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Rocky lost

Western Kentucky doesn't exactly fit the Apollo Creed role. FIU was the higher seed and had split with Western this year. The Hillpeople slogged through four games in four days and "slog" fits the fourth game, Monday's Sun Belt Championship game with FIU. Nobody gave up much cheap. You had to work for your bargains.

But FIU's the coagulation that came together during the season, that was picked 10th in the Sun Belt, that knocked off a Middle Tennessee State team with a 17-game winning streak. And it was FIU that kept getting knocked down Monday night only to drag themselves off the canvas with plays as tough as Cameron Bell's driving scoop reverse layup among the trees or Malik Smith's catch-and-shoot from NBA three-point range. FIU's the team with the walk-on point guard operating the FIU offense like the option quarterback he'd been at South Miami High. Somebody needs to show Deric Hill some scholarship love next season.

It seemed like it was to be, too. When Jerome Frink hit a three or got the roll on the 16-footer to get FIU within striking range. When two questionable late calls, the invisible foul Bell drew and the offensive foul Hill drew on the next possession, went FIU's way instead of going toward the Sun Belt team that'll be a Sun Belt team next year. 

And when the clock zeroed out the ball hurled in the air and Western up 65-63, I was reminded of how I felt as a 9-year-old at Lafayette Square Cinema hearing the announcer say Rocky Balboa lost by split decision in the original Rocky.

Dang, man. Just...dang.


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What a great game. I wish I would have seen less 30ft shots from FIU, But regardless they had an amazing season. No one expected this team to be any where near .500, or less get to the quarterfinals, and I guarantee NO ONE thought they would be ONE shot away from the NCAA tournament! WOW.. Congrats to the Panthers for a great year!

NEAL what are FIU's chances for the NIT?!?!

Go Panthers!

Great game for FIU. Pitino is an exciting young coach, with the potential to be a star down the road. The most interesting part of it will be seeing how long FIU can hold onto him.

Nice write-up DJN.

Very good metaphor in terms of FIU's team taking all the punches, and coming back. Agree with you. We are disappointed in the game result, but hopeful for the near future of FIU Basketball.

I agree with you DJN, FIU got some favorable calls late that gave us a chance to dance. Really rootable team and coach. Pitino shows us all what a difference a good coach can make. Hope we can keep Pitino for many years, but I have a feeling that will not be easy. Reward him and Deric Hill!

Congrats on a great year!

Richard Pitino has definately proved to be the perfect hire.

And Hill has definately grown into a gem. From barely playing under coach Thomas to playing his way into the starting line up by game 10 and developing into a ball hawk by the end of the season. Active on defense with quick hands... and some of the passes while driving the lane... were awsome.

But, you know he'll be challenged for that starting spot next season when all-sunbelt PG Taylor from FAU becomes eligible to play.

Add both those players with PF Buckles and possible JUCO Holton and the teams becomes better. We'll still lack a true Center but guard play will be that much better!


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