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21 posts from March 2012

March 29, 2012

Spring Game! Whoo-hoo!...Ball gets a 'Toine.

FIU's spring football session ends Friday at 7 p.m. with the Blue & Gold Spring Game on Alonso Field at FIU Stadium. You'll have a chance to see the freshmen who enrolled early as well as the toddler version of the new offense FIU hopes to have in late adolescence if not young adulthood by the fall. Also, allegedly, there will be about 100 recruits in the house.

Admission's free. First 200 students get a free t-shirt, something no college student can have too many of in their closet.

MEN'S BASKETBALL

Antoine Myers, a 6-3 point guard from Baltimore Forest Park High by way of Pensacola State College, has verbally committed to FIU.

Myers averaged 7.6 points, 1.8 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game last season for Pensacola.

 

March 27, 2012

Coley Honorable Mention All-America; 11 men's soccer players on conference honor roll

Sophomore guard Jerica Coley, the Sun Belt Player of the Year and FIU leader in scoring, rebounding, assists and blocks, received Honorable Mention notice on the Associated Press' Division I women's basketball All-America team.

Previous FIU players given an All-America shout out by the AP are Dalma Ivanyi, 1998 Honorable Mention, 1999 Third Team; point guard Andrea Nagy and forward Albena Branzova, 1995 Third Team and Honorable Mention, respectively.

Coley moved to point guard this season, which is where she played in high school. Next year could see her scoring numbers dip but her overall effect on the game increase as she learns how to distribute better. As FIU coach Cindy Russo, the nation's leading Coleyphile, said, she just needs to learn how to play triple-covered.

MEN'S SOCCER
These players made the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll by attaining a 3.0 GPA for this academic year.

Andri Alexandersson, Sergio Alvarez, Esteban Castro, Nicholas Chase, Joseph Dawkins, Lucas DiCroce, Edgar Escobar, Sebastian Frings, Chris Garces, Rodney Greiling, Anthony Hobbs, Arnthor Kristinsson, Leonardo Martinez.

FOOTBALL RECRUITING
FIU's Junior Day is coming up April 7. Potetial attendees include Orlando Freedom wide receiver Jeff Badet; DeLand wide receiver Dantwaun O'Neal and running back JoJo Kemp. Tampa Bay Tech defensive end Antonio Guerad; Carrollwood Day running back Robert Davis; Hernando's running back Tyrail Hawkins; Pasco defensive lineman Joey Ivie.

March 26, 2012

Dawson Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week (again); baseball time ch-ch-ch-changes

In 20 innings over three appearances last week, FIU sophomore Mariah Dawson allowed two earned runs and struck out 24. That earned Dawson another Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week Award -- shared with Troy's Ashley Rainey -- two weeks after she won her first this season.

Dawson's struck out a Sun Belt-high 112 and is 11-6 with a 2.00 ERA for the season. 

BASEBALL

Tuesday's home game against Bethune-Cookman has been moved to 4 p.m. Friday's game against Louisiana-Monroe is at 8 p.m. The May 1 home game against Bethune is at 4, as is the May 9 road game at Bethune.

 

March 21, 2012

Hilton Pro Day Video (belatedly) & groundbreaking stuff

Sorry I've been away in Dolphinland since returning from Tampa, where I thought the FIU-South Florida Women's NIT game at the Campus Recreation Center would be preceded by a gym class playing Dodge Ball, Pinball or Prisoner's All. Much anger and dysfunction up in Davie.

I also just regained my camera, thus allowing me to post the video of T.Y. Hilton's Pro Day, albeit 12 days after I intended. 

 

  

  

 

This Friday at 3:15, the school will be holding a groundbreaking ceremony for the new north side of Alonso Field at FIU Stadium. Knowing how construction projects often go in Dade County, if they get this thing done on time, I think they should hold a serious party with hours of Afro-Cuban bongos, booty shaking and enough pork to beach the Steelers.

 

March 17, 2012

FIU loses 77-61 to USF

It didn't get any better in the second half. FIU got to within to at 66-56 with 4:45 left, but the Bulls quelled that uprising.

Jerica Coley ended with 30 points and 14 rebounds for FIU. Jasmine Wynne and Andrell Smith had 15 each for South Florida.

FIU down 36-22 at the half

USF's full court pressure and FIU's nerves pushed the Bulls to a 36-22 halftime lead in their second round Women's NIT game at South Florida.

