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Basketball, the beach and radio, radio on a Saturday morning

Take care of yourselves out there -- there's stomach virus going around, dropping kids and adults like Sonny Liston in a bad mood on a good day.

They might still be hammering, painting and punch-listing stuff inside The Branch as the entrance renovations and suite(s) debut today. And it won't look finished until there's no more oversized Tonka stuff digging up the northeast corner of the arena area or the landscaping is truly finished on the southeast side.

But, hey, this is Miami-Dade County, where basic contracting has recently advanced all the way to 1968 ("Maybe the gate to the garage doesn't work because your windshield is too thick") and waiting for projects to finish could've been the inspiration for the Chinese Restaurant episode of Seinfeld. So, while we have the Acronym Agony Shootout inside today between two men's teams just trying to get themselves together for the Sun Belt Tournament, FIU should count itself lucky the building's Just For Men treatment got done in time.

Speaking of today's men's game, it's on The Sun Belt Network and (my shallow understanding is) blacked out locally on ESPN3.com because it's on The Sun Belt Network. That's mimosas and white sangria if you have Comcast Cable, which has The Sun Belt Network. It's you and the kid with a stomach virus if you don't.

TV's also why the men's game open's for the women's game today. Of course, had the scheduling been done by record, it also would've been a situation in which the women's teams, the two with the over .500 records, could've told the men, "Go warm 'em up for us."

As mentioned, neither FIU or FAU, the men's preseason conference favorite, is having the level of success of even its most reasonable hopes. Some of you have asked about Isiah Thomas' job security. My sense is Thomas, who'll have two years left on his contract after this season, is more likely to fire FIU than FIU is to fire Thomas. Dealing with off court, paper wrangler mistakes such as the eligibility problems of forward Tola Akomolafe, who didn't stumble in any of his classes according to an athletic department source familiar with the situation, are the type of thing that can cause someone who doesn't need the job to say, "To Compton with this crap."

FIU sports long have been hindered on the field/court/pitch is that the school always seems to be playing catch up in the offices and board rooms. They went Division I in basketball without the proper infrastructure. They did the same in football. They've lost tournament bids, favorable rulings on transfers, etc. out of political weakness. Whatever you want to say about Pete Garcia, he brings a political savvy and a knowledge of relationship value to the FIU athletic department that's been arid in that area for years.

On Garcia: he feels there are certain sports FIU just should be winners in just on being in South Florida -- golf, tennis, soccer (I'd debate that one), baseball, football. And he wants to be a power in sand volleyball, which the NCAA has added for spring.

 "I've emphasized it and here's why: I want to win," Garcia said. "It's a new sport. No school has a 100-year head start on us. No school has a winning tradition over us. No school has better facilities than us -- everybody's building the same facilities. And, there's only a couple of regions in this country that can have as good a weather and South Beach for sand volleyball. You add that up and we should be very competitive, very quickly at the highest level because we don't have those things to overcome. We're not trying to catch anybody and we have some advantages they don't have at Nebraska. Michigan." 

I asked him why FIU basketball games aren't on the radio anymore. FAU's on 760AM up in Palm Beach. Even Nova Southeastern has its games on the air, 640AM.

"You've got to be a superfan to listen to FIU radio basketball. And if you're really that superfan, we've got to do everything we can to get you here," Garcia replied. "And remember, radio is expensive -- they're not paying us. We'd have to pay them to be on the radio. You've got to buy the time. It's an expense. How much are you getting out of that expense? Are you better off spending that money on marketing, promotions, the low hanging fruit. What's our low hanging fruit? Our students, right there in the dorms. Let's use that money, buy pizzas, let's do this or that, let's promote it over there right across the street and let's get them to come."

TENNIS

FIU got the doubles point to take a 1-0 lead on No. 14 Clemson in the women's tennis season opener. Then, Clemson went West Virginia-on-Clemson on FIU, taking the six singles matches to win 6-1. Karyn Guttormsen and Giuletta Boha won their doubles match and Lisa Johnson and Christine Seredni won theirs.

RIP

She threw it down on so many tunes for so long. But this is the one that, to me, not only fit romance (wife and I had a second "first dance" to it at our wedding in 1999), but for any athlete who ever won a long pursued championship.

My your heart and head be at rest, Ms. James.

 

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