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14 posts from June 2012

June 28, 2012

Gore finally enrolled, on roster

It's been common knowledge for months that running back Jakhari Gore, four-star running back out of Columbus High and cousin of Coral Gables/University of Miami/San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore probably would land at FIU after leaving LSU. But nobody likes to count transfers until they hatch in a classroom. Folks at Camp Mitch were hand-wringing into late last week.

Count him. Gore's enrolled in classes, on the roster and is expected to be available in 2013. That'll give FIU a backfield that includes senior Kedrick Rhodes, already a 1,000-yard rusher, and a 4-star recruit with two years eligibility left. Considering Gore's relative lack of size (5-9, 170) as well as the room-a-zoom-zoom pace FIU's new offense wants to maintain, it's good he'll be sharing the load.


While men's basketballs single-season 833 APR from 2010-11 could cause some nastiness out of the NCAA, especially coming after a 900 for 2009-10, the football team's 897 from the same year might just draw a stern "Not good enough" from 700 West Washington Street.



June 22, 2012

Thanks, Dad!

Pending both Pitinos stay where they are, traditional college basketball power Louisville (coached by Rick Pitino) and FIU (coached by Richard Pitino, Jr.) will face each other once each of the next three seasons.

FIU goes to Louisville the first two seasons, including Dec. 19 this year. Louisville, a Final Four team in 2011-12, comes to FIU in 2014-15.

This comes a day after Louisville announced 6-7 forward Rakeem Buckles, who the Cardinals got out of Pace High after an excellent high school career under current FIU assistant coach Mark Lieberman, would be transferring to FIU. Buckles suffered a second torn ACL this past season so he'll be recovering during most of the season he'd be sitting out as a transfer anyway.




June 21, 2012

APR OK...except in MBB; a QB

The NCAA released its overall reports on four-year Academic Progress Rates for scholarship athletes on Wednesday. I was on furlough -- day off, no pay, no contact allowed with any parts of The Herald -- on Wednesday. So, I'm blogging from the balcony about this stuff today.

Overall, FIU showed well, especially the women's teams. The women's tennis team, recognized by the NCAA for its excellence (see a few posts ago), led the way with a 1,000 APR and the lowest women's team, cross country, rolled in with a 958. That beat the best men's team, baseball, which pitched a 952. All programs have their full complement of scholarships.

The only deficient FIU team was men's basketball: 909, well below the target 925.

It gets worse. That number, while lowest among FIU's athletic programs, isn't horrid when looked at the previous four-year totals, going backwards chronologically: 910, 886, 874, 854, 870. Still, the 909, being below 925, might earn FIU some finger-wagging and a slap from the NCAA.

But the single-year APR, according to college academics sources, was 833 in 2010-11. That followed a single-year APR for 2009-10 of 900, according to Isiah Thomas' 2011 yearly evaluation (there's always a year lag in APR reporting to account for summer classes, etc.). And that could earn a little more nasty attention from the four-letter organization in downtown Indianapolis, especially for a school that doesn't bring much history or cash.

833, eight wins in one year, 26 wins over three years...there you go.


Also, Wednesday, Collins Hill (Ga.) quarterback Brett Sheehan, who threw to FIU freshman wide receiver Nick England often enough for England to make honorable mention All-State, announced a verbal commitment to FIU for 2013.




June 18, 2012

Football Futures

A pair of secondary recruits, Tampa Freedom cornerback Nate Godwin and Delray Beach Atlantic safety Brisly Estime, claim offers from FIU.



Officially, the folks at Camp Mitch can't say anything about verbal commits. And usually kickers don't elicit many happy wiggles. But imagine you're a program still trying to gain national respect and you get a fourth member of the large school's all-county first team team in one of the nation's hottest recruiting areas. Even if it's a kicker, as is the case with Central's Emilio Nadelman, The Herald's 2011 6A-8A All-Dade First Team kicker.

You do the math.


As noted in a previous post, Lindy's preseason magazine likes FIU to take the Sun Belt championship with them to Conference USA. Phil Steele's College Football Preview, perhaps the most exhaustively researched and statistically analytical preseason mag, agrees with Lindy's.

But Athlon's picks Arkansas State and FIU both to finish 7-1 in the Sun Belt with Arkansas State to get the title. USA Today brings the true pessimism, saying FIU will finish 5-3 in The Belt, 6-6 overall.

