September 05, 2013

We name names...and knees

I have in my hand a list numbering 57 card-carrying communists!...No, wait, that's not it...58 Commissioner's List honorees from FIU lauded by the Sun Belt Conference for having at least a 3.5 grade point average during the 2012-13 academic year.

Baseball: Nathan Burns, John Caballero, Charles Cormier, Julius Gaines, Aramis Garcia, Mike Gomez, Roche Woodard, Ty Sullivan.

Men's Basketball: Steven Miro, Manny Nunez.

Women's Basketball: Alexsandra Bodlovich, Marita Davydova, Katrina Epnere, Zsofia Labady, Carmen Miloglav.

Women's Golf: Shelby Coyle.

Women's Soccer: Shelby Bowden, Crystal McNamara, Ashleigh Shim, Sara Stewart.

Softball: Alexandra Cassals, Jennifer Gniadek, Corinne Jenkins, Marisa McGregor, Rachel Slowik.

Tennis: Giuletta Boha, Nina Djordjevic, Michelle Sabado.

Swimming & Diving: Sabrina Beaupre, Mary Boucher, Kelly Grace, Chelsie Kidd, Jennifer Lee, Dorothy Miller, Colleen Quinn, Marina Ribi, Courtney Vander Schaaf.

Men's Track & Field/Cross Country: Miguel Delgadillo, Ross Hope, Eli Monzon, Daniel Puentes, Orlando Rodriguez, Aubrey Smith.

Women's Track & Field/Cross Country: Maria Alea, Isabel Betancourt, Elenor Edwards, Daniela Espino, Jessica Gehrke, Lauren Gonzalez, Tiffanie Hernandez, Bianca Morrison, Antonia Simms, Desmika White, Lashae White.

Volleyball: Lucia Castro, Jessica Egan, Gloria Levorin, Kimberly Smith, Brittany Spencer.


Defensive end Denzell Perine, who had to be helped off the field during Saturday's loss to Maryland and returned to play a solid game until the final whistle, Tweeted that he had knee surgery but would still be able to play Friday against Central Florida. 


September 02, 2013

Diverse Balls

First, there's football. Sophomore defensive end Michael Wakefield got an honorable mention from the College Football Performance Awards folks for having seven tackles, three for a loss, a sack and a fumble recovery in FIU's 43-10 loss to Maryland Saturday.

The opening spread on Friday's home opener with Central Florida put FIU as a 23-point underdog. Hours later, that number already had moved up to 24 1/2 points.

Sunday night's verbal commitment from Orlando Timber Creek WR Javonte Seabury pushed FIU up to 77th nationally and third Conference USA in's national rankings of the 2014 class. The ranking is based on verbal commitments, of course, so could be quickly irrelevant in one direction or another come Signing Day.

Then, we move to the pitch where both soccers split. At home, the women beat Stetson 2-0 on Friday, then took a 4-0 drilling from Florida on Sunday. Out in Southern California (everybody say "ahhhhhhhh"), the men opened their season with a 2-1 loss at Loyola Marymount on Friday and beat San Diego State 5-3 on Sunday.

Friday, the men are up at Central Florida and the women host Florida Gulf Coast at 5 p.m., a convenient athletic tailgate before the football game.

Friday afternoon, men's coach Kenny Arena said, "(The staff has) been a little more hands on early this year. Going on the road is great for chemistry, but, ideally, we wouldn't want that many road games early in the season."

Volleyball opened the season 1-2 at the Gamecock Invitational. Redshirt junior Ksenia Sukhareva got named to the all-tournament team. This weekend, amidst the flurry of activity at Camp Mitch, the FIU Classic starts Friday morning at The Branch.


August 27, 2013

Startup Week

A flurry of starts this week: first week of classes, men's soccer starting on Friday in LA at Loyola Marymount, volleyball starting Friday against High Point at the Gamecock Invitational and, of course, the football team facing Maryland.

At least two transfer running backs who fans hoped to see and insiders knew throughout camp might not be seen won't be starting anything for now. Anthon Samuel, the Opa-Locka native who transferred from Bowling Green after running for 998 yards there last year, won't join the team this season.

"He's ineligible this year because he's a transfer," FIU coach Ron Turner said. "He switched his major to one that has a lot of morning classes. He's not going to be with us in the fall. But we'll see where he is in the spring."

Ironically, Samuel's Monsignor Edward Pace High teammate Travis Greene, will start at running back for Bowling Green in the opener.

Then, there's Jakhari Gore, Frank's smaller and slower cousin.

You have to wonder if Frank (or, anybody in the family) ever laid the "Your name is mine!" realization on Jakhari the way Paul Scofield's Mark Van Doren does to Ralph Fiennes' Charlie Van Doren in Quiz Show. While Frank does the family name proud as a respected guy who overcame numerous impediments to gain a college degree and NFL stardom, Jakhari...hasn't. And that could be said before whatever happened Friday night. Turner wasn't blowing smoke when he said Monday Gore probably would've been a roster drop anyway despite his name and local high school greatness (on the field).

According to the arrest affidavit description:

Friday, "at about 11:23, the victim came to FIU to visit (Gore). A verbal altercation ensued outside of the University Park Towers Dormitory. At this time, (Gore) snatched the keyes from the victim, preventing her from leaving. (Gore) began walking away from the victim and convinced the victim to follow him up to his dorm room.

