November 26, 2015

The Night Before the Macy's Parade

What I found interesting in FIU's Thanksgiving Eve 80-72 win over Long Island University-Brooklyn, in which the Panthers came home eased up almost into second place, wasn't the 24 points that represented FIU's halftime lead or Donte McGill's game-high scoring; or the 14 second half points scored by former FIU forward Jerome Frink; or even FIU men's hoop coach Anthony Evans succinct summation of duality in the Thanksgiving Eve win.

"Defend," Evans said. "We held them to 29 percent from the field (in the first half). They hit four free throws. In the second half, they scored 50 points. Tale of two halves."

But what I found interesting was this from Evans:

"We spent the whole preseason working on offense. I thought that was something we needed to improve going into this year. We're always going to be a good defensive team because I'm a defensive-minded coach. We worked on shooting. We worked on skill development. We worked on timing of our offense, things of that nature, in the preseason also in the summer so we can be better once the season started."

Also interesting was that 6-10 Adrian Diaz played all of five minutes in the first half as FIU built that massive halftime lead. Cameron Smith handled the inside defense well, blocking two shots and altering a couple of others. McGill threw in 16 points, including six of seven from the line, previously a Panthers problem. Eric Nottage went three for three from three, yelling and making joyful noises all along the way.


November 23, 2015

Diaz Gets CUSA Love

FIU senior center Adrian Diaz put up double doubles in the Panthers loss to James Madison (12 points, 10 rebounds) and the loss to Oral Roberts (14 and 13). He did 17 and 7 against Tennessee-Martin, FIU's lone win of James Madison's Men Against Breast Cancer tournament.

For this, Diaz was named Conference USA Player of the Week.

November 12, 2015

Pregame Friday

Roast pig. Free stuff. Games. Swimmers. Divers.

Aw, now you know it's serious at FIU when they bring out the swimming & diving team, the best team in FIU athletics. Is there any other campus that uses the water women or men to draw a crowd for football and basketball?

Friday's occasion, of course, is the season-opening basketball doubleheader for FIU women's and men's basketball, tipping off at 5 p.m. with the women's game against Florida A&M. The men's game versus Trinity Baptist is scheduled for 7 p.m., but that never holds. Bet more 7:20 p.m. 

But from 3-5 p.m., in front of FIU Arena, there's a tailgate with food, which I hear will include a roast pig (it'll already be roasted, so it won't be exactly like your uncle in the backyard). There will also be an autograph session with the last year's Conference USA champion swimming & diving team around 4 p.m. The women's hoops team will be signing autographs between games in the FIU Arena lobby.


October 27, 2015

Tuesday Afternoon Futures


Tennis -- Friday, Saturday, Sunday, FIU Invitational, all day

Football -- at FAU, Saturday, 3:30 (yeah, it's not "home" but it's an easy drive on a Saturday)

Men's soccer -- vs. New Mexico, 7 p.m. 

Volleyball -- Sunday vs. UTSA, 1 p.m.

Backup running back Anthon Samuel was the latest on crutches this week. Ron Turner said Samuel had an ankle sprain. Safety Niko Gonzalez didn't practice with what Turner termed "mild concussion symptoms."

FIU opened favored by 2 and is now up to 3 1/2. That seems an awfully small spread, perhaps an awfully generous application of Rivalry Effect.

As far as which bowl FIU would go to if it gets to six wins, a local source told me I was way off in assuming the Miami Beach Bowl would eschew FIU for a team from out of town that would fill hotels and attract eyeballs.

The bowl's owned by the American Athletic Conference, the source said. Thus, it's not money driven as in current and future tourist money, but money driven by ticket sales. FIU would be a gift in that regard. So might the AAC's South Florida, which has four wins and a remaining schedule that includes Navy and disintegrated UCF. Also, the source reminded me, FIU athletic director Pete Garcia is on the Miami Beach Bowl committee.

