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.

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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.

 

 

March 28, 2015

Sand Spikes; Spring Practice Accessibility

Pepperdine won the American Volleyball Coaches Association sand volleyball national championship in 2012 and 2014, was the runner-up in 2013 and came into Saturday's match with FIU ranked three spots above the No. 6 Panthers in the AVCA Sand Volleyball poll. Pepperdine skunked the Panthers twice, 5-0, during FIU's inaugural sand season two years ago.

So, Saturday morning's 3-2 win against Pepperdine at the Palmetto Invitational sits as a landmark for the direction of FIU's 12-1 sand volleyballers, who have won all their three matches against other top 10 teams. 

There's 50 Division I sand volleyball teams in the nation now. The NCAA will take over running the championship next spring. 

SPRING FOOTBALL

There's a bit of confusion over whether spring football practices were open or closed to fans. Here's the 411:

Practices are officially closed to fans and media. That was in a release to the media that was mass e-mailed to the media as usual by FIU Athletics media relations, but wasn't also put on the FIU Sports website as such things usually are (such as the previous two spring practice releases saying practice would be open).

BUT if you've been invited into the seats of La Cage, you can check it out. This seems cut and dried.

In practice, however, it's a bit of a clusterkibibble.

For one thing, invitations aren't exactly Willy Wonka gold tickets shining with a blinding glare the moment you pull them from your pocket. Sometimes, it's a Tweet from a coach to select fans or a group of potential fans. It can be a phone call or a verbal "Come on, down!" Also, gates are open for several practices either out of convenience for folks working around the stadium or allowing access to students attending a class in one of the suites.

So, if you happen to walk in one of the open gates, take a seat in the stands and aren't disruptive to anybody, everybody might assume somebody else invited you to be there and you'll get to watch practice. Not that I'm recommending you do this.

I hope this clears everything up on this topic. Back to vacation and my bed or balconies.

March 22, 2015

MacLaren, Golf Rolling Well; Spring Practice, Day 2

After going almost two years between conference team titles in all sports, FIU could get two in three months.

The golf team, which brought home the 2013 Sun Belt Conference title, finished second in the Mountain View Collegiate with junior Meghan MacLaren (7-under 209) getting medalist by three shots. Freshman Katerina Krasnova (2-under 214) tied for 10th.

Finishing ahead of FIU: Ohio State. Among the 18 teams finishing behind FIU: Purdue, Kansas State, Iowa State, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and BYU. 

BASEBALL

Junior Edwin Rios went into Saturday's game against Charlotte barely hitting his weight. He came out a chunk closer to C.C. Sabathia's weight, up to .256, after going four for four with three home runs in a 23-1 Saturday mercy rule rout of Charlotte. It was the first homer hat trick in Conference USA since June 5, 2010.

Senior Brian Portelli went four for five with four RBI and a homer as FIU finally stopped making every lefthanded opposing pitcher look like Warren Spahn. The Panthers need to use this weekend against Charlotte and next weekend against Marshall to turn around this 10-13 season that's been the epitome of underachievement.

(I'm sure all the FIU players and coaches had the same thought you just did -- boy, wish they could store some of those runs...)

FOOTBALL

FIU football held its second spring practice Saturday morning. Ron Turner would address the outside media for the first time this spring. Practice was closed.

Not enough of a draw for me to wrestle South Florida/South Beach traffic on a scheduled day off with the NCAA tournament, naps and vacation staring me in the face. If something serious happens while I'm on vaca (i.e., coach firing, notable player transferring in or out, players showing full or just too much monty at the beach), I'll suit up and get back in the game. Otherwise...

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March 19, 2015

First Day of Spring Football Quick Hits

Practice was closed, sort of -- classes in the suites weren't cancelled, so someone who cared to look noticed that junior Anthon Samuel got the first running back reps of the drills seen with sophomores Alex Gardner and Napoleon Maxwell behind him.

Alex Gardner's laptop screen saver is a shot of the play against Marshall on which his season ended last year. It reminds him of how much he missed.

Freshman Anthony Jones said he lined up at wide receiver Thursday. Not a tall young man, but a thick one -- big chest and arms, looks sturdy enough to take some hits without breaking.

BASEBALL

An injury to the groin area will cost senior third baseman Josh Anderson a month of this season. And so does FIU's baseball season continue to spin out. The 9-12 Panthers get a chance to turn things around with Charlotte coming in for three games this weekend.

 

 

February 27, 2015

New Football Spring Practice Schedule & a Caveat for Athletes

The spring football practice schedule got modified. This matters to those who wish to take advantage of this year's practices being open to the public instead of conducted under a giant Cone of Silence.

FIU reminds everybody attending that photos, video or live reporting is a no-no inside La Cage (because, hey, it's not like there's two years of FIU film and nine years of Chicago Bears film to clue you in on what FIU's going to do offensively).