Jerica Coley has a game-high 11 points, but also a team-high four turnovers. Finda Mansare is zero for five from the field with no rebounds and two fouls. FIU's committed 12 turnovers as a team, have only four assists and shot zero for five from three-point range. More importantly, they've blown several uncontested shots inside 10 feet that would've changed the score and pace of the game.

FIU's used nine players. Eight South Florida players have scored in the game, led by Andrell Smith's nine.

Neither women's hoop or JoGus can gain easy entry

FIU's women's basketball team arrived at the University of South Florida's Campus Recreation Center, USF's temporary home with a gym that would be disdained by Eastbrook Elementary School, for Saturday night's Women's NIT second round game less than 2 hours before tipoff...and found the place locked. And nobody around to open things up.

Tampa-20120317-00294

Their heel cooling time wasn't long. But it being did nothing to dispel the notion that this was the Women's National Improv Tournament. Why the tournament chose USF's temp home with such modern accoutrements...

Tampa-20120317-00302

Tampa-20120317-00303

over The Branch -- especially as this game isn't exactly packing the house either place -- is quite the mystery. FIU did put in a bid for the second round.

Meanwhile, at Auburn...

SWIMMING

If freshman Johanna Gustafsdottir had swam her seed time of 1:54.40 in Saturday morning's 200 backstroke preliminary, she still wouldn't have made the final. But she would've been 15th and actually only .58 of a second from the final. But Gustafsdottir came home in 1:57.12, 36th best. Thus ends her season, which included three Sun Belt swimming titles and the conference's Swimmer of the Year honor. Her next major swims will be qualifying for Iceland's Olympic team.

 

 

March 16, 2012

Round 2 of Women's NIT Saturday; baseball loses; Gustafsdottir doesn't qualify in the 100 backstroke

The advance for FIU at South Florida, Saturday at 7 p.m.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/03/17/2698682/fiu-women-to-face-battle-tested.html

BASEBALL

Freshman catcher Aramis Garcia went two for four with a home run against FAU Friday night. Runs produced by the rest of the FIU lineup: 0.

In a 5-1 loss that opened the Sun Belt part of FIU's schedule The Panthers wasted a nine-strikeout pitching performance by Mason McVay. McVay gave up eight hits and three runs in seven innings. But FAU's Ryan Garton didn't allow a run, whiffed eight and kept FIU to only four hits in 7 innings. Garcia's home run was the only blemish on reliever R.J. Alvarez's line.

AQUAWOMAN

FIU Johanna Gustafsdottir swam the 100 backstroke in 55.0 Friday, not good enough to reach the finals. As with the 200 individual medley Thursday, this wasn't a surprise. Gustafsdottir's best event, the 200 back, is Saturday.

 And in salute to the two No. 15 seed upsets, still arguably the greatest first weekend NCAA tournament upset.

 

 

FIU routs Stetson, will play at USF Saturday

While FIU was blasting Stetson, 75-47, Thursday, South Florida was doing a clog dance on FAU 76-20 in its it's first round Women's NIT game.

To answer the bell for Round 2, FIU gets its shot at South Florida, Saturday at 7 p.m.

After crushing the Owls, the Bulls are 18-15 and went 8-8 in the Big East.

March 15, 2012

Gustafsdottir doesn't qualify in the 200 IM

In the first of three events at the NCAA Swimming & Diving Finals, Johanna Gustafsdottir swam 2:00.58 in the 200 individual medley, failing to qualify for the final.

Gustafdottir swims in the 100 backstroke Friday and, her best event, the 200 back, on Saturday.

"It was a solid first swim of hte NCAA Championships for Johanna," FIU swimming coach Randy Horner said. "Althought it wasn't the best time, for this being the prelims and her first time competing on the big stage in college swimming, we'll sure take it. This is something she can build on and get better as we move ahead to the next event."

 

Jerica & JoGus; Mike Mart ties a school record; honors for Wright & Allen

A few things left over from the short story on Jerica Coley that functions as an advance for FIU’s Women’s NIT opener against Stetson Thursday.

On Coley’s recruitment, FIU coach Cindy Russo said, “She was a well kept secret. I was in Orlando and one of our assistant coaches said we’re going to see a 2011 kid, which was Kamika Odom, who we have now, her cousin. I said, “Who’s she?” Looked her up and sure enough, she was a little bit off the radar, but she was going to be a rising senior. So, for the rest of the tournament in Orlando, I watched her play. I knew within 10 minutes of watching her, how much I wanted her and what a great player she was. I don’t know why she didn’t get more attention, but I’m glad it didn’t happen. She can play at any level. I know a couple of Florida schools saw her. I think she put out that she didn’t want to leave Florida. Flroida didn’t recruit her, Florida State didn’t recruit her, Miami didn’t recruit her. I can’t answer that. But I’m happy about that!”