Obviously, staying local would let FIU use its own facilities, saving thousands of dollars. Last year, both teams stayed in South Beach, but BYU practiced at FIU while Memphis practiced at Miami Beach's Flamingo Park. 


The Nov. 13 doubleheader will be streamed live on FIU Athletics' YouTube page as a demonstration of the streamcast's improved production qualities, sort of like the free week of NFL Sunday Ticket or NHL Center Ice you get at the start of each season.


October 08, 2015

Women's Hoop Dissed Even More Than Men by CUSA Coaches

The Conference USA women's basketball coaches preseason poll, released Thursday, made the men's 10th place projection look like sycophant flattery as far as FIU.

Great expectations? Low expectations? Try no expectations -- 13th out of 14, ahead of only North Texas.

That results from being in a total rebuilding situation after the first wholesale coaching staff change in over three decades and the best returning player (forward Kiandre'a Pound) off a 3-26, 0-18 in conference play team won't be returning until she's finished with the reproductive process next year.

Middle Tennessee State, 29-5 in conference play since joining CUSA, is the preseason favorite.

October 07, 2015

CUSA Coaches Pooh Pooh FIU Men's Hoop...Except For Diaz

Conference USA coaches don't see FIU's men's basketball team having an offensive replacement for leading scorer Dennis Mavin or having the defense to translate to offense.

That's the message sent by FIU finishing 10th out of 14 CUSA teams in the league's preseason poll of coaches. Alabama-Birmingham is the preseason favorite.

The coaches put 6-10 center Adrian Diaz on the preseason All-CUSA Team. Though Diaz stood out as FIU's most dependable non-Mavin scorer, he made his conference rep on defense -- a conference-leading 99 blocked shots, sixth in the NCAA. 


October 01, 2015

HoopTV, Y-Chromosome Version; Losses for FIU You Don't See

The group of Sinclair stations known loosely as the American Sports Network will broadcast seven FIU games:

Nov. 25 -- vs. LIU, 7 p.m.

Nov. 30 -- at Stetson, 7 p.m.

Dec. 6 -- vs. Florida Gulf Coast, 3:30

Jan. 28 -- vs. Charlotte, 7 p.m.

Feb. 4 -- at Alabama-Birmingham, 8 p.m.

Feb. 20 -- at Rice, 2 p.m.

Feb. 27 -- at FAU, 2 p.m.

For the channels or live streaming, check out ASN's website.


Some of you who follow FIU sports other than football have noticed the in-game Twitter updates that kept us apprised of the action now trickle like California's water supply when they come at all. That's because the folks who let us know what was going on -- while dealing with 17 other things -- left FIU.

FIU Athletics media relations department needs replenishment in quantity and quality. In a short span, the office lost three staffers of uncompromising integrity, high work ethic and tremendous patience with the sometimes harassing conditions (faulty equipment, many people looking over their shoulders, etc.) of their jobs. Each was in charge of certain sports and were part of the mini-army for sports that needed multiple staffers at home games, i.e. football, baseball, the basketballs.

They write the stories for the website, handle interview requests, do pregame and postgame notes for distribution to the media and a pile of other stuff not appreciated by many outside the media industry.

Kristina Taylor, the assistant sports information director in charge of volleyball, women's basketball and sand volleyball, left before the school year to be Membership and Operations Coordinator with the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association in New Orleans.

Greg Kincaid, who handled men's basketball, baseball, swimming & diving, left last week for a similar position at Indiana University.

Jill Boucher (women's soccer, softball) would like to get a Masters in nutrition. She's pondering her options.

Good luck to all.



September 26, 2015

Changes (Football), Additions (women's basketball) & Soccer


Men's Soccer -- 7 p.m. vs. Marshall

Women's soccer -- 1 p.m. vs. UTEP

Before we get to the ball-and-butt kickers that have been the nationally-ranked men's soccer team, here's a couple of quick hits.