Anyway, here's the schedule:

Mar. 19, 21, 24, 28, 31, Apr. 2, 6, 7, 9, 13, 14, 16: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Mar. 26: 10 a.m.

Apr. 3: 7 p.m.

Apr. 17: Spring Game, 7 p.m.

WORDS OF CAUTION

Repeat of a message to current and future student-athletes: you are representing your school, your family and yourself in your communication that's going out to your followers (and, perhaps, their followers). And while your current coach might not care, future employers could have limited appreciation for words and photos demonstrating sexist or racist attitudes. And your commentary on, say, oral sex, while entertaining to some, could be construed as showing yourself deficient in discretion (or good sense).

By the way, I'm cool with being blocked (I know FIU requested it of some teams). It doesn't change the above one bit. Nor does it change how I cover you or your sport. 

 

February 18, 2015

Spring Things

The baseball team's stopping at Stetson for a game today as they bus all the way up to the Carolinas for the Caravelle Resorts Baseball at the Beach tournament hosted by Coastal Carolina in Conway, South Carolina. 

According to FIU, Friday's doubleheader against Georgia Tech and Coastal Carolina has been postponed because they're expecting the kind of weather that inspired James Naismith to invent the indoor game of basketball. FIU will practice in Jacksonville on Thursday, then in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on Friday. The Panthers will play a doubleheader on Saturday and, possibly, one on Sunday. Opponents still to be decided.

Then, they'll bus home. Yes, bus, just like they're getting there. It saves money over traveling via plane, which would get the players -- student-athletes, remember? -- home sooner and fresher for classes.

Now, some people might say the baseball program not being budgeted enough money to fly to this tournament brings up the issues of Athletics' fund-raising and where Athletics is spending the money they have.

For some reason, this clip from St. Louis Blues seemed appropriate. And not because it's hockey season or Black History Month.

 

FOOTBALL

The spring practice schedule came out today.

Practice 9-11:30 a.m. on Mar. 23, 24, 26, 30, 31; Apr. 2, 6, 7, 9, 13, 14, 16.

Practice 7 p.m. on Apr. 3

Spring Game 7 p.m. on Apr. 17.

April 05, 2014

Friday Night (Not Kool) Lights

Things seen during Friday night’s scrimmage at Alfonso Field at FIU Stadium at Camp Mitch:

Some good hitting. Demarkus Perkins took batting practice on the receivers.

An eventful night for fifth-year senior-to-be wide receiver Glenn Coleman. During the special teams portion, Coleman worked as kickoff returner and punt returner. He ran with the twos most of the night, causing me to wonder if Ron Turner’s certain of Coleman’s eligibility for next season. Remember the last time the best at his position kept running with the twos, it was a hint last August that cornerback Richard Leonard might not be around for the fall.

Anyway, Coleman had two of the most disparate plays you can have in a practice. In the 7-on-7 period, it looked like he short-armed a sideline throw from quarterback Alex McGough. A sideline throw…did he hear footsteps from the first down marker? Later, Coleman turned the corner on an end around, treated linebacker De'Shawn Hazziez like Reagan did Mondale, then proceeded up the sideline before getting pushed out of bounds after about 20 yards. Coleman came up with a hop-limp and didn’t participate in the rest of the scrimmage. In between those plays, he created a 30-yard catch-and-run from McGough on a crossing pattern that set up one of the few scoring chances in the scrimmage. Chris Ayers couldn’t get a subpar snap down for Serge Sroka, blowing that chance.

(Oh, sidelight – until FIU renews its deal with U.S. Century Bank Arena, the former Sunblazer Arena, former Golden Panther Arena is officially FIU Arena. I vote we call it Former Sunblazer Arena.)

The first team running backs were redshirt junior-to-be Shane Coleman and sophomore-to-be Silas Spearman. Coleman’s faster, but Spearman’s a better runner. Determined plodder Lamarq Caldwell took second team running back reps. For the beating he took last year, they should’ve given Caldwell two scholarships, but he doesn’t bring the explosiveness this team sorely needs at the skill positions.

Redshirt junior-to-be Dominique Rhymes lined up at first team wide receiver. He dropped one deep ball in his breadbasket from E.J. Hilliard and failed to lay out for another one that looked nicely placed. Rhymes remains football young, but he’s got two years to keep from being Jairus Williams if he wants a shot at playing for cash here or in Canada.

There will be a quarterback competition between McGough and Hilliard. Much as FIU coach Ron Turner tries to compliment Bud Martin and give Akil Dan-Fodio some reps at quarterback, there’s a clear separation already between the top two and the next two even if Turner won’t say it.

“E.J. is doing a good job making good decisions, seeing the field the way he’s supposed to see it,” Turner said. “Getting in and out of plays. He made some mistakes, sure, but he’s doing some really good things. He’s had a very good spring.

