February 25, 2016

Park That Stuff Here

The athletic department is about to announce that FIU baseball fans should confine their parking to Lot 7, across the street from the baseball stadium in the lot bordered by the Fieldhouse and the art studio. Lot 7 will be open one hour before first pitch and one hour after game's end. 

No parking in the Campus Support Complex lot, west of the field; at the FIU Soccer Stadium; or on the dance floor.

 

 

February 24, 2016

Blue on the Diamond, Gold in the Water

The baseball team's Wednesday afternoon playdate with Missouri, ranked in some preseason polls, didn't go as well as their dinner plans with St. Thomas did Tuesday night. But FIU's best program and other 2015 Conference USA champions made up for it Wednesday night.

As the Conference USA Swimming & Diving Championships opened Wednesday, FIU let the rest of the conference know the title isn't up for grabs -- it must be taken from the Panthers or it's coming back to Camp Mitch. FIU swept the first day's two events, the 200 Medley Relay and the 800 Free Relay, to take a 14-point lead into Thursday against Rice and Marshall.

Here's what should worry Rice and Marshall and give FIU that first bite of Ben & Jerry's feeling: last year, FIU started slowly in the relays.

This year, freshman Naomi Ruele, sophomores Chase Harris and Letizia Bertelli and junior Jenny Deist took the 200 Medley Relay in 1:40.60, 61 hundredths of a second over Marshall which beat Rice by a blink (three hundredths of a second) for second. Bertelli's 23.77 butterfly leg took FIU from fifth to first and Deist's 22.66 freestyle anchor leg brought home the win and a school record, beating the 1:41.78 at last year's conference meet by Silvia Scalia, Klara Andersson, Bertelli and Deist.

The 800 free relay gave everybody else the wake view from sophomore Skye Carey's 1:48.08 opening leg through senior Jessica Piper's 1:49.03, senior Becky Wilde's 1:48.38 and sophomore Kyna Pereira's 1:47.43 anchor leg. The 7:12.92 provided a 4.9-second victory over Rice and was the second fastest in FIU history behind Johanna Gustafsdottir, Sonia Perez, Dani Albright and Marina Ribi at the 2013 Sun Belt Conference meet.

After Missouri slapped around starter Cody Crouse, the baseball team rallied from a 7-1 deficit to 7-6 and had Kolby Follis on third with no outs in the eighth. The inning died with Follis on third, just as the ninth did with a runner on second. Baseball fell to 1-4 going into this weekend's series with Seton Hall. 

 

 

February 23, 2016

Past, Present & Future

UPCOMING HOME GAMES/MATCHES

Tuesday -- Baseball vs. St. Thomas, 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday -- Baseball vs. Missouri, 3 p.m.

Thursday -- Softball vs. Central Connecticut State, 7 p.m.

Friday -- Softball vs. Siena, 4:30 p.m.

Friday -- Softball vs. Central Connecticut State, 7 p.m.

Friday -- Baseball vs. Seton Hall, 6:30

Saturday -- Softball vs. Central Connecticut State, 4 p.m.

Saturday -- Softball vs. Deleware, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday -- Baseball vs. Seton Hall, 6:30

Sunday -- Baseball vs. Seton Hall, 1 p.m.

Sunday -- Softball vs. Siena, 12:30 p.m.

So, last weekend, men's basketball and baseball went 0 for 5 while softball (8-2) went 4 for 5.

Granted, baseball played Ole Miss, ranked in some polls, receiving votes in others. What's men's basketball's excuse for refunding a game to North Texas, then getting treated by Rice the way teenage George Foreman used to treat other Houston kids before somebody put boxing gloves on his hands?

Men's hoop gets the week off to practice before Saturday's run up the Glades Road exit to FAU. Baseball gets to build its confidence on St. Thomas during Tuesday's home opener. 

SWIMMING & DIVING

FIU goes into this week's Conference USA meet ranked second to Rice in CUSA according to CollegeSwimming.com. Expect FIU to crush all 'round in diving, led by sophomore Rebecca Quesnel. But it'll be swimming depth that decides the meet. 

INDOOR TRACK AND FIELD

The Conference USA meet, in Birmingham, 'Bama, starts Wednesday. FIU fans can binge watch Better Call Saul until 11 a.m. Thursday, the start time for the men's shot put and women's high jump. FIU's got the No. 3 seed in each. Freshman Clarissa Cutliff's 5-8 3/4 and two other jumpers are 1 3/4 inches under top seed Middle Tennessee State's Barbara Vilson's 5-10 1/2. Senior Luka Mustafic's school record set last year of 59-1/2 is about halfway between his best this year, 56-2 1/2, and the 61-8 1/4 best from Western Kentucky's Nick Demaline.

While all this is going on, junior Alton Eliphar (200 meters) and senior Cam'ree Jackson (60 meters) could be contending in their events.

 

 

February 08, 2016

Future Watch

UPCOMING HOME GAMES/MATCHES

Thursday -- Men's Basketball vs. UTEP, 7 p.m.

Friday -- Softball vs. Florida State, 7 p.m.

Saturday -- Softball vs. St. John's, 5:30 p.m.

Saturday -- Men's Basketball vs. UTSA, 7 p.m.

Saturday -- Softball vs. Illinois, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday -- Softball vs. LIU-Brooklyn, 1 p.m.

Sunday -- Softball vs. Valparaiso, 3:30 p.m.

The Futures market sells big in FIU Athletics these days.

Make no mistake, it always has. Talk of what could be, should be, will be (maybe) always seems to draw more interest at FIU than what is. Maybe it's just I'm noticing this confluence this year.

Softball starts this Friday at home. Baseball begins a week from Friday at Ole Miss. Sand Volleyball will start soon after finishing last season ranked No. 4 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. And, of course, we just had Signing Day with the football coaching staff likely looking at a Pack For a Bowl or Pack Up the Office season.