Freshman safety Tyree Johnson proudly announced via Twitter that he's making his first collegiate start today against Louisiana Tech.

Video coordinator Brian Duval's on this trip. Also let's hope unlike the last road game and last week's home game, the ESPN1210 radio broadcast team of Mike Levine and Wesley Carroll will be able to analyze the game at halftime. The last two weeks, they've been forced to spend halftime talking to a stream of Burger King executives, suite buyers and other assorted FIU hangers-on who have nothing to say about the game being broadcast.


Pregnancy is the reason last year's Conference USA Freshman of the Year Kiandre'a Pound will miss this season. Pound and her boyfriend, junior football safety Wilkenson Myrtil, found out three weeks ago that she's in the family way.

Looking on the on-court upside, a very good player doesn't use up a year of eligibility during the transition year that usually follows a coaching change.


The five-game win streak No. 24 FIU takes into today's match with Marshall has its roots in the two-game losing streak against soccer royalty North Carolina and Wake Forest that opened the season.

"When you play Chapel Hill and Wake Forest, you have to defend well," FIU coach Scott Calabrese said. "You have to defend from your forwards, your midfield, back and you have to get good play from your goalkeeper. The biggest change this season is all 11 players on the field was committed to working hard to defend. That's reflected in the goals against, but also the goals scored because we tend to win the ball higher in the field."

The Panthers' team effort is such that when I asked Calabrese for who he'd call standout players aside from the obvious -- defender Marvin Hezel, leading goal scorers Luis Betancur and Daniel Gonzalez -- he couldn't. He pointed out FIU's had 10 different goal scorers and "all 11 are defending."

Clearly, he's happy with where the team is seven games into his second season at FIU.

"The goal for our teams as coaches was to try to create a positive environment where players were committed to each other and committed to high standards," he said. "I seen the players have committed themselves to things on and off the field."


September 17, 2015

W(Hoops), Here It Is...

As the FIU Arena roof drips near me...

The men's basketball schedule got lost on the way to my e-mail boxes yesterday. Which is why it's not until today that you see the below:


Nov. 13 -- Trinity Christian; Nov. 15 -- Florida Memorial; Nov. 20 -- at James Madison (JMU Men Against Breast Cancer Classic); Nov. 21 -- at Tennessee-Martin (JMU Classic); Nov. 22 -- at Oral Roberts (JMU Classic); Nov. 25 -- LIU-Brooklyn; Nov. 30 -- Stetson.


Dec. 4 -- Elon; Dec. 6 -- Florida Gulf Coast. Dec. 14 -- at North Florida; Dec. 19 -- at Northern Illinois; Dec. 22 -- at Binghamton; Dec. 29 -- Florida A&M.


Jan. 3 -- FAU; Jan. 7 -- at Western Kentucky; Jan. 9 -- at Marshall; Jan. 14 -- Louisiana Tech; Jan. 16 -- Southern Mississippi; Jan. 21 -- at Texas-San Antonio; Jan. 23 -- at UTEP; Jan. 28 -- Charlotte: Jan. 30 -- Old Dominion


Feb. 4 -- at Alabama-Birmingham; Feb. 6 -- Middle Tennessee State; Feb. 11 -- UTEP; Feb. 13 -- UTSA; Feb. 18 -- at North Texas; Feb. 20 -- at Rice; Feb. 27 -- at FAU


Mar. 3 -- UAB; Mar. 5 -- Middle Tennessee State; Mar. 8-12 -- Conference USA tournament in Birmingham, Alabama. 

September 16, 2015

Hoop TV & Other Ball Stuff

Is it the return of the beach court? Got an Isaac Hayes complex, something against black coaches with shaved heads? Because Conference USA's announcements of the first televised games feature only one game each for FIU men's and women's basketball.

More TV time will be coming for the Panthers in the 60 (at least) additional games to be shown by the American Sports Network, which means there's a chance they might be shown in Miami as well as Massachusetts.

