends on the team, remembers Berry’s enthusiasm and energy.

   “There are some days as a player where you may not want to practice or feel tired,” Alajajian said. “Kendall would always come into the locker room smiling. He always kept everybody’s head up, being a positive guy. He never complained. He just loved what he did.”

March 25, 2010

Kendall Berry

Kb FIU junior running back Kendall Berry was fatally stabbed just a short time ago on campus. More details to come.

KB was 22.

On the Sun Belt Road

After a sweep of Jacksonville, FIU hits the Sun Belt road for a 3-game series against UALR in Little Rock starting on Friday night where the Panthers will play on a field that is half artificial turf/half grass.

Hogan Field has a fake grass infield and a real grass outfield which could make for a very high-scoringMm offensive weekend. I stopped by there when I was in Little Rock for the Sun Belt Basketball Tournament earlier this month and the ballpark is like a band box.

The Panthers took 2 of 3 from Troy in their first conference series of the season last weekend and now take on another Trojan team in the UALR Trojans. FIU has enjoyed success vs. UALR in the last 3 years winning 6 of 9 games. 

Last season, FIU won 2 of 3 and the series became Panthers cleanup hitter Mike Martinez's (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) personal showcase as the then-freshman went 8 for 13 with 3 HR and 10 RBI. Tim Jobe also had a good series going 4 for 12 with a HR, 3 RBI. Lefty Corey Polizzano has 2 wins vs. UALR and has struck out 24 batters in 21 1/3 innings vs. the Trojans.

UALR is 13-9 and 1-5 in the Sun Belt. The Trojans were swept by South Alabama and lost 2 of 3 games to the Hooters. Of course, FIU can't go into Little Rock thinking it will walk over UALR, because as we all know pitching is thin for the Panthers this season.

Since being swept by Rutgers, FIU has won 6 of its last 7 games and outside of that hiccup against Troy last Sunday, the pitching has been coming around.


Live Will be at Saturday's scrimmage and have a story for you in Sunday's paper as well as a blog recapping the Panthers 2nd spring scrimmage.

LIVE GAME BLOGS return next week. Will be LIVE BLOGGING from Wednesday's Blue/Gold Spring Game. The spring game starts at 7 p.m. You can log on here at 6:54 p.m.

Also, will have LIVE GAME BLOGS and game stories of all 3 FIU baseball games next weekend vs. Louisiana from FIU Baseball Stadium.


Break out a permanent Sharpie marker and write down these dates: April 2, 3 and 16. Those are the first 3Dazz FIU babeball games where the Golden Dazzlers will be performing.

Will have play-by-play of the Dazzlers (right, thanks AJH photo) performance on the LIVE BLOG. In the April 16 game, FIU hosts New Orleans in the Privateers farewell season from the Sun Belt.

Will have an update for you from spring practice in Friday's blog. And You Got Gold, I will get to your question then as well.

March 24, 2010

As Promised...1st Spring Scrimmage

We're down to 5 spring practices before the Spring Game. FIU will hold its second spring scrimmage this Saturday at 12 noon at FIU Stadium. A 12 p.m. scrimmage?? Could it be to get a feel for opening the season Sept. 11 at high noon in 90-degree weather against the northern-based Rutgers?? Something to think about.

Harden So to get you ready for Saturday's scrimmage, here's what went on in the Panthers first spring scrimmage back on March 12.


Two of the most important units on the Panthers team this fall will be the offensive and defensive lines, because both are relatively young and inexperienced. In the scrimmage, each line got the upper hand on the other during different times in the 100-play workout.

The O-line carved up some nice holes for the FIU RBs, but some of the FIU RBs made their own holes such as newcomer Jeremiah Harden.

In what might be a sign of things to come later this fall, Harden (left) had a punishing 22-yard touchdown run in where he broke three different tackles. On 2 of the tackles, JH powered through 2 pairs of defenders. JH doesn't look like a big, bruising back, but as former high school teammate and current FIU teammate Wesley Carroll put it: "Jeremiah will run into a pile of players and when you think he's stopped, Jeremiah will pop out of the pile and break one."

On this TD run, JH did not encounter a pile, but on 2 different occassions it appeared JH was going down. Instead he broke free. The run brought to mind when Darriet Perry carried three Hooters defenders on his back for 13 yards in the 2009 Don Shula Bowl at Dolphin Stadium. JH finished the scrimmage with 6 carries for 35 yards.

Speaking of DP, he had some tough running too. DP looks a lot lighter than last season and my 2 cents think that will help him more this season. DP also made a nifty 1-handed catch on a pass thrown behindTimes him.


Wayne Times (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) was the featured receiver in the scrimmage as T.Y. Goodbye sat out with bumps and bruises -- nothing serious. He is expected back for Saturday. Tight end Dudley LaPorte will miss the remainder of spring ball with a small fracture in his foot. DLP is wearing a boot and should be healed by the time camp rolls around in August.

Times showed some sticky hands and his new muscles helped him break some tackles that he probably does not break last season. WT led all receivers with 7 catches for 44 yards.

Although the O-line paved the way for 145 rushing yards on 27 carries (5.4 yards per carry), they had a couple of false start penalties that were bug-a-boos last year.

Future FIU O-lineman David Delsoin and future FIU QB Jake Medlock took in the scrimmage.