Jerry Coley said he wanted his daughter to stay in Florida because “We didn’t want her to go way off where we couldn’t see her play. Also, we can keep close tabs , we could check on her more quickly. So much happens on college campuses, we didn’t want her across the country.”

Jerica said, “Towards the end, the only schools I was thinking about were this school, Jacksonville University and Florida Gulf Coast, a little bit. When I came here, I liked the atmosphere. Very frieldny, and the coaches seemed genuine.”

Russo opined that Coley improved more from her freshman year to sophomore year at FIU than from St. Pete Catholic High to FIU freshman.

Russo said, “Her confidence level, her consistency (improved). Jerica’s a self-motivated young lady. She does things on her own. She’s the earliest one before games. Summertime, she’s in here all the time. She likes to expand her repertoire – every day, she tries something new – and she has. Now, she has to learn how to deal when a committee is on her.”

SWIMMING

Speaking of improvement, Sun Belt Conference swimmers had to be asking about FIU freshman Johanna Gustafsdottir, conference swimmer of the year and in the NCAAs over the next three days: “Where did she come from?”

The simple answer – Denmark by way of Iceland. The longer answer…

Gustafsdottir was on the Iceland National Team at 13, won 43 national titles and set 25 national records.

“She was one of the top swimmers in Iceland at a young age,” FIU swim coach Randy Horner said. “She got to a point where she was a little burth out and didn’t love it as much. After some time away, she decided she really wanted to come back.”

So, what Horner started with wasn’t a callow kid used to dominating lesser competition but a 21-year-old with international experience and some rust. The last six months at FIU acted as WD-40 on Gustafsdottir, who won the 200 Individual Medley, 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke at the Sun Belt meet. She also set an FIU record in the 200 freestyle. Horner said she almost swam the 400 IM there and it “could still be one of her best events.”

Gustafsdottir’s best event this weekend figures to be the 200 back, where she’s got the 14th fastest time in the NCAA.

VIDEO BREAK

 

BASEBALL

FIU senior third baseman Mike Martinez’s infield single in the third inning drove in a run, the 164th of Martinez’s career. That ties Tyler Townsend’s school record. Mike Martinez passes Tyler Townsend…alliteration abounds!

MEN'S BASKETBALL

The National Association of Basketball Coaches picked FIU senior guards Jeremy Allen and DeJuan Wright as Second Team All-District 24. The rest of the players on the first two teams also were from the Sun Belt.

March 14, 2012

After Stetson at home, where? When?...Mike Martinez: he's very good

Should FIU knock off Stetson Thursday in the first round of the Women's NIT, the second round game will be...well, either Saturday, Sunday or Monday, at South Florida, FIU, maybe FAU.

The NITs are the Second City of tournaments in that way -- very big on the improvisation.

FIU's got some experience with adjusting on the fly. Team X at the start of the season, unknown quantities even to themselves because of no many new players, they produced the school's best season in at least six years.

"I think this team is peaking at the right time," head coach Cindy Russo said. "They're starting to peak. I think some teams in our conference have already peaked. I enjoy watching them practice. They do some nice things out there. We went to the Sun Belt Conference (tournament) and played three good games. We didn't just get through. We played really nice basketball."

They lost to Middle Tennessee as Jerica Coley got held under double figures in scoring for the first time all season. Two key stats: Coley went 1 for 10 from three-point range and 0 free throws by FIU. That's right, Middle played 40 minutes of defense against a driving guard and somehow never sent FIU to the line. 0 free throws by FIU. Yeah.

In the last five of her school-record number of games with FIU, senior swingwoman Fanni Hutlassa's averaged 16.8 points per game, well over her season average of 13.1.

"This is the first time since I've been here that we've gone to the postseason or anything," Hutlassa said. "I don't want to be done yet."

Russo said, "She went to another level and that helped us a lot. She really wanted to make this tournament. She realized she had some unfinished business she had to take care of before she left here and certainly, she's doing that."

 BASEBALL

Third baseman Mike Martinez, after 11 games, has a .487 batting average with a .615 slugging percentage and .577 on-base percentage.  And he's playing very good defense at third base

 

Should FIU knock off Stetson Thursday in the first round of the Women's NIT, the second round game will be...well, either Saturday, Sunday or Monday, at South Florida, FIU, maybe FAU.