The Sunday, Jan. 3 still-recovering-from-New-Year's-Eve game between FAU and FIU will be on Fox Sports Neworks at 3 p.m. FSN also gets Rice at FIU on Feb. 25.



Players you won't see this week: wide receivers Shawn Abrams and Juwan Caesar, both of whom were in the Home Depot orange jerseys. And I've been remiss in not reporting sophomore safety Shemarke Spence's broken arm.



August 24, 2015

Women's Hoop Schedule


Women's Soccer -- Friday vs. No. 17 UCF, 7 p.m.

Volleyball -- Friday vs. North Florida, Panther Challenge, 7 p.m.

Volleyball -- Saturday vs. Alabama A&M, Panther Challenge, noon

Volleyball -- Saturday vs. South Florida, Panther Challenge, 6 p.m.

FIU's first women's basketball schedule of the Marlin Chinn Era in summary: 18 Conference USA games, FIU's annual Thanksgiving Classic and Sun & Fun Classic, a bunch of non-conference games you probably don't care about and one you probably do: at the Hurricanes, Dec. 22.

The last time Dade County's Blue-and-Gold met its Orange-and-Green in women's basketball the team from the Coral Gables school beat the team from Unincorporated West Dade's 66-49 on Nov. 25, 2008. That's three FIU men's basketball coaches ago. As a Maryland assistant during five seasons in the ACC before the school swung to the Big Ten, Chinn saw Katie Meier's UM teams often. Last year's got to the second round of the NCAA tournament. 

FIU opens the season Nov. 13, at home, against Florida A&M. The Thanksgiving Classic, Nov. 27 and No. 29 features Marquette, FIU's first opponent; Wichita State; and Richmond. The Sun & Fun Classic, Dec. 28 and Dec. 30, brings in Rhode Island, Wake Forest and Hampton. Conference USA play starts at travel partner FAU on Jan. 3 and ends at Middle Tennessee State Mar. 5.

Here's the full slate. Enjoy. Download 2015-16 Schedule


July 21, 2015

Hypothesizing the Future

Some Conference USA schools released their entire basketball schedules Monday. Some released their conference basketball schedules Monday. Some released nothing Monday.

FIU's in group No. 3, but we're not mad. We just had to do a little research and deduction.

Conference USA uses the travel partner system. For example, FIU and FAU are travel partners. When FIU plays at Southern Mississippi on a Thursday, for example, FAU plays at Louisiana Tech. They'll swap opponents for the Saturday games. The week you play your travel partner, you have only one conference game instead of two. The C-USA partners, aside from FIU and FAU, are Rice-North Texas, Texas-San Antonio-UTEP, Southern Miss-La. Tech, Middle Tennessee State-Alabama-Birmingham, Western Kentucky-Marshall and Charlotte-Old Dominion.

Also, the men and women tend to have mirror schedules.

Based on the schedules already released, here's what we know of FIU's schedules with hypothetical games based on the travel partner system noted by "Probably."


Jan. 2 or 3 -- FAU (probably)

Jan. 7 -- at Western Kentucky

Jan. 9 -- at Marshall

Jan. 14 -- vs. La. Tech

Jan. 16 -- vs. Southern Miss (probably)

Jan. 21 -- at UTSA

Jan. 23 –- at UTEP

Jan. 28 – at Charlotte (probably)

Jan. 30 – at Old Dominion (probably)

Feb. 4 -- at UAB (probably)

Feb. 6 -- at Middle Tennessee

Feb. 11 -– vs. UTEP

Feb. 13 -– vs. UTSA

Feb. 18 – at North Texas

Feb. 20 – at Rice

Feb. 27 -- FAU (probably)

Mar. 3 -- vs. UAB (probably)

Mar. 5 -- vs. Middle


Jan. 2 or 3 -- FAU (probably)

Jan. 7 – vs. Western

Jan. 9 -- vs. Marshall (probably)