Sound like maybe a Cajun dish? Nah, just some of the defensive standouts in the scrimmage. And that's how you spell chese for this particular post.

The defense got going once the offense entered the red zone.

Kasey Smith had a sack and defensive back Dez Johnson, who is back after getting a medical redshirt from last season, broke up a pass in the end zone that ended the possession on 4th down.

We won't really know how much the D has improved under new DC Geoff Collins until they start playing against an offense with a different color jersey and helmet, but one thing that has been prevalent through spring ball is that the D looks more physical than last season.

Gaitor DB Emmanuel Souarin, who is having a good spring, had a big hit to stop a short pass. Safety Jonathan Cyprien is not making it comfortable for receivers to go over the middle.

Anthony Gaitor (left, thanks AJH photo) is healthy and he's shown it on pass D. He knocked away two passes.

The Pooh Bear Mars you have been waiting for is starting to be unleashed working at middle linebacker. PBM broke through the O-line and got the tackle for loss on a screen pass. You could tell on the play that PBM has some quickness.

Walk-on DB Jose Cheseborough had a sack. Everytime I look over at No. 27, he seems to be making a play.

Linebacker Aaron Davis made 2 consecutive plays: making a tackle in the backfield for a loss and on the next play, AD broke up a short pass.


The quarterbacks played pretty even in the scrimmage. Wayne Younger was 14 of 28 for 100 yards. WC was 5 of 15 for 75 yards and a TD.

WC connected with Colt Anderson (right) for the only passing TD on a pass down the middle. CA made the playCa when he faked out 2 defenders on his run into the end zone. The move got the rest of the team hooting and hollering on the sidelines. The TD went for 38 yards.

Keep your eye on Anderson, because he can be a big part of this offense. He has the size, hands and athleticism to play tight end at the Division I level.

Yes, DLP is a huge part of this team's offense, but CA is developing as a solid tight end and you can't forget about Jonathan Faucher and Joey Harris, who have become 2 big bodies that can catch the football.

Toward the end of the scrimmage, Kendall Berry broke off a 23-yard run. KB led all RBs with 54 yards on 6 carries.

The scrimmage ended with the D stopping the O inside the 5-yard line. Cyprien had a pass breakup and redshirt freshman Terrance Taylor deflected the pass on 4th down to end the day.

After the D denied the O, DC Collins dove into his defense's celebration pile.


Aaapaw Thanks again to all you good people for the kind words. Let's get to your questions:


alt7787: Since you're back I've got a question on top of my L.A. Fitness one, but answering that one is at your discretion. Haha. Josh Johnson has been somewhat weak this spring training, is it anything to be legitimately concerned about or will Josh be good to go opening day?

PP: The L.A. Fitness reference in the previous blog was about a husband and wife who yelled from theJj second floor of that gym asking me where have I been for the past week.

Josh Johnson (right) will be fine. Most every player has a bad outing during the spring. The Marlins have bigger concerns than JJ such as who will be their 3-4-5 starting pitchers and will Leo Nunez hold up as the closer. It could be a long season if the Marlins starting pitchers struggle early like they did last season and wear out the bullpen.

gpantera: In order to write informative FIU Blogs, will the Herald allow you to cover FIU in person by attending practices, games, travel with team, etc?

PP: I will be at games. We're still ironing out the schedule as far as how the beat will be covered between me and TBA or his cousin TBD. You'll keep getting the daily blogs on here that have won Oscars, Tonys, Grammys, Emmys and Espys and there will be times when I'll also be covering on the print side.

chrisfiu: On a side note, great to hear the Dazzlers will also be at the baseball games. Will the dates be given out in advance?

PP: I'm going to get more info for you on when the Dazzlers (left, thanks AJH photo) will be performing at baseball games. Maybe they will break out new baseball outfits. Just not the baggy throwbacks the baseball team wears for Sunday home games.

Dazz Gooch7: PETE: Since there is ONLY one week till the Spring Game will the Herald and FIU advertise the game so we can have a good turn out.

PP: I'll find out more for you about what FIU is planning for the Spring Game.

ThePerfectFan: OMG it is so good to have you back PP!! I want to ask a question about pitching for the FIU Baseball? Why do all the pitchers start such a wonderful season and all of a sudden they start falling like flies in such a short time? Are they been overworked, not given them enough confidence? Given them too many innings to pitch? What is it can someone please explain?

PP: The lack of depth on the FIU pitching staff is one reason. FIU has to manage the way it uses its pitchers carefully this season, because whether it was losing 2 of its top pitchers (Ebert, Mejia) to the major leagues or injured pitchers (Garcia, McVay, Leith) and another not being eligible (Dodds) the Panthers are playing without a full staff this season. That's the hand they were dealt and you try and make the best of it.

I don't think it's a case of pitchers not having confidence, but sometimes they pitch a little more this season, because of the lack of depth. And at times it has worked fine such as Daniel DeSimone (right, thanks AJH photo) pitching a complete game last week and giving FIU 7 innings in Tuesday's win vs. Jacksonville -- both outings helped the FIU bullpen get some much needed rest. At other times, the opponents catch up to FIU's lack of depthDd such as last weekend vs. Troy and hot-swinging Rutgers from 2 weeks ago. It's going to be interesting to see how FIU fares down the stretch against a tough-hitting Sun Belt where 14-12 games can be the norm as the weather gets hotter and as the season heads down the stretch.