“A much different quarterback than he was in the fall,” Turner continued. “He’s become more of a student of the game. He got a very good understanding of what we’re doing. He’s in there studying all the time. We’re having very goodfootball conversations about what we’re seeing, some of the little adjustments that we’re able to do that we couldn’t even dream of doing a year ago. Alex is doing the same thing. He obviously doesn’t have as good a grasp as he’s been in the system for 11 practices. But he’s a quarterback. He’s got a quarterback demeanor.”

McGough threw the night’s only interception, a bad decision into double coverage that sophomore-to-be Wilkenson Myrtil picked off.

Myrtil was a state track champion that FIU managed to snag in the 2013 recruiting class that looked strongest in defensive backs (on paper).

“He’s playing really well,” FIU coach Ron Turner said. “We know he’s an athlete, he can run. A year ago, he was a typical freshman – very undisciplined. We couldn’t put him on the field. If we did, we had to be careful because he’s extremely undisciplined. He was undisciplined off the field. He’s been very disciplined on the field. He’s been very disciplined off the field.

“Same with (junior-to-be Jeremiah McKinnon). (McKinnon) looks like a completely different guy than a year ago. Unbelievably undisciplined a year ago…on and off the field. Couldn’t trust him for anything. I’m not saying anything I haven’t said to him (and didn’t make apparent by McKinnon’s disappearance from practice for several weeks). He’s been outstanding this spring. Outstanding focus.”

In the Home Depot jerseys Friday were safety Justin Halley, defensive end Wonderful Monds II and tight end Jonathan Pavlov.\

In the first round of punting drills, Karson Dietrich outpunted Ayers with a 43 and a 45-yarder. Later, Argentine import Jose Laphitzondo blasted a 55-yarder. I still say that competition doesn't really get going until All-State punter Luke Medlock shows up in the summer.

 

 

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.

 

FOOTBALL

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 21, 2014

Perez 13th at NCAAs, makes FIU history; open football practices

Senior Sonia Perez Arau's 13th place in the 400 individual medley Friday night, in 4:10.17, at the NCAA Championships was the first time an FIU swimmer scored points at the NCAA meet.

The previous highest placing by an FIU swimmer was 18th by 200 breaststroke school record holder Sara Giavannoni in 2007. 

SPRING FOOTBALL

FIU decided to open the doors to those willing to skip Saturday morning cartoons (they still have those on some channel, right?) for spring football. The practices Mar. 22 and Apr. 5, which start at 10 a.m., will be open to the public just like the previous practices essentially were to students who had classes at La Cage.

March 20, 2014

Second Day of Spring on the First Day of Spring

Only a couple of things from this morning's practice...

E.J. Hilliard looked more consistently accurate this morning than Tuesday, at least in one-on-one drills.

Cornerback Wilkinson Myrtil picked off another sideline route, this time from quarterback Alex McGough. Both interceptions, the one today and the one of Hilliard on Tuesday, came off sideline throws to kicker-playing-wide receiver Cody Hodgens.

I was notified early in practice that head coach Ron Turner would not be speaking to the media post-practice. I was informed later no players would be speaking, either. And so does The Cone of Silence get lowered...

 

March 17, 2014

Spring Football Starts Tuesday

Ah, Spring Football, the significance of which is shown that everybody starts 0-0 and everybody ends 0-0.

But I'll keep you abreast of things as best I can this week starting with tomorrow's 9 a.m. practice. In their finite wisdom, running counter to what you'd expect for a football program that needed a late rush of internal ticket sales to keep from running afoul of the NCAA, FIU is closing all practices to the public. The Spring Game will be open.

The most interest, of course, centers around the quarterback spot. E.J. Hilliard starts spring as the only quarterback with college game experience. Freshmen Bud Martin and Alex McGeough, early enrollees as Hilliard was two years ago, fit the suit but can they play? Turner's got to be happy he's got quarterbacks he actually recruited out of want, as opposed to brought in out of 3 a.m. desperation like last year's freshmen, Travis Wright and Israel Paopao.

(I was reminded of the Samoan Paopao, who seemed like a nice young man, just hefty for a quarterback, the other night while watching Pulp Fiction.)

Also, FIU needs to start finding a new defensive quarterback to play middle linebacker and two new defensive tackles to replace Greg Hickman and Isame Faciane. Last year's transfer from West Virginia, Northwestern High graduate Imarjaye Albury might be half the answer there.

There's a 762 other questions -- special teams? offensive line? wide receivers? running back?-- that barely will start to be answered this spring. But we'll be there for Tuesday's first day of rehearsal.

 

 

 

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).

SPRING FOOTBALL

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.

 

 

March 19, 2013

First day of (football) spring; Gators at FIU, women's hoop, 7 p.m. Thursday

The headline tells you the time of Thursday's Women's NIT game at The Branch. Now on to Tuesday morning at La Cage.

