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.


  

May 06, 2010

A Day As Dazzlers Audition Judge

Vanessa Had the honor last Saturday of being a guest judge for the 2010-11 Golden Dazzlers auditions and it was a very entertaining and unique experience where I even ended up making a nomination for 2010-11 Dazzlers captain. More on that later.

When I arrived at U.S. Century Bank Arena last Saturday morning I was greeted by this year's lovely Dazzler captain Vanessa (left) -- Sports Illustrated.com Cheerleader of the Week last October -- who informed me to go meet the other judges in a classroom on the south side of the arena.

In room 117, I met the four other judges: the Dazzlers coach (who happens to be a former Dazzler) and 3 other former Dazzlers -- one who is currently a Miami Dolphins cheerleader. No, it was not Kelly who sent her photo to the GPP earlier this year and was posted on a February blog. Instead, it was another former Dazzler, who is also now a Dolphins cheerleader and has a sister -- another former Dazzler -- who is currently a Miami Heat dancer. [For audition purposes, the judges names will not be mentioned].

However, to keep track of the 4 judges on this post, we'll use nicknames: Daz coach [for the Dazzlers coach], Dolphin [for Dolphins cheerleader], Pilates [for judge who does pilates] and Simona Cowell [for theSt judge who said she is tough with her scores].

Talking to Dolphin, she mentioned something to me that stuck in my mind as I judged the auditions later that afternoon. She said that after going through four years of Dazzlers training, the process to become a Dolphins cheerleader was NOT overwhelming. Daz coach runs a detailed, tough program.

Daz coach explained to me that since I didn't know any of the Dazzlers dance moves -- which is completely true -- that I would only judge the ladies in 2 categories: 1) Overall appearance and 2) Energy and Performance quality. Such as Stephanie's (right) dance energy was a 10 out of 10 score.

My scores would count as a maximum of 20 bonus points per auditioner. The scores that I could hand out for the two categories ranged from 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest mark.

Tw The other judges would give scores for 9 different dance categories in addition to the 2 categories I was scoring.

Was also informed by the ladies that after we judged all of the auditioners, we would reconvene in room 117 to go over the choices for the 24 Golden Dazzlers that would make up the 2010-11 Dazzlers dance team.

At Saturday's audition, 43 ladies tried out -- including members from last year's team because as Daz coach put it you have to earn your spot on the team each year. See what I mean about running a detailed, tough program.

Four other ladies tried out last Wednesday, because they could not make the Saturday audition. In that group of 4 were the twins (Alex and Michelle, left), who were also honored as SI.com's Cheerleaders of the Week this past season. They made the 2010-11 team --  if they didn't I would have launched anWn investigation.

It was now time to go to center court at the Bank where the judges' table stood. The Daz coach sat in the middle and began the process. I was seated next to Simona Cowell.

Vanessa, who graduated from FIU this past semester, was in charge of leading the prospective Dazzlers in a routine that they had to learn for the audition. Winnie (right) learned it just fine and had a dazzling performance.

By the way, Vanessa will be trying out for the Miami Dolphins cheerleading squad next year. Just give her the aqua and orange already.

Back to the routine the ladies had to learn. I counted that this particular dance consisted of 24 different parts. I'm not sure how the heck these ladies learned the 24 parts in such a short period of time, but they did. Now I consider myself pretty good with memory things, but I couldn't remember those 24 moves in a time span of 15 minutes like these ladies had to.

Sa All I remember from the routine -- besides the same song played over and over again "Sweat" by Casely -- was the hair turn move such as Sara (left) flawlessly executed on Saturday.

After the dance routine was taught by Vanessa -- who would be a first-ballot inductee into the Dazzlers Hall of Fame that I am proposing be added inside the future FIU Alumni Center on the east side of FIU Stadium -- the ladies were ready to perform the memorized dance and then show off the additional 9 dance moves for the judges.

These 9 dance moves looked very difficult to do. Among the moves: Leg hold & Tilt -- where you hold your leg up in the air and tilt your body -- ouch!! However, Christina (right), a rookie, made it look real easy.

There was the Toe Touch -- where you jump in the air and touch both your toes. And another was the A LaCh Second turns -- where the ladies make two turns on each side. Got dizzy just looking at that. Another rookie Christina (below, left) didn't have a problem with the A La Seconds.

After the process was over, each judge grabbed the microphone and introduced herself or in my case -- himself -- and gave a little speech to the ladies. One of the things I mentioned to the ladies was that I could never do any of the moves they performed, nor could I learn 24 moves for a dance routine in just 15 minutes. I also told them that they were to be commended for coming out and auditioning.

Chr Simona was true to form handing out 2s, 3s and 4s as I looked at her scoresheet. But to her credit, she did have some 8s and 9s as well when she thought one of the girls deserved the score.

Simona says her scoring system is tough love. By the way, she got a kick out of being nicknamed Simona Cowell.

Although I won't list here every score I handed out, I will tell you that I gave many 8s, 9s and 10s. The lowest score I gave out was a 5 for energy.

However only one auditioner received perfect 10s from me and that is my nomination for 2010-2011 Dazzlers captain. The GPP endorses Amanda (below, right) for Golden Dazzlers captain this year. I'm Pete Pelegrin and I approve this message.

At the end of the day, 24 Dazzlers [12 veterans and 12 rookies] made the first cut among the 47 thatAma auditioned [Wed. & Sat.]. The team has one more cut at the end of July when they take the Dazzlers's poster photo. That's when the final cut is made. Was told if you are in the poster, then you made the team.

During the summer, Daz coach and the team vote on team leaders -- who are the candidates to be captain of the squad in the upcoming season. The captain will be chosen right before the 2010-11 FIU sports season starts.

Among the 24 Dazzlers: there are 3 Christinas, 2 Stephanies, 2 Saras, 2 Jennifers, and there are some interesting names in the group such as: Akyla, Madonna and Fancesca

Had a ton of fun going through the process and I would like to thank the Dazzlers for the invitation, Daz coach and the 3 other former Dazzlers/judges for their insight into the auditions and of course to all the Dazzlers auditioners for their hard work and memorization skills.

Here is the current team photo (below) -- minus the twins who were not Team there for this photo on Saturday.


 

 

All Dazzlers audition photos taken by official Dazzlers photographer Alex J. Hernandez

 

April 30, 2010

New Hoop Recruit; LIVE Baseball Blog Saturday

Will be at the ballpark Saturday evening LIVE BLOGGING with you good people for the 2nd game of the 3-gameAbron series between FIU and ULM. Will be on-line at 5:54 p.m. First pitch is at 6 p.m.

Until then, whether you are out barking with your pup at the FIU softball park on Saturday afternoon or waiting for the Golden Dazzlers audition blog, here is some FIU hoops recruiting news to tie you over.

4-star power forward Devonta Abron (right) could possibly commit as early as next week to play for FIU in 2011. Abron, a 6-7, 200-pounder from Dallas Seagoville High in Texas, is ranked as the No. 12 power forward in the nation for 2011 and No. 64 player overall for the 2011 class.

Abron is also being recruited by Texas A&M, Arkansas, Virginia Tech and Marquette.

Will let you know on here if and when DA says he will become a Panther.

April 28, 2010

GW Ties All-Time FIU Hit Streak; More FIU in NFL

Gwit With his double off the center field wall this afternoon in Sessions Stadium in Jacksonville, FIU third baseman Garrett Wittels tied former Panthers outfielder Anthony Hicks for the all-time FIU hitting streak at 35 consecutive games.

With the hit, GW (left, thanks Sam Lewis photo) also broke the Sun Belt Conference's all-time hitting streak record. GW had been tied with former FIU third baseman Bryan Pullin at 34 games. When Hicks played at FIU, the Panthers were not members of the Sun Belt yet.

GW looks to own the all-time FIU mark on Friday by trying to get another base knock against ULM.

I didn't give you guys a play-by-play on GW's at-bats today, because I figure I was playing with the baseball gods yesterday and sure enough GW went 0 for 3 before Tuesday's game was cancelled due to rain.

As the old saying goes: "You don't [flock] with a streak." Of course, flock is not the exact word that goes in there, but this is a family blog.

