CollegeInsider.com's 10 finalists for its Joe B. Hall Award, presented to its top first-year Division I men's basketball head coach, includes FIU's Richard Pitino.
Pitino's up against Rider's Kevin Baggett; Mount S. Mary's Jamion Christian; Brown's Mike Martin; Wagner's Bashir mason; Illinois State's Dan Muller; UConn's Kevin Ollie; Long Island University-Brooklyn's Jack Perri; Southern Utah's Nick Robinson; and Tennessee State's Travis Williams.
The winner will be announced April 5 at the CollegeInsider.com awards banquet. I don't know how to handicap this award. I don't know who the favorite should be. I don't know if any of those other guys had to take the bottom of the roster of an eight-win team, mix that in with guys you were able to recruit at the last minute and coach up the whole thing into a 16-win gholaush.
Those who know of Joe B. Hall can probably appreciate the irony. Hall was a University of Kentucky graduate, played on Kentucky's 1949 national champions and coached Kentucky's 1978 national champions. While Pitino's father helped return Kentucky to prominence, Pitino senior and junior have much stronger ties to Louisville, Kentucky's hated in-state rival.
As expected, junior guard Jerica Coley repeated as Sun Belt Player of the Year. Coley's 26.1 points per game leads the nation in scoring. She's also third in the conference in blocked shots (1.76 per game, 60th nationally) and free throw percentage (83.8, 44th nationally). She also leads FIU in assists (3.4 per game) and steals (2.2 per game).
The best statistic to demonstrate Coley's worth to FIU: she accounts for 42.6 percent of the Panthers' scoring.
Forward Marita Davydova was voted to Third Team All-Sun Belt after averaging 10.2 points per game and 8.6 rebounds per game.
On the men's side, FIU junior forward Tymell Murphy made First Team All-Sun Belt as voted on by 11 media members (yes, I was one) and 11 conference coaches.
Murphy's team high 15.1 points per game was pedestrian compared to his No. 8 in the nation field goal percentage (58.8 percent from the field). There's no statistic for measuring the timing of Murphy's points. Malik Smith seemed to come up with the end-of-game baskets. Murphy came up with the ones that halted opponent's runs and calmed FIU down. Also, Murphy pulled down a team-high 6.9 rebounds and was 95th in the nation (second on FIU behind Deric Hill) with 1.79 steals for the nation's seventh best team of thieves.
I'm not exactly sure how a team that's get a No. 4 seed and a bye in the conference tournament gets voted only one all-conference player among three teams. And I thought Richard Pitino was an easy Coach of the Year call. I might be on the island there as Middle Tennessee State's Kermit Davis received that honor.
Stuff like this is why the football team eventually will be moved out of The Towers. From the FIU Incident/Investigation Report:
At 9:58, Feb. 24, an FIU officer was distpatched to a disturbance call at the University Park Towers. Upon arrival, the RA advised the officer that he had witnessed freshman defensive lineman Marques Cheeks and freshman Raymond Jackson shooting each other with two Airsoft rifles (pellet guns) in the hallway. Cheeks and Jackson werne't in their room, but were located via senior defensive lineman Kasey Smith, who is also Cheeks' roommate. Cheeks and Jackson admitted they were shooting each other with pellets. Andre Patterson, the assistant coach in charge of the defensive line, was notified.
Cheeks and Jackson were released to Smith. Both of the Airsoft rifles were confiscated and impounded.
Editorial commentary: stupid, silly horseplay for a dorm hallway. A little bad luck for them and/or someone else, and...
The next night, last Monday, FIU PD and FIU football crossed paths again. From the FIU Incident Report:
An officer was sent to The Towers in reference to a parking lot argument. When he got there, the officer talked to (Victim 1, name restricted on the public copy of the report). Victim 1 said he and his girlfriend were talking in his car, parked in a parking space. Another car rolled and began taunting them to move. Victim 1 said he moved his car and parked it at the entrance to The Towers.
Victim 1 said there was an exchange of words between himself, girlfriend and the three black males who exited the vehicle from which they'd been taunting them. He said one of the three came around his vehicle, reached inside and attempted to strike him at which time he quickly drove off and called police. His girlfriend also told police she got out of the car and began to argue with the threesome. The three then left the scene. Shortly afterwards, during the officer's investigation on the scene, the three males returned to the scene. Freshman cornerback Jeremiah McKinnon, running back Jakhari Gore and sophomore cornerback Richard Leonard were placed under investigative detention.