"Once inside, the victim stated that (Gore) grabbed her forcibly behind her head in an attempt to have her perform oral sex on him. The victim pushed (Gore) away, but was still held in (Gore's) dorm room against her will, preventing her from leaving. The victim followed (Gore) back downstairs, thinking that she would retrieve her keyes. (Gore) then took control of the victim's vehicle and drove away with the victim inside of the vehicle. (Gore) was transported to the FIU Police Station for questioning on (Sunday). Post-Miranda warning, (Gore) refused to give a statement and stated, "I will give my side of the story to the judges and my attorney." (Gore) was processed at the FIU Police Station...then, transported without incident to (Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center)."

July 31, 2013

In other sports...

The FIU volleyball and men's soccer schedules are up at

The women's soccer schedule we have it for you here:

August: 12 -- at Cal Poly 7 p.m. (preseason); 16 -- at Long Beach State, 11 a.m (preseason); 23 -- Arizona, 7 p.m., Parent's Weekend; 30 -- at Stetson, 7 p.m.

September: 1 -- Florida, 7 p.m.; 6 -- Florida Gulf Coast, 5 p.m.; 8 -- Cleveland State, 1 p.m.; 13 -- at Dayton, 7:30 p.m.; 15 -- at Illinois, 1 p.m.; 20 -- at Jacksonville, 7 p.m.; 27 -- Charlotte, 7 p.m.; 20 -- Old Dominion, 1 p.m.

October: 4 -- at Colorado College, 3 p.m.; 6 -- at Louisiana Tech, 1 p.m.; 13 -- at Alabama-Birmingham, 2 p.m.; 18 -- East Carolina, 7 p.m.; 20 -- Rice, 1 p.m.; 25 -- at FAU, 7 p.m. 27 -- at Middle Tennessee State, 2 p.m.; 31 -- Marshall, 7 p.m.

November: 6-10 -- Conference USA tournament at Rice.


FIU got picked ninth in the Conference USA preseason poll with no preseason all-conference players. Rice topped the preseason poll, although Tulsa actually got more first place votes, 4-3. Texas-San Antonio 6-3 senior McKenzie Adams is the Preseason Player of the Year.



June 17, 2013

Buck-Crockett now queen of both volleyball castles; Thomas Bateast to St. Thomas

In a life-imitating-TV way, lately, I've been running into people shortly after thinking about them. And so did this trend continue when I ran into sand volleyball coach Rita Buck-Crockett just before sitting down to blog post that she's now also the indoor volleyball coach.

This wasn't on the drawing board when Buck-Crockett took the sand volleyball job, but the job also included being assistant athletic director in charge of all things volleyball. I don't think anybody expected indoor volleyball's season to start breaking down from the opener's prematch warmups, when Jovana Bjelica suffered a broken hand. They finished 10-19 and barely made the Sun Belt tournament.

Athletic director Pete Garcia said it was Buck-Crockett's call on whether or not to replace indoor volleyball coach Trevor Theroulde. Buck-Crockett figures with former Maryland and University of Miami assistant Felix Hou coming on staff as associate head coach for indoor and daughter Marrita Royster-Crockett as a year-round assistant for sand this year (she wasn't year-round last year), she'll be able to do both jobs smoothly.

Her standards don't describe "modest:" she wants a national title in sand volleyball, which lost only one player (All-American Kate Stepanova), and a Conference USA title and Top 25 ranking for the indoor game.


After seven seasons as an FIU assistant, Desma Thomas Bateast will take over the St. Thomas University women's basketball program. Seeing as how Miami no longer has a WNBA team, Thomas Bateast hit for the 305 cycle in women's basketball -- tremendous high school player at American High, school Hall of Fame player at the University of Miami, assistant coach at FIU and now head coach at St. Thomas.

June 11, 2013

APR news, not-so-news (basketball postseason ban), a football departure

 I don't know what happened to this post. Somehow, inserting the Alice Cooper video eliminated the rest of the copy. I apologize.

In summary, the men's basketball team got the NCAA punishment expected for almost a year -- no postseason play in 2013-14, activity time limited to five days and 16 hours -- when the 2011-12 Academic Progress Rate came in at an abysmal 750. That pulled the four-year rate down to 858. The reasons behind the 833 for the 2010-11 school year, one of the factors in Isiah Thomas' firing, was discussed in an April 5 post on this blog. I'd heard stories of players willfully crashing their acadmics after Thomas' firing. Such a comically low APR score all but confirms that happened. Between that and transfers from the program post-firing, there's your 750.

The football team's single-season APR was 932 and four-year was 930. The leading programs on the four-year APR were tennis, 992, and swimming, 986. Women's basketball and golf both put up single-year APRs of 1000.

Football had the lowest four APR aside from basketball. Baseball had the lowest single season APR aside from basketball, 867.


Baseball: multi-year, 945. 2011-12, 867

Men's basketball: multi-year, 858. 2011-12, 750.

Men's cross country: multi-year, 975. 2011-12, 938.

Football: multi-year, 930. 2011-12, 932.

Men's soccer: multi-year, 943. 2011-12, 975.

Men's indoor track: multi-year, 960. 2011-12, 970.