Jan. 14 – at La Tech

Jan. 16 -- at Southern Miss (probably)

Jan. 21 -- vs. UTEP (probably)

Jan. 23 -- vs. UTSA (probably)

Jan. 28 –- at Charlotte

Jan. 30 –- at Old Dominion (probably)

Feb. 4 -- vs. UAB (probably)

Feb. 6 – vs. Middle

Feb. 11 -- at UTEP (probably)

Feb. 13 -- at UTSA (probably)

Feb. 18 – vs. North Texas (probably)

Feb. 20 – vs. Rice

Feb. 27 -- FAU (probalby)

Mar. 3 -- at UAB (probably)

Mar. 5 – at Middle


Needing to clear the DVR of David recordings, I finally watched Booker T. Washington's 34-28 overtime win against Bingham (Utah) High in the Burger King State Champions Bowl Series. It wasn't the first time I saw FIU soon-to-be freshman Maurice Alexander. It was the first time I thought "He can come in there and take that quarterback job, if those guys already there don't watch it."

Maybe not this year, although only a fool would rule that out when the competition's a sophomore who started 11 games and looked like a freshman with ability (Alex McGough), a redshirt freshman (Bud Martin) and another true freshman who fits the tall, strapping quarterback suit (Christian Alexander). But Maurice Alexander (no relation) will challenge for that No. 1 job.

The "whatever it takes" quality he showed against Bingham impressed me and probably is why, FIU coach Ron Turner noted from a camp, players gravitate to him as a leader. On one play, Alexander threw a hitch left to running back Mike Walton. Walton reversed his field to get around the right side. Alexander didn't just get in the way of a defensive lineman -- he threw a block with a six-pack of gusto. Later, he broke the same lineman's tackle on a read option keep to slip into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

Alexander ran for two touchdowns and threw for three, including two achingly beautiful touch passes to the numbers. Quarterbacking a team that rarely trails at all and only once before in the fourth quarter, he marched the Tornadoes the length of the field in 1:51 for the tying touchdown with 18 seconds left. He got away with his only mistake, not just getting the first down on a scramble, but trying to dip wide for the sidelines or bigger yardage. He got away with it because on third and 1, he threaded the needle with a throw down the middle. A miscommunication with a receiver that almost turned into a game-killing interception, but you can't tell if that goes on Alexander's account or the receiver's.

Alexander will wear No. 13, probably until Richard Leonard finishes with No. 3. Don't be surprised if, by that point, Alexander's No. 1 on the depth chart.

I'm not saying it will happen. I'm just saying don't be stunned if it does happen.


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 29, 2015

June 12, 2015

...and Comings

Year Three, time to see. Time to see progress that can be spotted at a glance. Time to see recruiting significantly improve as relationships develop. Time to see a foundation for the future formed by a consistent way of doing things.

That's where both football coach Ron Turner and men's basketball coach Anthony Evans find themselves in 2015. Turner's recruiting class looks like an improvement over 2014, at least at the highest end, but we'll see when the pads start popping. Evans announced his third class last week, three freshmen and three junior college players.

I stopped by Evans' office to talk to him about what he expected from each of them.

Guard Donte McGill, 6-3, 185, Phoenixville (Pa) Mont Clare Academy, Goldey-Beacom College, Vincennes University -- "Coming from Vincennes, been in a winning program. I think he can help us offensively. Definitely losing Dennis, we tried to bring in some guys who could help us scoring-wise and I think he's one of them who can give us some points. Really good in transition, Nice mid-range game. Shot 38 percent from 3-point range."

Forward Elmo Stephens, 6-7, 200 (somebody feed this young man before they lose him through a shower drain), Auburndale High, Tallahassee Community College -- "Good player, really good three-point shooter. Definitely someone who can spread the floor. When 6-10 Adrian (Diaz) is being double-teamed, he'll be able to knock down shots and create his own shot. Another person we're looking to give us some offensive punch."

