October 21, 2015

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! (so predicts Ron Turner)

Football coach Ron Turner, who did two turns as Chicago Bears offensive coordinator and one stretch as University of Illinois head coach, insisted after Tuesday's practice that the Chicago Cubs would win the National League Championship Series. Turner insisted I put it on the blog as he left to go Tweet it out.

So there's the big news out of Wednesday's football practice. That and quarterback Alex McGough being allowed to talk to Pete Pelegrin for some FIU in-house produced content. It's McGough's first chat with the media, aside from home postgame sessions, since the season started.

A relaxed mood predominated. Some of the players got into an argument over which recruiting class was the best. Certainly, it depends on whether you're talking production or star rating.


Just as the men's soccer program joined Conference USA during FIU's Sun Belt era because the Fun Belt didn't sanction men's soccer, beach volleyball (nee sand volleyball) is now part of the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association with Florida State; LSU; South Carolina; Tulane; FAU; UAB; and Georgia State.

August 08, 2015

Stuff Like That and This

What FIU got out of Friday night's Dolphins scrimmage financially might stop at rent and concessions, probably not a bad little take considering how Friday night festive Dolfans seemed to be. Festive fans eat and drink.

The school also got to show off FIU Stadium to several fans who probably hadn't been in La Cage before. Some of my media peers making their first appearances, even as they frowned through the Calcutta crowded nature of their own workspace, opined that it's a nice, well-sized venue for a G5 football school.

La Cage improved its sound system, thus allowing officials to actually be heard this year.


Sand volleyball player Anna Budinska was awarded Outstanding Student Performance by faculty vote in the International Business Masters program this year. Budinska transferred to FIU from North Florida, where she was the 2013-14 Female Scholar Athlete of the Year.


The Giants signed safety Justin Halley as an rookie free agent Friday. Interesting symmetry as the Jets signed FIU's other starting safety from 2014, DeMarkus Perkins, for a minute this spring.

And UMass still doesn't have a start time for the Oct. 3 game. Television could be involved.




July 01, 2015

Whistle Blowers

When Cindy Russo retired after seemingly a century as FIU women's basketball head coach, she already counted as something of a dinosaur -- a female head coach at FIU. The hiring of Marlin Chinn as her replacement cemented Russo's brontosaurus status.

This article puts FIU's dearth of female head coaches in perspective. Only 29 of the 138 schools with FBS football or Big East basketball have a lower percentage of women coaching women than FIU's 30 percent. Of the 10 women's sports at FIU, only three have female head coaches and the school's getting three sports for two women -- Rita Buck-Crockett is the head coach for volleyball and sand volleyball. Katarina Petrovic coaches the tennis team.

A case-by-case look at FIU's women's teams coaches reminded me of the 1980s Boston Celtics, which often included three white guys among five starters. The bombastic declarations that this melanin split demonstrated racism in the Celtics organization were countered with, "OK, who do you not want to start? Perennial All-Star Larry Bird, perennial All-Star Kevin McHale or Danny Ainge, for whom every NBA coach would find a spot?"

Similar situation among FIU's women's teams. Randy Horner's turned FIU's swimming and diving team from what one former swimmer called "a glorified high school team" into one of the best mid-major programs in the nation. Before the last two disappointing seasons, FIU's most consistent winners played soccer under the direction of Thomas Chestnutt. Joe Vogel coaches golf. That covers FIU's last three conference championship programs before the baseball team battered Conference USA into submission in May.

Softball coach Gator Rebhan came recommended by some of his current players. Track & field and cross country's Ryan Heberling ascended to head coach of both programs off convenience and his work with FIU's women's throwers, the strongest part of the track program in recent years. As has been noted here often, the women's teams consistently perform well academically despite so many FIU female athletes growing up with English as a second or third language.

In the overall athletic department, coaches who have shown progress but yet to prove definitively they can get it done consistently -- football's Ron Turner, men's basketball's Anthony Evans, men's soccer's Scott Calabrese -- occupy jobs women's coaches won't get as things stand now.

And that's the legitimate beef women's coaches and their advocates have with the steady stream of men into jobs coaching women's teams. Nobody's truly an equal opportunity employer.

Pat Summitt racked up 1,098 wins over 38 years as Tennessee's women's basketball coach. If you sat on a pile of her credentials and honors, you do your best Mongo Santamaria on Shaq's head. Handling the Tennessee program from the days when she had to drive the van and wash the uniforms herself, Summitt's knowledge of running a successful college basketball program is oceanic. Tennessee reportedly twice approached Summitt about coaching the men's team.