Men's outdoor track: multi-year, 952. 2011-12, 970.

Women's basketball: multi-year, 972. 2011-12, 1000.

Women's cross country: multi-year, 955. 2011-12, 980.

Women's golf: multi-year, 983. 2011-12, 1000.

Women's soccer: multi-year, 954. 2011-12, 958

Softball: multi-year, 967. 2011-12, 935.

Swimming: multi-year, 986. 2011-12, 991.

Tennis: multi-year, 992. 2011-12, 968.

Women's indoor track: multi-year, 957. 2011-12, 928.

Women's outdoor track: multi-year, 960. 2011-12, 943.

Volleyball: multi-year, 973. 2011-12, 932.



Sources close to Camp Mitch say yet another director of football operations, Nick Mehlhaff, has resigned. That's four directors of football operations since January 2012, two in the last five months.


March 28, 2013

New football signee; sand volleyball tournament

Ron Turner said he wanted to get more offensive linemen on the football roster. Turner's apparently picked up one, FIU announcing the signing of Byron Pinkston, a 6-3, 300-pound center from Dean College. Pinkston was a Honorable Mention Junior College All-America selection in 2012.

Reminder: tomorrow night, 7 p.m., the football team will scrimmage.


No. 1 Pepperdine, FAU, Tulane, Georgia State and South Florida come down for the Doctors Hospital FIU Surf & Turf Tournament that runs Friday and Sunday at FIU's mini beach across the street from The Branch on the main campus. Saturday, games will be played at Fort Lauderdale's South Beach Park (not to be confused with the real South Beach of story and thong).

BYOBS (Bring Your Own Beach Stuff). The first 100 students each day will receive a pair of FIU sunglasses.

FIU lost 5-0 to Pepperdine (6-0) a few weeks ago, but seemed confident they'd take Pepperdine in the rematch. FIU's ranked No. 6, moving up two spots last week.


New football signee; sand volleyball tournament

Ron Turner said he wanted to get more offensive linemen on the football roster. Turner's apparently picked up one, FIU announcing the signing of Byron Pinkston, a 6-3, 300-pound center from Dean College. Pinkston was a Honorable Mention Junior College All-America selection in 2012.


No. 1 Pepperdine, FAU, Tulane, Georgia State and South Florida come down for the Doctors Hospital FIU Surf & Turf Tournament that runs Friday and Sunday at FIU's mini beach across the street from The Branch on the main campus. Saturday, games will be played at Fort Lauderdale's South Beach Park (not to be confused with the real South Beach of story and thong).

BYOBS (Bring Your Own Beach Stuff). The first 100 students each day will receive a pair of FIU sunglasses.

FIU lost 5-0 to Pepperdine (6-0) a few weeks ago, but seemed confident they'd take Pepperdine in the rematch. FIU's ranked No. 6, moving up two spots last week.


March 23, 2013

Stuff like (this and) that...

On vaca, so my recently sporadic updates from weeks of Doral-nursing-a-dying laptop will seem like breathless Tweets from the front for the next week. Unless they fire or lose a high profile coach, which is what happened at the end of my daughter's 2012 Spring Break.

So, here's some stuff for you to masticate for the next few days...


Johanna Gustafsdottir finished 49th in the 100 backstroke and Sonia Perez came in 39th in the 400 individual medley Friday at the NCAA championships. Gustafsdottir swam 54.92, well off her seed time of 53.94, and Perez swam 4:16.25, also slower than her seed time of 4:10.54. Judging from times up and down the prelims, the IU Natatorium pool in Indianapolis is part sludge this year.

Both will be in the 200 back this morning. Last year, only Gustafsdottir qualified for the NCAAs among FIU's swimmers, which qualify by time and not conference position. (Sabrina Beaupre qualified as a diver, but opted for ankle surgery instead of the NCAAs).


Freshman Marcus Ghent won the long jump with a jump of 23 feet, 8 3/4 inches at the UCF Invitational Friday.


The new laptop doesn't have the formatting to fully use The Herald's CCI system yet. So, instead of attaching this minute-in-the-life-of video to today's sand volleyball story (, I put it here.


Also, here are some other vids from FIU's earlier matches this season.





Can upload video, but not photos. Crud.

Anyway, as for the new court. I like it. It's funky and unique. Reminds of this...


Now, go in peace...


February 11, 2013

Baseball picked 2nd in Sun Belt; Sand Volleyball schedule

The Sun Belt's baseball coaches think the Florida Sun Belt Farewell Tour brings the best baseball in the conference, voting FIU second behind FAU in the preseason poll.

While the first place votes got spread around -- FAU with five, one each for FIU, Arkansas State, Middle Tennessee State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe -- the total points put the South Florida schools in a two-team slipstream. A second-to-third gap of 18 points followed FAU's 89 voting points and FIU's 85.

Catcher Aramis Garcia and pitcher Michael Ellis got voted to the preseason all-conference team.

FIU opens this weekend with a series at home against Stonybrook.


The inaugural sand volleyball season opens Mar. 8 in California against Grand Canyon University. But the most awaited program opening match aside from the first football game is Mar. 23 against Webber International, at 9 a.m. on the sand courts across the street from The Branch, adjacent to the parking garage.