ARMOND THE LION; SPOON A BENGAL OR SAINT?

Former FIU defensive lineman Armond Willis (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) has been invited to workout with the Detroit Lions. Nice to hearAw as Armond showed up at FIU from Tennessee as a walk-on 3 years ago and now is going to get his chance in the NFL.

Traded e-mails with Jeremiah Weatherspoon's agent today and he says Spoon will workout for the Cincinnati Bengals this week and possibly the New Orleans Saints next week. Should Spoon sign with the Bengals, then obviously there is no need to visit the Super Bowl champions off of Bourbon Street. Thanks, Jsuarez88.

Dog Still nothing new on Scotty Bryant or Carlos Munera, who both should get some NFL looks in my opinion.

BARK AT THE SOFTBALL PARK

The FIU softball team is hosting a "Bark at the Park" for their doubleheader against ULM on Saturday at 2 p.m. All dogs get in with their owner for $3 and water and pooper scooper will be provided.

DAZZLERS AUDITIONS

While dogs are in the stands on Saturday at the softball game, beauties will be auditioning to beAud part of the Golden Dazzlers squad for the 2010-11 FIU sports season. I've been invited by the Dazzlers to watch the tryouts on Saturday afternoon and will have photos for you on here next week.

April 15, 2010

More Dazzlers -- SI Cheerleaders of the Week; Pizza, Pizza Bowl

 Dazztwins Michelle and Alex are the latest Golden Dazzlers to be honored as Sports Illustrated's Cheerleaders of the Week on si.com this week.

Click HERE for the twin sisters SI photo gallery.

The ladies follow in the tradition of Dazzler captain Vanessa, (right) who was named SI Cheerleader of the Week last October.

In case you missed Vanessa's SI photo gallery on the GPP last October, clickVanessa HERE



PIZZA, PIZZA

The Sun Belt Conference secured a secondary tie-in with the Little Caesers Pizza Bowl in Detroit.

A third bowl-eligible Sun Belt team would be the first alternate should the Big Ten not have a bowl-eligible team.The Pizza Bowl, which used to be known as the Motor City Bowl, features a Big Ten team vs. a MAC team and is played at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions.

The agreement starts with this coming season and runs until 2013. With the Pizza Bowl, the SBC now has 3 bowl tie-ins.

Pizza The Sun Belt champ goes to the New Orleans Bowl and the second bowl-eligible SBC team goes to the GMAC Bowl or they could flip flop as SBC champ Troy did last season so that they could play a "home" game in the GMAC in Alabama while Middle Tennessee went to Bourbon Street. All 3 bowl games are on ESPN.

NOT THE BIG EASY

Speaking of Bourbon Street, the Panthers (19-14) have a huge 3-game series against New Orleans at home this weekend.

FIU played against Bethune Cookman on Wednesday night like it was Fat Tuesday the day before the game. The Panthers showed no energy, scored just 3 runs (when they average 8.2 runs per game) and allowed 5 runs after 2 were out in the decisive 3rd inning.

The Privateers -- playing in their final season in the Sun Belt before dropping down to Division III this July --Ja arrive at FIU with a SBC worst 2-13 record.

But like our old friend Joaquin Andujar reminded us when an undemanned FIU closed out the crosstown series against the Coral Gables school with a win (below right, Ryan Mollica, Jorge Castillo and the rest of the Panthers, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) in 2008 --  "You can sum up baseball in 1 word: youneverknow"

UNO came to Miami last season and scored 25 runs to take 2 out of 3 games from FIU.Fiubase

FIU is 6th in the conference with a 6-6 mark, but have 4 other teams right behind them within 3 games or less. Top 8 teams make the SBC tourney in late May.

The Panthers pitchers are little banged up with ace Scott Rembisz having to leave last week's start against Middle Tennessee with shoulder and forearm tightness. He is expected back on the hill Friday night.

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 06, 2010

Blue/Gold Preview

Helmet FIU will kickoff the annual Blue/Gold Spring Game on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. and while most of you will be at work -- unless you get George Peterson to call your boss for you or if your boss is Michael Scott -- don't worry the GPP has got you covered.

The GPP will channel its best Al Michaels and deliver you a play-by-play LIVE BLOG from FIU Stadium beginning with a 2-minute pre-blog show at 3:28 p.m. on Wednesday afternoon.

To get you ready for the spring game whether you are planning on attending or will follow through cyberspace, here's what to look for:

BATTLE LINES

Like last season, the continued development of the offensive and defensive lines will determine how successful FIU will be this coming season.

This spring it's pretty much been a draw when the two lines have gone at it. If anything the D-line might haveMattox a slight edge on the O-line right now. Of course, when looking at any position this spring you have to factor in the injured players not participating and the newly-signed Panthers that won't be on campus until July.

One key cog to the O-line that has missed this spring is Rupert Bryan recovering from a knee injury. He started non-contact drills late in the spring and is expected to be 100 percent come fall camp.

Tourek Williams and Andrew Mattox (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) have carried their strong freshmen seasons over into this spring. Keep an eye on No. 97 and No. 93 on Wednesday as well as James Jones, who has recovered nicely from his two surgeries.

If you're at FIU Stadium see who controls the line of scrimmage on Wednesday.

Outside of Brad Serini and Cedric Mack, there aren't any other seniors on the O-line. Same thing goes for the D-line outside of senior Thatcher Starling.

TIGHTENING THE OFFENSIVE STRENGTH

With Dudley LaPorte sidelined this spring with a foot injury, Colt Anderson and Jonathan Faucher have taken Ty advantage of the extra reps.

As we saw last season in limited duty (1-handed TD catch vs. ULM) before he broke his foot, DLP will be a big part of the O this season. However, the emergence this spring of CA and JF have given the Panthers another pair of offensive weapons.

CA, in particular, has had a terrific spring. The two tight ends appear ready to join what is FIU's strength -- receivers. And the receivers have gotten stronger. If you haven't been out to spring practice this season, take a look at the new muscles on Wayne Times and T.Y. Hilton (left, thanks AJH photo). Times stood out in the first scrimmage.

Another receiver who has had a good spring is Ariel Martinez. The walk-on from Coral Park started making some tough catches last fall.

YOUNG AND YOUNGER

Some of the heralded young defensive players that didn't see much playing time last season have been getting more playing time on D this spring and have shown some of their potential.Mars

Linebacker Pooh Bear Mars (right), defensive back Emmanuel Souarin and safety Terrance Taylor have had their moments this spring. Walk-on defensive back Jose Cheseborough has also made some plays.

Aaron Davis also continued his strong finish to last season and can be a pass rushing threat this coming season. FIU needs to get more pressure on the QB this season.

I think the Panthers have really taken to new DC Geoff Collins and you'll see a new energy with the FIU defenders this season.

One area where the Panthers need more of the younger players to emerge is along the D-line to go along with Tourek and Mattox.

Quarterback Wayne Younger might be the Panther that has shown the most improvement this spring. Besides looking like he's taken to the weight room, WY has more zip on his passes and as usual can move with the ball in his hands. WY might be making the starting QB decision a lot tougher on MC and offensive coordinator Scott Satterfield later this August.

Fiu PANTHER PAWSE

Apaw Pi Kappa Alpha and the FIU Football Team are organizing the Kendall Berry Memorial Flag Football Tournament.
 
The 7-on-7 tournament will be taking place at FIU Stadium at 9:00 AM on Sunday, April Kb 11. Teams will consist of 7- 10 players each. Registration costs are $10 a player, with 100% of the proceeds going to support the remembrance of Kendall Berry through a memorial and banner at FIU Stadium, and possibly an FIU scholarship.

For more information you can contact: Francis Aguilar (Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity Philanthropy Chairman) at (305) 542-8343 or fagui007@fiu.edu

Q&A

Jsuarez88: Pete, can you help me undertstand why they wouldnt play this game on a fri-sun??? Why would they do it mid-week at 3pm??

PP: Because of the 30-day window each college team has to complete spring practice. Also about 28 players have classes or exams on Wednesday night so they had to move the game up to the afternoon.
 