Yet, you never heard of, say, Louisiana Tech, nosing around Pat Summitt about coaching its men's hoop team. But Tyler Summitt with two years as an assistant at Marquette and 23 chromosomes from his mother gets the women's basketball job at La Tech, where all the coaches of women's teams have a Y chromosome.

Can you imagine one of Mike Krzyzewski's daughters doing two years as an assistant men's coach at Butler then applying to be the head coach at FIU? Can you imagine one of Mike Krzyzewski's daughters getting the chance even to be an assistant at Butler?

Though I'm a black man with a daughter, I don't get crazy about the gender/race role model thing. It's too limiting. There's too much to be learned from too many people of all skin tones and genitalia. And if nobody who looks like you has achieved something before, I say to that person what my mother used to say to me: "Guess you'll have to be the first."

But what about when you don't even get the chance to be the first? Because there's too much to be learned from diverse voices, the reduced volume of female coach voices matters at FIU and elsewhere.


May 03, 2015

Buck-Crockett Named AVCA Coach of the Year

The headline pretty much says it.

At Sunday's close of the American Volleyball Coaches Association Sand Volleyball National Championships, FIU's Rita Buck-Crockett was honored as the national Coach of the Year. FIU went 20-3, 18-1 in the regular season, and entered the national championship tournament ranked No. 3. They went 2-2 at nationals, getting knocked out in the quarterfinal by Pepperdine 4-1.

A pair of injuries suffered in the second round loss to Long Beach State certainly hampered the Panthers. To what degree is, of course, unknown. But match scores, including the 5-0 swatting of Florida State in the first round Friday, say FIU peaked as the season continued. After the injuries to Kristine Monforte and Aren Cupp, the Panthers struggled Friday to beat a Stetson team it stomped 4-1 to end the regular season (and that loss was an injury retirement with FIU ahead).


KO Saturday

Sand volleyball fell to Pepperdine 4-1 Saturday morning in the losers bracket of the AVCA Sand Volleyball Naitonals, closing its season at 20-3.

FIU edged Pepperdine 3-2 earlier this season. But with injuries removing Kristine Monforte from the No. 2 pair and Aren Cupp from the No. 5 pair for the second consecutive match Saturday, the Panthers lacked two of their most dependable pairs. FIU could muster only a win from No. 4 pair Anna Budinska and Martyna Gluchowicz. That pair won all their matches at Nationals.

Softball needed to go one, two, three at Charlotte this weekend, but the 49ers took Saturday's second game 2-1 in extra innings. That limits FIU's participation in the Conference USA tournament next week to host.



May 01, 2015

Survival Saturday (and Sunday?)

There's nothing quite so beautifully, crudely basic in sports as situations where the stakes are "win or die." That's why this weekend's English Premier League matches include a couple of relegation games.

Sand Volleyball's in that situation going into the second day of the AVCA Sand Volleyball Nationals. FIU did to Florida State what, in another part of Alabama Thursday night, Jameis Winston and his draft party did to the crab legs. Things looked pretty bright with the 5-0 destruction of the Seminoles combined with No. 7 Long Beach State upsetting No. 2 Hawaii seeming to smooth a strolling path through the winners' bracket for FIU.

Alas, water's surface can be smooth, too, and try to stroll on that. Long Beach repeated its voo-doo in a 4-1 upset that left FIU injured. Injuries to FIU senior Kristine Monforte, who combines with Summer Nash on the Panthers' No. 2 pair, and sophomore Aren Cupp, who plays No. 5 with senior Tina Toghiyani, took them out of the loser-leaves-town match with Stetson. That's the same Stetson that handed FIU its only loss outside of Long Beach and that FIU dusted 4-1 to end the season.

The match came down to a third set of the No. 5 pair, with Toghiyani playing with senior Alex Johnson. Their 15-7 triumph after trading 21-19 sets gave FIU a 3-2 win and got FIU through to Saturday. FIU faces No. 4 Pepperdine, the 2012 and 2014 AVCA national champions.



Two out of three ain't bad, but it'll leave FIU sad. Get a hat trick or go home sick. Sweep or weep.

One of the two remaining spots in the Conference USA tournament next week will be decided with the three-game series at Charlotte Saturday and Sunday. FIU needs all three games to get into the tournament it'll be hosting on Felsberg Field. Otherwise, Charlotte's in and FIU's watching other teams play in their sandbox.


Friday's rainout at Old Dominion means baseball also will be playing a doubleheader Saturday and one game Sunday. Though Old Dominion's the team that's almost in broom-or-gloom mode, FIU can use some buffer building before closing with series against Alabama-Birmingham and a recently-roused Rice team.