Now, take men's basketball, 11-13 overall, 5-6 in Conference USA, zero for four in its last four. You knew the season had entered the "just get ready for the conference tournament" phase when when coach Anthony Evans exuded an almost sanguine air after the Jan. 30 men's basketball home loss to Old Dominion. FIU did some things well, not enough or as many as Old Dominion and took a four-point loss. They're still trying to gain the cohesion and consistency of a team, which is where they seem to be at this point every year. Even in Evans' third year, there's still a chop shop quality to the roster -- this part from a Hialeah body shop, this piece from Sanford & Son's area, these pieces driven down from Tallahassee. There's not wholesale roster changes, but enough key players change each year that FIU seems perpetually trying to get past the dating stage.

The good news for the women's basketball team (3-19, 1-10)? Everybody makes the conference tournament. The bad news? FIU has to play with this year's team instead of next year's. This year's Panthers show about 72 times more pluck than they did last year. They're still tax refund light on talent and focus. Nobody's looked forward to next year like this since the Brooklyn Dodgers ("Wait 'til next year!") or 1960s Dallas Cowboys (Next Year's Champions).

Here's what FIU gains next year: a pair of three-star freshman forwards, 6-1 Sydney Fields from Lilburn (Ga.) Parkview and 6-2 Jamesia Amand from Dallas Skyline; three-star 5-7 point guard Alexis Gordon from Palm Bay Covenant Christian; point guard Kayla Rogers, who runs the show for Jacksonville Ribault, which has been nationally ranked this year; and 6-4 transfer Erin Garner, a former three-star recruit who transferred from Georgia Tech. Oh, and last year's CUSA Freshman of the Year, 6-1 forward Kiandre'a Pound, will be back from spending a redshirt season becoming a mommy.

Swim & Dive just finished its dual meet season at 8-5 by beating FAU 115-71 and the defending Conference USA champions enter conference meet prep. With the variation how much stress some programs put on earlier season meets, checking out top conference times can be like looking at a Kandinsky -- looks wonderful, but you might not be seeing what you think you're seeing. Still, FIU's got one of the top two CUSA times this year in the 50 freestyle, 100 free, 200 free, 500 free, 1000 free, 1,650 free (sophomores Kyna Periera and Naomi Ruele, take a bow); 100 back (Ruele), 400 free relay, 800 free relay, 400 medley relay; and sophomore Rebecca Quesnel could sweep the three diving competitions.

But FIU's owned the best individuals at conference meets before and been left to celebrate them while finishing from here to Hollywood from the team title. That changed in 2015 with FIU's depth burying second place Rice. The challenge is to repeat that feat Feb. 24-27 in Atlanta.

  

January 27, 2016

CUSA Baseball Coaches Go With Who They Know in Preseason Poll

FIU baseball's the athletic department's Duane Bobick or Gerry Cooney. Like those Great White Hope's, FIU possesses talent, but something happens to that talent on the way to harvest. They've been up, down, diagonal, planking, down against the best, up against the rest: losing record in 2013, 36 wins but went one-two-and-out (i.e., Bobick vs. Ken Norton or John Tate) in the 2014 Conference USA tournament, under .500 until battering their way to a CUSA tournament title.

Conference USA's coaches rank FIU at No. 4 in their preseason poll. They went with Rice, 10 for 10 on winning the regular season or tournament title since joining CUSA, as the preseason favorite. No FIU players made the preseason All-Conference USA team. Big deal. The 2014 team had postseason Player of the Year, Aramis Garcia, working his way up in San Francisco's system; Freshman of the Year, pitcher Chris Mourelle; and all-conference starting pitcher Mike Franco.

Conference tournament? KO'd by 2.

Tickets remain available for the Feb. 6 Diamond Dinner and auction (items listed here), with former Detroit pitcher Jack Morris as featured speaker. To buy the $120 per person tickets, call 305-348-7297 or e-mail Carla Garcia at Garciacm@fiu.edu.

 

 

January 05, 2016

How Does FIU Compare to Its Conference USA Peers? (Part 1)

Curious about how FIU ranks among its Conference USA peers since moving from the Sun Belt Fun Belt in 2013, a curiosity prodded by several people inside and outside the athletic department asking the same thing, I did a little record hunting.

Now, obviously, the best answer to the above would be found by compiling the records of each CUSA school in each sport that FIU plays, weighting for things like missed conference tournaments, NCAA runs, conference tournament runs, individual brilliance (such as FIU's Meghan MacLaren tearing up the 2015 conference golf tournament). But all that would take up way too large a portion of whatever time I have left on this plane of existence. So, here's what I did:

I ranked the schools on overall and conference records since 2013 in football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball and then a wild card sport -- each school's best sport in which FIU also participates.

You play to win championships, so when ranking in conference play, the title winners eat first. When I assign point values later to determine an overall ranking, conference play will get greater weight. You get more credit for beating your peers than you do gorging on lesser punks.

I see the obvious flaws. With a relatively small sample size, one great or abysmal season can swing the results too hard in one direction. That's even more the case with schools that entered CUSA after the Great Sun Belt Migration of 2013 brought FIU, FAU, North Texas and Middle Tennessee State to the league. But, outside of Intelligent Benevolent Dictatorship, no perfect systems exist. 

Here's the rankings for each sport:

FOOTBALL OVERALL

1. Marshall – 33-8, three bowl wins

2. Western Kentucky – 20-7, two bowl wins.

3. Rice – 23-16, two bowl appearances, one win.

4. Louisiana Tech – 22-17, two bowl wins.

5. Middle Tennessee State -- 21-17, two bowl appearances.

6. Old Dominion – 11-13

7. North Texas -- 14-23, won one bowl game.

8. UTEP – 14-23, one bowl appearance

9. UTSA – 14-22 (ranked behind UTEP and North Texas despite a smidge better record because UTEP’s extra loss came in a bowl game and North Texas’ extra game was a bowl win).