April 05, 2010

Spring Game Time Change

Clock The FIU Blue/Gold Spring Game is still on this Wednesday, April 7, but now the game will be played at 3:30 p.m. at FIU Stadium.

The game has been moved up two and a half hours, because a lot of the players have class schedule conflicts.

Will have a LIVE BLOG of the spring game right here on Wednesday. Will be on-line at 3:28 p.m.

BASEBALL MID-SEASON

It was Opening Day in the major leagues today. FIU reached the mid-point of its 2010 season afterRaiko Sunday's 15-6 win over Louisiana in which Raiko Alfonso (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) homered from both sides of the plate and drove in 6 runs. RA likes Cajun cooking. He had 12 RBI in the 3-game series.

The Panthers stand at 18-10 heading into their home game against Florida Gulf Coast on Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. Right-hander Daniel DeSimone is expected to start Tuesday despite pitching two scoreless innings of relief on Sunday. DD will be looking for his third straight quality start after having won the last two against Jacksonville and Southern Utah.

Will have a mid-season look at the Panthers later this week on the GPP.

DAZZLERS VARIETY SHOW

Got a text from the Dazzlers today and some of the pictures from the ladies appearances at FIU BaseballDazzlers games this past weekend.

I know you'll probably look straight at the pictures before reading this part so here goes: the Dazzlers will be holding their "Variety Show" on Saturday, April 17 at 7 p.m. at U.S. Century Bank Arena. Waiting for the ladies to provide more Dazzling details on their "Variety Show". For now here are the Dazzlers at FIU Baseball this past weekend.


 

April 01, 2010

2nd Spring Scrimmage

The Panthers went through their second spring scrimmage on Thursday afternoon at FIU Stadium.

The scrimmage like all practices this week was closed to the public and media, but after speaking to someTw sources, here is some of what happened during the scrimmage.

The defense got after it with four sacks. Tourek Williams, (right) who continues to shine this spring, got a sack on one play and a tackle for loss on another. Was told TW really stood out on Thursday.

Little Canada, James Jones -- recovering nicely from off-season surgeries -- and Andrew Mattox had the other sacks.

Was told on his sack, Mattox chased the down the quarterback across the field showing off some of the quickness that earned him Volusia County Defensive Player of the Year two years ago. Mattox is turning into one of the better walk-on additions in the program's 8-year history.

Wayne Younger (left) got the majority of snaps on Thursday, because Wesley Carroll had to leave early for a class. WC threw just one pass and completed it for nearly 40 yards to Ariel Martinez.

Wy WY continued his strong spring going 15 of 23 for 168 yards and 2 TDs.

Among WY's top throws on Thursday, he connected with T.Y. Goodbye for a 38-yard TD. WY also found T.Y. for another good gain and Ty Frierson as well.

No shocker here, Goodbye led all receivers with 6 catches for 90 yards. Yeah, No. 4 is pretty good.

WY's other TD came on a short pass to emerging tight end Colt Anderson. That's CA's 2nd TD catch in as many scrimmages.

Although from what one source said, CA did not have to make his video game move to score this time, unlike the XBox move he made on his 38-yard TD in the first scrimmage.

Trenard Turner led the running game with the only rushing score from inside the 10-yard line.

From what another source tells me, after the offense did its work, the defense took over again to end theWf scrimmage.

Word is defensive back Emmanuel Souarin again made tackles for loss and played good pass coverage. Defensive back Antwoine Bell had a pass deflection.

Linebacker Winston Fraser, (right) healthy again, ended the scrimmage with an interception that he almost returned for a TD.

From what I was told, Fraser played very aggressive Thursday and looked as quick as ever. WF is one LB that can really be a difference maker on this defense in the upcoming season. You all saw what he did when he was on the field last season.

Logo PANTHER PAWSE

Aaapaw LIVE GAME BLOG is back tommorrow (Friday) and all through the 3-game series this weekend between FIU and Louisiana. Will be on-line at 6:54 p.m. tommorrow. First pitch is at 7 p.m.

While the Panthers will be playing baseball Friday. The Golden Dazzlers will be playing babeball as they make their baseball debut at Friday's game.....The photos -- such as the one on the right never get old.

Aaapaw No word yet on the spring game. But it could be sometime in the middle to latter part of next week.Dazz

Q&A

FIU observer: Is Jonathon Jackson still on the team?

PP: Yes he is and he's made some plays this spring.

c-UM: Dont sell us short now Pete, we have 16 wins, not 15

PP: Yes, FIU has 16 wins. My mistake.

SouthPaw: Pete, what's the status of Edgar Theliar and Derrick Clark? Are either expected to be back for Fall practice?

PP: No, neither will be at FIU.

You Got Gold: Hey Pete, Could you update us on the McVay and Leith injuries?

PP: Leith is still expected back at some point this season to give FIU another lefty out of the pen. McVay is not pitching this season as he recovers from elbow surgery.

Thanks to Alex J. Hernandez photo gallery for pictures

Time for a spring poll question:

March 25, 2010

On the Sun Belt Road

After a sweep of Jacksonville, FIU hits the Sun Belt road for a 3-game series against UALR in Little Rock starting on Friday night where the Panthers will play on a field that is half artificial turf/half grass.

Hogan Field has a fake grass infield and a real grass outfield which could make for a very high-scoringMm offensive weekend. I stopped by there when I was in Little Rock for the Sun Belt Basketball Tournament earlier this month and the ballpark is like a band box.

The Panthers took 2 of 3 from Troy in their first conference series of the season last weekend and now take on another Trojan team in the UALR Trojans. FIU has enjoyed success vs. UALR in the last 3 years winning 6 of 9 games. 

Last season, FIU won 2 of 3 and the series became Panthers cleanup hitter Mike Martinez's (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) personal showcase as the then-freshman went 8 for 13 with 3 HR and 10 RBI. Tim Jobe also had a good series going 4 for 12 with a HR, 3 RBI. Lefty Corey Polizzano has 2 wins vs. UALR and has struck out 24 batters in 21 1/3 innings vs. the Trojans.

UALR is 13-9 and 1-5 in the Sun Belt. The Trojans were swept by South Alabama and lost 2 of 3 games to the Hooters. Of course, FIU can't go into Little Rock thinking it will walk over UALR, because as we all know pitching is thin for the Panthers this season.

Since being swept by Rutgers, FIU has won 6 of its last 7 games and outside of that hiccup against Troy last Sunday, the pitching has been coming around.

LIVE BLOGGING AGAIN

Live Will be at Saturday's scrimmage and have a story for you in Sunday's paper as well as a blog recapping the Panthers 2nd spring scrimmage.

LIVE GAME BLOGS return next week. Will be LIVE BLOGGING from Wednesday's Blue/Gold Spring Game. The spring game starts at 7 p.m. You can log on here at 6:54 p.m.

Also, will have LIVE GAME BLOGS and game stories of all 3 FIU baseball games next weekend vs. Louisiana from FIU Baseball Stadium.

DAZZLING BABEBALL

Break out a permanent Sharpie marker and write down these dates: April 2, 3 and 16. Those are the first 3Dazz FIU babeball games where the Golden Dazzlers will be performing.

Will have play-by-play of the Dazzlers (right, thanks AJH photo) performance on the LIVE BLOG. In the April 16 game, FIU hosts New Orleans in the Privateers farewell season from the Sun Belt.

Will have an update for you from spring practice in Friday's blog. And You Got Gold, I will get to your question then as well.

March 24, 2010

As Promised...1st Spring Scrimmage

We're down to 5 spring practices before the Spring Game. FIU will hold its second spring scrimmage this Saturday at 12 noon at FIU Stadium. A 12 p.m. scrimmage?? Could it be to get a feel for opening the season Sept. 11 at high noon in 90-degree weather against the northern-based Rutgers?? Something to think about.

Harden So to get you ready for Saturday's scrimmage, here's what went on in the Panthers first spring scrimmage back on March 12.

A HARDEN DAY'S WORK

Two of the most important units on the Panthers team this fall will be the offensive and defensive lines, because both are relatively young and inexperienced. In the scrimmage, each line got the upper hand on the other during different times in the 100-play workout.