*BTW, FIU is not changing its colors to green and white, what DD is wearing in the photo on the right is the green hats and socks the Panthers wore on March 18 vs. Southern Utah in celebration of St. Patrick's Day.

josh: Pete anything new about the Norwegian bball player Torgrim Sommerfeldt? I know you mentioned a few weeks back about him possibly coming to play?

PP: Nothing new on Torgrim. However, there is another top player that might be popping up on FIU's radar. Need to double check what I'm hearing before posting on here. Let's just say if all of Isiah's commits and the players he is recruiting end up signing with FIU, then you might be watching the 2011-2012 All-Sun Belt First Team wearing FIU across their chests and playing at the Bank. Stay tuned.

March 22, 2010

Hello Again

Great to be back from an unexpected spring break. Thanks to all you good people for your support through your e-mails, letters, texts, yells across L.A. Fitness and yells across FIU Baseball Stadium. Good to see the enthusiasm and energy on this blog has not waned despite the 1-week absence. Hell, even CrazyCane sent me an encouragingRak e-mail and wrote to the editors, go figure?? I don't care what that dude writes on here, because I'll bet you he secretly wears blue and gold despite his rants.

Anyhow, there was a Herald personnel decision made regarding the FIU beat that really would be a waste of 5 minutes of your life and my life for me to explain to you good people. The end result is that I'm still here in your cyber world and we missed plenty from the FIU sporting world last week on this blog so let's get to it.


Rakeem Christmas -- the No. 1 center in the nation -- visited FIU this past weekend and from talking to people close to the visit....Christmas (right) could come early in November for FIU basketball. There has been no verbal commit yet from RC, but from what I've been told it's looking pretty good for the Panthers to land the U.S.'s top center. FIU is competing with Oklahoma, Texas, Florida and Georgetown for RC. Also, it's not a bad sign at all that RC's aunt was at a couple of FIU basketball games this season cheering on the Panthers from the stands at the Bank.


Berko Big blow to the already pitching-thin Panthers with the loss of closer Bryam Garcia. BG has an elbow injury and is out for at least a month. He was wearing a big black brace on his right arm on Sunday just like Paul McCall wore last season when he hurt his elbow. BG was lights out when he took to the mound in theCardenas 9th inning this season.

Look for Eric Berkowitz -- who has been FIU's most consistent reliever this season -- and freshman Alberto Cardenas (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) to share the closing duties. Berko (left, thanks AJH photo) has done a solid, steady job in middle relief this season. AC has got closer's stuff -- a lively fastball and a nasty breaking ball that might just be the best on the team.

But FIU has to get more consistency in the middle innings from its relievers if the Panthers want to get to that elusive regional this season. As we have seen from the first 20 games, FIU can hit with anyone, but its bullpen and at times the starting pitching has to be better. Sunday's 14-12 loss to Troy when the Trojans went for 2 instead of the extra point was a typical Sunday Sun Belt Conference game where both teams ran out of pitching and it turned into a slo-pitch softball game. The Trojans just got a few more outs late than the Panthers and that was the difference.

FIU is back on the diamond on Tuesday for a 2-game series with Jacksonville at FIU Baseball Stadium. The Dolphins were a regional team from last season and are no mid-week patsies, bettys or alices for that matter. FirstBueller pitch Tuesday is at 6 p.m.

Wednesday's game is at 3 p.m. According to the Mayan calendar Wednesday's game falls on "National Get the Hell Early Out of Work Day". Here's an excuse you could use: my 89-year-old aunt is flying into town and she has a phobia of riding in taxis so I have to go pick her up at the airport. Or just tell the boss you're about to vomit and need to go home.

Unconfirmed rumor they will be handing out DVDs of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" at the Stadium on Wednesday.

Actually, the real reason for the 3 p.m. start is that JU has a 9-hour bus ride back home so they asked for an early start time. JU will return the favor when FIU visits April 27-28. The series finale for that one is a 3 p.m. start as well.

There WILL NOT be a LIVE GAME BLOG of Tuesday's game between FIU and JU. With the new Herald personnel decision, we're still trying to figure out when the LIVE GAME BLOGS will resume. As soon as I have an answer for you I will post it on here.


If the FIU pen needs some help they could get it from the Golden Dazzlers distracting the opposing batters. Been told FIU's finest (left, in their black outfits for a halftime show, thanks AJH photo) will perform at select Panthers baseball games later this season. So now you get Dazzlers all through the FIU sports season.


Check the next post on Tuesday and I will have the details of the 1st FIU football spring scrimmage that occurred 2 weeks ago.

The Panthers are scheduled to hold their second scrimmage on Saturday morning. The FIU Spring Game is next Wednesday, March 31 at 7 p.m. at FIU Stadium.

Letter from the editor

Dear FIU Golden Panthers and Pete Pelegrin fans,

Thanks for the cards and letters. Here are some important details for you.

-- The Miami Herald's coverage of FIU is not decreasing but actually increasing.

-- Pete Pelegrin is indeed coming off the FIU beat for print, but he will continue to maintain the Golden Panthers Prowl blog.

-- Another reporter TBA will be added to the mix and will write primarily for print. This is the same as how we are set up with the Dolphins and the Hurricanes. With the Dolphins, Armando Salguero writes the Dolphins in Depth blog and Jeff Darlington writes primarily for print. With the Hurricanes, Manny Navarro writes the Eye on the U blog and Susan Miller Degnan writes primarily for print.

I agree that Pete has done a great job covering FIU, but I'm also hoping that you will understand this move toward a similar coverage structure, and appreciate that we are changing with the times to deliver news on many platforms (print, online, video, TV/radio, mobile phones). By having two reporters assigned who can handle different responsibilities, we can better serve those platforms and also solve any overlap between seasons (football/basketball, basketball/baseball etc.).

We remain committed to covering FIU sports. The fact that we send reporters to all FIU road football games and that Pete went to the recent Sun Belt Conference basketball tournament (we didn't assign anyone to the SEC tourney, for example) should be clear evidence of that. In addition to his popular blog, Pete and others have written many front-page features about FIU sports, including Mario Cristobal and the football team; Isiah Thomas; the baseball team and its top signees; and the successful women's volleyball team.

I know you've got issues with that other Division I school in Coral Gables, but you need to be patient and let your athletic program grow. As it is, we try to be as fair as possible in our coverage of all sports -- from high schools to college to pros -- and during March, throw in golf, tennis, horse racing, March Madness, you name it.

It's not easy to keep everyone -- if anyone -- happy. Fans always want more, and we understand that. We just do our best to present great stories and entertaining information across all fronts.

If you have any more questions, feel free to call me and I'll try to answer them as best I can.

Thank you for reading The Herald,

Jorge Rojas
Miami Herald sports editor

March 14, 2010

Donald, You're Hired

Senat Well, not technically, but Northwestern High offensive lineman Donald Senat is expected to sign with FIU on Monday to add more beef to the Panthers offensive line.

Senat, 6-2, 271 pounds, is the fourth former Bulls player to join the Panthers following: Anthony Gaitor, Wayne Times and Khambrel McGee.

Senat is expected to play in the interior of the line. Here is his highlight video: Senat video

Haven't forgotten about posting a detailed scrimmage update, but for now have to get back to the Marlins/Mets here in Jupiter.

1st Spring Scrimmage

It was delayed for about one hour due to the inclement weather on Friday, but the first spring scrimmage is in the books.

Will update later with details, but here are some quick highlights of the scrimmage: the defense for the mostTimeswayne part was ahead of the offense -- in particular some of the young defensive players stood out.

Running backs Jeremiah Harden, Kendall Berry and Darriet Perry got the ground game going later, but the offense is still a work in progress. Wayne Times (right) had a big day and so did Colt Anderson. Only Wesley Carroll and Wayne Younger took snaps at quarterback and they played pretty even.

Several of the newest Panthers, who signed in February were in attendance. Got to get going to Jupiter, but will have more later.

For now here's what appeared in Saturday's MH: 1st Spring Scrimmage

March 13, 2010


Splendid day -- not a cloud in the sky --  to play 2 and that's what FIU and Rutgers are doing this afternoon after a rain out on Friday night.

Rutgers wins the first game of the doubleheader 20-11. The first pitch for the 2nd game is expected to be at 6:55 p.m. Will be back here then for a LIVE BLOG of the 2nd game of the twinbill as lefty Corey Polizzano tries to even the series for FIU.

No LIVE BLOG on Sunday, because of Marlins/Mets duties, but here's 2 LIVE BLOGS for you today....

March 11, 2010

Tuesday's Spring Practice

   The first scrimmage of the spring will be Friday at 3:30 at FIU Stadium and like all spring practices thus far is open to the public.Ty

   Had a chance to check out Tuesday’s practice and here are some of the highlights.




   Saw some deep passing by the Panthers quarterbacks and several of the completions went for long touchdowns.

   Wayne Younger found T.Y. Hilton (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) in between two defenders for a long gain down the middle.

   On the previous play, Goodbye beat one defender and finished the play by proclaiming: “If you get beat deep, take a seat.”

   WY connected on a couple of more long passes – both to Greg Ellingson. The second pass went for a touchdown.

   Wesley Carroll also was successful with the deep passes. WC connected with tight end Joey Harris down the middle for 6.

   Carroll then found Jacob Younger for a 70-yard touchdown in which the pass went about 60 yards and Younger jogged in the last 10 yards for 6.

   Jacob Younger picked up another touchdown shortly thereafter. On another play, Younger made a one-handed catch in the end zone off a deflected pass.

   Tight end Jonathan Faucher caught a touchdown pass from WC in between two defenders.

   Both quarterbacks were threading the needle Tuesday.




   New defensive back Marquis Rolle looks comfortable at his new position. MR picked off a pass and returned it down the sideline for a touchdown.

   Walk-on defensive back Jose Cheseborough, one of the stars of last year’s scout bowl, also had a pick Poohbear 6.

   Pooh Bear Mars (left, thanks Roy Viera photo) – who seems to have an increased role on D this spring – batted down a pass in the end zone.

   Apparently, defensive lineman James Jones is doing just fine after a couple of surgeries last season. JJ broke through the FIU O-line, reached WY and deflected WY’s pass.




   Later in the afternoon, Goodbye was at it again.

   This time hooking up with WC on a 45-yard completion down the middle.

   Next time you’re out at practice, check out the newly buffed Goodbye – now a legitimate 175 pounds. Wayne Times also made a home in the gym in the offseason too.

   New punter Josh Brisk got off couple of 60-yard punts with no wind in play.




   Near the end of Tuesday’s practice it got physical.

   Safety Jonathan Cyprien had a couple of big hits on consecutive plays.Dp

   First, Cyp knocked running back Darriet Perry’s helmet around as oooohs came from the rest of the team. But DP (right, thanks AJH photo) won that battle, because he picked up 6 yards on the defense.

   Cyp then hit Times on an incompletion across the middle.

   A noticeably bigger Tourek Williams recorded a sack during team drills.

   However, from there on out, the FIU offensive line and running backs dominated the rest of the practice.

   Jeremiah Harden is not a prototypical big back, but it seems every time he carries the ball he moves the pile.

   On consecutive runs, JH ran straight into the collision of O-line and D-line bodies and appeared buried, but JH just kept churning his legs and picked 7 yards on the first carry and 6 yards on the next run.

   A slimmer looking DP also moved the chains on the ground picking up 6 and 4 yards on two straight Mert runs.

   Of course, you knew Goodbye would make another play before practice ended. Showing that his knee is just fine, No. 4 caught a mid-range pass from WY and faked a defender out of his shoes and went for 6.

   The two former St. Thomas Aquinas High teammates finished practice with nifty plays.

   JH ripped off a 19-yard run, in which he stiff armed a defender to the ground.

   WC, being chased by two defenders, rolled left and faked like he was going out of bounds, but instead found Junior Mertile (left, thanks RV photo) downfield for 30 yards.

   Will have highlights from Friday’s scrimmage on here Saturday.




How about freshman Jabari Henry with 2 HRs and 7 RBI on Wednesday in FIU's 18-14 baseball/football win over Boston College. The ball springs off his bat like a racquetball.


 If you haven't had the chance to see this freshman play, you got 3 opportunities this weekendJhenry Henry     when FIU hosts Rutgers for a 3-game series starting Friday at 7 p.m. Will have the first two games of the series on LIVE BLOG here. Got the Marlins on Sunday, so no live blog on that day. Thanks to Victoria Lynch for the two JH photos.






danny ryan: Pete whats Schirippa's status as far as playing time he looks good also ? good arm.. What type of injury does Mallory have ?


PP: With Wesley Carroll and Wayne Younger both having solid springs, Schirripa still is the No. 3. Mallary had shoulder surgery and will be back in the fall.



March 10, 2010

Boston College vs. FIU LIVE BLOG

Bc The second game of the two-game series with the Panthers (8-3) looking to split the seriesLogo with the Eagles.

Boston College won 11-5 last night scoring all 11 runs with 2 outs. R.J. Fondon on the mound for FIU tonight trying to get the third out of the inning that the Panthers could not get last night.

New FIU Footballer

It's official defensive lineman Jason Fitch signed with FIU this morning. Fitch is a 6-2, 291-pound big body for the Panthers D-line.

The addition of Fitch brings more beef to the FIU D-line as he joins a bigger Tourek Williams, Thatcher Starling, James Jones, Josh Forney, Andrew Mattox and the return of Jonathan Jackson and new signees: Jordan White, Isame Faciane, Jeremy Jermin, Bryan Robinson and Jerricho Lee.


Aaapaw Will be back on here with LIVE BLOG of the second game of the FIU/Boston College series later today at 5:58 p.m.


Gooch7: PETE: I know its early but if we do reach 40 wins and play in the Finals of the Sunbelt this year will we host the Regional Games?

PP: Not sure if FIU reaches 40 wins this season, but regardless, another hurdle to FIU hosting a regional is the facility. A 2,000-seat stadium is not usually what the NCAA looks for in regional hosts. For that to happen FIU would have to crack the top 15 and win 40+ games to be considered for a regional.

I think a lot of people are putting the cart before the horse with the fast start to this season. I think FIU first has to go deeper in the Sun Belt tournament than they did last year. After that everything else is gravy for this season. The Panthers still have some issues with pitching depth this season. The arrival of Illinois transfer Phil Haig, the FIU debut of Logan Dodds and other pitchers that Turtle brings in should help in 2011.

Jsuarez88: Pete there's some speculation that WY might have a step on WC to come out as the starter atCc QB this spring... any truth to that?

PP: Speculation on March 10 with the season opener still 6 months away on Sept. 11? Did Mel Kiper and Todd McShay say that about the FIU QBs or was it Cris Collinsworth? If it was Collinsworth (right) -- who IMO really does know football better than any announcer out there -- then I believe it. You probably heard it from the same geniuses spreading false rumors about Marvin Roberts being kicked off the hoops team.

In all seriousness, you can't go by any speculation in March when the entire team is not here and the team is not going full contact.

I will say this. Wayne Younger looks much improved this spring from last season. WY is getting more mustard on his throws and we all know he is athletic and can run. Still, Wesley Carroll has looked as good as advertised this spring. Making some nifty throws, including one on the run in Tuesday's practice where he avoided two chasing defenders and found Junior Mertile for 30 yards downfield. Will have a detailed spring update from the latest practice in Thursday's blog.


March 09, 2010


Logo A pleasant Tuesday to you from FIU Baseball Stadium as FIU host Boston College in theBc first of a 2-game series.

The Panthers are coming off a 2-2 road trip to Arizona and are 8-2 on the season. The Eagles enter tonight's game 4-5 as they are in the midst of their South Florida swing having lost 2 of 3 to the Hooters before playing FIU and then going across town to play the school in Coral Gables in a weekend series.