Attendance: On the first spring football roster, but not present were quarterbacks Loranzo Hammonds Jr. and Favian Upshaw, wide receiver Nick England, wide receiver Johnnie Durante, linebacker Leroy Owens and offensive tackle Prince Matt. Hammonds and Matt were going into their redshirt sophomore seasons. The others were part of the 2012 recruiting class. Head coach Ron Turner said the status of some absentees is undecided. 

Defensive tackle Isame Faciane's still rehabilitating the shoulder on which he had offseason surgery, so he didn't participate.

Alignments: Quarterbacks lined up under center for the most part in two-back and one-back, double-tight-end sets. Occasionally, they lined up in three-wide receiver spread sets.

Defensively, they went with a 4-3.

Position changes: Without a true fullback on the roster, FIU coaches decided defensive tackle Jericco Lee seemed to have a fullback's body and gave him a shot. In the absence of Hammonds and Upshaw, Akil Dan-Fodio's back at quarterback for at least the spring.

First team offense: Quarterback redshirt junior Jake Medlock; running back senior Kedrick Rhodes; fullback sophomore Lemarq Caldwell (when a fullback is used); wide receivers Willis Wright and Glenn Coleman; left tackle redshirt sophomore Aaron Nielsen; left guard redshirt junior David Delsoin; center redshirt junior Donald Senat; redshirt freshman Trenson Saunders at right guard; redshirt sophomore Yousif Khoury at right tackle; and tight end redshirt sophomore Ya'keem Griner.

First team defense: defensive tackles sophomore Darrian Dyson and senior Greg Hickman; defensive ends junior Giovani Francois and senior Paul Crawford; linebackers redshirt sophomore Luis Rosado, sophomore Patrick Jean and sophomore Davison Colimon; cornerbacks junior Richard Leonard and senior Sam Miller; safeties redshirt junior Justin Halley and redshirt junior Mitch Wozniak.

Personnel: Turner said FIU has a lot of wide receivers and not enough offensive linemen and he'd like to correct that imbalance.

As for how they looked...it's the first day of practice, folks. Precision's a rare commodity. Redshirt senior Derrick Jones and redshirt freshman Deonte Wilson made interceptions in drills. Aside from Dan-Fodio's three-snap run of two fumbles and a bobble, the snaps went well from under center.

 

February 22, 2013

More Housecleaning...

I apologize. It's been a wacky, hectic few days in the South Beach real world. So here's a few items I meant to post or wax on (wax off) earlier, but am now cramming them in before the 836 Wedding Procession to Camp Mitch for baseball.

Spring Football: All 15 practices from Mar. 19 through April 20 will be open to the public, in contrast to last year. What? Installing a new offense and they're not going into Langley Lockdown? Don't they know the secrets that can leak even though there are about four offensive styles split among 120 or so FBS schools? Where's the paranoia?

They are saying no pictures, video or breathless social media commentary. In practice, if enough of you show up, they'll be able to police that flow of information about as well as our government polices the flow of really good drugs across state and national borders.

Practices will be from 9-11:30 a.m. Mar. 19; Mar. 21; Mar. 23; Mar. 26; Mar. 28; Mar. 30; Apr. 2; Apr. 6; Apr. 8; Apr. 10; Apr. 12; Apr. 16; Apr. 18; and Apr. 20. Friday, April 5's session will be from 3:30-6 p.m. Obviously somebody has a very good or very perverse idea of how to best spend Friday Happy Hours.

Coaching staff: Jason Brooks is FIU's defensive backs coach. Brooks spent the last four years as an offensive assistant -- quality control, assistant to the offense -- with Baltimore. Further back, 2007-08, Brooks was a Dolphins scouting assistant. He's no stranger to grunt work.

God only knows...: The women's hoop team managed only 47 points Thursday night against Arkansas-Little Rock. Junior guard Jerica Coley scored 28 of those 47 points. Coley's up to 48.2 percent of FIU's scoring over the last 12 games.

 

 

March 05, 2012

Women's hoop; Beaupre diving; Big Game sez The Big Guy; Ashley, Ashley

To quickly summarize what could be either a fantastic or fantastically disappointing two days for FIU athletics….

In contrast to the one-and-done men’s hoop team, the FIU women ballers came from behind Sunday to take out Denver 67-59 -- 18 second-half points by sophomore guard Jerica Coley -- and now face No. 1 seed Middle Tennessee State in a Sun Belt Conference Tournament semifinal.

FIU lost to Middle by five at Murfreesboro and by 14 at The Branch. Up near Nashville, FIU held advantages in rebounds (42-31), shooting from the field (44.0 percent to 36.5 percent) and the line (eight of 11 greater than five of nine). But they went one of eight from three-point range to Middle’s seven of 28 and committed 24 turnovers to Middle’s 13.