The O-line carved up some nice holes for the FIU RBs, but some of the FIU RBs made their own holes such as newcomer Jeremiah Harden.

In what might be a sign of things to come later this fall, Harden (left) had a punishing 22-yard touchdown run in where he broke three different tackles. On 2 of the tackles, JH powered through 2 pairs of defenders. JH doesn't look like a big, bruising back, but as former high school teammate and current FIU teammate Wesley Carroll put it: "Jeremiah will run into a pile of players and when you think he's stopped, Jeremiah will pop out of the pile and break one."

On this TD run, JH did not encounter a pile, but on 2 different occassions it appeared JH was going down. Instead he broke free. The run brought to mind when Darriet Perry carried three Hooters defenders on his back for 13 yards in the 2009 Don Shula Bowl at Dolphin Stadium. JH finished the scrimmage with 6 carries for 35 yards.

Speaking of DP, he had some tough running too. DP looks a lot lighter than last season and my 2 cents think that will help him more this season. DP also made a nifty 1-handed catch on a pass thrown behindTimes him.

THE TIMES IS NOW

Wayne Times (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) was the featured receiver in the scrimmage as T.Y. Goodbye sat out with bumps and bruises -- nothing serious. He is expected back for Saturday. Tight end Dudley LaPorte will miss the remainder of spring ball with a small fracture in his foot. DLP is wearing a boot and should be healed by the time camp rolls around in August.

Times showed some sticky hands and his new muscles helped him break some tackles that he probably does not break last season. WT led all receivers with 7 catches for 44 yards.

Although the O-line paved the way for 145 rushing yards on 27 carries (5.4 yards per carry), they had a couple of false start penalties that were bug-a-boos last year.

Future FIU O-lineman David Delsoin and future FIU QB Jake Medlock took in the scrimmage.

GAITOR, BEAR, and CHESE

Sound like maybe a Cajun dish? Nah, just some of the defensive standouts in the scrimmage. And that's how you spell chese for this particular post.

The defense got going once the offense entered the red zone.

Kasey Smith had a sack and defensive back Dez Johnson, who is back after getting a medical redshirt from last season, broke up a pass in the end zone that ended the possession on 4th down.

We won't really know how much the D has improved under new DC Geoff Collins until they start playing against an offense with a different color jersey and helmet, but one thing that has been prevalent through spring ball is that the D looks more physical than last season.

Gaitor DB Emmanuel Souarin, who is having a good spring, had a big hit to stop a short pass. Safety Jonathan Cyprien is not making it comfortable for receivers to go over the middle.

Anthony Gaitor (left, thanks AJH photo) is healthy and he's shown it on pass D. He knocked away two passes.

The Pooh Bear Mars you have been waiting for is starting to be unleashed working at middle linebacker. PBM broke through the O-line and got the tackle for loss on a screen pass. You could tell on the play that PBM has some quickness.

Walk-on DB Jose Cheseborough had a sack. Everytime I look over at No. 27, he seems to be making a play.

Linebacker Aaron Davis made 2 consecutive plays: making a tackle in the backfield for a loss and on the next play, AD broke up a short pass.

CAN'T CORRAL THE COLT

The quarterbacks played pretty even in the scrimmage. Wayne Younger was 14 of 28 for 100 yards. WC was 5 of 15 for 75 yards and a TD.

WC connected with Colt Anderson (right) for the only passing TD on a pass down the middle. CA made the playCa when he faked out 2 defenders on his run into the end zone. The move got the rest of the team hooting and hollering on the sidelines. The TD went for 38 yards.

Keep your eye on Anderson, because he can be a big part of this offense. He has the size, hands and athleticism to play tight end at the Division I level.

Yes, DLP is a huge part of this team's offense, but CA is developing as a solid tight end and you can't forget about Jonathan Faucher and Joey Harris, who have become 2 big bodies that can catch the football.

Toward the end of the scrimmage, Kendall Berry broke off a 23-yard run. KB led all RBs with 54 yards on 6 carries.

The scrimmage ended with the D stopping the O inside the 5-yard line. Cyprien had a pass breakup and redshirt freshman Terrance Taylor deflected the pass on 4th down to end the day.

After the D denied the O, DC Collins dove into his defense's celebration pile.

Logo PANTHER PAWSE

Aaapaw Thanks again to all you good people for the kind words. Let's get to your questions:

Q&A

alt7787: Since you're back I've got a question on top of my L.A. Fitness one, but answering that one is at your discretion. Haha. Josh Johnson has been somewhat weak this spring training, is it anything to be legitimately concerned about or will Josh be good to go opening day?

PP: The L.A. Fitness reference in the previous blog was about a husband and wife who yelled from theJj second floor of that gym asking me where have I been for the past week.

Josh Johnson (right) will be fine. Most every player has a bad outing during the spring. The Marlins have bigger concerns than JJ such as who will be their 3-4-5 starting pitchers and will Leo Nunez hold up as the closer. It could be a long season if the Marlins starting pitchers struggle early like they did last season and wear out the bullpen.

gpantera: In order to write informative FIU Blogs, will the Herald allow you to cover FIU in person by attending practices, games, travel with team, etc?

PP: I will be at games. We're still ironing out the schedule as far as how the beat will be covered between me and TBA or his cousin TBD. You'll keep getting the daily blogs on here that have won Oscars, Tonys, Grammys, Emmys and Espys and there will be times when I'll also be covering on the print side.

chrisfiu: On a side note, great to hear the Dazzlers will also be at the baseball games. Will the dates be given out in advance?

PP: I'm going to get more info for you on when the Dazzlers (left, thanks AJH photo) will be performing at baseball games. Maybe they will break out new baseball outfits. Just not the baggy throwbacks the baseball team wears for Sunday home games.

Dazz Gooch7: PETE: Since there is ONLY one week till the Spring Game will the Herald and FIU advertise the game so we can have a good turn out.

PP: I'll find out more for you about what FIU is planning for the Spring Game.

ThePerfectFan: OMG it is so good to have you back PP!! I want to ask a question about pitching for the FIU Baseball? Why do all the pitchers start such a wonderful season and all of a sudden they start falling like flies in such a short time? Are they been overworked, not given them enough confidence? Given them too many innings to pitch? What is it can someone please explain?

PP: The lack of depth on the FIU pitching staff is one reason. FIU has to manage the way it uses its pitchers carefully this season, because whether it was losing 2 of its top pitchers (Ebert, Mejia) to the major leagues or injured pitchers (Garcia, McVay, Leith) and another not being eligible (Dodds) the Panthers are playing without a full staff this season. That's the hand they were dealt and you try and make the best of it.

I don't think it's a case of pitchers not having confidence, but sometimes they pitch a little more this season, because of the lack of depth. And at times it has worked fine such as Daniel DeSimone (right, thanks AJH photo) pitching a complete game last week and giving FIU 7 innings in Tuesday's win vs. Jacksonville -- both outings helped the FIU bullpen get some much needed rest. At other times, the opponents catch up to FIU's lack of depthDd such as last weekend vs. Troy and hot-swinging Rutgers from 2 weeks ago. It's going to be interesting to see how FIU fares down the stretch against a tough-hitting Sun Belt where 14-12 games can be the norm as the weather gets hotter and as the season heads down the stretch.

*BTW, FIU is not changing its colors to green and white, what DD is wearing in the photo on the right is the green hats and socks the Panthers wore on March 18 vs. Southern Utah in celebration of St. Patrick's Day.

josh: Pete anything new about the Norwegian bball player Torgrim Sommerfeldt? I know you mentioned a few weeks back about him possibly coming to play?

PP: Nothing new on Torgrim. However, there is another top player that might be popping up on FIU's radar. Need to double check what I'm hearing before posting on here. Let's just say if all of Isiah's commits and the players he is recruiting end up signing with FIU, then you might be watching the 2011-2012 All-Sun Belt First Team wearing FIU across their chests and playing at the Bank. Stay tuned.

