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3 posts from November 19, 2013

November 19, 2013

A little something about (and for) the effort

In another Throw It All Against The Wall promotional move, the athletic department is making this week's game with Marshall the "FIU Football and Thanksgiving Grab and Panther Payday/Salute to First Responders."

Phew. Need a breath and a drink of water after that title.

It's another giveaway night for students, similar to the one that packed every break in the fourth quarter of the East Carolina game, down to the stuff being dangled to lure students in from the tailgate: four scholarships; vouchers for textbooks or Panther Dining; $50 Cadillac Ranch gift cards; vouchers for a 50-inch flat screen TV, iPad, iPod shuffle and an iTunes gift card.

And, students who don't win, well, you've been raised in the "We're all winners!" era. So, after the game, the raffle ticket can be turned in for an envelope with McDonald's coupons and FIU Gift Cards. Obviously, they want the student crowd to hang around for the entirety of the game (and television telecast).

Oh, and they want the kids to bring some friends. Students get two guest tickets for free.

Because you can't go wrong these days giving it up for the military, cops or firemen -- unless you misuse "Born in the USA" as all too many still do, including the Dolphins every home game -- first responders showing up with a work ID or in uniform get free admission.

I asked Turner today is it frustrating to get the performances of the last two weeks after seeming to take a step forward against East Carolina, the best team in Conference USA not named Marshall. That launched him on a sudden soliloquy.

"The frustrating part is not so much how we're playing it's just that...our guys are giving everything they've got. I looked at the film on the plane coming back from UTEP and I looked again on Sunday morning. I was looking more for effort than technique, assignments, that kind of stuff...

"I didn't see a lack of effort. I didn't see guys not trying. I didn't see guys not competing. If you see that, then you have no chance. I saw guys battling their asses off. I saw guys competing. We traveled with 25 defensive players. I'm not making excuses, I'm telling you fact. We're allowed to take 70 guys (as an entire team). We haven't taken 70 guys on a trip this year because we don't have 70 guys who are ready to play. So we traveled with 25 defensive players. That's barely over two deep. We traveled with six defensive linemen for four positions."

Those would be Greg Hickman, playing on a very bad ankle since the third game; Isame Faciane; Leonard Washington; Darrian Dyson; Denzell Perine; and Michael Wakefield.

"Those guys are playing way too many plays. Way too many plays. This team came out and ran the ball 55 times. That was smart of them. They knew we had six defensive linemen. We tried to roll them as best we could. We had to move (Hickman) inside to outside back to inside, move guys around. Those guys are warriors and they're giving us everything they've got. (Middle linebacker Markeith Russell) is giving us everything he's got. And playing way too many plays. We just don't have the depth. We don't have the bodies.

"If it was lack of effort, then I'd say we've got major, major problems. As long as we continue to give effort, it is what it is. We're going to continue to go out to play as hard as we can play and I can live with that.

"It's not easy when you're having the scores we're having, having the record we have and to keep coming out here every day and competing and playing and they're doing it."

Turner complimented seniors like Faciane and Hickman for not shutting it down with potential NFL careers ahead of them. In talking to Hickman for a story later this week, he admitted had he not been a senior, he would've sat for a few games to give the ankle time to heal. But, he figures he doesn't have much time left at FIU so he should play every snap possible.


Winless Women Lose at Harvard

Not everybody enjoys going to Cambridge.

FIU's women's basketball team lost 64-52 to Harvard after holding a 32-23 halftime lead. A 22-8 run over the first 10 minutes of the second half took the Panthers from 11 in the black to three in the red and a 10-0 Crimson run over 1:03 late in the game buried FIU.

Jerica Coley had a game-high 24 points on nine of 27 shooting from the field, but had six turnovers to go with her six assists. Taylor Shade went one for seven from the field in 30 minutes with no assists and two turnovers.

Monday night, Tuesday morning

No hanging drummers Monday night at The Branch. The athletic department threw another postgame party, though, which helped pack the students into the lower portion of the arena for the win against Stetson.

Early in the game, FIU's movement without the ball on offense could be described as "statuesque" and not the way you'd use the word for fashion models. It was Taylor who eventually got things and people moving.

"In the beginning, I thought we were stagnant because they were playing a 3-2 matchup," FIU coach Anthony Evans said. "It was kind of a switching zone. We were stagnant because we didn't see the normal cuts, the normal post ups that we were looking for. So we had to go to the third and fourth option. Also, if we defend and get out in transition, we don't have to sit in the half court all the time."

Evans sat Taylor down 2:51 into th second half as FIU's 37-30 halftime lead was down to 37-34. Evans also sat Rakeem Buckles down for all but four minutes of the first half, dissatisfied with Buckles' defense. Also, he felt it gives the team a chance to develop a chemistry without Buckles because they can get too reliant on him. Taylor said something similar about rebounding.

"Everybody's just used to him collecting all the boards every time a team misses," Taylor said. "With him not being on the court, it's 'Oh, Rock's not here to rebound.' You've got to program yourself to go back and get the board.

Asked if Buckles' school record-tying eight blocks makes up for a six-point night offensively, Evans laughed, "No. No. He got the eight blocks, that's OK, but naw, naw, naw. I'm proud of his effort in the second half and he played close to what I was asking. So I'm happy with that."

On Dennis Mavin, who had four steals, three assists and two key three-pointers, Evans said, "We can always count on Dennis defensively. The more he plays the more confident he's become. He hit two big shots. He hit a big shot in the last game (Saturday's win against Texas Southern) to put us up two."

Taylor said he hadn't been happy with his finishing at the rim, so he came into early to work on it. 

This is definitely a more athletic team overall than last year's. Defensively, they leave too many open lanes to the hoop. But, as Taylor pointed out, if the season were a game, they'd still be early in the first half. There's time to get it together.


FIU coach Ron Turner said both E.J. Hilliard and Jake Medlock likely will play this week against Marshall. Medlock was limited in Tuesday's practice after injuring a finger Saturday against UTEP.

Turner called Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato "as good as we've seen all year," ranking him with Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater and Central Florida's Blake Bortles. Turner also took the time to extol the Panthers overall effort and persistence in a sudden soliloquy I'll transcribe for later posting.



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