FIU's Surf and Turf Tournament Mar. 29-31 brings in last year's American Volleyball Coaches' Association Collegiate Sand Volleyball National Champion Pepperdine, Tulane, FAU and Georgia State. There's a home match against Florida Gulf Coast on April 6, too.

November 16, 2012

Gameday XI: FIU vs. FAU; volleyball gets Western-cuted

Tonight’s pregame blog is sponsored by the letter E. My needle’s laying there. Might have to bring a colada with me to Boca Friday night.


A few things about FAU: Pelini’s a defensive guy and the Owls lead the Sun Belt in pass defense for conference games. Now, part of that is that they’ve had only 156 passes thrown on them, the fewest in The Belt and almost 10 percent less than second fewest Troy and Middle Tennessee. After all, they’re eighth in rush defense (guess who’s last). But the Owls also have allowed only 52.6 completion percentage. Second best is Western’s 57.1.

FAU’s last three Sun Belt games: a 37-34 overtime loss at South Alabama, where FIU needed its best half of defense this season to hang on to a win; a 34-27 home win against Troy, which came from 16 down in the second half to nip FIU, 38-37; and a 37-28 home upset of Western Kentucky, against which FIU’s managed five field goals the last two years.

That’s better results than FIU against the same opponents -- in the same places, for two of them – for a team with less raw talent and experience.

Particularly intrigued by the wins against Troy and Western, I checked them out as best I could. FAU outscored Troy, which had Corey Robinson at quarterback instead of Deon Anthony. FIU might’ve preferred facing Robinson’s experience instead of Anthony’s feet and a the Ken Anderson arm he leased for the day. Whatever, the point is there wasn’t anything special there.

But 37 points on Western? They moved the ball somewhat on the Hillbillies, 355 yards. Quarterback Graham Wilbert got hot on an 84-yard drive. But they also had two touchdowns set up by interceptions; a fumble return touchdown off the last second desperate hook-and-lateral attempt; a touchdown after a 48-yard punt return; and a long field goal after a failed Western fourth down at the FAU 43.

FIU head coach Mario Cristobal described FAU’s defense as one that plays a lot of man coverage. That explains the trouble Western had with FAU’s pass defense – quarterback Kawaun Jakes can’t throw downfield. FIU’s Jake Medlock can.

Cristobal also said FAU takes away some of what the spread really likes to do. At Sun Belt media day, Pelini was confident he’d be able to scheme well against the spread. Running back Kedrick Rhodes isn’t good for a whole game. I’m not sure what sin of Jeremiah Harden has gotten him buried on the bench. Darian Mallary’s wearing down. Perhaps Medlock’s mobility’s improved after a couple of weeks to rest a body with more dents than a rambunctiously driven taxi.

FIU’s been getting to the quarterback lately and, despite Graham Wiltert’s being tough to topple at 6-6, FAU’s given up 17 sacks in conference games. Only FIU’s given up more.  Also, Wilbert’s on a string of 214 passes without an interception.

Give FIU an intangible advantage for coming off a late season bye, but only slightly because FAU’s got to be feeling good about itself after taking out Western last Saturday.

FIU’s started quickly the last few games, getting big plays downfield to Willis Wright, Glenn Coleman and, against South Alabama, Jacob Younger. I see something similar here. And if the Panthers get up, they’ve got to keep strafing. They didn’t need to be so extremely Bo & Woody in the second half against South Alabama. For some reason, I’m also feeling a big kickoff return, though FAU’s had the Sun Belt’s best kickoff coverage in conference games.

(Late in the season, I like to use the conference games comparison – generally measures games against similar competition and the games tend to be more recent.)

I’m thinking FAU moves the ball through the air. Three long touchdown drives. But FIU gets a fumble somewhere, maybe giving the Panthers a short field. FIU gets points off of it so long as that’s not where their lost fumble (trends say there will be one) occurs.

If it comes down to the kicker, throw up the hands. Not in the “It’s good!” signal, but more in the “I have no idea what’s going to happen.” Neither FIU’s Jack Griffin nor FAU’s Mitch Anderson (six of 10) can claim Volvo reliability these days. Anderson’s shown more length this year.

Feeling 34-31, FAU. But, that’s just one black man’s opinion. I could be wrong.


FIU lost 3-1 to Western Kentucky during the regular season, the only Sun Belt match that Western didn't win 3-0.

The Panthers didn't fare as well Thursday in the Sun Belt conference tournament, getting zapped by the Hillpeople 25-12, 25-12, 25-19. FIU ends the season at 10-19. 


November 14, 2012

Prsa All-Sun Belt Second Team

At the pre-tournament banquet, where the Sun Belt volleyball teams get served before being served to host Western Kentucky, FIU senior Marija Prsa was named Second Team All-Sun Belt. Prsa led FIU in kills with 360 and was second to Ryanne Milligan with 259 digs. 

FIU faces No. 1 seed Western Kentucky Thursday night at 6 p.m. in the first round of the tournament.

Mentioning Milligan, a Jasper, Ind., native, reminds me that I meant to include this video in the previous post on her as the Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week...


November 12, 2012

Milligan gets Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week

Senior Ryanne Milligan's 61 digs in the 12 sets of FIU volleyball last week got her the Sun Belt's Defensive Player of the Week Award. Milligan had 29 digs in the five-set grind against South Alabama that got FIU into the Sun Belt Conference tournament.