March 22, 2010

Hello Again

Great to be back from an unexpected spring break. Thanks to all you good people for your support through your e-mails, letters, texts, yells across L.A. Fitness and yells across FIU Baseball Stadium. Good to see the enthusiasm and energy on this blog has not waned despite the 1-week absence. Hell, even CrazyCane sent me an encouragingRak e-mail and wrote to the editors, go figure?? I don't care what that dude writes on here, because I'll bet you he secretly wears blue and gold despite his rants.

Anyhow, there was a Herald personnel decision made regarding the FIU beat that really would be a waste of 5 minutes of your life and my life for me to explain to you good people. The end result is that I'm still here in your cyber world and we missed plenty from the FIU sporting world last week on this blog so let's get to it.

CHRISTMAS SEASON DRAWING NEAR AT FIU

Rakeem Christmas -- the No. 1 center in the nation -- visited FIU this past weekend and from talking to people close to the visit....Christmas (right) could come early in November for FIU basketball. There has been no verbal commit yet from RC, but from what I've been told it's looking pretty good for the Panthers to land the U.S.'s top center. FIU is competing with Oklahoma, Texas, Florida and Georgetown for RC. Also, it's not a bad sign at all that RC's aunt was at a couple of FIU basketball games this season cheering on the Panthers from the stands at the Bank.

CALLING ALL CLOSERS

Berko Big blow to the already pitching-thin Panthers with the loss of closer Bryam Garcia. BG has an elbow injury and is out for at least a month. He was wearing a big black brace on his right arm on Sunday just like Paul McCall wore last season when he hurt his elbow. BG was lights out when he took to the mound in theCardenas 9th inning this season.

Look for Eric Berkowitz -- who has been FIU's most consistent reliever this season -- and freshman Alberto Cardenas (right, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo) to share the closing duties. Berko (left, thanks AJH photo) has done a solid, steady job in middle relief this season. AC has got closer's stuff -- a lively fastball and a nasty breaking ball that might just be the best on the team.

But FIU has to get more consistency in the middle innings from its relievers if the Panthers want to get to that elusive regional this season. As we have seen from the first 20 games, FIU can hit with anyone, but its bullpen and at times the starting pitching has to be better. Sunday's 14-12 loss to Troy when the Trojans went for 2 instead of the extra point was a typical Sunday Sun Belt Conference game where both teams ran out of pitching and it turned into a slo-pitch softball game. The Trojans just got a few more outs late than the Panthers and that was the difference.

FIU is back on the diamond on Tuesday for a 2-game series with Jacksonville at FIU Baseball Stadium. The Dolphins were a regional team from last season and are no mid-week patsies, bettys or alices for that matter. FirstBueller pitch Tuesday is at 6 p.m.

Wednesday's game is at 3 p.m. According to the Mayan calendar Wednesday's game falls on "National Get the Hell Early Out of Work Day". Here's an excuse you could use: my 89-year-old aunt is flying into town and she has a phobia of riding in taxis so I have to go pick her up at the airport. Or just tell the boss you're about to vomit and need to go home.

Unconfirmed rumor they will be handing out DVDs of "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" at the Stadium on Wednesday.

Actually, the real reason for the 3 p.m. start is that JU has a 9-hour bus ride back home so they asked for an early start time. JU will return the favor when FIU visits April 27-28. The series finale for that one is a 3 p.m. start as well.

There WILL NOT be a LIVE GAME BLOG of Tuesday's game between FIU and JU. With the new Herald personnel decision, we're still trying to figure out when the LIVE GAME BLOGS will resume. As soon as I have an answer for you I will post it on here.

DAZZLING ON THE DIAMOND

If the FIU pen needs some help they could get it from the Golden Dazzlers distracting the opposing batters. Been told FIU's finest (left, in their black outfits for a halftime show, thanks AJH photo) will perform at select Panthers baseball games later this season. So now you get Dazzlers all through the FIU sports season.

Dazz BETTER LATE THAN NEVER

Check the next post on Tuesday and I will have the details of the 1st FIU football spring scrimmage that occurred 2 weeks ago.

The Panthers are scheduled to hold their second scrimmage on Saturday morning. The FIU Spring Game is next Wednesday, March 31 at 7 p.m. at FIU Stadium.

March 06, 2010

FIU vs. Denver LIVE HOOPS BLOG

HOT SPRINGS, Arkansas -- Welcome to Summit Arena and the 2010 Sun Belt Conference Tournament.Dance

Will be LIVE BLOGGING later tonight about 9:43 p.m. A little update in this afternoon's play: The FIU ladies lost to North Texas. The Hooters men's team lost to South Alabama.

But the biggest loss today here in Hot Springs was Dazzler Vanessa being cheated out of a dance contest title.

The halftime show of the FIU women's game was a "So You Think You Can Dance?" contest which had Vanessa going against some guy from North Texas.

The judges -- wearing green shirts -- gave sympathy votes to the Mean Green guy. That's Vanessa on the right raising her arms after she finished her routine with the thought that she won. The crowd and myself also thought she won. (Thanks to Sun Belt photographer Tom Ewart for photo)

Be back later tonight for FIU's first round game against Denver with the winner playing against Middle Tennessee on Sunday night at 10 p.m.

The Panthers lost to the Pioneers 59-53 earlier this season in the Mile High City. FIU will look to even the season series and bounce Denver from the SBC tourney tonight.

February 26, 2010

No. 1 Center in Nation To Visit FIU

Christmas is in March for FIU. We should know later this summer if the Panthers get to open the presentRakeem_christmas that is on coach Isiah Thomas's Christmas wish list.

The nation's No. 1 center for 2011 -- Rakeem Christmas -- will visit FIU in March, likely near the end of the month.

Christmas (right) has several perennial Top 25 teams also hoping he lands under their X-mas tree. Among them: Florida, Georgetown, Oklahoma, Texas.

ISIAH'S POST GAME THOUGHTS

Here's what IT had to say about the 32:09 he was a part of Thursday's game against Middle Tennessee, which saw the FIU coach ejected with 7:51 left in the game. A game which had one of the worst officiating crews seen in an FIU game in a long time.

IT's opening thoughts about the game:

"I will fight for my team. We play tough. We play scrappy. We play with a lot of heart, but I think the perception of our team right now is hurting us. In the last 6 games, we’ve lost by four points or less. If we win those 6 games, we’re 10-7 and that would put us tied for first, second or third in the conference. The last 6 games we’re averaging 70 points and opponents are averaging 73."

"I think what’s happening to us is the perception of our team I hope going into tournament play will be different than what it’s been in the first half of the season. I hope we can change that perception. I think our kids play hard. They are doing all the right things out on the floor and hopefully the perception of our team will change and I hope it can change quickly."

 

It What did you think happened on the non-call foul on Tremayne Russell that brought you off the bench?

 

"I thought when Tremayne went up he got hit on the arm. I could have been wrong, but that’s what I thought. It was more than just that. I just think that what I need to try to figure out is how do we change the perception of our team going into tournament play. Forget what the record may say, over the last 6 games if we get a call here or there you’re sitting at the top of your conference as opposed to being at the bottom of it."

 

Do you think it's just a matter of winning to change the perception of your team?

 

"I think winning changes perception. When you’re coming from the bottom and this is what I told our players. There are the haves and the have nots and right now we’re the have nots. The haves don’t want you to have it and the only way you’re going to get it is to take it. And that’s the only way you are going to change perception, you have to go and take it."

 

 

"I think going into tournament play we got to be a little bit more mentally tough and win a couple of basketball games. There are 4 games next week that we got to win."

 

(FIU wins 4 SBC tourney games and they go to the Big Dance)

 

Normally, you are not one to jump up and holller on the sidelines. Do you think you will be that way now?

 

"I’m not one to react and when I do react there is damn good reason for it and I thought tonight I had a good reason for reacting. Now did I go over the line? Yes. Is that my normal behavior? No. I felt that I needed to stand up and fight for my team. The perception of my team right now has got to change, because our kids are playing really good basketball over the last 7 to 8 games and you have to give them credit for that. If people haven’t noticed, then my job is to kind of make them notice it."

 

BAND IS BACK

 

FIU is bringing back the marching band. The university will make an announcement on Friday. We'll haveKelly to wait until then to get the details.