April 21, 2015


As expected, the sand volleyball team officially received an invitation to be one of the eight contenders at the American Volleyball Coaches Association national championship, May 1-3. The AVCA gave the Panthers a No. 3 seed, which makes sense because the Panthers ended the season in both the AVCA national sand volleyball poll and DIG Magazine's rankings.

The Panthers sent a pair to the pairs Nationals in the program's first year, 2013. They reached Nationals as a team a year ago and got dismissed from the double elimination tournament in two matches. This year, they're 18-1 and avenged that only loss, 3-2 to Stetson, with a dominant 4-1 win in the rematch. 


Junior college swingman Novian Cherry Tweeted that FIU offered him a scholarship. For 6-20 San Diego Mesa College, Cherry averaged 17.5 points per game, 5.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists. Cherry wasn't the most efficient scorer -- 42.5 percent shooting on all field goals, 38.5 percent from three and just 54.5 percent from the line.



April 11, 2015

Bounce Back Friday

Baseball began with high hopes and went into Friday just hoping to keep spot in the Conference USA tournament.

FIU sat at 6-6 in conference play, inside the top eight, and none of the basement quartet of Charlotte, Old Dominion, Marshall and Louisiana Tech looks like they'll be going Big Red Machine any time now. But who thought FIU would be in this position in the first place? Also, the Panthers schedule included three-game series against each of the two conference teams ranked in the Baseball America Top 25, FAU and Rice, plus a three-gamer against Western Kentucky. Lose a few series, get swept by one or both of the ranked teams, somebody else gets hot and it's "Cancel that bus to Hattiesburg."

And, Friday, FIU went into the eighth inning down 5-2 to Del Boca Vista University. A four-run eighth inning with the Panthers doing what they haven't -- hittin' 'em where they ain't (or at least where they can't make a play) with runners in scoring position -- often enough this season. Brian Portelli's double, JC Escarra's and Mitchell Robinson's ground outs drove in runs and Portelli scored on a wild pitch.

That gave FIU the buffer for Saturday's 8-3 loss. They can steal the series with a win Sunday afternoon.


Only a 3-2 loss to Stetson kept the women of sand from being FIU's second undefeated team this academic year in games/dual meets. The Panthers got a second shot at the Hatters Friday on Siesta Key.

The Panthers won the Nos. 2 through 5 matches in straight sets and the No. 1 pair of Maryna Samoday and Anja Licka led 12-5 after winning the first set before an injury to Licka forced retirement.

4-1, FIU. Now, then.

Nationals come next for FIU, No. 3 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll.

April 10, 2015

FIU's Commissioner's Academic Medal Winners

If you're a full-time student-athlete and bring in a 3.75 grade point average, Conference USA honors you with the Commissioner's Academic Medal. FIU had 34 such athletes for the 2014-15 school year, 10th among full Conference USA member schools (Kentucky, South Carolina and New Mexico are in the league for men's soccer only.)

Baseball: Mitchell Robinson, Zack Soria.

Men's Basketball: Kris Gulley, Hassan Hussein.

Women's Basketball: Katrina Epnere, Zsofia Labady, Nikolina Todorovic.

Women's Golf: Katerina Krasnova.

Sand Vollyeball: Anna Budinska, Morgan Crawley, Darija Sataric.

Men's Soccer: Luca Giovine, Adam Sibiski.

Women's Soccer: Ellen Crist, Johanna Volz, Ashley Westberry.

Softball: Rachel Dwyer, Dominique Grossman, Jessica Hallett, Michaela Mills.

Swimming & Diving: Klara Andersson, Valerie Inghels, Anna Jonsson.

Tennis: Giulietta Boha, Nerma Caluk, Yana Koroleva.

Men's Track & Field: William Offor.

Men's Cross Country: Orlando Rodriguez.

Women's Track & Field: Tiffani Hernandez, Celine Murton.

Volleyball: Tia Clay, Kari Peterson, Jovanna Santamaria, Anabela Sataric.




172 FIU Athletes Make C-USA Commissioner's Honor Roll

(Thought I posted this last night. Apparently, I only saved it. A face-down-on-the-keyboard mistake.)

A 3.0 GPA gets you on the Conference USA Commissioner's Honor Roll, which 172 FIU athletes have done this year. FIU ranks eighth most among Conference USA's full membership schools. That's an improvement after 154 and tied for 12th last year.

The names are submitted to the conference by the schools.

Baseball (16): Brandon Cody, Charles Cormier, Cody Crouse, Ian Exposito, Julius Gaines, Evan Holland, David Lee, Spencer Levine, Dominic LoBrutto, Carlos Lopez, