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46 posts from February 2011

February 28, 2011

FIU travels to face Akron on Oct. 8

The Sun Belt releases the conference's entire 2011 schedule Tuesday, but nearly half of FIU's slate has now been made public by opposing teams.

The latest date announced: FIU's game in Akron, to be held on Oct. 8. A gametime has not yet been made public.

While much of FIU's Sun Belt schedule is still a mystery, I did get wind of this tidbit over the weekend: Troy's visit to The Cage will be a midweek game, likely nationally televised.

And while it's not official, my guess (based on previous years' schedules) is FIU's first bye will come the weekend of Sept. 24, with seven straight conference games to end the year. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

FIU's 2011 Schedule (as of now ...)

Sept. 1 vs. North Texas

Sept. 9 at Louisville

Sept. 17 vs. UCF

Oct. 1 vs. Duke

Oct. 8 at Akron

FIU's Sun Belt Tournament matchups

So the field is set for Hot Springs.

Isiah Thomas' men's team (10-18, 5-11 SBC), the sixth seed in the East, will face W3 Denver (13-16, 9-7) Saturday night, a rematch of last year's opening-round game, won by the Pioneers 71-64. Denver defeated FIU at home 79-70 in overtime back on Jan. 13.

On the women's side, FIU (15-15, 10-6) has a bye Saturday, and will play the winner of ULM-Troy in the quarterfinals. The Panthers swept the season series against the Trojans, but lost to ULM 56-42 on Jan. 2, the teams' only meeting.

Submitted my All-Sun Belt ballot today for both men's and women's awards, which should be released Thursday. Can't discuss my selections, but if I were a betting man, I'd say Thursday will be a good day for Jerica Coley. And maybe Cindy Russo.

FIU-Rhode Island live blog

Check back at 5:45 p.m. for tonight's live blog of the FIU versus Rhode Island baseball game. The Golden Panthers (6-2) are riding a five-game winning streak, including sweeping Mississippi Valley State. The game will be FIU's fifth in four days.


February 27, 2011

MVSU-FIU Live Blog

Finale of the four-game set. Daniel DeSimone (0-1, 0.00) vs. Scott Hornstra (0-0, 0.00).


February 26, 2011

Troy-FIU Hoops Live Blog

A disappointing regular season comes to end for the Golden Panthers, who have won just 14 games against Division I opponents in the Isiah Thomas Era. FIU lost 80-73 at Western Kentucky Thursday, its fifth straight defeat and 11th loss in 12 games. Saturday's contest will be the final home game for six seniors, including starters Phil Gary and Marvin Roberts.

Follow along here or on Twitter @AdamHBeasley.

Tipoff is 7 p.m.


February 25, 2011

FIU to play Louisville on Friday, Sept. 9 -- on ESPN

Well then .... This is interesting.

Looks like Akron's official website is plain wrong. Or else FIU is planning the weekend from hell.

My guess is on the former, because there's no way Mario Cristobal (or any governing body, for that matter) would allow a football team to play games in consecutive days.

Louisville announced its football schedule today, and has FIU's visit to Horse Country set for Friday, Sept. 9. That means Akron WILL NOT host the Golden Panthers on Sept. 10, as its website indicates.

Anyway, not to bury the lede, but here's this little nugget that shouldn't go overlooked: The Panthers-Cardinals game will appear on ESPN. With Louisville's recent influx of South Florida talent (I'm looking your way, Mr. Bridgewater), this will be a much-hyped game in the area.

So what does this mean? Well, it means FIU's visit to Akron will likely come the weekend of Sept. 24, although we won't know for sure until one of the schools clears this mess up.

FIU's 2011 Schedule (as of now ...)

Sept. 1 vs. North Texas

Sept. 9 at Louisville

Sept. 17 vs. UCF

Oct. 1 vs. Duke

February 24, 2011

UNT website: FIU to host Mean Green on Sept. 1

Thanks for @AFierro21 for catching this, which makes official what I've heard rumored for some time now: FIU will open the football season on Sept. 1 against North Texas. The date comes from the Mean Green's chartered plane service request, which is a matter of public record.

No word yet from the athletic department, and the Sun Belt is expected to release its schedule early next week, but this is as close to a done deal as you can get.

Considering it's a Thursday night game, odds are you'll get a national telecast (ESPN, ESPN2, etc.). And since the regular season starts that weekend, there's an outside chance that FIU will be the first nationally televised game of any sort for the 2011 season.

More when we hear it ...

FIU Men at Western Kentucky -- TONIGHT!

When/where: Thursday at 8 p.m.; E.A.Diddle Arena
TV/Radio: Fox College Sports
Of note: The Golden Panthers (9-17, 4-10 Sun Belt) look for solid ground ahead of next week's conference tournament, having lost four straight and 10 of their last 11. ... Four of those losses have been by five or fewer points, including Saturday's 80-78 overtime heartbreaker at the hands of Florida Atlantic. ... Five Panthers average double-digits scoring, including DeJuan Wright's team-best 14.8 ppg. ... The Hilltoppers (13-14, 7-7) defeated FIU 81-78 back on Jan. 27. ... Sergio Kerusch is averaging a team-best 16.6 points per Sun Belt contest.

February 23, 2011

St. Thomas-FIU Live Blog

A little midweek delight here at FIU Baseball Stadium, as Logan Dodds will make his first start of the season (and third appearance of the year), taking on St. Thomas and starter Corey Estrada.

First pitch is 6 p.m.


Recruit Gaines named Third-Team All-American

Shortstop Julius Gaines, a senior out of Luella High School in Locust Grove, Ga., who has signed with FIU, has been named Third-Team High School All-American by Baseball America.

Gaines, set to join FIU in the 2012 season, hit .363 (41-for-113) with 30 RBI and 46 runs scored as a junior in 2010.

“We are extremely proud of Julies being named a Pre-season All-American; it is a very deserving honor because he is one of the best short stops in the country,” said assistant coach and National Recruiting Coordinator, Sean Allen. “Panther fans are going to have a lot of fun watching this young man develop into one of the premier players in the country here at FIU."

That's if he doesn't go pro. Gaines is projected to be a second-round pick in this June's draft.

Annual Diamond Dinner raises $155k for baseball, softball

Mega kudos to Turtle Thomas, Beth McClendon and the entire FIU Athletic Department for it's record-breaking Diamond Dinner, held Feb. 12.

Headlined by former Marlins skipper Jack McKeon, the banquet raised $155,000 for the baseball and softball programs, smashing the previous record of $110,000.

Proceeds from the event help supplement improvements to facilities, including batting cages and the recently improved scoreboard at the baseball stadium.

Over 430 guests attended, bidding on more than 160 silent auction and 16 live auction items. The biggest money-maker? A basketball signed by Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh, fetching in excess of six grand.

"It was awesome," said FIU athletic director Pete Garcia. "Jack McKeon did a great job. Have to take my hat off to Turtle, Beth  and the whole staff. To raise that much money in one night is huge."

February 22, 2011

Basketball practice report | Tuesday Feb. 22, 2011

Injury report

Dominique Ferguson (right) is dealing with a toe injury. FIU coach Isiah Thomas is hoping Ferguson's Ferguson07 fiuhoop MHS ADD injury will not carry over into the Sun Belt Conference tournament in early March.

"Dominique is battling a toe injury," Thomas said. "For the most part everybody is pretty healthy."

Ferguson should played at Western Kentucky on Thursday.

Practice report

The Golden Panthers (9-17, 4-10 Sun Belt) have continued having trouble closing out games this season. The Panthers have lost 10 of their last 11 games, riding a four-game losing streak, with two games remaining (WKU, Troy) before the SBC tournament.

FIU has fallen to last place in the east division of the SBC standings, with ULM the only team with a worse record in the conference. I had a chance to catch up with coach Thomas after practice on Florida Intl Florida St Bas Tuesday. Thomas is not very concerned about entering the SBC tournament as one of the lower seeds in the field.

"You have to play everybody anyways," Thomas said. "If you gonna win the tournament, you have to beat the best teams regardless of where you are seed."

One of the things I asked Thomas was if he has been frustrated with how his team has not been able to hold on to late leads.

"That is just the way it is when your trying to teach a group of kids how to win," Thomas said. "Sometimes they don't realize the importance of doing the little things."

The little things Thomas is talking about - rebounding, foul shooting and turnovers - have hurt FIU in late-game situations.

Improving on the little things, has a been a big part of what Thomas has been trying to do with the team this year. After nearly every game, Thomas has commented on how his team has to keep working on fundamentals, especially foul shooting.

"We have emphasized the small things since we got here," he said.

In Saturday's 80-78 (OT) loss to FAU, the Panthers shot 21 of 33 from the foul line, including 9 of 15 in the second half.

FIU did a better job on rebounds and turnovers against the Owls, winning both categories.

"We've had two great games with [FAU]," Thomas said. "Every play in the game is a big play."

Below is a short Q&A from our interview

I asked Thomas what he would tell FIU fans that might be getting frustrated with how this season has gone.

"This is really my first year when you look at it," Thomas said after a long pause. "We are building. We are not established."

Nuggets_Life_After_Melo_Basketball I could not resist asking Thomas about the pending trade that would send Carmelo Anthony (left, AP photo) to the Knicks.

"Hey, I think, other than Miami, LA, Chicago and Boston, I think any team in the league would be happy to have him," Thomas said.

What does the future hold for FIU?

"Right now, what the future holds for me, is I'm going to get me a cheeseburger," Thomas said with a laugh. "We have a nice class coming in to join the class we have got now. That will give me two solid recruiting classes. Once you get two or three classes under your belt, now you're moving. I'm pretty excited and hopefully the students can get excited about what's coming."