Out near Sweetwater, a trio of threes propelled a 13-2 early second half run that erased FIU’s eight-point halftime lead. Also, FIU shot only nine free throws to Middle’s 25.

In the pool – or above the pool, then in the pool -- sophomore Sabrina Beaupre dives today in the NCAA Regional to qualify for next week’s NCAA Championships.

Tuesday, FIU baseball faces Boston College. Turtle Thomas deflected all questions about Wednesday’s exhibition against the Marlins by saying his focus is entirely on BC.

"Boston College will be a great RPI game," Thomas said. "That'll be the best RPI game except Florida State and Rice. That is a huge game." 

Thomas said redshirt sophomore Eddy Pidermann would start against BC.

SOFTBALL

Ashley McClain’s two RBI Sunday pushed her career total to an FIU-record 138 as the 8-11 Panthers beat Oregon State 4-1.

Friday and Saturday, FIU hosts the FIU Invitational, double-headers against DePaul and Delaware.

SPRINGING

Because sponsors for the yearly PGA event on The Blue Monster change every few years, this is simply referred to by local golf scribes as Doral Week. That means, for the third consecutive year, I’ll be buried in bunkers and birdies and ball strikers until they hand out the big check on Sunday. Unless I see Kedrick Rhodes or Jake Medlock running up the 18th fairway, others will be handling spring football for us this week.

 

 

February 23, 2012

Beaupre, oui (again); rain dances; Taylor plays; spring flings

Going into this year's Sun Belt Swimming & Diving Championships, FIU sophomore Sabrina Beaupre counted as the most sure thing out of Quebec province since Mario Lemieux.

Favorite pays: on Wednesday's first day, Beaupre won her second consecutive 3-meter diving championship by breaking her own Sun Belt record of 304.8 points with 328.85 points. Had Beaupre merely tied her own record, she still would've won by 31.8 points. As it was, she won by 55.85, her score exceeding that of runner up, North Texas' Catherine Johnson, by over 20 percent. That's a blowout on the level of Secretariat (which was trained by a French-Canadian, Lucien Laurin, and ridden by a Canadian, Ron Turcotte.)

FIU's fourth in the team rankings after the first day with 90 points. North Texas' 110 points has them nine up on soon-to-be-WAC Denver and 12 up on Western Kentucky.

FIU's 800 freestyle relay (junior Kayla Derr, sophomore Sonia Perez Arau, senior Vicnan Torres, freshman Johanna Gustafsdottir) finished third in a school redor 7:18.62, and Derr's leadoff of 1:49.24 broke her own school record for the 200 free. Gustafsdottir also was part of a school-record 200 Medley Relay, with freshman Klara Anderson, senior Kariann Stevens and junior Kelly Grace. Their 1:43.38 got them fifth place.

Thursday will be the 500 free, 200 IM, 50 free and 200 free relay.

BASEBALL

Though the baseball team went 0-3 at Rice, their rain delay dance from last Friday's season opener drew admiration from Sports Illustrated.

 

And, somewhere, Don Cornelius smiles...

 

BASKETBALL

FIU appealed what would've been a one-game suspension for point guard Phil Taylor, who got tossed from Saturday's loss at Arkansas State after a pair of technical fouls, and the Sun Belt said, OK, let him play, Thursday.

FOOTBALL

Walk-on tryouts are Friday and the spring insanity known as spring football begins the next Friday (no video). The spring game is March 30.

This weekend, T.Y. Hilton will be at the NFL Scouting Combine, probably answering more questions about whether or not he's injury prone than anything else. A Hilton with dependable health would get taken in the second round by a team willing to roll the dice on someone so slight, yet so fast as a big play threat in a big play league. If adjudged a health risk -- and with wide receivers, NFL teams can be more risk averse than an insurance company -- he's a third or fourth-rounder.

March 03, 2011

Pictures from Spring Football | Day 1

I took some pictures of the first day of practice.Hope you guys enjoy.

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Practice football
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Coach Mario Cristobal talks to one of his players before the start of practice on Thursday.

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WR Willis Wright catches a pass.

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Big nasties getting after it in practice.

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More of the big nasties getting after it in practice.

DSC_0235 New FIU defensive coordinator Todd Orlando, center in blue.

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LB Pooh Bear Mars, #3, standing next to LB Caleb Vincent.

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Offensive lineman Caylin Hauptmann at practice.

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DB Junior Mertile waits for the play to begin.

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Start of practice

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Offensive line practicing with QB Wes Carroll in red. OL coach Alex Mirabal, left in hat.

Justin

June 18, 2010

FIU At The Movies -- Episode IV

Crawl Four years ago in a blog not that far, far away from you....it began as a simple way of recapping the FIU sports year. After smashing box office records, a sequel was called for in 2008. Then, although the GPP did not sign for a three picture deal, there were no issues in making the trilogy last summer.