The NITs are the Second City of tournaments in that way -- very big on the improvisation.

FIU's got some experience with adjusting on the fly. Team X at the start of the season, unknown quantities even to themselves because of no many new players, they produced the school's best season in at least six years.

"I think this team is peaking at the right time," head coach Cindy Russo said. "They're starting to peak. I think some teams in our conference have already peaked. I enjoy watching them practice. They do some nice things out there. We went to the Sun Belt Conference (tournament) and played three good games. We didn't just get through. We played really nice basketball."

They lost to Middle Tennessee as Jerica Coley got held under double figures in scoring for the first time all season. Two key stats: Coley went 1 for 10 from three-point range and 0 free throws by FIU. That's right, Middle played 40 minutes of defense against a driving guard and somehow never sent FIU to the line. 0 free throws by FIU. Yeah.

In the last five of her school-record number of games with FIU, senior swingwoman Fanni Hutlassa's averaged 16.8 points per game, well over her season average of 13.1.

"This is the first time since I've been here that we've gone to the postseason or anything," Hutlassa said. "I don't want to be done yet."

Russo said, "She went to another level and that helped us a lot. She really wanted to make this tournament. She realized she had some unfinished business she had to take care of before she left here and certainly, she's doing that."

 

March 12, 2012

FIU in the Women's NIT Thursday 7 p.m. vs. Stetson

The FIU women's basketball team will make its first postseason appearance since 2005-06 when they host Stetson in the first round of the Women's National Invitational Tournament 7 p.m. Thursday at The Branch.

The Hatters went 23-10 overall, 7-8 on the road, and lost the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament championship game to Florida Gulf Coast -- the other school FIU's Sun Belt Player of the Year Jerica Coley considered -- 67-39. They're lead in scoring (16.6 per game), steals (2.61), assists (4.79 per game), free throw shooting percentage (.864) and three-point shooting percentage (.379) by 5-4 junior guard Victoria McGowan.

As far as common opponents...FIU whipped Jacksonsille, 63-37, but Stetson went one better -- beating the Dolphins 93-86 in overtime on the road and 73-63 in Jacksonville. Stetson beat FAU 52-37 at home while FIU lost by one at home and two in Boca to the Woodsies; Both lost to Florida Gulf Coast, Stetson by the aforementioned score and FIU by the later mentioned minisculre margins.

Stetson got the Atlantic Sun Conference's automatic bid while FIU got an at-large bid to their sixth Women's postseason NIT. Unfortunately, FIU's on spring break. It would be nice for at least the lower seats in The Branch to be full for a postseason game. 

Should the Panthers win Thursday, they would play the winner of Thursday's FAU vs. South Florida game.

March 09, 2012

Hilton runs 4.36 at Friday's Pro Day

T.Y. Hilton began FIU's Pro Day this morning, attended by scouts or personnel men from all 32 NFL teams, by running an unofficial 4.4 (media timed) and a second 40 that FIU folks got at 4.36. Hilton didn't run at the NFL Scouting Combine because of a quad injury. More than the speed in shorts -- NFL teams have his football speed on tape -- he needed to show recovery from another minor injury.

Of the spring practice scrimmage that preceded the Pro Day, head coach Mario Cristobal said, ""The offense, at least the No. 2 offense, came out strong. The first team defense played especially well. They put a lot of pressure on the offense to perform and perform on third down. Not too many friendly third down sitatuions.

"The offseason as it should, has paid off a bunch. It's the smallest injury report we've ever had and we played hard. We played 100 plus plays today, not including special teams. I believe we had four penalties, which is still four too many, but in terms of a game, it's a little bit of an improvement."

"(Quarterback) Jake (Medlock) came out and did some good things. I thought (freshman quarterback E.J. Hilliard) really flashed today, made some big throws. Both (wide receivers) Glenn Coleman and Wayne Times took a couple of routine plays, made a guy miss and made the defense pay for it. That was against the (No. 2 defense). We had success against the ones as an offense as well, but not the same amount of success. We didn't bust that big play against that No. 1 defense. A little bit of that, too, is when you have guys like Richard Leonard and Jonathan Cyprien who can hunt down a guy after a tackle is missed. It makes a difference."

March 05, 2012

Beaupre 12th in NCAA Diving Regional, 1-meter and 3-meter

FIU sophomore Sabrina Beaupre finished 12th in the preliminary and the final of Monday's 1-meter competition at the Zone B NCAA Diving Regional. She was 12th also in the 3-meter. Neither qualifies her for the NCAAs.