Forward Cam Smith, 6-7, 210, Tallahassee Leon, Tallahassee Community College -- "Really coming into his own. He blew out his knee coming out of high school. Sat out the year before, then played last year. He's got a ton of talent. Definitely someone I feel can come in and give us a contribution in points, rebounding, defensively, to go along with helping Adrian and Daviyon (Draper) and those guys out."

Now, to the freshmen. "Those guys, obviously, we want them to come along. I don't know how quicly that'll happen. All three will come in and contribute. We know they're freshmen and they will go through their ups and downs."

Forward Michael Douglas, 6-5, 190, Sachse (Tex) High School -- "More of a shooter, really athletic."

Forward Eric Turner, 6-5, 193, The Villages Charter High School -- "Averaged 24.0 points per game in 2013-14. He's a scorer. Can get to the basket, shoots the three. Very athletic. Was recruiting by some high major schools, so it was a great addition for us."

Guard Kimar Williams, 6-1, Philadelphia Constitution High -- "Philly Public League Player of the Year. He just brings that toughness. He played in a really good league."

I asked Evans how he got such a player out of the Philadelphia are to come to FIU. Evans smiled, "Relationships."

He explained Constitution High coach Rob Moore coached at Bodine High School when Pendarvis Williams (no relation to Kimar) went to play for Evans at Norfolk State. McGill's from Newark, Delaware, about 45 miles from Philly. 

Three of the six being from junior colleges prompted me to ask Evans if the percentages of junior college recruits to freshmen will drop from 50 percent.

"I think the thought with it is sustain, at this point and bring in guys who can help us with immediate needs," Evans said. "Obviously, we brought in three freshmen who we feel we can build on. That's what we like to do. When they're juniors, we should be able to bring in freshmen and continue. Junior college will always be an option. Not that it'll be a 50-50 thing. When there's a need, we will go out and recruit." 

Evans didn't say what follows on the record or indicate it privately. No one representing Evans said this. But, you don't have to be a a real-life Sheldon Cooper to do the math:

FIU's not a destination job for a young coach with a still-mobile family. Few so-called mid-major jobs are destination jobs. Most are springboard jobs -- you're on the board for a few years, then either get propelled upward to a head coaching job with a fatter budgeted program or or you splash back down into being an assistant.

All you need to get a positive bounce off the board one or two seasons of unexpected winning basketball. Your name gets hotter than a Warren Buffet stock tip. A job opens up, you're on it with the inside track. That's what happened when Richard Pitino left FIU in 2013 after one 18-15 season for a $1.2 million per year job at the University of Minnesota. That same year, Andy Enfield went from Florida Gulf Coast to USC (the one in LA) after two seasons as a college head coach and one trip to the Sweet Sixteen as a No. 15 seed.

So why not play heavily in JuCo land? Few places give the coach the benefit of time to build a program anyway. Might as well try to build a winner quickly, then hope an opportunity opens to do a George and Weezy.


Forgot to add late night...

Tampa Gaither High's Shane McGough, brother of FIU sophomore quarterback Alex McGough, announced his verbal commitment to FIU via social media. Shane plays on both the offensive and defensive lines, 6-2, 265, and is unrated by any of the recruiting sites we usually quote.


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


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.


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%).


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


May 13, 2015

Malcom, Officially

FIU officially announced Wednesday what's been known for a few days -- former University of Delaware player and eight-year assistant coach Tiara Malcom is now an assistant under new FIU women's basketball coach Marlin Chinn.

Malcom was a Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year and three-time All-CAA player at Delaware. During her coaching years, Delaware won 20 games six times and made the NCAA tournament three times.

The next interesting development with women's basketball: watch the roster turnover. This year's 3-26 team included only two seniors. Let's see how many of the rest are left a year from now.