10. Southern Mississippi – 13-25, one bowl appearance

11. FAU – 12-24

12. UAB – 8-16 (loses tiebreaker with FAU on, you know, the program being dead, then revived to two-season coma).

13. FIU – 10-26

14. Charlotte – 2-10

FOOTBALL CONFERENCE

1. Marshall -- 20-4, one conference title

2. Western Kentucky -- 12-4, one conference title.

3. Rice – 15-9, one conference title.

4. Middle Tennessee State – 17-7

5. Louisiana Tech -- 16-8

6. UTSA – 12-12

7. Old Dominion – 7-9

8. Southern Mississippi – 9-15 (gets the tiebreaker over UTEP, North Texas and FAU based on a Conference USA West Division title.)

9. UTEP 9-15 (gets the tiebreaker over North Texas and FAU on combined head-to-head record)

10. North Texas -- 9-15 (head-to-head tiebreaker over FAU)

11. FAU -- 9-15

12. UAB – 5-11

13. FIU – 7-17

14. Charlotte – 0-8

MEN’S BASKETBALL OVERALL

1. Louisiana Tech – 68-19

2. UTEP – 55-27

3. Old Dominion – 53-32

4. Middle Tennessee State -- 51-31

5. UAB – 49-32

6. Western Kentucky -- 28-18

7. FIU – 38-40

8. North Texas 36-42

9. Charlotte – 17-28

10. Marshall – 27-52

11. UTSA – 25-50

12. Rice – 24-53

13. FAU – 21-53

14. Southern Mississippi – 41-36 (placed down here for two years of self-imposed postseason bans after fundamental NCAA violations, such as completing homework assignments for recruits).

MEN’S BASKETBALL CONFERENCE

1. UAB -- 20-15, one Conference USA title

2. Louisiana Tech – 31-6

3. UTEP -- 27-9

4. Western Kentucky -- 12-7

5. Old Dominion – 23-12

6. Middle Tennessee State – 22-13

7. FIU – 16-19

8. North Texas -- 17-21

9. Charlotte – 7-12

10. UTSA -- 13-23

11. Marshall – 12-23

12. Rice – 10-26

13. FAU – 7-27

14. Southern Mississippi -- 17-18 (See above)

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL OVERALL

1. Western Kentucky – 40-7

2. Middle Tennessee State – 60-20

3. Southern Mississippi – 60-22

4. UTEP – 52-25

5. UAB – 41-33

6. Old Dominion – 44-37

7. FAU -- 38-34

8. Marshall – 38-37

9. Charlotte – 22-22

10. UTSA – 34-40

11. Louisiana Tech – 33-42

12. Rice – 24-49

13. North Texas -- 23-48

14. FIU -- 20-54

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL CONFERENCE

1. Western Kentucky – 17-2, one conference title

2. Middle Tennessee State 30-5, one conference title

3. Southern Mississippi -- 27-8

4. Old Dominion -- 21-14

5. UTEP – 21-15

6. Charlotte – 10-9

7. UAB – 18-17

8. Louisiana Tech – 15-20

9. UTSA -- 15-21

10. FAU -- 14-21

11. Marshall -- 11-24

12. Rice – 11-25

13. North Texas -- 11-25

14. FIU – 6-29

BASEBALL OVERALL

1. Rice – 79-42, one NCAA at-large bid

2. Southern Mississippi – 71-43-1

3. FAU – 70-44, one NCAA at-large bid

4. UAB – 68-46

5. UTSA – 68-51

6. FIU – 66-51

7. Old Dominion – 63-54

8. Middle Tennessee State – 63-54

9. Western Kentucky – 24-28

10. Louisiana Tech – 40-62

11. Marshall – 40-63

12. Charlotte – 38-60-1

North Texas & UTEP – No team

BASEBALL CONFERENCE

1. Rice -- 45-15, one conference title

2. FIU – 29-31, one conference title

3. Southern Mississippi – 38-21

4. Middle Tennesse State – 37-24

5. UAB -- 35-25

6. FAU -- 33-26

7. UTSA -- 33-28

8. Old Dominion – 30-30

9. Marshall -- 22-37

10. Charlotte -- 21-38

11. Western Kentucky – 10-19

12. Louisiana Tech – 13-46

North Texas & UTEP – No team

WILD CARD SPORT

1. Western Kentucky – Volleyball. 62-10, 30-2 in conference, two conference tournament titles.

2. UTSA -- Men’s Track & Field. Two outdoor conference titles.

3. Charlotte -- Men’s Soccer. 37-16-7 overall, 16-5-4 in conference, one conference title, two other at-large NCAA tournament bids.

4. UTEP – Men’s Cross Country. One conference title, one conference runner-up (tell me I was the only one who thought the Miners won this every year).

5. Old Dominion -- Men’s Soccer. 32-18-5, 14-8-3, one conference title (a men's soccer championship is worth more than any other conference title because it's Conference USA’s best sport, by far).

6. FIU – Swimming & Diving. 22-3 in dual meets, one conference title (2015), one conference runner-up (2014).

7. Rice – Swimming & Diving. One conference title (2014), one conference runner-up (2015).

8. North Texas -- Women’s Soccer. 49-16-3 overall, 22-5-3 in conference, one conference tournament title.

9. Middle Tennessee State – Women’s Golf. One conference title.

10. UAB – Softball. 64-46 overall, 30-15 in conference, one NCAA at-large bid (gets close nod over FAU softball on incrementally better conference record).