First pitch tonight is at 6 p.m. We'll be on-line beginning at 5:58 p.m.

March 07, 2010

Year 1 Done

LITTLE ROCK, ARKANSAS -- The first FIU basketball season under Panthers coach Isiah Thomas is complete after FIU's 71-64 loss to Denver in the 1st round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament in HotCapone Springs, Arkansas. Unlike Al Capone, FIU did not rule Hot Springs, Arkansas this week.

Stayed at Capone's hotel (the Arlington) in Hot Springs on Saturday night. Spending Sunday here in Little Rock, because there were no flights available to Fort Lauderdale one day before my scheduled departure on Monday.

Was expecting the FIU men and women's hoops teams to win their 1st round games and that's why the Monday flight was booked out of Arkansas.

But neither team escaped the 1st round. The FIU men's team pretty much had little shot of winning their 1st round game after leading scorer Marvin Roberts was suspended for violation of team rules. Of course, it didn't help either that starting power forward J.C. Otero was out with a torn knee.

It was a missed opportunity for FIU late Saturday night (10:50 p.m. tipoff), because in the coming years, Denver will not belong on the same court as FIU. The Pioneers have no size, no athleticism and very little defense, but FIU with its shorthanded roster had very little of those qualities as well on Saturday.

Gary Here's how bad it got for FIU on Saturday: 5-10 point guard Phil Gary was playing center at one point in the game. Still, Gary (left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) scored a game-high 23 points. Shooting guards Tremayne Russell and Stephon Weaver were playing power forward.

Despite all the disadvantages, the Panthers hung with the Pioneers until late when Denver went on an 11-4 run to build a 9-point lead.

It should all get better for FIU next season with the No. 17-ranked signing class in the country taking to the court in October for preseason practice. The arrivals of forwards Dominique Ferguson and Eric Frederick, shooting guard Richaud Pack (the nation's leading high school scorer) and point guard Phil Taylor in addition to the returns of Phil Gary, Roberts, Russell, Weaver, Nikola Gacesa and others should see an improved FIU team.

Looking back on this season and looking forward to next season, IT had this to say in the postgame press conference on Saturday:

"I’m proud of the foundation this team has laid. They did a good job in establishing the type of identity we want to play with in the future. They never quit. I told them in the locker room: unfortunately sometimes the people that are responsible for building the house and laying the foundation they never get a chance to live in the house. But what they are able to do is drive the kids by the house and take their friends by the house and say hey we built this. This group of young men their job was to do the dirty work and they did the dirty work. They got a lot of mud on their shoes and a lot of blood under their fingernails. We appreciate the work that they did and how hard they played."


After their first loss of the season on Friday, we learned FIU baseball won't go 62-0. On Sunday night in Surprise, Arizona, the Panthers loss to Arizona State 4-1 in 7 innings.

The game was delayed after 7 innings, because of rain and once the tarp went on the field the TexasWalkerTexasRanger Rangers -- who play their spring training games at the Surprise stadium -- ordered that the tarp not be removed regardless if the rain stopped. So the umpires called the game after 7 innings, despite the rain stopping. I was never a fan of the show: Walker -- Texas Ranger, anyway.

FIU went 2-2 on their Arizona trip which is not too shabby considering the competition the Panthers faced in the Coca Cola Classic. FIU is now 9-2 on the season.

The Panthers return to Miami to open a 5-game homestand with 2 games against Boston College starting Tuesday and then a 3-game weekend series against Rutgers.

LIVE BASEBALL BLOG starts at 5:56 p.m. Tuesday.


The FIU media relations department filled in for me during this weekend's spring practices while yours trulyCollins was in Arkansas and from the reports new defensive coordinator Geoff Collins has made an impact with his new defensive unit.

From the story from FIU media relations.....It all starts with Collins (right, thanks Roy Viera photo). When quarterback Wayne Younger aimed for the sideline to throw a pass away Friday, Collins knocked it down. After the ball hit the turf, linebackers Larvez Mars and Markeith Russell motioned for Collins to drop and give them 10 push-ups. That's exactly what Collins did.

``He's just as much into it as we are,'' linebacker Toronto Smith said. ``I think, in the game, if we catch an interception, that he'll run down the sideline with us. We might get a flag, but it's Jj worth it. I love the energy that he brings to the defense.''

Good to hear defensive end Jonathan Jackson (left, thanks AJH photo) got into the backfield to tackle running back Jeremiah Harden for a tackle for loss in Sunday morning's practice. It's been a while since JJ and his injured feet have been on the field.

Next practice is Tuesday at 3:45 p.m.


Aaapaw Will have a LIVE BASEBALL BLOG of Tuesday's FIU/Boston College game from FIU Baseball Stadium. First pitch is at 6 p.m. Will be on-line about 5:56 p.m. for you.

Aaapaw Attention: kendallplayafiu, canerallymonkey, Miguel Alfonso: you have been traced and are being monitored on this blog's tracking program.

You are more than welcome to post your anti-FIU rants on here, but pick one screen name. Your original screen name that you posted on this blog is Miguel Alfonso, which you say you are the former FIU pitcher that stopped playing when Turtle Thomas took over FIU.