Gore then provided a voluntary written statement stating that he, McKinnon and Leonard did get into a verbal exchange about a parking space. Gore also stated that McKinnon did reach into the car and attempt to punch Victim 1. Gore also admitted to throwing a can in the direction of Victim 1's car,b ut missed. Victim 1 and his girlfirend visually identified McKinnon as the individual who attempted to hit him. McKinnon was then taken into custody and advised of charges.
McKinnon was charged with felony burglary of an occupied conveyance (because he allegedly reached into a car in his attempt to punch the driver) and misdemeanor assault (because he attempted to punch the driver). He's got a pretrial hearing on Mar. 27.
Editorial commentary: even at FIU, acting the fool over a parking space?
Steve Shankweiler joined FIU's staff as offensive line coach and run-game coordinator after Luke Butkus two weeks in that job before heading for an NFL coaching staff. Now, Kort Shankweiler, son of Steve, becomes part of FIU's staff as the asssistant in charge tight ends and offensive tackles after Morgan Turner came from Stanford and went back to Stanford in a fortnight.
Kort Shankweiler has spent the last three years as running backs coach and recruitng coordinator at Central Michigan. Before that, he was a graduate assistant at Michgan State and an assistant at Coast Gaurd.
First, the setup for the Sun Belt basketball tournaments next week in Hot Springs, Arkansas ("Sal-loot!").
The men and women of Middle Tennessee State monopolize the No. 1 seeds. FIU's women have the No. 5 seed and will face No. 4 seed Arkansas State Saturday at 11:30 a.m. The winner faces the winner of Middle vs. FAU or Louisiana-Monroe. Which is to say, if FIU wins, it faces Middle Tennessee on March 10 in the Sun Belt semifinal.
That's not a lock for Middle. With Diamond Ashmore, Finda Mansare and Kamika Idom, FIU dealt Middle the first of its three conference losses and did so at Murfreesboro. Those three were missing in the rematch at The Branch, when FIU hung in until the lack of defense and rebounding down low sunk the Panthers. Idom should be back from her knee injury for the tournament, giving FIU another true outside shooting threat besides Jerica Coley.
The men go in as a No. 4 seed, playing Saturday at 6 p.m. against Arkansas-Little Rock. FIU split with UALR, losing by 12 there and winning by 13 at home. In the first game, FIU had nine steals and 14 points off turnovers while UALR used their size advantage for a 42-14 points in the paint differential. In the sequel, the Panthers came up with 14 seteals and 25 points off turnovers and UALR's advantage from the lane was only 35-30.
The winner plays Middle Tennessee, which smacked FIU by 17 near Nashville then needed a last second shot by local native Sean Jones to beat FIU at the buzzer after trailing by 20 at one point.
The second Arkansas-Little Rock game was the last game before a pre-practice locker room blistering -- audible all the way across the hall behind the locker room -- Pitino gave the team last Tuesday.
"I think they've been slipping a little bit from what got us here," Pitino said after Saturday night's 77-60 slashing by FAU. "I haven't loved the way they've been practicing. I think it's tough this time of year because I think they're just looking for the games. We've been doing this so long, the practices get a little monotonous. I think they're kind of worn down from that."
But, Pitino said, "We've got a whole week now to get better."
Speaking of getting better, Cameron Bell hopes that'll be what happens with his back soon. While driving to the hoop Saturday night, Bell got hammered to the floor and landed on his lower back or posterior (hard to tell which at that angle). He left with an ice pack on his lower back.
SWIMMING & DIVING
FIU took down a few more school records and tied a Sun Belt record in the last event of the Sun Belt Swimming & Diving Championships, the 400 freestyle relay.
Johanna Gustafsdottir motored through the first leg in 50.10, thus regaining her school record in the 100 free that Klara Andersson had taken earlier in the Saturday night session. That gave FIU an almost full second lead on FAU, which eventually fell back to third behind North Texas. Andersson lost a teeny bit of the lead, which was quickly restored by Dani Albright. Marina Ribi brought home FIU in 3:21.67, which tied the Sun Belt record set by Denver in 2009 and beat the school record set at last year's Sun Belt meet when Andersson and Gustafsdottir sandwiching Kelly Grace and Kayla Derr.
