September 19, 2014

Women's Hoop Schedule Set (court not yet set)

FIU's women's basketball team will host Tennessee Tech, UCF, Cleveland State, Arizona and Auburn in non-conference games, according to the schedule released by FIU Athletics today.

The Nov. 14 opener against Tennessee Tech apparently will be part of a doubleheader with the men's basketball team's opener against Florida College. Expect they'll be playing on Replacement Lime Court at FIU Arena over the original Lime Court after last weekend's weight-dropping fitness competition left the floor -- and those of us who liked the beach-themed paint scheme -- all broken up.

FIU gets a hat trick of home games to start the Conference USA schedule, Jan. 4 vs. FAU, Jan. 8 vs. Middle Tennessee State and Jan. 10 vs. Alabama-Birmingham. The Boca Raton part of the FAU home-and-home is Jan. 24. 

As far as in-state schools outside Conference USA, FIU goes to Florida Gulf Coast on Nov. 18 and hosts UCF on Dec. 6, then up to Jacksonville Dec. 14. FIU's back in Jacksonville the following weekend, Dec. 20 and 21, for the North Florida Tournament.

FIU faces Arizona Nov. 28 in The Thanksgiving Classic, and either Toledo or Virignia on Nov. 30. FIU's other annual tournament, The Sun & Fun Classic, Dec. 29 and 30, sees FIU vs. Auburn on Dec. 29 and against Bowling Green or Hampton on the 30th.


September 04, 2014


Miami's athletic Cold War thaws. South Florida sports Sadat will shake hands with Begin.

FIU and the University of Miami officially announce resumption of their muscular rivalry Friday morning. Football draws the most attention, of course. There's mutual benefit -- UM gets a home opponent other than Florida State or Virginia Tech that should draw something other than heat to Sun Life Stadium. FIU gets a guaranteed excellent crowd with a home game against UM, wherever the game's played. Both get a road game without all the road game travel expenses.

But extending the hugfest to other sports also can give everyone the warm streudel feeling.

Basketball: anything that puts a charge in college-affailiated basketball in South Florida should be pursued. The difference in the ACC and Conference USA matters none. You can put the UM in the ACC but you can't take the Hurricanes out of South Florida. Neither gender fills The Branch in Coral Gables. FIU improved its atmosphere and crowd last year, but still needs opponents with buzz included. I never understood UM's aversion to coming west.

Baseball: They recruit the same high talent area. The coaches don't like each other. Who's up first?

Women's soccer: No travel, a few bucks better at the gate, maybe a litle nastiness. The usual reasons...

Track & field/Swimming & Diving: Little in college sports provide the sustained sizzle with periodic intense jolts than a rivalry dual meet in these sports.

Sort of like the US vs. USSR on the track during The Cold War.

August 08, 2014

On The Radio, On Wins, On Tymell

After two years being broadcast via Internet over smartphones, FIU football rejoins almost everybody else in FBS with an over-the-air radio deal for this season with 1210AM ESPNDeportes Miami, the station and school announced today.

In addition to the game broadcast, there will be the usual pre and post-game analysis. Expect Pete Pelegrin to remain as play-by-play guy. Here's hoping Pelegrin gets color help, especially on the road. Filling the air for a three or four-hour college football game solo is like blowing up a giant balloon without a helium tank.

OK, it's a Spanish language station (yes, the game broadcasts will be in English, for you smart alecky gringos), but it's still a sports station. Better that than the last station that carried FIU, which sold the slot before FIU games to some show discussing law and lawyers. I wish that had been in Spanish. It would've sounded more exciting. I don't have the instinctive hatred of lawyers some do -- I'm married to a fantastic, Harvard-trained corporate lawyer -- but you could've put a microphone in a Port-O-Let and gotten something that fired you up for a football game more than that.


Followers of this blog know I love to watch the setting and movement of odds, spreads and over/unders. No line's up yet on the Aug. 30 season opener vs. Bethune-Cookman. But I've searched up some win over/unders. has FIU's win over/under at two. goes 2.5 wins. Chris Andrews of gives FIU one of the lowest power ratings in the country, but still the most improved team in the country and a sleeper that's a good bet. He puts their win over/under at 5.5.

For what it's worth, I've done my game-by-game for The Herald's football preview section. It comes out 3-9, but not the three that everyone anticipates. 


Tymell Murphy, FIU's best player over the last two seasons, will get a shot in the NBA Developmental League this year. Good for him. Where Murphy plays is to be determined. 