And now....FIU At The Movies, Episode IV.

A look at the FIU sports year by referring to motion pictures released during the Panthers athletic season (AugustMovie 2009 to June 2010). Cell phones off please. And now your feature presentation.....


The Goods -- FIU softball has the goods as it gets its 1st NCAA Tournament win and features the Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year (Kasey Barrett), Sun Belt Player of the Year (Ashley McClain), Sun Belt Freshman of the Year (Brie Rojas) and Sun Belt Coach of the Year (Beth McClendon).

Four Final Destination 4 -- No. 4's final destination is the end zone. Just ask Kansas (2008) and Alabama (2009) as the first time Goodbye touches the ball in each of his first 2 seasons, he takes it back for 6.

The Open Road -- FIU hoops late November/December schedule where the Panthers spent 24 days on the road.

All About Steve -- Sun Belt voters got it wrong when they picked some dude from North Texas as the winner of the SBC Basketball Tournament halftime dance-off. How could youVanessa not vote for Vanessa (right)?

Play The Game -- Why won't the Coral Gables school play FIU? Nah, never mind, I won't bother anymore.

Gamer -- Scott "El Oso" Bryant (left) breaks the all-time FIU tackles record held by Gamer Oso Keyonvis Bouie.

Whiteout -- What Scott Rembisz's pitching did to opposing Sun Belt bats at the conference tournament.

The Other Man -- The Hooters were looking at Carlos Munera to punt, but fullback John Ellis had the ball on the fake punt and rumbled 25 yards to set up the tying TD.

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs -- The SBC Baseball tourney started cloudy, but once FIU brokeDogpile that "pressure barrier" as TT calls it, the Panthers (right) were hitting meatballs the rest of the way en route to the Sun Belt title.

Bright Star -- Marlon Bright wins the Sun Belt's Behavior Award among his many accomplishments during his FIU career.

Free Style -- Actually, 3 Style for FIU women's hoopster Monika Bosilj, Power who broke the program's all-time record for 3 pointers with 188.

Adventures Of Power -- Jabari Henry (Freshman All-American, SBC Frosh of the Year) leads FIU with 12 HR. Jabari homers in 1st college at-bat (3-run bomba vs. Maryland) and to finish his first season at FIU, Jabari homers off MLB's No. 6 overall pick Barret Loux of Texas A&M.

One Good Man -- Long time FIU media relations guru Rich Kelch retires last December. Don't know much about Rich, then click HERE

Gw Good Hair -- Garrett Wittels' "bird's nest" (left) does not get cut during his 56-game hitting streak. It must be good hair.

AstroBoy -- FIU QB Paul McCall graduates and heads off to Mars training in the desert.Hubble

Hubble 3D -- How Sun Belt Tournament MVP Jeremy Patton's eyes saw the baseball in Murfreesboro.

Saw VI -- Only the Dade County Youth Fair stopped Jeremiah Harden when he turned the corner and saw 6 in the spring game. He'll see more 6s this fall.

As Seen Through These Eyes -- GW and Robin Ventura talk about what only their 56+ hit streak eyes have Yr experienced.

4th The Fourth Kind -- Yarimar Rosa (left), with another out-of-this-world season, is honored with a 4th All-American nod. The first 4-time All-American at FIU and probably the greatest volleyball player ever at FIU.

Storm -- On a scorching Halloween day, FIU storms back in the final minute and wins in OT against Louisiana. PMC hits Greg Ellingson for 6 in the back of the end zone with 10 seconds left in the 4th quarter. Dustin Rivest kicks the winning FG. Tyler Clawson dominates on D in OT and Tourek Williams blocks the tying field goal attempt to seal the victory.Dazzzz

The Other Side Of Paradise -- My day as Dazzlers audition judge (right). I'm ready for 2011.

Legion -- Alex Legion transfers to FIU and the legion of top recruits for the 2010-11 hoops season headed to FIU.

Mammoth -- Mike Martinez's moonshot HR at the SBC tourney. Ball landed inside the Middle Tennessee football stadium which has 2 decks so the ball had to clear the 2nd Green deck. Although, there is a rumor that the ball is still travelling somewhere along the interstate pass Murfreesboro and heading to Churchill's in downtown Nashville.

Green Zone -- They may be green by class designation -- freshmen -- but these Sun Belt Freshmen of the Year are not green on the field or court. FIU's Jabari Henry (baseball), Brie Rojas (softball) and Jovana Bjelica (volleyball) all won the conference's Freshman of the Year Award in their respective sports.

Kick Ass -- Once again the FIU volleyball team (right) is at the top of the Sun Belt andVolley coach Danijela Tomic wins another Sun Belt Coach of the Year Award.