That gave Gustafsdottir two individual wins and three relay wins, each of which she led off. In two, she led off with school record swims and the third she merely gave FIU a lead it maintained until the end. Yet Sun Belt coaches still voted FAU's Eszter Bucz, who also had two individual titles, Most Outstanding Swimmer. If they say so...I just note it was Bucz's third leg that took FAU out of contention in the 400 free relay. Her 52.0 swim took FAU from less than a second behind leader FIU to 2.1 seconds off the lead and in third place (North Texas steamed past).
Gustafsdottir in the 200 IM and Sonia Perez in the 400 IM qualified for the NCAAs. Last year, only Gustafsdottir among the swimmers made the NCAAs. Diver Sabrina Beaupre came into the Sun Belt meet long ago having already qualified, but will have ankle surgery Thursday to fix an almost year old problem.
Earning First Team All-Conference were Gustafsdottir, Andersson, Albright, Jessica Chadwick, Sonia Perez, Marinia Ribi, diver Sabrina Beaupre. Valeriia Popova and Courtney Vanderschaaf made the Third Team.
For more from tonight's sessions, see earlier blog linked to below.
FIU started a blowout and FAU finished it, slamming the Panthers 77-60 Saturday night. I'll have more from this later including a rant I heard earlier in the week that might've been a hint that this was coming.
Also, I'll have more detail from the last day of the Sun Belt Swimming & Diving Championships. Sabrina Beaupre now has a hat trick of Diver of the Year awards from The Belt. Beaupre's coach, Rio Ramirez, got the Diving Coach of the Year award. FAU's Eszter Bucz, who upset last yea'r Swimmer of the Year Johanna Gustafsdottir in the 200 individual medley, got Swimmer of the Year over Gustafsdottir, who still had another fantastic conference meet.
Gustafsdottir, Beaupre, Klara Andersson, Dani Albright, Jessica Chadwick, Sonia Perez and Marina Ribi made First Team All-Conference for FIU.
Up on The Campus with The Klink, FIU leads FAU 31-30 after dominating the game early. FAU, 1 of 11 from three-point range, has blown a number of open looks, which is the worrisome part for FIU -- the Owls shouldn't continue shooting this badly. Of course, FIU shouldn't waste as many possessions as they did in the first half.
Meanwhile, in Texas, FIU got a win and a school record in the first two Saturday night events at the Sun Belt Swimming Championships.
The win came from last year's Swimmer of the Year, Johanna Gustafsdottir, in the 200 backstroke. Gustafsdottir won by 1.44 seconds, in 1:54.50, a tenth of a second off her school record time ste at last year's Sun Belt meet. Gustafsdottir now has two individual titles this year, part of two relay wins and a second place in the 200 individual medley.
Sonia Perez didn't win the 1650 freestyle, finishing third in 16:35.87, but did break the oldest FIU record, Claudia Barsi's 16:45.98 at the 2004 Sun Belt Championships.
Klara Andersson and Dani Albright finished fourth and fifth in the 100 free, but Andersson got Gustafsdottir's school record with a 50.90.
How's this for a shocker -- FIU's women beat FAU 68-65 Saturday afternoon and Jerica Coley did NOT make the pivotal plays. At least, not all of them.
FIU did go on a 7-0 run to end the game and Coley had six of those points. But in the midst of all that, Marita Davydova grabbed a defensive rebound, got fouled and hit one of two free throws to put FIU up 66-65 with 32.0 seconds left. Then, Carmen Miloglav picked Chenise Miller clean and handed the loot to Coley, forcing FAU to foul Coley with 17.3 seconds left. Coley's two free throws required FAU to go for a three to tie and Kimberly Smith's desperation try bounced away.
Say this for FAU -- their arena looks like an outdated 1971 office building from the outside, not the equal of my middle school's gym on the inside. They played the women's game four hours before the men's game instead of the usual two because the joint doesn't have enough locker rooms. But they got a few folks in there for a 3 p.m. women's game. And FAU doesn't have the nation's leading scorer. Maybe FIU should consider Saturday afternoon starts.
Before the FIU and FAU women put on a show worthy of the main event, here's what happened at the day session before the last night of the Sun Belt Swimming & Diving Championships:
Johanna Gustafsdottir put up the fastest prelim time in the 200 backstroke, 1:57.45. Freshman Becky Wilde also will be in the top eight after a 2:02.86 that was almost three seconds better than her previous best this year.