August 06, 2014

Ocean Bank Field at FIU Stadium or The Money Pit at The Cage

The headline works best if you say it in the voice William Conrad used for narrating Rocky & Bullwinkle episodes.

Anyway, told ya so -- for the next three years, it'll be Ocean Bank Field at FIU Stadium, the athletic department announced today.


I don't know yet how much money Ocean Bank will pump into FIU, but expect it to be generous -- there's enormous cross-pollination between the bank and the school.

What happened to Alfonso Field, named after David Alfonso, who ponied up money to the FIU Foundation in 2011 for five years of Alfonso Field? He hasn't returned our calls. But here's a truism -- money-starved schools don't tend to end five-year deals with major donors after three years unless the money flow gets constipation. And that might have nothing to do with the school.

The next athletic department structure to get a revenue-bringing name will be Formerly Sunblazer Arena or What Once Was U.S. Century Bank Arena.

July 31, 2014

Midsummer Late Night Dreams

Monday's the first football practice. Aug. 22 is the first athletic event of the 2014-15 academic year, women's soccer hosting Arizona. Aug. 30, kickoff vs. Bethune-Cookman.

Who shrunk summer from back in the day, when it ran from Memorial Day to Jerry Lewis Telethon? Good golly, the week of no parking at Camp Mitch will be upon us soon.

Football coach Ron Turner said last week he was happy with recruiting for 2015 so far, especially coming off 1-11. He's certainly getting them out of Homestead, where he scored a committment from defensive back Ocie Rose. Rose transferred from Homestead to Booker T. Washington for his senior season, just as FIU commit Maurice Alexander did this year.

Ratings on Rose are all over the place. Rivals puts him at three stars. puts him at two. and don't have him rated themselves, but 247Sports has him at three stars on their composite rating. At 6-1, 185, Rose bloomed into a big safety who forced two fumbles last year in his 47 tackles.

Two-way interior lineman Richerd Desir-Jones, 6-4, 300, out of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas gave his pledge to FIU. He's rated at three stars by Rivals and, unrated by and 

Orange Park Fleming Island center Neal Mars, 6-4, 275, also wears an FIU pledge pin for 2015. He's unrated by the four recruiting sites.

For what it's worth...247Sports has FIU's 2015 class rated 94th nationally, ninth in Conference USA. has FIU rated 90th nationally, seventh in C-USA. Rivals puts FIU 91st overall, sixth in conference. Lot of months, a lot of games, a lot of standardized tests and a lot of grades between now and Signing Day. Plenty of time to move in either direction.


First baseman Gunnar McNeill was picked as the Valley Baseball League's Staunton Braves MVP after leading the league in hitting (.402) and RBI (50) with a team-high six home runs. In the playoffs, he went four for eight with a double and two RBI. For FIU, McNeill also pitches. He made three apperances for Staunton, once as a starter and had a 9.00 ERA in six innings pitched.


We do like our academic achievement around here. So belated big ups to the women's basketball team for their 3.37 grade point average being Conference USA's best in women's hoop.


The AP's Mark Long on former FIU safety Johnathan Cyprien.





May 13, 2014

Football Season Ticket Prices Fall Slightly; Birmingham, Baby!

After going 1-11 in 2013, including 0-6 at home, maybe you'd expect FIU to give those who stuck it through last season a break on 2014 season tickets. Maybe give the game against FCS foe Wagner -- half of Hart to Hart, for Pete's sake -- as a freebie.

Well, in a way, yes.


Season tickets remain the same price, $150 total betwen price and forced donation, despite FIU having eight home games this year compared to the standard six. FIU faculty and staff prices have gone from $100 to $120 or $16.67 per game to $15 per game.


The Conference USA men's and women's basketball tournaments will be in Birmingham next year, Mar. 11 through the 14th. Long notice for you traveling FIU fans to hotel up.


May 07, 2014

Coley Cut

I see former FIU guard Jerica Coley, who led the nation in scoring for the second consecutive season in 2013-14, has been waived by the New York Liberty. The Liberty signed Coley as a free agent rookie before training camp.


Hoop Scholars, Softball & Hard Time

The NCAA threw out Public Recognition Awards to teams with Academic Progress Rates in the top 10 percent of their sports. One FIU team made it this year, with the APR rates based on the 2009-2013 academic years -- women's basketball.

All APR rates will be released later.


First baseman Stephanie Texiera was voted Second Team All-Conference USA and was a unanimous coaches' choice for Conference USA Freshman of the Year Award. Texeira and Gabby Spallone made the conference's All-Freshman team. does the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament have only one player make first or second team all-conference?