11. FAU – Softball. 72-41-1, 31-16 in conference, one NCAA at-large bid.

12. Marshall -- Women’s soccer. 32-18-11, 14-9-7 in conference.

13. Southern Mississippi – Volleyball. 61-39 overall, 26-21 in conference.

14. Louisiana Tech -- Women’s soccer. 34-24-3 overall, 14-14-2 in conference.

As this is a multi-part post, the master of the multi-part hit...

 

 

December 07, 2015

Diamond Schedules & Diaz Love

Senior center Adrian Diaz wound up the only winner in men's basketball from last week.

While the team compiled a hat trick of losses to Stetson, Elon and Florida Gulf Coast, Diaz averaged 19.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.0 blocks in the three games. For this, he was honored for the second time this season as Conference USA Player of the Week.

 

2016 FIU Panthers Baseball Schedule

Date                       Day                           Opponent                                          Location                                    Time (ET)           

Feb. 19................. Friday                       at Ole Miss....................................... Oxford, Miss............................ TBA

Feb. 20................. Saturday                  at. Ole Miss...................................... Oxford, Miss............................ TBA

Feb. 21................. Sunday                    at Ole Miss....................................... Oxford, Miss............................ TBA

Feb. 23................. Tuesday                  ST. THOMAS................................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

Feb. 24................. Wednesday            MISSOURI....................................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

Feb. 26................. Friday                      SETON HALL.................................. FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

Feb. 27................. Saturday                 SETON HALL.................................. FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

Feb. 28................. Sunday                    SETON HALL.................................. FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 1................ Tuesday                  SETON HALL.................................. FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 4................ Friday                      LOYOLA MARYMOUNT................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 5................ Saturday                 LOYOLA MARYMOUNT (DH)...... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 6................ Sunday                    LOYOLA MARYMOUNT................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 8................ Tuesday                  STETSON........................................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 9................ Wednesday            ILLINOIS STATE............................. FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 11............. Friday                      MANHATTAN.................................. FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 12............. Saturday                 MANHATTAN (DH)........................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 13............. Sunday                    MANHATTAN.................................. FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 15.............. Tuesday                  at Jacksonville................................ Jacksonville, Fla..................... TBA

March 16.............. Wednesday            at Jacksonville................................ Jacksonville, Fla..................... TBA

March 18.............. Friday                       at Charlotte*.................................... Charlotte, N.C......................... TBA

March 19.............. Saturday                  at Charlotte*.................................... Charlotte, N.C......................... TBA

March 20.............. Sunday                    at Charlotte*.................................... Charlotte, N.C......................... TBA

March 24............. Thursday                MARSHALL*................................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 25............. Friday                      MARSHALL*................................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 26............. Saturday                 MARSHALL*................................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 29.............. Sunday                    at Bethune-Cookman.................... Daytona, Fla............................ TBA

April 1................... Friday                       at UTSA*.......................................... San Antonio, Texas................ TBA

April 2................... Saturday                  at UTSA*.......................................... San Antonio, Texas................ TBA

April 3................... Sunday                    at UTSA*.......................................... San Antonio, Texas................ TBA

April 8................... Friday                      OLD DOMINION*............................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

April 9................... Saturday                 OLD DOMINION*............................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

April 10................. Sunday                    OLD DOMINION*............................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

April 13................. Wednesday            BETHUNE-COOKMAN................. FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

April 15................. Friday                       at LA Tech*...................................... Ruston, La................................ TBA

April 16................. Saturday                  at LA Tech*...................................... Ruston, La................................ TBA

April 17................. Sunday                    at LA Tech*...................................... Ruston, La................................ TBA

April 22................. Friday                      FLORIDA ATLANTIC*.................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

April 23................. Friday                      FLORIDA ATLANTIC*.................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

April 24................. Sunday                    FLORIDA ATLANTIC*.................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

April 26................. Tuesday                  at USF............................................... Tampa, Fla.............................. TBA

April 27................. Wednesday            at Louisville..................................... Louisville, Ky........................... TBA

April 29................. Friday                       at WKU*............................................ Bowling Green, Ky................. TBA

April 30................. Saturday                  at WKU*............................................ Bowling Green, Ky................. TBA

May 1.................... Sunday                    at WKU*............................................ Bowling Green, Ky................. TBA

May 6.................... Friday                      RICE*................................................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

May 7.................... Saturday                 RICE*................................................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

May 8.................... Sunday                    RICE*................................................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

May 13.................. Friday                       at UAB*............................................. Birmingham, Ala.................... TBA

May 14.................. Saturday                  at UAB*............................................. Birmingham, Ala.................... TBA

May 15.................. Sunday                    at UAB*............................................. Birmingham, Ala.................... TBA

May 19.................. Thursday                SOUTHERN MISS*........................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

May 20.................. Friday                      SOUTHERN MISS *....................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

May 21.................. Saturday                 SOUTHERN MISS *....................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

May 25-29............ Wed.-Sun.               Conference USA Tournament..... Hattiesburg, Miss.................... TBA

May 29-31............ Sun-Tues                NCAA Regionals............................ TBA........................................... TBA

TBA....................... Fri.-Sun.                   NCAA Super Regionals................ TBA........................................... TBA

TBA....................... Sat.-Tues.                College World Series.................... Omaha, Neb............................ TBA

 

2016 FIU Softball Schedule

Date                     Day               Opponent                                      Location                                                            Time

FIU Invitational

Feb. 12                Fri.                Florida State                                Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 13                Sat.               St. John’s                                     Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 13                Sat.               Illinois                                            Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 14                Sun.              LIU Brooklyn                                Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 14                Sun.              Valparaiso                                    Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Panther Invitational

Feb. 19                Fri.                Holy Cross                                   Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 19                Fri.                Indiana                                          Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 20                Sat.               Delaware                                      Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 20                Sat.               Holy Cross                                   Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 21                Sun.              Holy Cross                                   Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