Hey Watch This -- GW decides to hit in 56 straight games and captures the nation's attention.

The Good Heart -- FIU DB and Rudy Finalist O'Darris D'Haiti (left)and Od what he does each day for his family.

Touching Home -- What the FIU baseball lineup did a lot of this season with their XBox .337 team batting average.

Oceans -- Actually, it's pools for FIU diver Namiko Shibata, who was named the SunEndgame Belt's Most Outstanding Diver this past season.

Endgame -- The closing abilities of FIU receivers coach Frank Ponce, who was named the Sun Belt's Top Recruiter this past season.

Whiz Kids -- FIU's APR improvements by its teams. Especially, the baseball team that scored an FIU baseball-best 975 and who broke even in practice hours -- yeah, they lost Sleep 2 hours a week, but also gained 2 hours back due to their solid 975 score. No scholarship losses and no postseason ban.

Waking Sleeping Beauty -- Yes, the sleeping giant has been dozing for a while, but in the past year the sleeping giant garned a Sun Belt baseball title and NCAA Tournament appearances by the baseball, softball and volleyball teams. Women's soccer and tennis teams became 2009-10 regular season Sun Belt champions and top recruits arriving in all sports at FIU.


  

April 09, 2010

155 Days til Season Opener

Spring practice is done after Wednesday's Blue/Gold Spring Game and now the countdown begins for the 2010 season opener vs. Rutgers on Sept. 11 at FIU Stadium. Just 155 days.

The next time you'll see the Panthers on the football field might be for one of the few open practices when camp rolls around in the second week of August.

The last time we saw FIU on the field was Wednesday in the spring game and what came out of that was: an aggressive, faster defense, a stud running back in the making and an offense that took some time to getWilson going, but when the QBs got time to throw and the playmakers got a hold of the pigskin we saw what FIU is capable of when it has the ball. Now they just have to put it all together when Sept. 11 rolls around.

You can take to the poll question at the bottom of this post.

THE CHILI WAS CERTAINLY HOT

Yes, it was against an offense they see everyday in practice and yes, the offensive line was missing some key cogs (Brad Serini, Rupert Bryan and Austin Tottle on Wednesday), but the Panthers D certainly came out in the spring game like they just ate a 5-alarm bowl of chili from new DC Geoff Collins's kitchen.

What was most encouraging of the D's performance was that many of the young defenders (sophomores) were the ones making plays. FIU will rely on a lot of these young guys this season, because that's what the majority (18 sophomores) of FIU's D is comprised of in 2010.

Although it was old man -- if we can call a senior that -- Jarvis Wilson (above, right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo), who unleashed havoc in the O's backfield early with 3 sacks of Wayne Younger. Sophomore LB Winston Fraser (left) had a hand in 1 of the 3 sacks. It seemed like Jarvis is a lot quicker this year.

Wf WF also got in on a QB hurry later on and with DL Tourek Williams chased down Younger which is not easy to do considering the QB's elusiveness. DL Kasey Smith, who coaches expect big things from, had a tackle for loss.

Other sophs who made plays early on were Markeith Russell and Josh Forney with some tackles in the backfield.

Although both GC and OC Scott Satterfield kept the play calling very simple, the FIU D did blitz a lot.

Probably, one of the sophs you have been expecting to breakout, did so Wednesday. Pooh Bear Mars (right) had 6 tackles in the game and about half of them were for a loss using his speed and power to get into the backfield. It seems like the game is slowing down for PBM this spring.

DB Chuck Grace made a couple of plays: batting a Wesley Carroll pass and CG also went over the middlePooh and batted a pass away intended for Wayne Times. Emmanuel Souarin, who has had a good spring, kept it going in the spring game with a couple of tackles at the line of scrimmage on pass plays.

Senior Kreg Brown had a pick and defensive lineman James Jones almost had a pick that would have gone for 6 if he holds on.

One thing that might have had GC hot when he watched the film later was that there were a handful of missed tackles -- which was an issue last season even though GC was not here in 2009. Although on some of those plays, we have to give credit to No. 6.

HARDEN MAKES IT LOOK EASY

No. 6 would be new running back Jeremiah Harden, (left) who made the spring game his personal showcase.

Jh What will stand out for most about JH's performance Wednesday will be the 69-yard TD run that only the Youth Fair was able to contain him from running onto SW 107th Ave. 

But more than that is what JH showed when he first gets any handoff. As you may have read in a previous post on here, WC -- JH's high school teammate -- described JH as a guy that gets lost going into a pile, but somehow always finds his way out for extra yardage.

Besides that ability, what I've noticed from JH is his vision of knowing where the blocks are going to be and knowing when to cut it back, because there are no open running lanes in front of him. That's what makes JH a special back.

On the long TD run, we saw that once JH got around the right corner he put it into an extra gear and then some to out run the D.