 

FROM DAZZLER TO DOLPHIN

 

Former Golden Dazzler Kelly (right) dropped by the baseball press box last weekend so that she could get her picture on the GPP. No, kidding. But Kelly did drop by and told yours truly she is now a Miami Dolphins cheerleader.

 

Si Been quite a fall for the Dazzlers. One Dazzler -- Vanessa (left) --- was Sports Illustrated's Cheerleader of the Week and a former Dazzler is now cheering for the local pro football team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FUTURE FIU BASKETBALL SEASON TICKET HOLDER?

 

JH: Hey, T.Y. these are some good seats here in the FIU student section.Jhty

 

T.Y.: Yeah, it's a Good-Buy and they're so easy to order that a caveman can do it.

 

JH: So let me get this straight: you guys have Isiah Thomas as coach, you have the No. 17 signing class in the nation playing here next year and the Golden Dazzlers cheer at every home game....Where do I get FIU Basketball season tickets?

 

 

 

Logo PANTHER PAWSE

 

Aaapaw Will have a LIVE HOOPS BLOG on Saturday night starting at 7:56 p.m. of the FIU/Western Kentucky game. It's the season finale for the Panthers before they head up to Arkansas for the Sun Belt Tournament beginning next Saturday. Tip-off Saturday is at 8 p.m.

 

Aaapaw Spring football practice begins next Wednesday, March 3 at 3:45 p.m. Going to have Jimmy Buffet drop by the GPP to help me preview the Panthers 2010 Spring Football.

 

** Thanks to Alex J. Hernandez for the IT and T.Y. photos.

 

January 31, 2010

Golden Dazzlers on Super Bowl TV

The lovely Golden Dazzlers will be on national TV this Thursday morning when they perform on the CBS Daz Early Show (locally on Channel 4) as part of the week's Super BowlEarly_show_logo_jun08 festivities.

The show begins at 7 a.m., but I don't have an exact time when the Dazzlers will be on. So tape it, if you can't see FIU's finest live.

The ladies will be performing from the Loews Miami Beach Hotel. There is a possibility that the Dazzlers could also be part of the Super Bowl halftime show. When I know more info, will pass it on to you.

Aaapaw In case you missed it, I posted earlier tonight the latest recruiting prowl preview on the running backs. It is below this post. On that post, you can vote on who you think will win the starting running back job for the Panthers this season. 

Aaapaw The College Football All-Star Challenge is tommorrow [Monday] at 1 p.m. at FIU Stadium. Admission is free. Expected to participate are: quarterbacks Tony Pike (Cincinnati), Dan Lefevour (Central Michigan), Javon Snead (Ole Miss), wide receivers Jordan Shipley (Texas), Mardy Gilyard (Cincinnati), Dez Bryant (Oklahoma State), kickers Brett Swensen (Michigan State), Hunter Lawrence (Texas) and Josh Shene (Ole Miss) and a few other players. The Challenge will air on ESPN this Friday, Feb. 5 at 9 p.m.

I was going to go to the All-Star Challenge, but I will be busy with the Miami Heat and Willis Wright on Monday. No, Willis is not taking over for injured Heat forward Michael Beasley, those are just two different things I'll be working on Monday.

January 22, 2010

FIU Recruiting Prowl: Defensive Backs

Playing in a conference where the majority of teams employ the spread offense, this position (including safeties) might be one of the more valuable positions during recruiting season for Sun Belt teams.

Gaitor So to no surprise your Panthers are recruiting some athletic, quick players for the secondary. Among the five commits, three of them make up the All-Miami-Dade County high school secondary.

Before we roam the secondary with your Panthers, your OFFICIAL NATIONAL SIGNING DAY COUNTDOWN stands at: 12 DAYS

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Like most of the FIU defense last season, the play of the DBs was spotty whether it was due to injuries or just not tight enough coverage the Panthers DBs have to improve their play in 2010.

When you look at the DBs it all starts with senior-to-be Anthony Gaitor (left, thanks Alex J. Hernandez photo), who was limited all last season with a nagging ankle injury. Gaitor is the anchor of the secondary and if he's healthy you can expect big things out of him in his final season in the blue and gold.

Outside of Dez Johnson, who is expected to receive a medical redshirt for last season, Gaitor will be the only senior DB.

Johnson would be expected to nail down the corner job opposite Gaitor, but he will have plenty of competition come spring practice and into fall camp.

Sophomores Derreck Jones and Emmanuel Souarin came on toward the end of last season and couldMcgee have something to say about their playing time this coming season.

UCF transfer Corey Ammons was a highly-touted DB coming out of the same high school as FIU safety Terrance Taylor. Ammons could be one of the favorites to win a starting job come the season opener against a Sun Belt opponent still to be determined.

Jarrell McGee (right, thanks AJH photo) was a heralded DB at North Dakota College, but was slowed by injury last season. He is expected to figure into some playing time.

One darkhorse candidate to see increased snaps this coming season might be Jose Cheseborough. The walk-on from Edward Waters opened some eyes while working with the scout team D last season and made some plays in the scout bowl last month.

Mcgeek Leon All the returning DBs will be pressed by a very talented trio of FIU recruits. (From left to right in the photos) Northwestern's Khambrel McGee, Killian's Richard Leonard and LaSalle's Sam Miller were among the top DBs in Miller South Florida high school football this past season and could have an immediate impact at FIU in about 7 months when fall camp starts.

 

 

SAFETIES

The safety positions will also be interesting to watch come spring practice. The Panthers bring back sophomore Jonathan Cyprien (right), who finished second on the team in tackles and had a solid freshman season.

Ash Parker is a senior this season after sustaining his second season-ending injury in as many years atCyp Alabama last September. AP's experience and ability can definitely help what will be a very young secondary.

Kreg Brown is also back and Chuck Grace should be ready to go after missing time last season with injury.

Taylor showed flashes of his talent last season while redshirting and will challenge for a starting spot this season. Cain Elliott also redshirted last season and his 6-2 frame is made to play safety.

Miami Springs' Randy Williams and Boca Raton's Justin Halley are two safeties commited to FIU. Both have good size with Williams at 6-1 and Halley at 6-2.

Fiuhelmet BACK IN 2010: Kreg Brown, Jose Cheseborough, Jonathan Cyprien, Cain Elliott, Anthony Gaitor, Chuck Grace, Dez Johnson, Derreck Jones, Jarrell McGee, Ash Parker, Emmanuel Souarin, Terrance Taylor.

Fiuhelmet GONE IN 2010: O'Darris D'Haiti, Peter Riley, Jeremiah Weatherspoon.

3cents $.03 IN 2010: As much as the FIU D-line, the Panthers secondary will help determine how much this defense can improve. One area that the secondary certainly has to improve on from last season is their tackling. There were a lot of arm tackles last season that opponents easily broke. You have to like the athleticism of this group. The incoming DBs might be the best recruit group for an FIU defensive backfield in the 8-year history of the program. There will be size and speed in the FIU defensive backfield in 2010.

Take to the polls in our 2 DB/Safety questions below the Pawse

Next up on the FIU Recruiting Prowl: Offensive line.

Logo PANTHER PAWSE

Aaapaw Will have a LIVE HOOPS BLOG  of the FIU/UALR game on Saturday night from the Bank. Blogging at 7:56 p.m. Tip-off is at 8 p.m.

Q&A

blkpanther: The FIU forward commit you were asking me about during the LIVE HOOPS BLOG on Thursday night is 6-Yvan 10 power forward Yvan Ngirabakunzi (right), who is currently a junior at Piney Woods High in Mississippi. Yvan is ranked as the No. 40 power forward in the nation for 2011.

Gooch7: PETE: Any Babeball news before the season kicks off?

PP: Golden Dazzlers news is always on the GPP. Like the new outfits they displayed during halftime of Thursday's basketball game. The ladies wore colorful short dresses during their halftime performance. On the left (thanks AJH photo), is their outfits for halftime of the Shula Bowl last month.

Daz As far as FIU baseball, I'll be visiting the Panthers practices as soon as we get through National Signing Day. You can expect some FIU baseball blogs on here after Feb. 3.