The common thread: the defense, statistically one of the nation's best last year, returns 10 starters and the schedule isn't exactly a trip through Dante's Inferno with the Arkansas State game at home.


June 15, 2012

Beasley -- not Adam or QAM

OK, here's what I've been able to find out about 560WQAM's bid for the radio rights to 2012 FIU football:

It wasn't QAM's bid.

Though QAM's logo was on the bid and the bid was read as coming from QAM and station owner Beasley Broadcast Group, the proposal actually came from Beasley. Beasley wanted to open talks with FIU to discern whether or not producing and managing FIU football broadcasts, largely using a staff already in place at QAM, made sense for the company. No games would be planned for QAM, but for another Beasley station. Or, time would be bought on a non-Beasley station.

Something's got to be done soon if FIU's going to be on the air this year. As a football program and athletic department that promotes itself as being on the rise -- and is going into a new conference in 2013 -- it's important for FIU to have all the trappings of a school playing Division I (yeah, yeah, FBS) football.

And that means radio.


Orlando Freedom wide receiver Jeff Badet, to whom FIU has made a scholarship offer, has announced that he'll commit somewhere on July 4.


June 14, 2012

Football Radio Rights; Getting Reading, Writing, Arithmetic Right; DeJuan Wright

560WQAM was the only bidder on this season's radio rights for FIU football. The proposal was opened Thursday afternoon after being postponed from April an again from last week. It's a bid for this season with a school renewal option for two years.

Accepting whatever QAM bid would put FIU on an actual sports radio station. But how often? QAM has University of Miami football and, in any case of overlap, good business says FIU's the one getting lateraled to some sister station. So if UM's season opener, against Boston College 3:30 Sept. 1 runs long, FIU kicks off its season against Duke at 7 p.m. somewhere else.

Central Florida just announced the Sept. 15 game against FIU, UCF's home opener, will kick off at noon. The game will be televised regionally on Comcast Sports Southeast. That kickoff hinders those considering driving up the day of the game and/or those considering actually enjoying Friday night in either Orlando (heh) or South Florida. It also would hinder QAM -- UM plays Bethune-Cookman at noon.

There's potential conflicts on the other three September Saturdays and Oct. 20 (FIU at Troy, 3:30 kick, UM Homecoming against Florida State, kickoff still not set).That's half of FIU's season.

Then again, nobody else bid on the rights and it's getting awfully late in the game to reopen the process for anybody to bid with an eye toward profitability.


FIU's women's tennis team got big ups from the NCAA for having an Academic Progress Rate in the top 10 percent of all college-affiliated sports teams from 2007-11. Salut to the women of those four academic years: Liset Brito, Priscilla Castillo, Marijana Cutuk, Maria Dolores Pazo, Egle Petrauskaite, Maria Spenceley, Alonya Tsutskova, Maria Jose Vallaciani, Mariana Muci Torres, Magali Holt, Christine Seredni, Giulietta Boha, Lisa Johnson and Rita Maisak.  

Now, I'm the last one to frown on academic achievement, especially if it's connected to athletics. Add up the time I've spent railing about the hypocrisy and fraud of college sports as it relates to the classroom and it'll make Law & Order's run look like a miniseries. 

Looking over the rosters of the tennis team for the relevant academic years we find (in chronological order) two Americans of eight players, four from players Eastern Europe; two Americans of six players, one player from Eastern Europe; three Americans of eight players, one player from Eastern Europe; three Americans of seven players, two players from Eastern Europe.

So, the FIU team that's nationally recognized for classroom work has a high percentage of players hailing from other countries, a few of which don't even use the same alphabet. And, they're working in a foreign country and culture, an ocean and half a continent away from familial support.

Fist pumps, high fives, low fives, chest bumps, butt bumps and dap for them. But what's that say about the student-athletes (or athlete-students, as the case may be) on FIU's teams that are stocked with a greater portion of Americans?

Before you say it's a factor of tennis being played by those in the upper middle to upper economic classes, which tend to have better educated parents that bring their kids up in better school systems, it's not necessarily that way in other countries. One of the reason Europeans dominate tennis now is it's been a sport of the masses over there for at least a generation. 

So, is it a commentary on the time they have to devote to the books, their use of that time or their want-to when it comes to higher education? Or, is it that on larger teams, the roster dips more into the hoi polloi of high school students, thus exposing the weaknesses of our educational system, especially in this state?

Just wondering...