One thing that wrinkled my already sun-wrinkled brow about FIU in this weekend's Conference USA softball tournament at FAU: the Panthers are busing up this afternoon for Thursday's 1:30 game against East Carolina. 

What, I thought, they're worried about getting caught on the Turnpike behind some 1983 IROC Z28 Camaro rear-ending a beige Toyota Camry and being late to the Thursday afternoon game?

No, what they're worried about is 2012 Sun Belt Tournament at FAU Redux. FIU opened against Troy in a rain-delayed game that didn't get called for the night until Letterman. The Panthers dragged back home, got to bed in the wee hours and showed up groggy to finish a 4-1 loss. After an afternoon nap, a still sonambulent FIU got dusted 9-1 by South Alabama.

So, this year, they're busing up, getting into the hotel, getting a good night's sleep, then playing.


What is it with FIU athletes getting busted on weed-related charges five seconds after they finish their eligibility or degree?

Walk-on transfer Luke Bray started 10 of the 12 games he played for FIU last season, picked up no goals or assists, and three of five games in 2012. Bray has filed an affidavit for indigent status after getting busted on a felony possession charge and charged with possession with intent to distribute. His next hearing is May 29.

Funny how this might've fit under either of the headlines of the last two blog posts. Not as funny as Bray's name being removed from last year's roster on the FIU website and his bio removed once you click on his name in the 2012 roster.



May 05, 2014

Smoke Dealers & signings

Junior Shelby Graves garnered the last Conference USA Pitcher of the Week award after throwing a no-hitter against Southern Miss and allowed no runs in Sunday's save. She finishes the regular season with a 15-7 record, 3.37 ERA, 100 strikeouts and 32 walks in 135 innings pitched.

Mike Franco somehow didn't win C-USA's baseball Pitcher of the Week. Reid Love from East Carolina beat North Carolina, so he got the honor. Still, Franco's 0.96 ERA ranks fourth in the nation and FIU stayed atop the team ERA charts at 1.94.


The long and the short of it: 6-9 incoming freshman Larry Dennis from Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas and 5-10 junior college transfer Tayshawn Desir, a third-team NJCAA All-America selection for Monroe Community College. Dennis was unrated by and, but got two stars from



May 02, 2014

Baseball bashes East Carolina; point guard commits to FIU

FIU pitcher Mike Franco again proved better on Friday night than pizza.

The Panthers gave Franco cushion against East Carolina, starting with a Brian Portelli home run, an RBI triple by Tyler Hibbert and RBI doubles by Josh Anderson and Julius Gaines. Franco just gave the Pirates problems, scattering six hits, striking out seven and walking none in a complete game 7-1 win. FIU's now 12-10 in the conference and up to sixth and only one game behind East Carolina.  


Tampa Bowman Prep's Craig Bowman, a 6-3 point guard, announced his commitment to FIU the modern way, via Twitter. He'll be part of the 2014 recruiting class.

Bowman averaged 15.3 points per game, 4.1 assists per game and 2.9 steals per game as a senior and 10.0, 3.3 and 2.9, respectively, as a junior. 

April 28, 2014

Coley in Liberty camp

FIU senior guard Jerica Coley, two-time national leading scorer and one of the most liked athletes in FIU history, has signed with the New York Liberty as a free agent. The Liberty began training camp Sunday, begin the preseason May 4 and the regular season May 16 against Connecticut.

April 22, 2014

Moving Out, Moving Up, Coming (or Not)

With sophomore Jerome Frink, 6-6, requesting his transfer, FIU loses its starting front line from the 15-16 2013-14 team -- Frink, starter of all 31 games this season and 25 of 32 as a freshman, seniors Rakeem Buckles and Tymell Murphy. Frink averaged 8.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game while shooting 45.9 percent from the field.

Even with 6-10 transfer Adrian Diaz and 6-7 incoming freshman Harold Givens, FIU might have as much quality size on the perimeter (6-7 guard Dominique Williams, 6-6 guard Jason Boswell) as up front.


FIU remains fourth, 16 shots behind leader Tulane, going into the final round of the Conference USA Golf Championship in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Sophomore Meghan MacLaren rebounded from her opening round 4-over 76 with a 1-under 71, FIU's best second round score. Freshman Camila Serrano's even par 144 two-round score puts her fifth overall, seven shots behind medalist leader Texas-San Antonio's Fabiola Arriaga.