Crazy Cane: Expect a rough season. Turtle has only really had 1 full year to recruit. The players are young. Give it time. UM is scared to play FIU. If only some of the signees would have come to campus rather than go to MLB. etc. etc. etc. Pete, aside from that, anything else?

PP: The season will depend on how the No. 2 & 3 spots in the starting rotation develop among Logan Dodds, R.J. Fondon and Corey Polizzano. FIU also has to field better this season. Expect FIU to score some runs and hit well. 

Turtle guided FIU to the largest win improvement from one season to another last season in the 37-year history of the FIU baseball program. The Panthers will field a team of 7 freshmen, 13 sophomores, 6 juniors and 6 seniors this season. So more than half of the team is comprised of underclassmen.

The team across town still does not want to play FIU in any of the 3 major sports -- although evenutally they won't be able to avoid FIU in an NCAA baseball regional. We'll have to wait and see on the two No. 1-rated players from the U.S. (Manny Machado) and Canada (Kellin Deglan) that signed with FIU. Will have more for you CC when I get to the FIU diamond next month.

Jorge Suarez: Pete, we're waiting for that interview with the new OC. Do you have a timeline on it yet? Do you expect any JUCOs to sign this year? Early signing period passed and we didn't get anyone in here. Feed the hungry pete! Thank you

PP: Will have new OC Scott Satterfield on here soon. No timeline, but hopefully after this coming week. This coming week is a little hectic with the Herald's recruiting series starting. I am down to write stories on FIU (Monday), Florida Atlantic (Tuesday) and Central Florida and South Florida (Wednesday) -- don't ask me why FAU, UCF and USF. They're paying me for it. FIU is recruiting some JUCOs. Will have some more info on that when it happens. You will be fed.

 

January 01, 2010

All Hail Vanessa

Vanessa Happy New Year to all and happy new decade as well as we enter the 2010s.Hny

The coordinator interviews continue as your Panthers are in the process of finding new defensive and offensive coordinators. More on that in a second. But first, a nice start to the new year for Golden Dazzler Vanessa.

One of our GPP readers e-mailed me some links with a couple of features regarding Vanessa.

In mid-October, Vanessa was selected as Sports Illustrated's Cheerleader of the Week. As SI's Cheerleader of the Week, the magazine/website shot a photo gallery of Vanessa which ended up being one of the most visited pages on the Sports Illustrated website this past year. If you haven't visited her gallery on si.com, then click here: Vanessa's photo gallery

Vanessa was also selected by Coed Magazine as one of "66 Women Who Wowed 2009". You can check out Vanessa and the other 65 notable women of 2009 by clicking here: 66 Women Who Wowed 2009

Now to the potential coaches that hope to wow the FIU defense in 2010. The defensive coordinator interviews are still ongoing this week. With the offensive coordinator interviews expected to begin at some point next week.

Besides the coaches mentioned in the previous football post on the GPP: Illinois's Dan Disch, Kansas's Clint Bowen, Akron's Jim Fleming and Vince Okruch, there are a few other candidates joining the interview process for the open DC job: former Western Kentucky head coach David Elson, William & Mary defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and Central Florida linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator Geoff Collins.

This is just a preliminary list of potential DCs. There might be several more to get into the mix, especially with some teams still preparing for bowl games. We'll have to wait and see.

You can check out each of the 7 coaches' bios and coaching experiences at their team's website or by typing the coach's name at google.com.

Read up on the first 7 DC candidates to emerge and vote in our poll:

December 03, 2009

The View from Del Boca Vista Phase II

Claw T-minus 43 hours until Shula Bowl VIII kicks off from FIU Stadium. Time to learn a little bit about the Boca Raton Hooters.

Boca Raton's and Del Boca Vista Phase II's college football team wasDbv expected to contend for the Sun Belt title this season, but with the season-ending injury to their starting quarterback things went south. Let's find out more about Morty Seinfeld's favorite college football team.

Ted Dazzz Please welcome Sun-Sentinel and Hooters beat writer Ted Hutton as he fills us in on what's happening in Boca Raton. That's Ted there between photos of his favorite dance team -- the FIU Golden Dazzlers.

Apparently, Ted and myself -- like most people involved in sports --  tend to disagree on certain aspects between Dazzlerssthe two teams we cover. We also tend to disagree as well on Isiah Thomas's hiring. click here for Ted's Excellent Adventure, to learn why Ted and his favorite dance team are so well displayed on this post.

But when it comes to Hooters football, Ted knows what he is talking about -- after all he's covered them since their inception. So please, do not go questioning Ted's credibility when it comes to FAU sports. The man is a fountain of Owls knowledge and wisdom.

Here's what Ted had to say about Saturday's game:

Dazzsi 1) Besides Rusty Smith going down for the year, what else went wrong for FAU this season?Dazz2

TH: The defense never showed up. We knew they were going to be inexperienced, with eight new starters who had picked up very playing time in previous years, but this group just has mediocre at best and awful too many times. The offense also broke down at critical times, but it is the defense that takes the fall for this season.


Dazzlr 2) Should the FIU defense's main concerns be Alfred Morris and Jason Harmon?

TH: Yes and yes. Those two are doing the most damage. Morris is a strong runner who rarely goes down on first contact and has the speed to make big gains once he gets some open space. Harmon is back to his usual self, and is very tough to cover and also is good an picking up yards after the catch.

3) What's the latest on the Owls on-campus stadium?

TH: They haven’t broken ground yet, but it does look like FAU will host its first game in a new, on-campusDaaazzzz Dazzzzing stadium in 2011.


4) Who will have a better program in 3 years -- Mike Jarvis or Isiah Thomas?


TH: I am going with Jarvis because he is building with freshmen while I see Thomas taking a shortcut with a lot of JC transfers. Jarvis has turned the roster over in on year, and the players he has brought look really good right now…FAU has four freshmen in Daazz the starting lineup, and the quality of players from top to bottom is the best it has ever been. If Thomas keeps up, hats off to him, but I expect FAU to be near the top of the Sun Belt next season and stay there as these kids grow up and improve.

5) Your Shula Bowl VIII prediction and final score?

TH: At the start of the season I predicted that FAU would go 8-4 with two conference losses, and those losses would be to Troy and a much-improved FIU team. But FIU has been as disappointing as FAU has been, and I think FAU wins this one. High-scoring and close, but FAU 38, FIU 31.

Thanks to Ted for joining us on the GPP and to show our appreciation we'll post Ted's favorite photo hereDazz on the right>>>>>>>>>

Hope you were able to read Ted's thoughts above.

Will be back on here Friday with your GPP Shula Bowl preview and prediction.

One last thing to get to........If you like the FIU Golden Panthers Prowl better than the Jump FAU blog, then jump in the air.

Thank you ladies.


December 01, 2009

FIU signs No. 1-rated Baseball Players in U.S. & Canada

Machado Yes, it is Shula Bowl VIII week, but let's take a little timeout here to acknowledge the work FIU baseball coach Turtle Thomas and his staff did with the latest FIU baseball signing class.

Who does FIU baseball think it is signing the No. 1-rated position player in the U.S. and the No. 1-rated position player in Canada?.........The New York Yankees?

Brito High shortstop Manny Machado (left) -- rated the No. 1 position player in the nation by Baseball America --signed with FIU. Here on the left is Machado hitting in a game at FIU's University Park Stadium.

Canadian Junior National team catcher Kellin Deglan (right) -- rated the No. 1 player in Canada -- also signed with FIU. In the photo on the right, Deglan is hitting in the Blue Jays home park -- Rogers Centre, formerly Skydome.

Machado led the U.S. National team in hitting this summer as the Americans won a gold medal.

Both players are expected to be highly drafted in next June's Major League Baseball Amateur Draft andDeglan may never set foot on FIU, but you never know. Machado is represented by Scott Boras, who has been known to play hardball with MLB clubs before so maybe MM decides to end up at FIU.

For details on the rest of FIU's 2011 signing class click here: newest FIU Baseball players

SHULA BOWL VIII COACHES DINNER

No, Howard Schnellenberger and MC did not wrestle or wring each others ties to see who would kickoff on Saturday. Instead, there was a lot of mutual admiration for both your Panthers and the Boca Raton Hooters by both coaches on Monday night at the Stadium Club at FIU Stadium.