In the 100 freestyle, 50 free winner Klara Andersson and freshman Dani Albright qualified third and fourth, respectively, for tonight's final with times of 51.15 and 51.27. Freshman Jessica Chadwick (2:17.45) and senior Krissy Metka (2:18.56) each bettered her previous best time by almost five seconds in making the 200 breaststroke's top eight.
Marina Ribi, second in the 100 fly Friday, was third in the 200 fly, 2:00.65 She'll be in the final with Sarah D'Antoni (2:02.85). The final event of the night is the 400 free relay, in which FIU has the second best seed time behind North Texas.
"This was one of those days you hope to have when you get into coaching," FIU coach Randy Horner said Friday night after the third day of the Sun Belt Swimming & Diving Championships.
Horner didn't just mean the wins by Sonia Perez in the 400 IM (school and Sun Belt record), Johanna Gustafsdottir in the 100 backstroke (school record) or the 400 medley relay team (school record). Track and swim coaches dream of meets when everybody walks out feeling good after beating the clock as they never have before and you find unexpected gold.
Take freshman Jessica Chadwick, who finished fourth in the 100 breaststroke Friday night with a 1:02.84. After Chadwick was fifth in the 100 breaststroke prelims Friday morning with a 1:03.39, a time almost three seconds faster than her previous season best (that's a lot over any distance, an eternity over 100 meters), Horner decided to make her the breaststroker on the 400 medley relay Friday night. That let him move sophomore Klara Andersson, winner of the 50 freestyle on Thursday, to the freestyle leg ("She's the best freestyleer in the conference right now," Horner said). Horner already knew he'd have Gustafsdottir would handle back and Marina Ribi would take butterfly.
So FIU led off the 400 medley relay with the best 100 meter backstroker in the conference; then went to the fourth best 100 meter breastroker; the second best (by less than a blink) 100 meter fly woman; and finished with the fastest freestyle sprinter, whose advantage might be enhanced at 100 meters. Gustafsdottir gave a 71 hundreths of a second lead to Chadwick and FIU was off to a 3:40.87, smashing the school record set at last year's Sun Belt meet by 6.11 seconds.
Perez qualified for the NCAAs with her 400 IM switime of 4:10.54. She had the best prelim time by 7.5 seconds Friday morning. Friday night, the junior beat her hours-old school and Sun Belt record of 4:11.96 to win by 5.05 seconds over second place Hannah Runyon-Hass from Western Kentucky. The previous Sun Belt record of 4:12.64 was held by third-place finisher Eszter Bucz from FAU, who was up by 3.12 seconds on Arau and 2.19 on Runyon-Hass after the opening butterfly leg.
As she did in the morning, Perez was faster in the second half of both the backstroke and the freestyle legs than the first half and was only one hundredth of a second slower in the second half of the breaststroke leg. She passed Runyon-Hass on the second half of the backstroke leg, then caught Bucz in the second half of the breaststroke leg and pulled away in freestyle.
"In the 400 IM, you want negative splits, faster in the second half of each 100," Horner said. "She swam a textbook race."
FIU freshman Becky Wilde's 4:24.48 brought her home fifth and was a 13-second improvement over her best time before Friday. Sophomore Jean Madison's 4:30.75 put her 11th and freshman Sarah Smith got 14th place points for her 4:34.34.
Gustafsdottir threw it down in the prelims with a 54.74 to break her own school record, then threw a raise on that with a 53.94 in the final to win by 54 hundreths of a second. That sounds closer than it was -- Nos. 2, 3 and 4 were separated by 52 hundreths of a second. Valeriia Popova (58.31) and Chelsie Kidd (58.42) got points for FIU in 12th and 14th, respectively.
And Sabrina Beaupre won the 1-meter diving again. Her 294.60 wasn't close to her Sun Belt record 323.85 from last year, but was still 28 points better than second place. Beaupre now will have surgery on her left ankle to set herself up for a stronger senior year instead of diving in the NCAAs, as she did last year.
Grab a stopwatch and try to click off just three hundreths of a second. That's how close senior Ribi came to winning the 100 butterfly. Ribi knocked down the school record again, as she did in the prelims, but her 54.78 was three hundreths behind North Texas' Mona Groteguth. Junior Sarah D'Antoni came in seventh (56.58) for FIU.