 

Feb. 25                Thurs.          Central Connecticut State       Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Felsberg Invitational

Feb. 26                Fri.                Siena                                             Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 26                Fri.                Central Connecticut State       Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 27                Sat.               Central Connecticut State       Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 27                Sat.               Delaware                                      Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 28                Sun.              Siena                                             Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

UF Invitational

March 4               Fri.                vs. Illinois State                            Gainesville, Fla.                                               TBA

March 4               Fri.                at Florida                                       Gainesville, Fla.                                               TBA

March 5               Sat.               at Florida                                       Gainesville, Fla.                                               TBA

March 5               Sat.               vs. Florida A&M                            Gainesville, Fla.                                               TBA

March 6               Sun.              vs. South Alabama                      Gainesville, Fla.                                               TBA

March 8               Tues.            East Carolina                              Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

March 9               Wed.             Notre Dame (DH)                       Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

March 12            Sat.               Charlotte (DH)*                           Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

March 13            Sun.              Charlotte*                                     Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

March 15            Tues.            Rutgers (DH)                               Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

March 19             Sat.               at WKU (DH)*                               Bowling Green, Ky.                                         TBA

March 20             Sun.              at WKU*                                         Bowling Green, Ky.                                         TBA

March 25            Fri.                UTEP (DH)*                                  Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

March 26            Sat.               UTEP*                                            Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

April 2                  Sat.               at North Texas (DH)*                  Denton, Texas                                                  TBA

April 3                  Sun.              at North Texas*                            Denton, Texas                                                  TBA

April 9                  Sat.               Florida Atlantic (DH)*                Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

April 10                Sun.              Florida Atlantic                            Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

April 13                Wed.             at Bethune-Cookman (DH)       Daytona Beach, Fla.                                       TBA

April 16                Sat.               at UAB (DH)*                                Birmingham, Ala.                                            TBA

April 17                Sun.              at UAB*                                          Birmingham, Ala.                                            TBA

April 23                Sat.               at Florida Gulf Coast (DH)         Fort Myers, Fla.                                                TBA

April 24                Sun.              at Florida Gulf Coast                   Fort Myers, Fla.                                                TBA

April 30                Sat.               at Marshall (DH)*                         Huntington, W.Va.                                           TBA

May 1                   Sun.              at Marshall*                                  Huntington, W.Va.                                           TBA

May 7                   Sat.               Middle Tennessee (DH)*          Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

May 8                   Sun.              Middle Tennessee*                    Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

May 12-14           Thurs-Sat.   C-USA Championship               Denton, Texas                                                  TBA

May 20-22           Fri.-Sun.       NCAA Regionals                         Campus Sites                                                  TBA

May 26-29           Thurs.-Sun. NCAA Super Regionals             Campus Sites                                                  TBA

June 2-8              Wed.-Sun.   NCAA WCWS                               Oklahoma City, Okla.                                      TBA

* - Conference USA game

July 03, 2015

Leavings...

Suddenly Sam in San Diego?

Kendall Rogers of D1baseball.com is reporting that FIU's pitching coach Sam Peraza will be headed to San Diego State as the Aztecs head baseball coach. Anybody who felt FIU underachieved the last two seasons before storming through this year's Conference USA tournament can't blame the arms. The pitchers provided what little consistency existed for FIU this season a year after setting Conference USA records for staff ERA and shutouts.

FIU's also posted the Compliance Director job on the NCAA website. I'll write more about this later, but Hank Harrawood's done an excellent job cutting the bumbling out of that department in his year and a half there. 

July 01, 2015

Whistle Blowers

When Cindy Russo retired after seemingly a century as FIU women's basketball head coach, she already counted as something of a dinosaur -- a female head coach at FIU. The hiring of Marlin Chinn as her replacement cemented Russo's brontosaurus status.

This article puts FIU's dearth of female head coaches in perspective. Only 29 of the 138 schools with FBS football or Big East basketball have a lower percentage of women coaching women than FIU's 30 percent. Of the 10 women's sports at FIU, only three have female head coaches and the school's getting three sports for two women -- Rita Buck-Crockett is the head coach for volleyball and sand volleyball. Katarina Petrovic coaches the tennis team.

A case-by-case look at FIU's women's teams coaches reminded me of the 1980s Boston Celtics, which often included three white guys among five starters. The bombastic declarations that this melanin split demonstrated racism in the Celtics organization were countered with, "OK, who do you not want to start? Perennial All-Star Larry Bird, perennial All-Star Kevin McHale or Danny Ainge, for whom every NBA coach would find a spot?"

Similar situation among FIU's women's teams. Randy Horner's turned FIU's swimming and diving team from what one former swimmer called "a glorified high school team" into one of the best mid-major programs in the nation. Before the last two disappointing seasons, FIU's most consistent winners played soccer under the direction of Thomas Chestnutt. Joe Vogel coaches golf. That covers FIU's last three conference championship programs before the baseball team battered Conference USA into submission in May.

Softball coach Gator Rebhan came recommended by some of his current players. Track & field and cross country's Ryan Heberling ascended to head coach of both programs off convenience and his work with FIU's women's throwers, the strongest part of the track program in recent years. As has been noted here often, the women's teams consistently perform well academically despite so many FIU female athletes growing up with English as a second or third language.

In the overall athletic department, coaches who have shown progress but yet to prove definitively they can get it done consistently -- football's Ron Turner, men's basketball's Anthony Evans, men's soccer's Scott Calabrese -- occupy jobs women's coaches won't get as things stand now.

And that's the legitimate beef women's coaches and their advocates have with the steady stream of men into jobs coaching women's teams. Nobody's truly an equal opportunity employer.