What's more bothersome to FIU fans? That Mario Cristobal is the top ranked recruiter for 2015 in the nation, according to Or that FAU already has four commits for 2015, including two three star prospects and four-star running back Jordan Scarlett from University School, and FIU has none of note after the decommitment of Northwestern high defensive back Antonio Howard?


FIU volleyball on GoFundMe is $295 toward a goal of $6,000.


April 15, 2014

FIU no longer grounded by grades; more water women;

The official Academic Progress Rates for 2012-13 won't be announced until June. But the Dean Wormers at the NCAA have seen FIU's grades and have decided there was enough APR upward movement in the season under Richard Pitino to take FIU off punishment and let the men's basketball team return to postseason play next season.



Johanna Gustafsdottir went back home to Iceland to rip through her native land's national meet, walking out with three firsts, two seconds and a national record in the 400 individual medley of 4:53.24. She also won the 200 freestyle with a 2:04.94 and was part of the 800 free relay winners.

FIU's 400 IM ace, Sonia Perez, was named an Honorable Mention All-American by the College Swim Coaches Association of America this week. Perez became the first FIU swimmer -- and was the only Conference USA swimmer this year -- to score at the NCAA meet, taking 13th in the 400 IM. She also swam the 200 IM and 200 backstroke at the NCAA meet before being named Conference USA's Swimmer of the Year.


April 01, 2014

Hat Trick for Coley; football games & practices moved

For the third consecutive year, the Associated Press has slotted senior guard Jerica Coley as an Honorable Mention when naming the All-America teams.

Once again, Coley led FIU in scoring (29.5 points per game), field goal percentage (42.5), free throw percentage (82.2), steals (1.8 per game), assists (3.9 per game), blocked shots (1.3 per game), autographs and being an all-around good person. She's the Tom Slick of the women's basketball team and maybe the entire FIU program.



The Shula Bowl, at FIU this year after two years at FAU, got moved up to Oct. 2.

Also, Saturday's open scrimmage has been moved to 7 p.m. Friday. Adjust your social calendars accordingly.


March 14, 2014

This is the end: 64-57

Conference USA Player of the Year Ebony Rowe played like exactly that against FIU Thursday.

Rowe pumped in 25 points on 11 of 15 shooting, pulled down 14 rebounds, had an assist, a block and a steal as Middle Tennessee State ended FIU's season, 64-57, in the semifinal of the Conference USA women's basketball tournament. FIU led early before Middle took over with a run early in the first half.

Senior guard Jerica Coley ended her career with 19 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals. Her 115 points were a tournament record and her 3,107 points were fifth in NCAA history.

Middle held Coley, Durant and Taylor Shade to a combined 10 of 44 from the field. Tynia McKinzie had 15 points and six rebounds in 37 minutes.

FIU's tournament run put a nice gloss on a 15-18 season. As this season ends, it does so at a major fork for the program -- no more Coley and, if not this year then probably a year from now, no more head coach Cindy Russo. It'll be interesting to see where the program goes over the next 24 months.

March 13, 2014

FIU women through to TV & Middle Tennessee

Jerica Coley's teammates didn't have the greatest home finale or regular season finale. But they're more than making up for it at the Conference USA tournament.

Playing better than they have all season in successive games, FIU's Upset Special kept a-rollin' Thursday with a 69-55 win against No. 4-seeded Tulane. That's the third consecutive higher seed that FIU's made vulnerable to the old FHSAA tournament chant, "Get your hat...your coat...and LEAVE!"

Now, FIU faces No. 1 seed Middle Tennessee State at 11 a.m. Friday live on CBS Sports Network in a game that matches the team with the Conference USA Preseason Player of the Year (Coley) against the team with the Player of the Year (Ebony Rowe). Middle knows better than to take FIU lightly.

During the regular season, Middle beat the Panthers at The Branch 65-58, giving up 29 points to Coley but holding everyone else under double figures. FIU actually led 25-24 at the half. Last year, in the Sun Belt Tournament sayonara for each, after splitting during the regular season, FIU lost to Middle 68-59.

Thursday, FIU again shot well from the field, 28 of 56, but really sat on Tulane defensively, holding the Green Wave to 31.8 percent shooting from the field. This time, FIU owned the defensive boards getting 33 there, getting only five fewer offensive rebounds than Tulane did defensive rebounds. Tynia McKinzie had 10 rebounds to go with her 15 points. Coley and junior guard Kamika Idom came down with eight rebounds each. Taylor Shade had 13 points.