HS said he was "sweating bullets" on the sideline during last year's Shula Bowl, because FIU was on the verge of knocking the Hooters out of bowl contention. Of course, you know what happened toward the end of the game as the Hooters erased two FIU 14-point leads and came back to win 57-50 in OT.

Sbowl Although the Hooters lead the Shula Bowl series 6-1, four of the seven games have been decided by 10 points or less. Saturday should be no different according to HS:

"I just know it's going to be a competitive game. It's going to go down to the wire and the team that comes out of it with a win will gain a great deal of momentum into the off-season.''

For FIU, a win would give the Panthers their best Sun Belt Conference record ever (4-4) since FIU joined the conference in 2005. It also would leave FIU one game shy of last season's 5-7 record, which considering how this season started, it would not be the worst thing on Earth and at the same time provide some momentum into recruiting as we are T-minus 64 days and counting until Feb. 3.

MC thinks the Shula Bowl series has the potential to develop into one of college football's best rivalries:

"If you watched college football this past weekend you see Alabama and Auburn going at it. You see Florida State and Florida, and Clemson and South Carolina. You look at places that are jam packed with enthusiasm and excitement and it didn't start that way, but it has become that and that's what is going on right here. Two special programs that are building and building is special, because it allows you to put your thumbprint on it.''

Sure, the Hooters are the Panthers rival, especially since the team across town doesn't man up and play FIU. Yeah, I know we'll get the blog hits on this one.

Logo PANTHER PAWSE

Aaapaw Check out on Wednesday at the Miami Herald's FIU page a story on retiring FIU media relations guru Rich Kelch written by MH intern Michael Zeff.

Aaapaw LIVE GPP BLOG of Shula Bowl VIII begins at 6:45 p.m. from FIU Stadium on Saturday night.

Aaapaw Will have Hooters beat writer Ted Hutton on here later this week with his take on the Shula Bowl. Here's what TH has been up to for Shula Bowl week: Ted's World .Dazz

BTW, as you will see on TH's blog, the Golden Dazzlers leave the FAU dance team in the dust. In case you need a reminder here you go.........

Aaapaw For now, let's get your thoughts on what is most important about an FIU win in the Shula Bowl....

February 09, 2009

Down The Lineup With Turtle

Turtle We're 10 days away from the FIU baseball season opener against Jacksonville on Feb. 20 -- a 3-game series at University Park Stadium.

Here's the third part of our 3-part preseason look at your Panthers with coach Turtle Thomas (left, Sam Lewis photo). Still plenty of time to make changes everywhere for TT, but this is what he's thinking thus far when it comes to the Opening Day lineup and other parts of FIU baseball as the 2009 season approaches...

PP: We're still some time away from the opener, but what's a rough sketch of your batting order right now?

TT: We have an idea about our top 5 or 6 guys in the lineup. Pablo Bermudez in center field should lead off. Ryan Mollica (right, Alex J. Hernandez photo), who hit second in the lineup last year, should be our second hole hitter. I would think that Tyler Townsend would be our third hole hitter. Steven Stropp will probably clean up for us or hit fifth. I think Tim Jobe may be in the fifth spot and then some other spots below that are still open for Moll competition.

PP: Stropp showed he can hit last season, but wasn't your prototypical cleanup hitter, what about Stropp makes him suited for the 4 hole?

TT: Stropp has a lot of power actually. He’s a big, strong guy. One game this fall we only used aluminum. It was one of only 2 times we used aluminum in the fall. In that game, he hit a grand slam, a three-run home run and a three-run double off the top of the center field wall. He knocked in 10 runs here in the intra-squad game. It was a pretty stellar day. There wasn’t anything wrong with the pitching he was facing that day. It was OK pitching he was facing.

PP: One guy that I thought made a pretty good impression in the fall was freshman shortstop Garrett Wittels (below, left). Could we see him in the starting lineup on Opening Day?

TT: Wittels probably has made more strength gains in the weight room than anybody that we’ve had so far. He’s taken to the weights and the bat weight stuff that we do. He’s done a nice job of getting stronger. He’s very strong from the elbows down where hitters need to be. He’s one of those guys who is Gw a self-made player that competes and doesn’t want to get beat. He finds a way to hit the ball and finds a way to field it. He’s going to play somewhere either shortstop or third base.

PP: Wittels also was a pretty good pitcher/closer at Krop High, will he pitch too?

TT: Being a left side infielder, you’re probably asking a little too much for a young guy to pitch and play the left side of the infield. You’re waiting for an arm injury or arm problem waiting to happen when you do that.

PP: Your defense was a little shaky last year during some games. How do you feel about your gloves this season?

TT: We were middle of the road in our conference in fielding percentage last year, but we were close to the top in the 30 conference games. In conference games, we really had only 1 or 2 sub-par defensive games. We went six games in a row and another time five games in a row without making any errors and that set the all-time school record. I was pretty pleased with our defense. Probably the range of our players just due to probably not having the fastest of guys, probably was the biggest detriment. But when they got to it and caught it they usually threw them out. We just have to find the right guys for the right slots that can give you a nice offensive and defensive production.

Wood PP: You guys came out a little slow offensively last year. Did you still go most of theAlum off-season using only wood bats.

TT We started picking up the aluminum on Jan. 26. We’ll be using the aluminum almost 4 weeks before we open up. Last year, it was one week before the opener and I thought it took our guys a little while to adjust to the aluminum so we are going to go with that a little bit earlier this year.

LogoPANTHER PAWSE

Apaw  Apparently there is some pretty good interest in FIU baseball, the Diamond Dinner drew 670 people -- an all-time FIU record for a Diamond Dinner.

Apaw

A nice comeback win for the FIU hoops team last Saturday after an awful 1st half in which they scored just 16 points. Down by 21 points with 14 minutes left in the game, the Panthers rallied and won it in OT. If this team can be as resilient as last Saturday, then there's no reason it cannot contend in the Sun Belt Tournament. Still need Freddy Asprilla back for a serious run, though.

 Apaw

 And you thought the Golden Dazzlers only just dance on the basketball court? Dazzler Lisa Dazzlers Sakowitz hit some 3-pointers in the 3-point contest at halftime of Saturday's game. Spoke with her afterward and LS says she stopped playing hoops at Sunset High to go into dancing.

Your questions:

blkpanther: Pete have you heard anything on James Jones. I know he blew his knee out at the end of the season and he is likely to miss most if not all of next season. But how is it going with him?

PP: It's looking like JJ might be taking a redshirt season in 2009. It was a pretty good tear.

FIUBlueandGold: Pete: do we have an update on the status of Ash Parker and his recovery?

Ash PP: Saw Ash (left, No. 11) before going to an FIU hoops game the other day and he says he's feeling a lot better and expects to be ready for fall practice in August.

Alonzo: Pete, how many seniors will we have next year and, how many starters for both offense and defense are returning?

PP: By my count FIU brings back 24 seniors for 2009. If we count Darriet Perry as a starter, which is what he is, then all 11 starters on offense return, but only 6 starters return on defense.

FIUFPL: Hey, Pete - I don't think you ever answered whether this is the best recruiting class or not.

PP: In the 7-year history of the FIU football program, yes, this is the best recruiting class ever at least on paper, now let's see them do it on the field starting Sept. 12 in Bama. I gave them 5 Paws on the last poll.

Ultimate FIU Fan: Question to Pete & the GPP Nation: Is there ANYONE faster in the SBC than TR!

PP: Not that I have seen from any other Sun Belt team this season. Tremayne Russell is a tremendous sparkplug off the bench for FIU.

Apaw

We had a worldy turnout on our last poll question about the rating for the 2009 FIU football signing class with readers from Lebanon, Spain, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, France, Ennis Montana and the rest of the good old USA chiming in. Thus far, 57.5% of you gave the 2009 class 5 Paws (the highest mark), 38.4% (4 Paws) and 4.1% (3 Paws).

We're 25 days away from spring practice, but let's keep the football polling going....



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