Pat Summitt racked up 1,098 wins over 38 years as Tennessee's women's basketball coach. If you sat on a pile of her credentials and honors, you do your best Mongo Santamaria on Shaq's head. Handling the Tennessee program from the days when she had to drive the van and wash the uniforms herself, Summitt's knowledge of running a successful college basketball program is oceanic. Tennessee reportedly twice approached Summitt about coaching the men's team.

Yet, you never heard of, say, Louisiana Tech, nosing around Pat Summitt about coaching its men's hoop team. But Tyler Summitt with two years as an assistant at Marquette and 23 chromosomes from his mother gets the women's basketball job at La Tech, where all the coaches of women's teams have a Y chromosome.

Can you imagine one of Mike Krzyzewski's daughters doing two years as an assistant men's coach at Butler then applying to be the head coach at FIU? Can you imagine one of Mike Krzyzewski's daughters getting the chance even to be an assistant at Butler?

Though I'm a black man with a daughter, I don't get crazy about the gender/race role model thing. It's too limiting. There's too much to be learned from too many people of all skin tones and genitalia. And if nobody who looks like you has achieved something before, I say to that person what my mother used to say to me: "Guess you'll have to be the first."

But what about when you don't even get the chance to be the first? Because there's too much to be learned from diverse voices, the reduced volume of female coach voices matters at FIU and elsewhere.

 

June 16, 2015

Report: Former FIU baseball player Lozano killed

A hit-and-run by a Toyota or Lexus SUV killed former FIU infielder Corey Lozano Sunday according to this report from Channel 25 in Palm Beach.

Lozano's FIU career, from 2005-08, put his name in the baseball program's record book beyond all-time roster. He played 216 games (sixth all-time), produced 250 hits (tied for fourth), 173 runs (sixth) and 44 doubles (seventh).

Anyone with any possible information on this, please contact Palm Beach Gardens police at 561-799-4406.

June 11, 2015

Going...

So, here's the final count for FIU in the Major League Baseball draft, at least, among those who've worn the blue and gold:

*Junior 1B/2B/SS Edwin Rios, sixth round, 192nd overall, Los Angeles Dodgers

*Junior righthanded pitcher Danny Dopico, 11th round, 322nd overall, Chicago White Sox

*Senior shortstop Julius Gaines, 33rd round, 995th overall, Seattle Mariners

*Junior righthanded pitcher Gianni Zayas, 35th round, 1,055th overall, Seattle Mariners (My mock draft had Zayas going 1,043rd. Can't imagine how he slipped...)

*Senior third baseman Josh Anderson, 38th round, 1,126th overall, Arizona Diamondbacks.

FOOTBALL

Punter/quarterback Luke Medlock came out of spring fourth at best on the quarterback depth chart behind sophomore Alex McGough, freshman Christian Alexander and redshirt freshman Bud Martin, who looks about 73 times better than he did a year ago. Former Homestead and Booker T. Washington quarterback Maurice Alexander expects to compete for a job, too, when he arrives in August.

Nobody who threw a pass for Fordham in 2014 remains on the 2015 roster. That's where Medlock landed as a transfer, the school announced Wednesday. Sam Medlock, a long-snapper, remains on the roster. Senior Jake Medlock, also a quarterback, transferred to Valdosta State for his senior year, 2014. 

June 10, 2015

Baseball Bits with Dopico & Julius

The Major League Baseball draft picked another Panther, righthanded relief pitcher Danny Dopico, Wednesday. He went in the 11th round, 322nd overall, to the Chicago White Sox. I almost put that in the headline just so I could use "Chisox."

Senior shortstop Julius Gaines was honored by Conference USA with one of the conference's Spirit of Service Awards. The honor shines a light on the athletes doing the best jobs of community service while also excelling academically and athletically. Gaines 500 volunteer hours led the baseball team and makes me wonder when he slept. He has a 3.63 grade point average as a recreation and sports management major while, of course, starting all but one game for the conference championship baseball team.

 

June 09, 2015

Dodger Blue Loves Edwin Rios

And so is Rios' current value set by t0he Los Angeles Dodgers drafting him in the sixth round. FIU's junior first baseman (and second baseman and outfielder) made First Team All-Conference USA this season after finishing third in the nation in home runs (18) and second in Conference USA in RBI (56).

June 01, 2015

Very Few Thoughts on Columbia 4, FIU 3

*Amazing how many balls well hit by FIU Sunday either died on the way to beyond the fence or nearly assaulted fielders, who used their gloves for run defense and self-defense. Junior first baseman Edwin Rios, in possibly his last game as a Panther, crushed three balls. One got dropped near the right field fence in the first inning, one got caught after a long ride to deep left center field and a third found Columbia counterpart Nick Maguire's glove.

*For the third consecutive game, FIU scored in the eighth inning. Had the Panthers scored two runs Sunday, as they did Friday night against the Hurricanes and Saturday afternoon against East Carolina, we might still be playing the afternoon game. And but for FIU doing what everybody does, a bigger inning might've been there.

In the eighth, down 4-2, senior Brian Portelli got a leadoff walk. Senior Josh Anderson singled. With first and second, nobody out, sixth in the order Sophomore JC Escarra was coming to the plate. Senior Julius Gaines was on deck. 

The book says have Escarra bunt to move the runners into scoring position. It's what coaches from Forest Manor to Marlins Park do in that situation. It's what FIU did Sunday. Escarra bunted the runners over, Gaines walked on four pitches. After Adam Cline took over from Columbia freshman reliever Harrisen Egly, a sacrifice fly scored Portelli and pinch hitter Spencer Levine grounded into a fielders choice.

As Escarra squared to bunt, I asked out loud in the press box: why? Why not let Escarra swing away? Why give Egly an out? Why not make him show he can still get a guy out?