Of course, to paraphrase an old Soviet hockey coach about Bobby Hull, Ms. Coley, she got her points -- 34. She needs 28 against Middle to move into fourth all-time in NCAA scoring.



March 12, 2014

Coley gets 42, FIU gets another day on the border

On Tuesday's first day of the Conference USA women's basketball tournament, it was low trump. All the lower seeds won, including No. 13 FIU over No. 12 Rice.

Wednesday, after UAB stopped the run by trashing No. 16 Marshall, FIU picked up the tune again with an 87-75 win over No. 5 seed East Carolina in El Paso, Texas. FIU got 42 points from senior guard Jerica Coley and a pair of good 11s, points and rebounds, from Tynia McKinzie. Kamika Idom almost had a double double with nine points and 10 rebounds. Arielle Durant had 12 and eight.

FIU plays Tulane Thursday at 3:30 p.m. eastern time. The Panthers lost at Tulane 66-55 during the regular season. Coley had 22, but FIU shot only 30.8 percent from the field as a team and Tulane owned the glass at that end, with 37 defensive rebounds to FIU's nine.

Coley not only came one point from the Conference USA tournament single-game record, but passed USC's Cheryl Miller, Tennessee's Chamique Holdsclaw, UConn's Maya Moore and Delaware's Elena Delle Donne, four of the biggest stars in women's college basketball history, on the all-time scoring list. She's 61 points behind Drake's Lorri Bauman.


March 11, 2014

FIU fries Rice, 85-65

Guard Taylor Shade, forward Arielle Durant and forward Tynia McKinzie all were in double figures for FIU Tuesday afternoon against Rice. You know Jerica Coley was, even though Rice held her to four points in the first half. That's why FIU stomped Rice 85-65 in Tuesday's first round of the Conference USA tournament at UTEP.

FIU faces East Carolina Wednesday at 3:30.

Despite sitting on Coley, Rice was getting drilled 37-28 at halftime because the support cast that let FIU down when the Panthers saw Rice in January rose up and smote the Owls several mighty blows. While Shade had 18 points, McKinzie 16 (with 11 rebounds) and Durant 14 to go with the 20 Coley eventually ended with, this time it was Rice star Jessica Kuster who wound up unsupported. Kuster had 26 points and 11 rebounds or exactly 40 percent of Rice's offensive output. Those are numbrers usually associated with Coley.

Coley now has 3,012 points, the 10th player in NCAA history with 3,000 career points.

This will be the second time this season FIU plays East Carolina and, coincidentally, the second time they do so right after playing Rice. FIU won 76-75 at The Branch in January.

Coley's or Kuster's last stand?

FIU plays Rice today at 2:30 in the first round of the Conference USA women's basketball tournament in El Paso in what could be the last game for senior guard Jerica Coley, only eight points from becoming the NCAA's 10th 3,000-point woman.

Coley was on the verge of another milestone, the FIU career scoring record, the last time these two teams played and got it with 15:18 left in the game. Rice blasted FIU 59-41 at The Branch with senior Jessica Kuster (yes, I know it's spelled differently than the infamous general) putting up 20 points and 15 rebounds. What really killed FIU was getting 31 offensive rebounds and only five second chance points as the Panthers made executing the layup look more difficult than running a supercollider.

Rice double-teamed Coley all game whenever she got the ball within spitting distance of the three-point line. Should the Owls do that again, FIU could make things interesting by actually taking advantage of their man advantage on the rest of the court. The non-Coley Panthers shot nine of 49 from the field in that first game. 

March 10, 2014

Coley First Team All-Conference, Murphy Second Team; Spring Football in the dark

No surprises from the Conference USA All-Conference basketball teams announced Monday -- senior guard Jerica Coley First Team for the women and one of Coley's biggest fans, senior guard Tymell Murphy, Second Team for the men.

Coley, conference and national leader averaging 29.6 points per game, also leads FIU in assists, steals, blocked shots and minutes. This is her fourth recent conference, regional or national honor, but the first to be only about basketball and not include her excellent academic record.

Murphy averaged 16.6 points per game on 58.4 percent shooting. He's the seventh highest scoring player in FIU history with 984 points despite playing only two years at Camp Mitch. His 57.9 career shooting percentage is an FIU record. This season, he also averaged 7.4 rebounds, 1.94 steals per game and 1.52 blocks per game (average speed on those blocks: bazooka).


The spring football schedule of 15 practices, beginning March 18 and ending with the Spring Game April 12 has been released. A bunch of 9 a.m. practices, but that's irrelevant to you because all practices before the 11 a.m. Spring Game are closed to the public.



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