Milligan transferred to FIU this season after three years at Marshall.


November 11, 2012

Volleyball gets Western

In Sun Belt volleyball's version of "last hired, first fired," FIU fought gallantly to get into the tournament as a No. 8 seed so must face No. 1 seed Western Kentucky Thursday at 6 p.m.

That's "29-3 Western Kentucky." That's "15-0 in the Sun Belt this season" Western Kentucky. That's "on a 21-match winning streak" Western Kentucky (heck, FIU's only played 28 matches). That's also "hosting the tournament" Western Kentucky.

Oh, well. Maybe there's a good place in Bowling Green for chitterlings (or "chitlins" or "Kentucky oysters" as my family used to call them).

Basketball season begins today; volleyball season keeps going

The basetball season opens today with sort of an FIU doubleheader except the games are in different cities.

Of course new FIU men's coach Richard Pitino begins his college coaching career with a game at Boston College. It follows Pitino's life pattern that's seen New England be a place of beginnings and transitions. He was born there while his dad was Boston University head coach. He went to Saint Sebastian's School, then Providence College. His first true assistant's job was at Northeastern.

Then, at 6 p.m. at The Branch, FIU's women host North Florida in what should be the first victory of another 20-win season. What FIU's athletic department would love to see, in addition to the win, would be a stellar statistical game by guard Jerica Coley. They're all set to campaign for Coley to get full All-America recognition after she was an Honorable Mention last year. When FIU says "posterize" with Coley, it means putting the junior on posters as a shining symbol of FIU's athletics.


A week and a half ago, if Nick Silver had been asked about the probability math on FIU's chances of getting into the Sun Belt Conference tournament, his summary likely would've been "Worse than Romney."

The plane crash sequence of events necessary involved 8-18 FIU beating FAU; Troy, which was 9-4 in the Belt and 19-10 overall; and completing a series of South Alabama losses by beating the Jaguars Saturday night at The Branch.

Friday, FIU beat Troy 3-1 (25-23, 25-20, 14-25, 25-21) as junior Kimberly Smith, freshman Lucia Castro and senior Marija Prsa ran up 40 kills. Smith also had six blocks, second for FIU behind sophomore Silvia Carli's seven. Senior Ryanne Milligan had 18 digs.

The day before FIU trounced FAU, South Alabama lost to middling Middle Tennessee (7-8, 10-22). USA followed with the predictable 3-0 loss to 29-3 Western Kentucky. Friday night, USA lost to FAU 3-2.

But, Saturday night, USA took a 2-0 lead on FIU. One set from extinction, the Panthers took the third 25-19, the fourth 25-20 and got hte last two points from 13-13 to clinch a spot in the Sun Belt tournament. Marija Prsa had 19 kills and 10 digs. Smith added 16 kills. Castro had 13 kills and 112 digs, freshman Ashlee Hodgskin had 38 assists, 10 digs and three service aces. Levorin had six blocks and Milligan had 29 digs.


Yeah, sure, it'll be the Western Kentucky Beatdown Invitational but getting in the tournament's an achievement for a team that's crashed through the season after losing its best player, Jovana Bjelica, in warmups before the season opener.

October 20, 2012

Gameday VIII: FIU at Troy

Really quickly before we get started: yes, I should be at next Sunday afternoon's hoop hoopla. The swimming and diving team is hosting FSU and FAU this morning. And Friday night on the Birmingham-Irondale border featured Arby's and a Miller. Felt like I should've ripped off my sleeves, found Randy and tried to cross a few things off the list. Now, about this game...

Should these two teams play Saturday? Or, should they say forget that, hit Home Depot for some grills, Troy bring the burgers, FIU bring the beer and orange soda and everybody consume while commiserating over disappointing seasons?

Troy hasn’t won on the field named after its longtime-and-still coach. FIU hasn’t won outside La Cage. Troy’s 3-3, expected to be better after coming off the worst season since 1982, and doesn’t know how long concussed quarterback Corey Robinson, the Sun Belt’s passing yards per game leader even after getting KO’d early by Western Kentucky last week, will be out. FIU’s 1-6, expected to be light years better coming off the best season in its program history, and doesn’t know how long its defense will be out.

I watched Troy’s 31-26 loss to Western Kentucky and thought Troy could’ve won that game going away, even with losing Robinson early. Not a small statement considering Western’s only two losses in the last 12 games were blowout losses to Alabama and LSU. The Trojans were up 10-0 when they blew a great scoring chance, then missed the field goal. You go up 17-0 on Western, that can horse Western into turning quarterback Kawaun Jakes loose. And that’s a case of sit back, do your job and don’t get in each other’s way fighting for the interception.

Obviously, Troy’s offense changes with Anthony instead of Robinson at quarterback (this assumes Anthony plays. The Troy people have been hush, hush, Sid Hudgens, about Robinson’s health this week). With Robinson, Troy had the Sun Belt’s No. 1 pass offense as they let Robinson throw 40 times a game and Anthony fling a couple, too, as the change of pace quarterback out of the Wildcat (or, modified single wing, as us old timers see it). In over a half of starting time against Western last week, Anthony threw 16 passes. Though Anthony’s the Sun Belt’s passing efficiency leader, that’s off the small sample size of 29 passes over six games and coming in as that second guy.