"We thought she'd won," Horner said. "It was so close, you couldn't tell with the naked eye."
Freshman Dani Albright's 1:49.06 brought her home third in the 200 freestyle. FIU had three of the top 8 finalists in the 100 breast and wound up taking seven of the 15 scoring slots: fourth, Chadwick (1:02.84); sixth, Andersson (1:03.23); eighth, Madison (1:04.58); ninth, sophomore Dani Meara (1:04.15); 11th, senior Krissy Metka (1:06.02); 12th, junior Mary Boucher (1:06.10); and 14th, junior Melissa Moreno (1:08.90).
Despite FIU's wins, the team competition is still coming down to North Texas and Western on volume of swimmers and divers. The host school leads the Hilltoppers 600 to 586 going into Saturday with FIU in third at 489.
After a few school records Friday morning, Friday night sets up this way for FIU at the Sun Belt Swimming & Diving meet:
Sonia Perez and Johanna Gustafsdottir should be considered favorites in the 400 individual medley and the 100 backstroke, respectively. Perez's school record 4:12.95 was the fastest seed time by 1.5 seconds and she beat that with a 4:11.96, better than the second best prelim time by 7.5 seconds. Perez actually was faster in the second 50 of the backstroke and freestyle legs than the first 50 of each.
Gustafsdottir's 54.74 was the Sun Belt's fastest in the prelims and broke the school record of 54.92 she set a year ago at the Sun Belt Time Trials.
And in the 1-meter diving, Sabrina Beaupre...look, if you don't read that Beaupre's comletely shattered her left ankle jumping up and down because Air Canada just dropped their fares to Greece, she's winning this. Her 281.20 was 15.15 points away from second place.
In the 100 butterfly and 200 free, FIU's got the second fastest from the prelims. Senior Marina Ribi's 55.12 was only nine hundreths off the best prelim time and 42 hundredths under Yesica Rojas' school record set two years ago. Freshman Dani Albright, showing the kind of improvement at the conference meet that Gustafsdottir did a year ago as a freshman, knocked over two seconds off her best 200 free time with a 1:49.55.
(Speaking of freshman showing up strong in the conference meet, Becky Wilde (4:27.61) dropped 10 seconds off her seed time in the 400 IM and was sixth in the prelims.
In the 100 breaststroke, FIU's got volume -- three of the top eight in freshman Jessica Chadwick (1:03.39), sophomore Klara Andersson (1:03.53) and sophomore Jean Madison (1:04.45).
The 400 medley relay closes the night. FIU's seeded fourth, 3:47.79. FIU was fifth last year in school record 3:46.96 with Perez swimming leadoff back, Andersson on breast, Gustafsdottir on fly and Kayla Derr on free. This year's seed time came with Perez, Andersson, then Ribi on fly and Gustafsdottir swimming free in November. Don't be surprised if that's the foursome again Friday night. Also don't be surprised if they shatter the school record.
FIU's men's basketball team won Thursday night at Lousiana-Monroe to clinch its first winning season in 13 years. For a historically moribund program that 11 months ago hired a 29-year-old coach as it lost transfers, recruits and some players after firing the previous coach, what this team has done thus far equates to putting together a Nationwide Series car out of visits to Monster Joe's and Sanford & Son Salvage.
Understand, there's a difference between trash and junk. Trash leaves on the garbage truck. Trash gets incinerated. No use remains. The junkyard's full of usable parts that maybe just need to be polished up, loved up, adjusted a little and they'll work just fine for what you need. It's how junkyard's turn a profit. FIU coach Richard Pitino found those usable parts outside the program, found ways to use those underused parts inside the program and saw what he had: quickness, athleticism, a couple of shooters, no size, but a number of guys who could go hard for enough minutes.
Statistically, if you're looking for a difference between the 2011-12 eight-win Panthers and the 2012-13 16-win Panthers, it's in two numbers produced by FIU's pressure style. Last year, FIU had 424 turnovers and opponents had 406. This year, FIU's got 428 turnovers, but in a much greater number of possessions as they've helped opponents to 506 turnovers. And with Saturday's regular season closer against FAU and the Sun Belt tournament to go, they've come up with 270 steals against 216 for all of last year.
FIU will have better teams under Pitino. But none that have done as much in such a tough situation as this one.