FIU women get Middle'd (again)

Middle Tennessee State knocked off the FIU women's basketball team Monday for the third time this season, 63-53, in the semifinals of the Sun Belt Confernece Tournament. FIU finishes the season at 22-10.

Women's hoop; Beaupre diving; Big Game sez The Big Guy; Ashley, Ashley

To quickly summarize what could be either a fantastic or fantastically disappointing two days for FIU athletics….

In contrast to the one-and-done men’s hoop team, the FIU women ballers came from behind Sunday to take out Denver 67-59 -- 18 second-half points by sophomore guard Jerica Coley -- and now face No. 1 seed Middle Tennessee State in a Sun Belt Conference Tournament semifinal.

FIU lost to Middle by five at Murfreesboro and by 14 at The Branch. Up near Nashville, FIU held advantages in rebounds (42-31), shooting from the field (44.0 percent to 36.5 percent) and the line (eight of 11 greater than five of nine). But they went one of eight from three-point range to Middle’s seven of 28 and committed 24 turnovers to Middle’s 13.

Out near Sweetwater, a trio of threes propelled a 13-2 early second half run that erased FIU’s eight-point halftime lead. Also, FIU shot only nine free throws to Middle’s 25.

In the pool – or above the pool, then in the pool -- sophomore Sabrina Beaupre dives today in the NCAA Regional to qualify for next week’s NCAA Championships.

Tuesday, FIU baseball faces Boston College. Turtle Thomas deflected all questions about Wednesday’s exhibition against the Marlins by saying his focus is entirely on BC.

"Boston College will be a great RPI game," Thomas said. "That'll be the best RPI game except Florida State and Rice. That is a huge game." 

Thomas said redshirt sophomore Eddy Pidermann would start against BC.

SOFTBALL

Ashley McClain’s two RBI Sunday pushed her career total to an FIU-record 138 as the 8-11 Panthers beat Oregon State 4-1.

Friday and Saturday, FIU hosts the FIU Invitational, double-headers against DePaul and Delaware.

SPRINGING

Because sponsors for the yearly PGA event on The Blue Monster change every few years, this is simply referred to by local golf scribes as Doral Week. That means, for the third consecutive year, I’ll be buried in bunkers and birdies and ball strikers until they hand out the big check on Sunday. Unless I see Kedrick Rhodes or Jake Medlock running up the 18th fairway, others will be handling spring football for us this week.

 

 

March 03, 2012

Extra Bases from Friday...

Some stuff from Friday night's 6-5 baseball win against Brown in the home opener...

The night before lefthanded sophomore pitcher Michael Ellis gets his start against Brown, he helped produced the game-winning run. Senior Mike Martinez, who went two for three (.533 this season) and walked twice, joked after the game about junior Adam Kirsch continually seeking counsel about his swing and said he told Kirsch he was fine. Kirsch admitted he was asking about quite a bit, but felt he'd missed on some good pitches earlier in the game. Kirsch said Ellis advised that he was getting his foot down late.

The next time up, Kirsch got a first pitch fastball and put it over the fence to break a 5-5 tie.

Freshman shortstop Julius Gaines has five errors in seven games so far, but head coach Turtle Thomas said, Julius is a freshman. He’s played every inning of all seven games. He’ll continue to play because he’s a good player. He’ll figure it out sooner or later.”

Thomas seemed to have more concern about redshirt junior starter Mason McVay, who didn't get the Ivy League visitors under control until the third inning or so.

“That’s what’s happening with him right now," Thomas said. "He goes out , struggles the first couple of innings, he settles in, he does fine as long as he stays in the game. The problem is, he’s got to figure it out earlier so he doesn’t throw 70 pitches the first two innings. Four innings, he had 95 pitches.”

That said, Thomas also complimented Brown on tenacity at the plate. One of the reasons McVay reached such a high pitch count in the first two innings was the Bears weren't leaving anything up to the umpire. If it was close, they were swinging and making contact and foul balls were fine with them.

 

March 02, 2012

Kenny Arena new men's soccer coach

Kenny Arena, son of former US Men's National Team coach Bruce Arena, has been named FIU's new men's soccer coach.

Kenny Arena spent four seasons as an assistant coach at UCLA, one as an assistant at George Mason and one as a volunteer coach at his alma mater, Virginia. His head coaching experience came with the Under 16 LA Galaxy Academy Team. Under Arena, they won the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Southern California and National Division Championships and the 2011 Under 17 MLS Generation Addidas Cup.


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