Wide receiver Chip Reeves averages 16.8 yards per catch, but that’s with Robinson throwing to him the vast majority of the time. Maybe Anthony gets hot tonight or FIU’s laissez-faire pass defense gives him temporary Archie Manning powers, but expect Anthony and Troy, behind running back Shawn Southward to do more damage on foot than in the air. But Southward isn’t the John Shaft-baaaad back Middle Tennessee State’s Benny Cunningham was. (Yeah, I was wrong on that one slightly, huh?)

FIU had some notable numbers obscured by last week’s finish. Redshirt sophomore Jake Medlock’s 380 yards passing were the second most in FIU history and the most in an overtime-free contest. Only twice before has FIU had 100-yard receivers in the same game, as they did with junior wide receivers Willis Wright and Glenn Coleman (you’ve been paying attention or looking at the game notes if you recall that the second time was in the season opener against Duke, Kedrick Rhodes and Wayne Times).

Go long on Troy. The Trojans allow a Sun Belt low 51.9 completion percentage, but also 15.3 yards per completion and 8.0 yards per attempt (just to give you a gauge, FIU’s 13.1 and 7.8, respectively). Western got wide receivers open deep up the sideline. Jakes just blew throws that Medlock usually would hit. Jakes later hit wide open receivers up the seam, a circumstance set up by Western’s dominant running game. Those could be open to FIU’s tight ends if FIU’s run game can get going. The impediment there could still be how well Medlock can move on the read option. Last week, he was fine with pocket movement, but after a couple of early keeps that looked like he was showing Middle something just to show it, Medlock wasn’t a factor in the running game. That lets defenses sit on the running backs, thus limiting their effectiveness.

Still, FIU rolled up 30 points, had a self-imposed fumble in the red zone and came less than a yard from the end zone – or got in and weren’t given it – from more points. Again, on the whole, the offense produced. The defense and special teams failed at the pivotal moments.

As I wrote in today’s advance, which appears at, all but one FIU game this season featured a significant swing in the last minutes of the first half and first minutes of the second half. Within those swings, lay the key to this game – third down defense. FIU’s given up too many third-and-long conversions. Five of Middle’s six third down conversions last week came on third-and-7 or longer and a third-and-15 failure got them close enough to convert on fourth down.

Troy’s statistically the best third down defense in the Sun Belt. And I can see Anthony running for a first down out of a mess. But I can also see him making some mistakes in the air Robinson wouldn’t or on throws where Corey could, but Deon couldn’t.

Another tough call. I’ll take Troy, 31-27.

But that’s one black man’s opinion. I could be wrong.


A rough season for the 6-16 volleyball team got some sunlight with a 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-20) sweep at North Texas. Junior Brittany Spencer had six blocks. Four others – senior Kimberly Smith, fifth-year senior Renele Forde, freshman Lucia Castro and freshman Gloria Levorin – had five blocks each. Forde also had 33 assists.

September 24, 2012

Monday Morning Football; sunny Sunday for volleyball, women's soccer

Both E.J. Hilliard and Loranzo Hammonds Jr. took snaps with the first team today. Starting Hilliard sort of opens the door to using Hammonds as a change-of-pace back who happens to line up at quarterback. It's not something they would've done with Jake Medlock, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did it with a quarterback 10 months removed from high school in his first start.

Among the running backs, Kedrick Rhodes did practice and Darian Mallary didn't. Rhodes will be a Wednesday or Thursday decision, according to head coach Mario Cristobal. Also, Cristobal said, Mallary didn't suffer a concussion Saturday, but they'll still wait for midweek results of some testing before letting him practice.

After practice, left tackle Caylin Hauptmann doused Cristobal with a Gatorade birthday bath.

No line on this game is up yet from the sports books I've seen. Books don't like the first game following a quarterback injury.


Upset at The Branch Sunday afternoon in a match that surely exceeded that excruciating display up at Sun Life Stadium for entertainment value.

FIU, 4-10, dumped 10-7 Arkansas State 3-0 (26-24, 25-23, 25-19). Junior Kimberly Smith -- Zionsville in the house! -- had 10 kills. Freshman Ashlee Hodgskin threw in 17 assists and two service aces. Defensively, junior Brittany Spencer had six blocks, and sophomore Carolyn Fouts had 14 digs.


For the second consecutive day, an FIU soccer team won on a golden goal.

The men got by Stetson Saturday night. The women beat Troy 2-1 Sunday afternoon on the third game-winning goal of the season by Chelsea Leiva (of course). Despite a 26-7 shot advantage and 12-1 advantage in corner kicks, FIU found itself in overtime. That's because Troy struck on that one corner in the 70th minute to match sophomore Scarlett Montoya's 48th minute goal.

FIU's 5-4-1 overall, 2-0 in the Sun Belt Conference.




September 22, 2012

Gameday IV, 2012: FIU vs. Louisville; sand spike; soccers & indoor spikes

Remember Playmakers, the show the NFL didn’t like so ESPN cancelled it after one season instead of telling the league, “Most of the stuff you’re upset about is a cleaned up version of stuff that’s already happened in the NFL, so just take our rights fee billions and shut up before we go North Dallas Forty on you in the second season?”