Klara Andersson blew to a 23.24, knocking off Trudy Maree's school record of 23.44 set exactly five years ago, to win the 50 freestyle Thursday night at the Sun Belt Championships. Andersson won by three hundreths of a second over Western Kentucky's Paige Drazga.
Earlier in the evening, junior Sabrina Beaupre won the 3-meter with a score of 328.60, just a tick off her 328.65 Sun Belt record from last year.
Last fall, sophomore Johanna Gustafsdottir told me the breaststroke was both her favorite stroke and her worst stroke. Well, the breast leg kept Gustafsdottir from being best again in the 200 individual medley at the Sun Belt Conference championships Thursday night.
Gustafsdottir led FAU's Eszter Bucz by 1.34 seconds after the butterfly and backstroke legs. But Bucz 33.94 on breast blew out the defending Sun Belt champion's breast by 2.02 seconds and she held on for the upset, 1:58.48 to 1:59.36. Gustafsdottir's time actually wasn't far off the school and Sun Belt record 1:59.14 she swam in last year's Sun Belt final.
Senior Marina Ribi (2:01.18, career best), freshman Jessica Chadwick (2:02.86) and sophomore Dani Meara (2:05.47) finished fifth, sixth and eighth, respectively, for FIU. Freshmen Becky Wilde (2:05.52) and Sarah Smith (2:08.42) picked up points in 10th and 15th.
In the 500 free final, even if junior Sonia Perez had equalled her school record 4:48.43 from Thursday morning's prelims (beating her own record of 4:50.32 set in November), she still would've finished fifth. As it was, her 4:49.88 left her 2.65 seconds out of fourth and 3.61 seconds behind North Texas' sweep of the top three spots. Freshman Dani Albright cranked a 4:52.96, beating her pre-meet best by over seven seconds, to finish 10th. Junior Mary Boucher's 4:58.15 gave FIU two more points from 15th.
FIU finished third in the 200 free relay behind Western (1:32.55) and North Texas (1:33.55) with a school record 1:33.99. Andersson, Valeriia Popova, Courtney VanderSchaaf and Ribi beat the 1:34.83 laid down in November by Gustafsdottir, Andersson, Popova and Kelly Grace.
North Texas' podium sweep in the 500 free and number of divers pushed it to the top of the team standings with 295 points. Western Kentucky has 287. FIU's in third with 236.
Friday features the 400 IM, in which Perez should be a contender; the 100 back, another shot at an individual win for Gustafsdottir; the 100 fly, Ribi's race; the 1-meter diving, which should be another Beaupre win; and the 400 medley relay, which is at a length more conducive to FIU's strength than the 200 medley relay in which they finished fourth Wednesday.
The morning session of the Sun Belt Swimming & Diving Championships provided little surprise for FIU outside of freshman Jessica Chadwick. That's not exactly bad.
Chadwick swam a 2:03.24 in the 200 individual medley, 7.67 seconds faster than her season best time, to make tonight's eight-swimmer final and give FIU half the swimmer's in the final. Chadwick's time put her ahead of sophomore Dani Meara (2:04.56) and behind sixth-fastest, senior Marina Ribi (2:01.98). The fastest in the morning, predictably, was defending 200 IM champion Johanna Gustafsdottir, whose 1:59.66 was the only time under two minutes.
In the 500 freestyle, junior Sonia Perez qualified for the final with a 4:48.43, 85 hundredths of a second behind North Texas Jana Burkard. Sophomore Klara Andersson also qualified second in the 50 free (23.32). The top three, Anderson sandwiched by Western's Paige Drazga and Hilary Mishler, were separated by nine hundreths of a second.
And in the 3-meter diving, the sky is still blue -- junior Sabrina Beaupre's 317.95 beat North Texas' Rebecca Taylor by 28.7 points. Go 28.7 points behind Taylor and you've gone past Nos. 3, 4 and 5.
FIU hosts a friendly against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers next Thursday at 7:30 p.m. At halftime, kids 12 and under can take part in a free soccer clinic. Adults $4, children $2, students for free.
Amidst the American football signees on National Signing Day, I threw in a futbol player or two. Here's the full list, which includes four players from Weston FC (club soccer is at least as, probably more important than high school soccer in recruiting):
Defender Juan Benedetty, Cypress Bay High, Weston FC: Weston FC captain, First Team All-Broward and recruited by Cornell, Harvard, Michigan and St. John's. So, he'll know where the library is.