DeJuan Wright, now finishing up his degree during the summer sessions, will make the NBA workout rounds, then possibly head to hoop in France if he doesn't catch on over here.

June 12, 2012

Pitino finishes staff with Young hire

On break from Dolphinland and the Dolphins in Depth blog...

Turns out the answer to the question I asked in a post last week is "Kimani Young." Young comes from Queens, worked at New Heights in the Bronx and at St. John's. In summary: FIU gets a foot in the New York area well-versed in that area's basketball scene. 

Don't be surprised if that's reflected in Richard Pitino's first two recruiting classes while he builds trust down here.


June 09, 2012

Hoop Games

Note I couldn't bring you yesterday because it was a Furlough Friday...

The men's basketball home opener is still up in the air, but FIU's non-conference road schedule will include trips to Louisville, Boston College, Florida Gulf Coast, Stetson and Coastal Carolina.



June 07, 2012

TV Football, Futbol Things, Pool, Phil & Phildrick

Louisville's Sept. 22 visit to FIU will be a 7 p.m. game, as decreed by college-affiliated football's four-letter television masters from Bristol. Now an ESPN3 game, it could move to ESPNU. That would be FIU's third ESPNU game of the season, as they'll already be on against Arkansas State and FAU. The Oct. 20 game at Troy also is now a 3:30 start, in case you were planning any birthday parties around it.

Of course, the big question is whether the gap pictured below will be filled in exactly three months from Friday...

South Westside-20120607-00533


Gulliver and FIU alumnus Jean Camere will be an assistant coach and FIU alum Phillip Lamarre will be a volunteer goalkeeper coach under first-year men's soccer head coach Kenny Arena.

Over on the XX side, FIU's defending Sun Belt Conference champions will open the season Aug. 17 at home against Stetson. Two more home games, Aug. 19 vs. Jacksonville and Aug. 26 vs. Morehead State. The first two home games will be Parents Weekend, a good move to get some folks in the stands at a time few folks are around campus.

Then, comes the toughest part of the schedule -- a hat trick of road games against Florida Gulf Coast, Florida and LSU, a combined record of 44-21-3 last season among the three NCAA tournament teams.

Prediction on men's soccer: Arena continues to build on the rebuiliding Munga Eketebi tried to do under the yoke of NCAA sanctions, but playing in still-tough Conference USA keeps FIU under .500.

Prediction on women's soccer: Sun Belt Conference regular season champions. If they come out of the first three-game road stretch with only one loss, they might get into the NCAA tournament without winning the conference tournament.


The 2011-12 College Swimming & Diving Honors named FIU as one of its nine Female Break Out Teams for the Sun Belt Conference meet performance; one of nine top Championship Performances (by a) Female for sweeping the Sun Belt swimmer (Johanna Gustafsdottir), diver (Sabrina Beaupre), head coach (Randy Horner) and assistant coach (diving coach Chris Mantilla) of the year awards at the conference meet; and Mantilla was named one of the top nine assistant coaches of the year.

A little June Jamiroquai break...


 ...now back to news.


Phil Haig, who led FIU with nine wins, 72 strikeouts, 99.1 innings pitched and 16 starts in 2011, announced he'll be the new pitching coach at Sam Houston State.

Lake Worth Trinity Christian catcher Phildrick Llewellyn, an FIU commit who became the highest drafted Phildrick when taken by Arizona on Tuesday, told the Palm Beach Post he'll sign with the Diamondbacks organization soon.

June 06, 2012

4 players, 4 recruits drafted; 4x100 relay finishes 8th in NCAA Championships heat

After 40 rounds of fun -- sounds like one Andre the Giant night in a bar -- here's where the Major League Draft tangibly touched FIU.

Four recruiting signees were taken:

Alexis Rivera, 6-2, 220, outfielder/first baseman out of Montverde Academy up in Central Florida, taken No. 313 by Kansas City

Phildrick Llewellyn, catcher out of Lake Worth Trinity Christian, went to Arizona at No. 423.

Righthanded pitcher Reid Scoggins, out of Howard College, got taken at No. 577 by Anaheim

And as everybody was packing up, Milwaukee took American High catcher Chucky Vazquez with pick No. 1235. The draft lasted only three more picks.

As tor the players with FIU in 2012...

If right fielder Jabari Henry has a cup of coffee in the majors, he's with the right organization to do so. Seattle took him in the 18th round, No. 551 overall, making Henry the first player off the 2012 FIU roster to be drafted this year.