You're more than welcome to keep posting under that screen name. If you post comments under any other screen name the comments will be deleted. Thank you and thanks for making the GPP one of the most read blogs on the Miami Herald website.


March 06, 2010


HOT SPRINGS, Arkansas -- Welcome to Summit Arena and the 2010 Sun Belt Conference Tournament.Dance

Will be LIVE BLOGGING later tonight about 9:43 p.m. A little update in this afternoon's play: The FIU ladies lost to North Texas. The Hooters men's team lost to South Alabama.

But the biggest loss today here in Hot Springs was Dazzler Vanessa being cheated out of a dance contest title.

The halftime show of the FIU women's game was a "So You Think You Can Dance?" contest which had Vanessa going against some guy from North Texas.

The judges -- wearing green shirts -- gave sympathy votes to the Mean Green guy. That's Vanessa on the right raising her arms after she finished her routine with the thought that she won. The crowd and myself also thought she won. (Thanks to Sun Belt photographer Tom Ewart for photo)

Be back later tonight for FIU's first round game against Denver with the winner playing against Middle Tennessee on Sunday night at 10 p.m.

The Panthers lost to the Pioneers 59-53 earlier this season in the Mile High City. FIU will look to even the season series and bounce Denver from the SBC tourney tonight.

March 05, 2010

4 Wins In March

HOT SPRINGS, Arkansas -- Hello from the "Natural State" -- that's what Arkansas calls itself. Arkansas isFamguy also the land of 2 guest stars on Family Guy.

On Saturday night, FIU begins first round Sun Belt Conference Tournament play against Denver.

The game is scheduled for 9:45 p.m. Eastern time, but with tournament games going on all day Saturday there is a good chance that FIU's game will not start 15 minutes before 10 p.m. but rather around 10 or 10:15 p.m. so break out the Bustelo or Pilon and join us here for a LIVE BLOG.

As you may know by now, the Panthers will be without starting forward J.C. Otero (torn right knee vs. Cafe Western Kentucky) so Cedric Essola is expected to start in his place.

Since the preseason and throughout the regular season, FIU coach Isiah Thomas has mentioned "winning those 4 games in March" -- a.k.a winning the SBC tourney to reach the NCAA Tournament. Vote below on how far you think FIU will go in the SBC tourney.

Winning 4 straight games will be a very tall order for the Panthers, however Saturday's game is not against the Denver Nuggets, but rather the Denver Pioneers. FIU lost 59-53 at Denver back on Dec. 17 despite outscoring the Pioneers 32-16 in the paint. DU in turn made 11 3-pointers in the game.

The winner of Saturday's game gets to play Middle Tennessee at 10 p.m. (another Cuban coffee game) on Sunday night. FIU split the season series with the Blue Raiders this year.


FIU (7-0) keeps rolling right along with a win over Utah Valley on Thursday night in the Coca Cola Classic in Arizona. Again the Panthers got solid pitching and timely hitting.

Dillon Vitale and Daniel DeSimone took care of the first 6+ innings on the mound of what was essentially a mid-week game. Eric Berkowitz had another flawless relief outing and Bryam Garcia got his first career collegeWitt save. Garcia got touched up for 3 hits and one earned run in the 9th, but like he did against Oral Roberts last Sunday, the gritty junior finished out the frame.

Garrett Wittels (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) had 3 more hits to up his average to .567. Jeremy Patton, who seems very comfortable in the middle of the FIU order in his first season had the go-ahead RBI single. Yoandy Barroso provided the first two runs of the game with a 2-run double.

FIU plays a tough UC-Riverside on Friday.


Fitch More beef possibly on the way for the FIU defensive line.

Kilgore JC defensive lineman Jason Fitch (6-2, 280 pounds) visited FIU on Friday. Fitch (left), an original Texas Christian commit, is trying to figure out where he's going to play this fall at the D-I level.


Aaapaw LIVE HOOPS BLOG of Saturday's game between FIU and Denver should begin around 9:43 p.m. Game should start 20 minutes or so after that.


Golden Panther 90: Who did we hire as d-line coach?

PP: Cedric Calhoun.

Fomenter1: No no no NYC and Pete. Last I checked, I won the blog (sorry had to change my name, the typepad no longer accepted it as a log in). As far as the rules of the blog, no time limit was ever put on the blog, therefore, I have not passed on my right to post it.

PP: No problem, go ahead and write. NYCFIUFan go ahead and write one too and I'll post it as well.

CrazyCane: Hey smart guy, PP does the same thing on this blog. Get a clue man.

PP: CrazyCane/"saver of lost souls" (C.C. SOLS), your posts have never been screened or withheld as long as they were not vulgar or racial. Check all your posts on past blogs -- they are all there. You can still keep posting and being FIU's No. 1 fan.

rashod04: Hey Pete...you think FIU will let me come tutor the backs. I want someone to break my record!!Rs

PP: Good to hear from you, Rashod Smith, No. 4. Any coincidence that the best running back and the best receiver in FIU history both have worn No. 4. As far as your tutoring services for the RBs, contact the FIU football office at 305-348-4150 and ask. It never hurts to ask.

FIUFan: p.s. Pete, if we aint allowed to post on the slobs blog then the SCum shouldn't be posting here. tit-for-tat.

PP: Let's take the high road and be the blog of the people -- as long as it's clean.

TXgoldenpanther: Does anyone know when the spring game is scheduled for this year?