One episode began with the Cougars head coach learning he’s got prostate cancer days before the team faces a Michael Vick-style quarterback named Hawkins. The coaches decide to use Olczyk, the linebacker clearly based on Zach Thomas, as a spy on Hawkins. Practices, game film and an improbable impromptu parking lot game with Hawkins convince Olcyzk that he’ll be humiliated on Sunday. After the coach tells the team he’ll keep working through cancer treatments in his pregame speech, Olzyck asks the coach, how do you keep working in the face of a more powerful opponent? The coach answers, “You just keep showing up. Guys like you and me, that’s all we can do.” Olczyk fails miserably throughout the game. But near the end of a shootout, he causes Hawkins to fumble. The Cougars recover, and get the winning touchdown. After the game, the coach hands Olczyk a game ball with, sotto voce, “You just keep showing up.”

That’s what it feels like it’s going to take for FIU to win this game. They’ll just have to keep showing up, keep staying around until a Louisville oopsy opens the door a sliver.

Otherwise, FIU faithful should pray for more of the kind of rain that’s been coming down all day. It’ll kill attendance, but also likely hurt the team that throws the ball better while bringing chaos. Chaos from the elements fuels many a big upset.

SATURDAY AFTERNOON LINE ALERT: And that might be why the line on this game has done a precipitous drop for one day -- from Louisville by 13 or 13.5 all week down to anywhere from 10.5 to 12. Bettors are watching this game after they took the books' lunch last year on this matchup by getting down heavily all week on FIU. END OF ALERT

Also, Louisville wants a piece of FIU. The score last year, 24-17, and the three big scoring plays masked how much FIU outmuscled Louisville on Louisville’s turf for long stretches. They got punked in their Papa John's house on national television and they remember.

FIU’s trailed by double-digits in each first half this season. Lousiville’s outscored opponents 76-21 in three first halves (that’s 25.3-7, even in the new math).

FIU’s been allowing 291.67 yards per game passing, 107th in the nation, and are 99th in pass efficiency defense. They’ve been having trouble with cohesion in the secondary. Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater’s throwing for 285.0 yards per game, and completing 81.8 percent of his passes. Louisville’s got it together – 10 different players caught passes last week against North Carolina.

Louisville’s averaging 4.23 per rush and that number gets dragged down by the 3.5 per rush the Cardinals put up against FCS punching bag Missouri State.

Looks as if this post should come with Lalo Schifrin them music.

Perhaps some tomfoolery in disguising coverages can throw Bridgewater off long enough for FIU’s pass rush to re-emerge from its year of slumber. But FIU doesn’t like to get too funky or too far from its scheme for fear of slowing down its athletes with too much thinking.

One of my least favorite things to hear is “run the ball well and keep the ball away from them.” That shrinks the number of possessions your defense must turn the trick of shutting down a high-powered offense. Maybe if you get some help from a bloated halftime, the juggernaut offense falls out of rhythm for a bit. Really, though, at some point, you still have to stop the other guys when they have the ball.

You hold it six minutes and get a field goal. They hold it two minutes and get a touchdown. Keep up that kind of trading and you’ll keep their offense off the field…for the fourth quarter, when it’s being rested with a garbage time lead.

On FIU’s first possession, if the defense wasn’t out for too long, FIU should give her the gun with the no-huddle. Louisville had some problems when North Carolina went scramble in the second half last week out of necessity (the Tar Heels trailed 36-7). If the defense got stuck out for several minutes, get a first down or two before going to it. Louisville’s 15th in rushing defense and allowing only 3.57 yards per rush, but look behind the numbers – against its two FBS opponents, they weren’t exactly The Great Wall. Kentucky ran for 93 yards on only 19 carries. Take out a 28 yards in Team Losses (two bad shotgun snaps) and the Heels got 75 yards on 15 carries, an even 5.0 per pop.

Everything for FIU works off the run. They learned – or had reaffirmed -- last week against UCF their chances of success without getting that going shrink to miniscule. What they can’t do is get so far behind they’re forced to become one-dimensional.

As I’ve written often, if you expected more from the offense overall so far, hey, we all have our fantasies. Jake Medlock, an inexperienced quarterback, has played one awful half out of six this year. It was in the game that set up as a problem, versus a good defense in its home opener, with a poor conceptual approach.

What’s gotten FIU in the hole each week are defense and special teams. Coaches not named Frank Beamer can live with special teams that don’t help you. People get fired over special teams that hurt you. Check out FIU’s track record so far on special teams.

Two of three games, they’ve given up points on special teams. Two of three games, a special teams turnover has led to an opposing touchdown. Two of three games, they’ve missed makeable field goals. And they’re 112th in net punting.


That can’t be the case tonight if FIU’s to have a chance.

I don’t know how much Louisville’s going to score. Not sure the Cardinals will score as often as they want. It feels like they’ll score as often as they need.

Call it 38-24, Louisville.

But that’s one black man’s opinion. I could be wrong.


During The Andy Slater Show portion of 640AM's FIU marathon Friday, sand volleyball coach Rita Buck-Crockett announced that FIU would be hosting a tournament in late March bringing in Georgia Tech and volleyball powerhouse Pepperdine. Pepperdine won the sand volleyball national championship last spring, sanctioned by the American Volleyball Coaches Association while the sport grows into a fully-sanctioned NCAA beast.

