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2 posts from April 3, 2013

April 03, 2013

"What now?" asked the boxer...

Unlike Marcellus, we can't exactly tell you what now.

Raymond Taylor, the guard sitting out this season after transferring from FAU, summed FIU's dilemna up when he Tweeted Wednesday afternoon, "Wow!!!! What's my next move!??"

Nobody saw Richard Pitino staying at FIU until his face possesed the topography of age etched into his father's. He'd learn the head coaching craft here in the minor leagues of major college basketball, learn how to get players to come to college basketball's Congo and keep them eligible, how to compete with very limited resources and the nuances of being a program's face.

Then, either Billy Donovan would leave Florida or Rick Pitino would retire from Louisville and Richard the Second would get called up.

Nobody anticipated an 18-14 season. Nobody thought a major conference would even look at a first-year FIU coach, even if his last name has been attacted to national championships. Now, though, FIU's almost back to where it was a year ago, if more talented and athletic on the court. They might be in an even worse situation -- if the 2011-12 APR is as bad as I've heard it is, FIU could be banned from postseason play. No conference tournament, no shot at the NCAA Tournament.

Junior guard Malik Smith, a junior college transfer and team leader who ranked 16th in the nation with 3.0 three-pointers per game, posted on Instagram Wednesday night, "Thanks to FIU for the opportunity to do something special and help turn a program around. With that being said, I'll be asking for my release some time next week and taking my talents to a different university. Coach Pitino helped show me what hard work was and I'll forever appreciate it. With him and the rest of my teammates the best in the future. Everything happens for a reason." 

So here's what Pete Garcia gets for making a hire that worked better than anybody had a right to expect: the chance to do it again. And he might need to in the worst way.

Or, with the football program rebuilding also, he might lose his Camp Mitch privileges.

Pitino one-and-done; football day change

Another major conference men's basketball program has reached to a surprising Florida mid-major to get its next coach. Word out of Minnesota and the FIU athlete community is the Gophers have snagged FIU's Richard Pitino. 

Word out of FIU is, officially, silence. Pitino hasn't answered calls, texts or messages and, in fact, his voice mail box is full. FIU athletic director Pete Garcia has gone underground similarly the last few days, but will address the media Thursday morning. President Mark Rosenberg's voice mailbox is full. 

Pitino coached FIU to its first winning record in 13 years and the final of the Sun Belt Conference tournament. He accomplished this despite only six players left over from the previous season. Of those, only forward Tola Akamolafe could be called a major contributor and then for only part of the 2011-12 season before he became academically ineligible. 

Following this remarkable coaching job would've been tough, both because FIU will be moving to Conference USA next season and there might be some punishment coming from the NCAA once the 2011-12 APR comes out. Now, it'll be interesting to see which players, if any, go with Pitino to Minnesota. 

FOOTBALL

The FIU game at FAU has been moved to Nov. 29, a Friday night. Blame TV.


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