PP: Right now the spring game is Wednesday, March 31 at 7 p.m. Although, here's hoping they move it to Saturday morning, April 3.

FIUfantastic: Pete, when are you getting a Twitter account?

PP: Not any time soon. I check e-mail at least 3 to 4 times a day and this blog is updated just about everyday. If someone needs to know what I'm having for lunch or what I'm watching on TV, then they could send an e-mail and I'll answer it.

March 04, 2010

Spring Forward: Practice Opens

There was football weather at FIU Stadium on Wednesday afternoon as FIU began spring practice. A windy and chilly day, of course nothing like the high of 45 degrees that awaits a thin-blooded native Miamian in Hot Springs, Arkansas on Friday.

Lots to get to from Wednesday's first practice. Thanks to Roy Viera for all of the photos from Wednesday'sTy practice. Will try on Thursday to post larger photos than the ones currently on here. Having a little trouble with this blog's photo posting.

First thing I noticed on Wednesday was No. 1 playing defense. That's right, receiver Marquis Rolle has become safety Marquis Rolle. MC said the switch was made, because there are a ton of receivers on the team and the Panthers need help at safety this season. Rolle has never played safety before, but he's got the size and athleticism to play the position.

Speaking of safety, Ash Parker is back for one final season after tearing his knee in the last two season openers (2008 at Kansas and 2009 at Alabama). Ash will not participate in contact drills this spring -- only in non-contact stuff. Maybe playing the season opener at home is the charm for Ash.

Noticeably bigger from another off-season in the weight room: Wayne Times (not looking like a freshman anymore), T.Y. Hilton (above, right with a solid 175 pounds with muscles), Winston Fraser looking like a senior. Tourek Williams and Jonathan Jackson both up to 250.

New defensive line coach Cedric Calhoun was in FIU gear and coaching up the Panthers D-linemen. So was new linebackers coach Juan Navarro as he coached the LBs.

On the D-line, James Jones, who returned from knee and shoulder surgery, was full-go on Wednesday. He should definitely help the FIU pass rush this season, if his play at Kansas in 2008 was any indication. Jonathan Jackson is getting close to being 100%, but he will be limited in the spring as he prepares for fall camp in August.

Am Expected to miss the spring with injuries are: OL Rupert Bryan (leg stress fracture), RB Darian Mallary (shoulder surgery), WR Rockey Vann (knee) and DB Jarrell McGee (knee).

The newest Panthers made a connection. As he went through his reads and no one was open, QB Wesley Carroll scrambled out of the pocket and found Jeremiah Harden, who cut across the middle for 7 yards. You can read more about these two in Thursday's MH.

Catches of the Day: Times making a 1-handed catch with his body going the other way on a deep pass down the middle. Receiver Ariel Martinez (left, thanks RV photo) going up, up, and away for a pass over the middle. Somebody find some playing time for this guy, every time I turn around he's catching everything thrown his way. Junior Mertile doesn't look like he missed a beat returning from last year's knee injury. JM made a couple of nice catches.

If you didn't know the chili was hot on defense, you certainly learned Wednesday afternoon. New DC GeoffGc Collins (right, thanks RV photo) is a walking Cuban coffee colada. New OC Scott Satterfield was not heard from Fort Lauderdale like GC, but he got his points across constantly instructing the FIU QBs. Last time FIU had an OC/QBs coach that played QB was James Coley -- now Florida State's OC. SS played QB at Appalachian State.

Wayne Younger (left, thanks RV photo) looks bigger and he must be, because there was some extra mustard on his fastball today. You sure you don't need another pitcher, Turtle?

Younger Pooh Bear Mars and Aaron Davis came close to picking off passes. On both plays, each LB had a nifty pass break up.

New punter Josh Brisk sure gets some hang time on his punts and seems to have a strong leg. Is it Munera-like? Not sure yet have to see more punts.


Aaapaw Former FIU defensive back and Rudy Award Finalist - O'Darris D'Haiti is organizing a charity flag football tournament to benefit the relief effort in Haiti. The tournament is thisOd Saturday, March 6 at FIU's North Campus.

If you are interested it is $10 per person and you need at least 5 people on your team. Or if you just want to watch it's $5 general admission. The tournament will take place in the rec fields behind the North Campus library by the basketball courts.

For more info: contact O'Darris (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) at odhai001@fiu.edu

Aaapaw Will have a LIVE HOOPS BLOG of Saturday's opening game of the Sun Belt Conference tourney between FIU and Denver. Tip-off time is scheduled for 9:45 p.m. (Eastern). Game probably won't start until about 10 or 10:15 p.m., because there are other games being played on the same court before FIU's game. Regardless, expect the LIVE BLOG to begin at 9:43 p.m.


NYCFIUFan: Hey Pete, since Fomenter has fallen off the face of the earth and I was in second place, can I get the opportunity to post?

PP: Go ahead. You are a double winner in the 3rd annual GPP Win A Blog. E-mail me your blog with whatever photos or art you want on it and I'll post it on here.

Gooch7: WHAT ARE THE TOP 10 MALES AND FEMALE ATHLETS IN FIU HISTORY? PETE: Maybe we can post up a survey to see what people truely know about FIU Athletic History!

PP: Go ahead and start posting. I have to do some research to get my list. We'll have a poll question on the top athlete later.

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