Forward Luis Betancur, Parkland Douglas, Weston FC: 2012 Florida Dairy Farmers State Player of the Year. He's played on Puerto Rico's 2012 Under 20 World Cup qualifying team.
Goalkeeper Lawrence Craggs, Ocala Forest, Belleview United: First Team All-County as a junior, 0.38 goals against average in club ball during this season.
Midfielder Angel Espana, Newark St. Benedict's, Players Development Academy: Espana's a California guy, but moved across country to St. Benedict's for his senior year - during which he was The (Newark) Star-Ledger's Player of the Year and St. Benedict's was the ESPN "national champion" for the fall.
Midfielder Ismael Longo, Cypress Bay, Weston FC: Rated as FIU's best recruit, worth four stars, according to TopDrawerSoccer.com
Midfielder Nelson Milsaint, Editon High, Cloud County Community College, Weston FC: Four-time All-Dade pick, Florida Athletic Coaches Association picked him as District 19, Class 3A Player of the Year his senior year.
Defender Victor Reyes, West Covina South Hills High, LA Galaxy: The Galaxy program is known for turning out quality.
Midfielder Darren Rios, Archbiship McCarthy, Weston FC: 2012 All-Broward selection. He trained with the Bogota futbol club in 2011
The seed times of the Sun Belt Championships' 800 freestyle relay set the event up as a duel between FIU and meet host North Texas. FIU won the duel in 7:12.70, a school record almost nine seconds faster than the Panthers previous best time of the year, 7:21.54, and dusting the Sun Belt championships record of 7:16.10 set by Denver last year. North Texas finished in 7:15.57.
"We're all really even," sophomore Johanna Gustafsdottir said of FIU's foursome. "I think that's what brought the time down so much."
Gustafsdottir's analysis wallows in understatement as much as a swim team does chlorine. Gustafsdottir dropped a 1:48.02 on the first leg, setting a school record for the 200 free. Junior Sonia Perez took over and swam a 1:48.01 (only opening relay legs can count as records for that legnth). Gustafsdottir said she felt FIU would take the race when she saw freshman Danielle Albright take the lead on the third leg, which was 1:48.65. Senior Marina Ribi brought the lead home with a 1:48.02.
So, the four legs varied by 64 hundredths of a second. Take out Albright's leg and they vary by one one-hundreth of a second.
"Nobody thought we were going to win, but we knew, we knew we were going to win and we did it!" Perez said by phone from Texas, sounding almost as if she was still pumping adrenaline about an hour after the race.
FIU finished fourth behind Western Kentucky, North Texas and FAU in Wednesday's first event, the 200 medley relay. Gustafsdottir, Klara Andersson, Valeriia Popova and Kelly Grace swam a school record 1:42.16.
"We were disappointed by our placing in the 200 free relay, although our time was a second and a half under our school record," FIU coach Randy Horner said. "We're not as good a sprint team as we were in the longer events and it showed in the 800 free relay. We broke three school records and a Sun Belt record (on the first day). You can't ask for much more than that."
FIU's two points behind Western in the overall standings going into Thursday, when FIU should pick up a win from defending champion Sabrina Beaupre in the 3-meter diving. Day 2 also will have the finals of the 500 free, in which Sonia Perez set a school record this year; the 200 individual medley, won last year by Gustafsdottir, who has the fastest seed time this year; the 50 free; and the 200 free relay, in which FIU has the second fastest seed time.
"I feel better than I did last year (at this time)," said Gustafsdottir, the 2012 Sun Belt Swimmer of the Year after a stunning coming out party at the conference meet.
Also, FIU should pick up points tomorrow from Ribi in the 200 IM and Klara Andersson in the 50 free. Perez is seeded eighth in the 200 IM and could pick up points for FIU there.
Morgan Turner, in charge of offensive tackles and tight ends for FIU for two weeks, went back to Stanford to be the assistant in charge of tight ends. Along with offensive line coach Luke Butkus, M. Turner is the second assistant to leave father Ron Turner's staff weeks after being hired.
So, there's an assistant coach's job open again on the football staff.
With a strong second day led by the sprinters at the Sun Belt Indoor Track & Field Championships, FIU's women charged up to 103 points and third place behind host Arkansas State (122.5) and North Texas (117.5).