Because that wasn't assured. Egly had retired only one of the previous five batters. He'd walked two. He''d gone to full counts on two. Freshman fissures? Just losing his stuff after two innings work? Whatever, FIU decided to give up an out to put runners in scoring position for Gaines, who was 0 for 11 in the regional. 

The four-pitch walk to Gaines, after which Egly got yanked, didn't make the bunt choice look any better. If Egly's going to attack anyone in that situation, it's a slumping singles hitter he's facing with one out. Get him and Columbia's a long way to escaping the inning. Egly came close to the plate on maybe one pitch to Gaines. My 96-year-old grandmother could've stood on the Metrorail tracks and called those pitches.

Not saying Escarra definitely would've gotten a hit. He'd grounded out against Egly in the sixth and was 0 for 3 for the day. But, with the pitcher starting to fall apart, I kind of like Escarra's chances to do something positive that didn't involve an out: walk, hit, get hit.

*These last two weeks helped baseball coach Turtle Thomas not just keep his job for another year, maybe earned him an extension, but also got him $6,000 in bonuses: $2,000 for winning Conference USA, $2,000 for participating in an NCAA Regional and $2,000 for a team 2013-14 APR over 925.

Earlier this season, when FIU got ranked in the Baseball America Top 25, Thomas received an extra $2,000. The baseball program overall gets $5,000 in extra retail product from Adidas for winning Conference USA.

*Speaking of Adidas, in the regional, using Adidas bats solely, FIU managed seven runs and 20 hits in three games. Now, certainly, the Former Sunblazers faced better pitching in Coral Gables than they did at the Conference USA tournament they treated like the Baseball Furies. Still an interesting contrast.

 

 

May 31, 2015

Very Few Quick Thoughts on FIU 2, East Carolina 0

*Saturday counts as karma for sophomore pitcher Chris Mourelle.

Too much of this season, Mourelle's received less support than a single mama with a deadbeat daddy. We've discussed the lack of offensive support. Occasionally, the defense doesn't help him either, especially on the FIU dirt that combines the cement hardness of 1970s artificial turf with the randomness of a natural field. That's a problem for a guy like Mourelle, who has the fewest strikeouts per inning of any FIU regular pitcher, but keeps opponents banging out a stream of grounders.

(Always makes me think of 1976 Cy Young Award winner Randy Jones, who played with Dave Winfield and a young Ozzie Smith on some otherwise bad, bland San Diego Padres teams. I used to cringe when I'd see Jones throwing at my beloved Big Red Machine, which he reduced to working out the Padres infield for nine innings.)

Sunday, Mourelle got defensive help, not harm. In the sixth inning, Josh Anderson made a nice pickup and throw of a bunt that successfully moved the runners over. But without that slightly off balance throw, East Carolina has bases loaded, no outs and maybe Mourelle doesn't get out of the inning. The sliding catches by Zack Soria and Jack Schaaf in the fifth and ninth innings kept runs off the board also.

In all, no errors and no walks. The only gift East Carolina got was a hit batsman by Mourelle.

*FIU needs to visit Miss Rudolph to get that lefty voodoo removed. As soon as East Carolina brought in freshman righty Joe Ingle to relieve senior lefthander Reid Love, I thought, "Game." Sure enough, the Panthes drove in the necessary runs when Ingle left a couple of pitches higher than he wanted.

At least an emergency trip to any chicken killers won't be necessary late Sunday afternoon. If the Panthers win Sunday afternoon, they'll face Hurricanes righthander Enrique Sosa Sunday night. 

*FIU used only four pitchers Friday and Saturday and haven't allowed a run in 16 consecutive innings. The Former Sunblazers' preserved their arm arsenal about as well as they could for coming out of the losers bracket and needing three wins over two days.

*Columbia's played two marathon games that of little note otherwise. FIU's played two swift games, one that drew the best crowd of the regional thus far, the other being the best game. Just based on that, the officially impartial press box -- and people who like to read game stories in their morning print newspaper -- might share a few quiet smiles if FIU's the team that comes back to play the Sunday night 7 p.m. game.

I always love a little slow Ray on Sunday mornings...

 

 

 

 

May 30, 2015

Very Few Quick Thoughts on UM 6, FIU 2

*Senior shortstop Julius Gaines is a man.
In the midst of the worst first inning since the Bad News Bears lost their opener to the Denny's-sponsored Yankees -- two errors defensively, hitting into a double play offensively -- Gaines refused to wallow in self-pity, self-flogging or just self. He went to the mound to steady freshman pitcher Andres Nunez by telling him, basically, don't let my struggles mess up your game.

Afterwards, in a postgame media session he could've avoided if he chose (or coach Turtle Thomas chose for him), Gaines said exactly what most present and paying attention had to think after the four-run first: Nunez started off throwing well. FIU should've been out of that inning with little or no damage. The errors extended things into the badlands.

*East Carolina used five pitchers in losing to Columbia Friday afternoon. FIU used two.

*Nunez allowed one extra base hit. Once his curve got going, he confounded Hurricanes hitters. They didn't hit him hard at all. The decision to start him produced plenty of "Huh?" but with a little more defensive help, he'd have given FIU a pitching gem instead of a rock.

*You won't get that kind of THE-place-to-be energy for every FIU-Hurricanes regular season game, especially if the teams play more often than every four score and seven (minus four score) years ago. But, how could anybody at Mark Light Friday night not want two or three games a year with even half that atmosphere? It clearly demonstrated that whatever issues prevent these teams from playing yearly count as high school clique-type pettiness unworthy of grown folks making six figures a year. To paraphrase Cordelia Chase, get over it -- embrace the pain, spank your inner moppet or go out back and punch everybody's accents out of them.
Then come back and get this thing going again.