April 21, 2015


As expected, the sand volleyball team officially received an invitation to be one of the eight contenders at the American Volleyball Coaches Association national championship, May 1-3. The AVCA gave the Panthers a No. 3 seed, which makes sense because the Panthers ended the season in both the AVCA national sand volleyball poll and DIG Magazine's rankings.

The Panthers sent a pair to the pairs Nationals in the program's first year, 2013. They reached Nationals as a team a year ago and got dismissed from the double elimination tournament in two matches. This year, they're 18-1 and avenged that only loss, 3-2 to Stetson, with a dominant 4-1 win in the rematch. 


Junior college swingman Novian Cherry Tweeted that FIU offered him a scholarship. For 6-20 San Diego Mesa College, Cherry averaged 17.5 points per game, 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists. Cherry wasn't the most efficient scorer -- 42.5 percent shooting on all field goals, 38.5 percent from three and just 54.5 percent from the line.



April 13, 2015

Monday Droppings

I'll be all over the place here.

FIU Arena's being prepared for its new seats and beach floor.


The athletic department caught a big break when that CrossFit-like (but not CrossFit, CrossFit wants to make sure you know) competition broke the beach floor. Players and past coaches complained about how unforgiving the old floor could be on knees and ankles. Now, FIU gets a new floor and somebody else pays for it.

Looking at head coach Marlin Chinn's contract, the first thing that struck me was the five-year deal gets extended a year each time FIU wins 20 games and makes the NCAA tournament. His base pay is $161,000. He gets a $10,000 bonus for a single season team Academic Progress Rate of at least 970 (the team's been a perfect 1000 each of the last three reported years) and another $10,000 for team GPA over 3.1. He gets an extra $7,500 for each of these achievements: getting into the NCAA tournament, Conference USA Coach of the Year, sole possession of a regular season C-USA title. 

I heard the whole women's basketball coaching staff got sacked Monday by new coach Marlin Chinn. That's high on the expectation list when a new coach comes in after the disaster of 3-26, 0-18. I'd be willing to bet longtime assistant coach Inge Nissen winds up somewhere else in the department or university.

I wasn't at Sunday's Athletic Academic Awards Banquet (also known as "Dress Up for Food & Instagram Shots"), which would've been a great time for a sayonara ceremony to Nissen and former head coach Cindy Russo. Considering how long and well they coached at FIU, that would've been nice. I'm not sure Russo was even invited. In her last three full seasons, FIU went to two Women's NITs and got farther than Jerica Coley's superpowers should have taken the Panthers in last year's Conference USA tournament (the program was rewarded with being told the run took the team over its travel budget for the season). 

Men's basketball guard Dennis Mavin and multi-titled swimmer Johanna Gustafsdottir won the Athlete of the Year awards of the appropriate genders. The entire golf team made the conference's academic honor roll, so no surprise it won the addidas Athletic Director's Award for best GPA of the year, 3.67. Women's soccer took the Paul Gallagher Community Service Award. The Michael Felsberg Spirit Award went to swimming & diving, which shared the Champs/Life Skills Challenge Cup Award with baseball.

Speaking of baseball, senior shortstop Julius Gaines gave the invocation for the entire event and received the team's Leadership Award. That capped a good Sunday individually for Gaines. Earlier in FIU's 5-4 11-inning loss to FAU, he cracked three singles to break out of an 0-for-18 plunge that also prompted a plunge down the batting order Sunday. Coach Turtle Thomas moved Gaines from leadoff to eighth.

"I definitely don't need to send a message to Julius Gaines. He's been with us for four years. He's a good baseball player," Thomas said. "He made some really good defensive plays today. (Moving down to eighth) gets you down there where you maybe see a few more fastballs, they're not killing you working you over in the top five of the batting order. It's just to give him a different look."

Gaines said at the plate, "I got out of my head. I just went up there and said I was going to put a swing on it and whatever happened, happened." As far as hitting eighth, he admitted, "There's not as much pressure. You worry about your at-bat at that time and whatever situation comes. Leading off, it's your job to get on base. It can weigh on you a little bit."