Now FIU has to develop another back to complement JH. A slimmer Darriet Perry has the ability to be that back. He needs to get back in the flow after missing half of last season with an injury. 

Freshman Kedrick Rhodes could possibly be the Ricky to JH's Ronnie -- if you will. If you're looking for a sleeper in this position battle come camp look toward senior Trenard Turner, who has a knack for breaking tackles, but has been injured most of his FIU career.

SPREADING THE WEALTH

Like you've read a zillion times on here, the FIU spread O will go as the O-line goes. Missing 3 key OLinemen Wednesday didn't help, but still the O had some trouble getting going early on which occurred in some games last season.

However, once the O got some rhythm we saw what the playmakers can do.

TE Jonathan Faucher, who along with Colt Anderson has improved, caught a 16-yard TD pass from WC.Jm

WC also hit Junior Mertile (right, thanks AJH photo), who looks fully recovered from his knee injury, for a 56-yard TD.

Again Times continues to look better and better. WT led all receivers with 4 catches for 73 yards and what makes him dangerous are his moves in the open field. The moves are T.Y. Goodbye-like.

WC had the better day of the 2 QBs throwing the ball and directing the O. But at the end of the day, the stats were similar between the 2 QBs. WC was 8 of 11 for 90 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT. WY went 8 of 15 for 80 yds, 1 TD, 0 INT.

Future FIU playmaker Willis Wright and future FIU safety Randy Williams and many of the Miami Springs Golden Hawks took in the spring game as they sat near the 40-yard line.

Logo PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw Will have a mid-season look at the FIU baseball team on the next post. The Panthers are in Murfreesboro, Tenn. this weekend taking on a tough Middle Tennessee. Saturday's game is on TV on CSS's Sun Belt Game of the Week.

Apaw The lovely Golden Dazzlers are putting on their annual variety show on Saturday, April 17 at U.S. Century Bank Arena. As we saw last season, the Dazzlers can put on a show with their tribute toDazzz Daz Michael Jackson (left, thanks AJH photo) and their salute to Harley Davidson (right, AJH photo) Here is some more info from an e-mail sent by the Dazzlers:

The Variety Show is an annual fundraiser (and biggest) which we have done in the past. This is the 5th one.

It is an all dance event featuring the Golden Dazzlers performing various dance routines showcasing many styles of dance such as lyrical, jazz, pom and hip hop. Group numbers, solos, duos and all sort of combinations will be involved. In addition, we have guest performers from the community, giveaways and2010 Variety Show interactive crowd games. 

After spending all year performing at football, basketball, volleyball, and baseball games (not to mention the appearances and community events) this is finally an event where it’s only about us, by us. It’s the Dazzlers turn to shine!

We would love the fans’ support on this one!!!!

Tickets are now on pre-sale for $ 8.00 at the football fieldhouse and at the door at the arena on show day for $ 10.00.

Apaw As you may have noticed by the photo on the left in the rail, Adam Beasley is joining the FIU beat and will handle the print duties.

A little about Adam: besides bringing plenty of writing experience from Syracuse and working in newspapers in 5 states, Adam is a busy guy at the Herald.

In addition to FIU, Adam also covers soccer for the Herald and works in the news department. In news, Adam will be a charter member of the breaking news team. Adam will continue to split his time with the continuous news desk, writing breaking news and 1A takeouts for the daily newspaper and the Sunday newspaper.

Q&A

O'darris D'haiti #20: How did saloney joseph do as I worked out with him before he tried out for the team. He is a small guy but the kid has heart. You think he will stay with the team by what u seen so far in practice and the spring game?

PP: Saloney looked quick. He's not that big of a back at all, but he might surprise if given some extra reps. Not sure if he will be back for fall camp. All depends on the health of the RBs.

Xmas You Got Gold: Pete, the regular signing period for college hoops should be starting soon, right? I think it's mid-April til mid-May. Does Isiah have any scholarships left for 2010?

PP: IT does not have anymore scholarships left for this season, but you never know if all the players from last season will be back and maybe a scholie or 2 opens up here or there. Will have any updates if they happen. If anything else, check back in October when practice begins.

Last I heard, we might find out around mid-summer if it will be an early "Christmas" season for FIU.

April 07, 2010

LIVE SPRING GAME BLOG

Welcome to FIU Stadium on a splendid Wednesday afternoon with sunny skies and just a few small whiteHelmetlogo clouds.

If you're stuck in your cubicle or can't get out of that meeting that will decide if the office will go with blue or black pens, then just kick back and follow along here.

The FIU Blue/Gold Spring Game is about to kickoff shortly as the Panthers finish stretching and pre-game drills.

Check the previous post to follow along what we'll be looking for this afternoon. This will be the last time the Panthers will be on the field until early August. Let's go LIVE BLOGGING....


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