 

May 27, 2015

APR, Adidas, Athletics Cash

As the baseball team practiced (with adidas bats -- more on that later), the 2013-14 Academic Progress Rate numbers dropped. Not literally, but in the modern popular music vernacular.

Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale concerned African-American women and early 1990s relationships, not APR. But, it does tend to describe FIU around this time of the year. It's entirely possible one of the breezes I felt at the baseball stadium today came from the department exhaling over an APR report without any red flags or even yellow flags.

Men's track (indoor and outdoor), women's track, volleyball, softball, golf, women's cross country each registered perfect single-year APRs of 1000. Golf owned the lone perfect multiyear APR.

Proving that bad APR falls somewhere between tires and herpes in durability, men's basketball came in with the lowest multiyear APR, 879. That's still represents progress from 858 in 2011-12 and 866 in 2012-13 and allows basketball to proceed penalty free for the first time since the Richard Pitino-coached season of 2012-13.

Multiyear APR

Golf 1000

Women's basketball 995

Women's cross country 987

Tennis 982

Men's cross country 977

Women's outdoor track 977

Women's indoor track 975

Swimming & Diving 973

Volleyball 973

Softball 971

Men's soccer 970

Women's soccer 969

Men's outdoor track 958

Men's indoor track 956

Baseball 938

Football 933

Men's Basketball 879

2013-14 Single Year APR

Men's indoor track 1000

Women's indoor track 1000

Women's outdoor track 1000

Men's outdoor track 1000

Women's cross country 1000

Volleyball 1000

Golf 1000

Softball 1000

Women's soccer 979

Women's basketball 967

Swimming & Diving 962

Tennis 955

Football 935

Men's basketball 933

Men's Soccer 932

Baseball 931

BASEBALL

Businesses show love by showing material and money. As detailed here in the February post "Getting Dressed," the FIU athletic team Adidas loves most is baseball. No other program gets the amount of equipment under Adidas' agreement with FIU Athletics that baseball does. No other FIU head coach gets $4,000 of free product annually as FIU's baseball coach does.

According to Camp Mitch sources, baseball's love of its Adidas clothes and gear didn't extend to the bats. So FIU brought other brands along with Adidas to the plate throughout the season.

Apparently, somebody at Adidas noticed FIU's bat diversity as the Panthers battered Conference USA tournament opponents. That's not a problem unless there's a clause in the agreement between the school and the athletic wear company stating "each Sport...shall exclusively use or wear Adidas products whenever School's athletic teams are playing one of the Sports (including games and practice sessions)..." and that failure to do so constitutes a material breach of contract.

FIU swung Adidas bats at practice Wednesday and you can bet they'll do so this weekend in Coral Gables.

MONEY

USA Today's annual college athletics finances report demonstrated little of surprise beyond Oregon taking over the Total Revenue title from Texas.

Of the 230 schools ranked, FIU placed 90th in total revenue ($28,104,962), 92nd in total expenses ($27,542,910), 16th in subsidy ($22,540,365) and 36th overall, second to Eastern Michigan among FBS football schools, in percentage of total revenue that comes from subsidies (80.2%).

FORMER FOOTBALL

Click here to see the current real world job of former FIU running back Darian Mallary.

 

May 25, 2015

Friday Night (at Mark) Light; MacLaren Finishes T25

The NCAA didn't overthink this one.

FIU, which started the season ranked in some national baseball Top 25s and played like it over the last week in the Conference USA tournament, gets its first shot at the Hurricanes since 2008 in the NCAA tournament's Coral Gables Regional: Friday, 7 p.m., on Mark Light Field at Alex Rodriguez Park.

The Hurricanes come into the double elimination regional as the No. 5 national seed with a 44-14 record. FIU, 29-29, rolled up 11 runs per game in the conference tournament against some redoubtable pitching.

GOLF

Meghan MacLaren moved up four spots to finish in a tie for 25th at the NCAA Women's Golf Championship. MacLaren's 2-over 74 final round Monday gave her a 13-over 301 for the tournament.

Closing Strong

I thought I saw a finishing kick with Juan Pablo Montoya surviving a terrible start and torn up wing to win the Indianapolis 500. Montoya ran third in that regard to some athletic types from Camp Mitch.

An FIU baseball team that didn't seem to have much chemistry or gumption all season showed it in beating Rice twice when it needed to just to get into the tournament and survive the first round of the Conference USA tournament. Then, they looked like the Big Blue & Gold Machine -- a .370 team batting average, 44 runs in four games -- as they blasted through the tournament to their first conference title since the 2010 Sun Belt championship, possibly saving coach Turtle Thomas' job in the process.

What a storybook finish for senior Josh Anderson after a tough testicle injury (is there any other kind?) earlier this year: hitting .467 with three homers and nine RBI.

So, now everybody waits for lunch to find out of FIU stays local to face the rivals in Coral Gables they never play or head for somewhere like Louisiana for the NCAA Regional.

In women's golf, junior Meghan MacLaren as she did in the Conference USA meet, scorched her third round with an even par 72, jumping 24 spots up the NCAA Women's Division I Championships leaderboard into a tie for 29th. Then, she beat Tulane's Gemma Drybaugh in a playoff for the ninth and final individual position that keeps her playing Monday.

 

May 19, 2015

Rios, Portelli, Dopico All-C-USA Cats

A little baseball before I go watch some baseball on vacation...

Junior Edwin Rios led Conference USA in home runs (18), RBI (55) and slugging percentage (.633) while hitting .314 overall. That's why Rios made First Team all-conference, the lone FIU player to do so.

No Panther hit better than senior outfielder Brian Portelli's .336 average. Junior reliever Danny Dopico piled up 49 strikeouts in only 39.1 innings with a 1.60 earned run average. Both made Second Team all-conference.

FIU opens Conference USA tournament play against top-seeded Rice Wednesday.

 

 

 

 


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