Buck-Crockett said the courts being constructed on campus would host dual meets, yet FIU's tournaments would be held on South Beach.


It's a date at 1-3 Stetson tonight for 5-1-1 FIU, which has a 20-3 lifetime record against Stetson. I like their chances of improving that.


Get it whatever way you can.

A South Alabama own goal off a failed clear of a Chelsea Leiva shot gave FIU a 1-0 win in its first Sun Belt match of the season and got the Panthers back to .500 (4-4-1) after a tough early season schedule.

Senior keeper Kaitlyn Savage got four saves in her fourth shutout of the season.


A tough season continued with a five-set loss (25-17, 24-26, 26-24, 20-25, 15-7) to Arkansas-Little Rock in FIU's home opener. For the 3-10 Panthers, senior Marija Prsa had 25 kills, tying a career high. Freshman Ashlee Hodgskin had 50 assists and 16 digs. Junior Brittany Spencer's five blocks were a team high.

The other Sun Belt Arkansas team, Arkansas State, comes in Sunday at 1 p.m.


August 30, 2012

Hurts so bad and not so bad; road soccer

Wide receiver Dominique Rhymes' deep bruise is healed enough for him to make the trip to Duke. Otherwise, FIU doesn't have any new injuries to those on the two-deep as they head for North Carolina Friday.

By the way, the line favoring Duke is down to 3 points. The house likes Duke, but the handicappers like FIU.


Blame my lack of inquisitiveness for getting beat by FIU Student Media on this one.

As the volleyball results came in during Isaac weekend, I noticed a lack of Jovana Bjelica in the accounts. I shrugged, figured she'd had a bad weekend and went back to grinding out other work while trying to keep things from getting homicidal among the Sunset Harbour shut-ins.

Bjelica, FIU's best hitter and probably best player, will be out four-to-six weeks with a broken hand suffered during warmups before the first match. The team heads up to the FSU Volleyball Invitational Friday and Saturday, facing the hosts, Georgia and Florida A&M. FIU beat FAMU last weekend after losing to Florida and Florida Gulf Coast.



Like volleyball, both the men and women get on the bus this weekend.

Friday, the men (1-0) are at North Florida and Sunday at Jacksonville (0-2). FIU beat North Florida (1-1) 2-1 last year at home.

The women (2-0) get Florida Gulf Coast Friday night and Florida (1-1-1), ranked No. 22 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Continental Tire poll, Sunday night. Florida tied annually strong North Carolina 0-0 and beat also annually strong Duke 3-2. FIU's unranked, but got votes in the South Region poll in which Florida's No. 2. Inexplicably, No. 1 in the nation Florida State and Miami get put in the Southeast region.

The Gulf Coast game is a rematch of a loss that typified FIU's early 2011 season. A 2-0 halftime lead turned into a 3-2 loss after three Gulf Coast goals in 12:23 of the second half.

Hoppin' on the bus reminds me...


August 25, 2012

Of Water & Watch Lists & Volleyball

This is why you do don't put off doing stuff when you can, as happened around here after Coyote 3 dogpaddled back home last night from what became Deutchsland Night at FIU men's soccer.

Let's say a water main near your building bursts one morning just because that's what water mains do occasionally. You have no running water in your crib, turning you into a high rise Okie, and your surrounding streets look like this.

Miami Beach-20120825-00697
That packed dishwasher that didn't get run the night before with the dishes in the sink that didn't get rinsed off? That shower you didn't take, though you already felt icky from pre-dawn to late night rippin' and runnin'? Those errands you declined to run the day before? Now all you can do is pull out the proverbial jug of wine, loaf of bread and jug of water (didn't do the pre-storm bathtub fill yet and your kidneys do not care...)

And blog about yet another watch list. The first Senior Bowl watch list includes FIU defensive end Tourek Williams, safety Johnathan Cyprien and offensive tackle Caylin Hauptmann. T.Y. Hilton was the first FIU player to be named to the Senior Bowl.


Eric Reyes started 12 games for FIU in goal last season. For Friday night's opener against Bryant, Reyes watched freshman Robin Spiegel, from Wipperfurth, Germany, get a three-save shutout win. Spiegel was a relatively late recruit, according to coach Kenny Arena, a June find. 

"At this point in the season, we started who we felt was doing the best," Arena said of the whole lineup. "Like I told the guys, it's game by game, practice by practice."

Spiegel's sophomore countryman, Quentin Albrecht, potted both FIU goals.


FIU sits at 1-2 after a four-set win against Florida A&M Saturday evening at the (big breath now) Campus USA Credit Union Invite in Gainesville.

Earlier in the day, the Panthers suffered a five-set loss to Florida Gulf Coast 25-23, 13-25, 25-17, 18-25, 15-12. Senior Marija Prsa compiled 25 kills while redshirt sophomore Jessica Egan racked up 25 assists. Hopefully, there's no three-knockdown rule if FIU loses this afternoon to Florida A&M.

Friday, freshman Lucia Castro, out of Puerto Rico's Caribbean School, led FIU with nine kills and Egan had 21 helpers in FIU's 3-0 (25-21, 25-14, 25-12) loss to No. 18 Florida. FIU actually led 19-17 in the first before a 5-0 run swung the game.


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