Senior T'Keyah Dumoy got 16 points on her own with second places in the 55-meter dash and 200-meter dash and anchored FIU's one event win, the 4x400 relay, after junior Lashae White led off, senior Lakeisha Kelley took the second leg and senior Nia Anderson brought the baton around to Dumoy. Their 3:44.59 was just 0.29 off the meet record set by FIU in 2001, just 0.16 off the arena record held by Southern University and 0.65 over the Sun Belt season record FIU ran in 1999.
Getting points In the 200 behind Dumoy (24.15) were third place Lakeisha Kelley (24.34) and eighth place junior Lashae White (25.18). In the 55, senior Marissa McElveen hit the line a blink behind Dumoy, 7.07 to 7.03, good for fourth place.
The women began the day in sixth. McElveen started the move with a fourth in the triple jump, bounding 40-1 1/2. Sophomore Raqurra Ishmar (61-1 1/2), freshman Miriam Pierre (54-11 1/2) and senior Kimberlee Dekrey (54-5 1/4) came in third, fifth and sixth, respectively in the hammer throw.
Senior Samia Adan's 2:15.89 in the 800 got FIU a third place, six points.
The men remained in eighth place, totalling 34 points over the two-day event. Marcus Ghent was named Freshman of the Year after finishing fifth in the long jump Sunday (23 feet 2 3/4 inches) and second in the triple jump Monday (50 feet).
Correcting my mistake from yesterday: Ghent and senior Aubrey Smith, who finished third in the long jump with a leap of 23-5 1/2, got the first points for the FIU men. Smith also got points in the triple jump Monday with a sixth (47-3 3/4).
As of right now, FIU's down the standings at the Sun Belt Conference Indoor Track & Field Champoinships, sixth in the women's points and eighth in the men's. So, here's a quick run down of point-getters in addition to those mentioned in previous posts.
In the women's long jump, senior Marissa McElveen 19 feet, 8 1/4 inches to finish fourth by a half-inch behind South Alabama's Briana Aiken. Junior Tyson Kemp heaved the shot 51 feet, 5 3/4 inches to finish eighth.
FIU's women got five points from a fourth place finish in the 4,000 distance medley. Senior Tai' Hsia Canady, sophomore Desmika White, senior Samia Adan and junior Krystal Francis ran a 12:13.78.
In the events with Sunday prelims, FIU dominated the women's 400 with two heat winners and three of the eight finalists. Junior Lashae White won her heat with the fastest prelim time of 55.50. Senior Lakeisha Kelley took heat five in 56.87, the third best prelim time. Senior Nia Anderson's 58.19 got her in the finals party at No. 8.
Kelly, White and senior T'Keyah Dumoy all made the 200 final with Dumoy (24.67) and Kelley (24.69) second and third, resepectively, behind Arkansas State's Sharika Nelvis. Nelvis set a track record with a stunning 23.88. The distance from Nelvis to Dumoy, 0.79 of a second, tripled the distance from Dumoy to the slowest qualifier, 0.20 of a second. Let's see if she can crank that again in the final.
Senior Desmond McGill's 6.552 in the 55 meters got him into the final by a breath -- seventh was Middle Tennessee State's Noah Akwu in 6.555, eighth was North Texas' Johnny Hickman in 6.57. Just on the outside were Arkansas State's Raymond Jackson and Louisiana-Monroe's Brandon Wilson in 6.60.
Desmika White came into the women's 800 meters with the fastest time in the Sun Belt this season, but finished second in the slowest of the four heats with a 2:17.97. Adan finished second in her heat also, but in 2:17.38, eighth fastest and good enough to get into the final. The four heat winners and the next five best times got into the final.
Oscar Aguirre's double down the right field line brought in Nathan Burns in the bottom of the eighth and Mike Gomez sent Manhattan down in the ninth to complete an 8-7 win over Manhattan and the second series sweep of the year.
Sophomore Raqurra Ishmar and freshman Miriam Pierre finished third and sixth, respectively, in the Sun Belt Conference Indoor Championships shot put. Ishmar's fifth put went 48 feet and a half inch. Pierre's last put sailed 44-3 1/2 inches.
Former FIU guard DeJuan Wright won the dunk contest at the Dutch League All-Star Game.
A Zach Sweety home run after Oscar Aguirre's single tied Sunday's game 7-7 in the seventh, FIU making the comeback from down 7-3 in the fourth.