While Gaines shrugged off his defensive day as, "I did my job. It wasn't anything out of the ordinary," FAU coach John McCormack said, "Some plays that the shortstop made in this game? Wow. Julius played really well. Thank God he's leaving this year."

Gaines made a game-saving (for the moment) play in the eighth on pinch hitter Danny Murray's tough grounder with the bases loaded. McCormack marveled that Gaines operated efficiently enough to get control of the ball, see he'd be too late for the force out at second and still fired a Murray-beating throw to first.

McCormack said two other things I found interesting. He blamed himself for FIU's 6-5 win Friday. He said he should've gone to Seth McGarry immediately in the eighth with a 5-2 lead. Instead, he used lefty Devon Carr, who gave up two hits and a walk in four batters, sparking FIU's four-run eighth inning. 

He also said he didn't believe in any FIU-FAU rivalry.

"I don't believe in rivalries because the players continually change," McCormack said. "I'm not big on, 'Win this one for The Gipper, they're our biggest rivals.'"

Out on the football field, Ron Turner said FIU's lack of experience at wide receiver and abundance of tight ends and running backs wouldn't mean FIU would use double tight end sets more in 2015 because "we did a lot of it last year." But, Turner said, they'll use more sets with varying position numbers and groupings now that FIU's in the third year of running his offense. 

"I've told these guys from Day 1 I really believe in utilizing our personnel and moving them around. If you've got a guy and he's always in the same spot, they can take him away very easily. That's one of the biggest things I learned in the NFL -- get your playmakers involved, put in position to make plays. We've done a little bit of that the first couple of years, but not as much as we'll do this year. In that league, they pay those guys a lot of money. The owners say, 'I'm paying him a lot of money, why isn't he getting the ball? Why isn't he involved?'

"And we have some guys with versatility. Look at our tight ends. We've got three guys (Jonnu Smith, Ya'keem Griner, Akil Dan-Fodio) who can line up at tight end, line up in the slot, line up as a No. 1 receiver outside and, in some cases, line up in the backfield. Look at our running backs, same thing. We've got some guys who are strictly backfield guys or you've got some who can line up in the slot or outside. We've got a couple of wide receivers who can line up in the backfield and play some running back, quarterback or whatever."

After saying he was excited about all the different options for FIU, Turner joked once spring football ends, the coaches will have too much time to come up with too much other offensive stuff to teach. Or, maybe he was only halfway joking as staffs do make that mistake more often than is noticed.



April 10, 2015

FIU's Commissioner's Academic Medal Winners

If you're a full-time student-athlete and bring in a 3.75 grade point average, Conference USA honors you with the Commissioner's Academic Medal. FIU had 34 such athletes for the 2014-15 school year, 10th among full Conference USA member schools (Kentucky, South Carolina and New Mexico are in the league for men's soccer only.)

Baseball: Mitchell Robinson, Zack Soria.

Men's Basketball: Kris Gulley, Hassan Hussein.

Women's Basketball: Katrina Epnere, Zsofia Labady, Nikolina Todorovic.

Women's Golf: Katerina Krasnova.

Sand Vollyeball: Anna Budinska, Morgan Crawley, Darija Sataric.

Men's Soccer: Luca Giovine, Adam Sibiski.

Women's Soccer: Ellen Crist, Johanna Volz, Ashley Westberry.

Softball: Rachel Dwyer, Dominique Grossman, Jessica Hallett, Michaela Mills.

Swimming & Diving: Klara Andersson, Valerie Inghels, Anna Jonsson.

Tennis: Giulietta Boha, Nerma Caluk, Yana Koroleva.

Men's Track & Field: William Offor.

Men's Cross Country: Orlando Rodriguez.

Women's Track & Field: Tiffani Hernandez, Celine Murton.

Volleyball: Tia Clay, Kari Peterson, Jovanna Santamaria, Anabela Sataric.




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