In the 21st round, at No. 663, Arizona took first baseman Rudy Flores. Flores played three games this season, going five for 13, before a suspension for a series then an injury limited his season to those three games.

At No. 808, San Francisco drafted lefthander Mason McVay, who went 2-3 this season, but held opposing batters to a .242 average. He had some control issues, his 10 wild pitches leading the team by four and five hit batsmen tying for the team lead.

Mike Martinez had to wait until No. 1,089, but FIU's all-time hits leader got taken by Houston at the top of the 36th round Wednesday.


Overcoming FIU's lack of facilities to sprint to the NCAA Championships, the women's 4x100 relay team of junior Melissa McElveen, junior Lakeisha Kelley, senior Carla Mills and junior T'Keyah Demoy finished eighth in Heat 1 of Wednesday's prelims. Their 49.09 time was well off their seeding time of 45.05.

Drafting class

Going into Day 3 of the most mind-numbing of all drafts, Major League Baseball -- it goes on for three days, more rounds than a "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" marathon sign-along and only the most psychotic of major league seamheads have seen more than a few draftees in action -- three players from FIU's 2012 signing class and nobody from FIU's 2012 team have been drafted.

Those who've gotten their "Come on, down!" call...

Alexis Rivera, 6-2, 220, outfielder/first baseman out of Montverde Academy up in Central Florida, taken No. 313 by Kansas City

Phildrick Llewellyn, catcher out of Lake Worth Trinity Christian, went to Arizona at No. 423.

Righthanded pitcher Reid Scoggins, out of Howard College, got taken at No. 577 by Anaheim

Grab a colada and fasten your seat belts, it's on to Day 3....

June 04, 2012

Wittels up to AAA

Garrett Wittels had a cup of coffee at Double A Springfield, going 0 for 1, after going 16 for 77 at Quad Cities. He's hitting .205 this season.

But the coffee must have been from Jimmy's kitchen in Toluca Lake. Wittels got called up to Triple A Memphis Monday, one step and 284 miles from St. Louis.

Now, back to Erik Spolestra telling us Chris Bosh might play or might not in Game 5...


Ball Stuff...

The only question that remains about Richard Pitino's men's basketball coaching staff is who the African-American assistant will be.

Pitino's already hired former longtime Pace High coach Mark Lieberman and Mike Balado of FIU, UM and Miami-Dade Community College. But trying to recruit in basketball without a black coach is like going into a WWF Battle Royale and tossing your competitors all your foreign objects. It'll be used against you at every turn, in ways you never expect. Then, there's the whole can-relate-to-the-player thing.

Barry University assistant coach Michael Bradley, who knows the South Florida recruiting scene well, is a possibility. And Bradley certainly would strengthen FIU's pull in South Florida, which has always been wispy at best.

Expect that decision before summer basketball practices start.


FIU offered defensive end Tevin Jones of Locust Grove (Ga.) Luella High.


Georgia's like Louisiana, where FIU's gotten some mid-level ranked talent away from the local schools: not densely populated, but what there is runs dense with good players, enough to feed many programs.  Don't be surprised if FIU goes Harlan County there as well as Louisiana.

June 01, 2012

Basketball games, football tickets & golf outings

As expected, we'll get a psychologist's dream, a Freud Shootout (or is it Oedipus Throwdown) this season in men's basketball: son Richard Pitino, Jr.'s FIU team trying to slay father Rick Pitino's Louisville bunch.

But don't be surprised if it's not just a one-shot deal, but a home-and-home series lasting at least the first two years of The Pitino Era at FIU.


Season tickets go on sale for men's football at midnight tonight at http://www.fiusports.com.The first 500 new season ticket buyers who buy two tickets in the sideline sections get a limited edition replica of Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium. Limit one replica per account.

I should've blog posted about T.Y. Hilton's 4-year deal when I found out about it Thursday evening. But, I lollygagged a bit, then fell asleep watching the Thunder swat the Spurs and, well...

Good for T.Y.


Friday's FIU Athletics Golf Outing on Doral's Red Course got drenched. So you know the names that follow are almost as serious about their golf as Bishop Pickering.


Andrew Vargas, Eric Kaplin and Juan Cueto shot a 52 in the scramble scoring. Six shots back were the foursomes, Tom Shull, Brad Randall, Blake St. Clair and Chuck Beurman; and Frank Gonzalez, Daniel Chavez, Carlos Arboleda and Robert Shafer.

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