(In case you are curious, Thomas was on his way to Sunset Place in South Miami to eat at Town Kitchen and Bar.)


February 21, 2011

Sloppy Panthers drop rubber match to SLU

Game story from Sunday's 7-1 loss to Southeastern Louisiana:



Those who tuned in for the ESPN webcast of FIU’s series with Southeastern Louisiana probably did so to see offense – particularly the curiosity surrounding Garrett Wittels’ now-defunct hitting streak.

What they got instead was three blowouts and a Golden Panthers defense that looked rustier than a wet bike chain.

FIU committed five errors – including two by Wittels, who did collect his first hit of the season – to drop its Sunday night rubber match with the Lions 7-1.

On the weekend, the Panthers booted the ball 10 times, leaving their pitchers on the hook for nine unearned runs – including five Sunday.

The miscues began early Sunday. For the third straight game, FIU (1-2) couldn’t escape the top of the first inning unscathed.

With two outs and none on, SLU infielder Jonathan Pace grounded to third, but Jeremy Patton’s throw to first was wide, extending the inning.

Up next: Jeff Harkensee, who powered a two-run line-drive home run by to right.

FIU couldn’t answer in the bottom half of the inning, but there was a silver lining: Wittels slapped a single to leftfield. Wittels, who was 0-for-his-first-9, had his Sun Belt-record 56-game hitting streak snapped two nights earlier.

The Panthers got to Lions starter Tyler Watkins once – and that was with an unearned run of their own in the bottom of the fourth.

Pablo Bermudez reached on a two-out throwing error by second baseman Brock Hebert, then scored on a wall-rattling double by Jabari Henry – his first hit of the young season.

But SLU (2-1) got the run right back. Boudreaux led off the top of the fifth inning with a towering home run to left off reliever Logan Dodds. Boudreaux finished the night 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI.

The Lions tacked on four more in the eighth to blow the game open.

February 20, 2011

SLU-FIU Game 3 Live Blog

Rubber match from FIU Baseball Stadium, as Tyler Watkins faces Panthers righty Daniel DeSimone. First pitch is 7:35 p.m.

February 19, 2011

SLU-FIU Live Blog

First pitch is 1 p.m.

FIU's Phil Haig faces Joseph Koon in both pitchers' debut with their respective teams.


February 18, 2011

Southeastern Louisiana-FIU Live Blog

Can Garrett Wittels start his 2011 season off the same way his 2010 ended -- with a hit? First pitch is 7 p.m.

Join the conversation here or on Twitter @AdamHBeasley.


Ventura to call Sunday's game, if streak intact

I've got a preview of perhaps the most significant season-opening series in FIU history here, but wanted to draw one passage to your attention, so not to bury the lede:

If Wittels, a junior shortstop who had 100 hits in 56 games last year, goes oh-for Friday or Saturday, the series finale will appear only on ESPN’s web network.

But if the streak is alive come Sunday, ESPNU will carry the affair – and the man whose record is at stake will be in the broadcast booth.

The network plans to have [Robin] Ventura, who set the record with Oklahoma State in 1987, call the deciding game, a delicious twist to a high-profile – and high-pressure – weekend.

February 17, 2011

Projected FIU starting lineup

The great thing about FIU returning seven of its starting nine is that the Golden Panthers' lineup is relatively easy to guess. But in what order? Here's my best shot (a hint -- it looks a lot like last year's lineup):

CF Bermudez (R)
LF Henry (R)
SS Wittels (R)
3B Patton (L)
DH Martinez (R)
RF Barroso (R)
1B Flores (L)
2B Shantz (R)
C Behar (R)

The real wildcard is Shantz. If he picks up where he left off in the Sun Belt Tournament, the 8-spot could become a distant memory. Flores could also slide up in the lineup against righties, depending on the matchup.

February 16, 2011

Video: FIU Baseball Media Day

If the video isn't loading properly, you can view it here.

Wittels meets the media, acquits himself quite well

As you've probably heard, FIU Baseball's Media Day was all about Garrett. Despite original threats to ban anyone asking Wittels about his pending rape charges, athletic director Pete Garcia clarified before the session, saying we were free to ask any question, and they were free to refuse to answer any question.

Despite what you might have heard elsewhere, it was pretty tame considering the situation. There was a reporter or two that might have gotten a little carried away, but Wittels stood his ground, spoke about what he wanted to and dismissed questions he didn't care to address.

Here are a few links from the press conference:

Miami Herald: FIU will let Garrett Wittels play despite rape charge

Herald columnist Greg Cote: FIU wrong to let Wittels start season

Associated Press: Garrett Wittels to start season in lineup

ESPNW: FIU takes protecting its star player too far

NBC Miami: Swing and Miss: FIU Lets Wittels Play Despite Rape Arrest

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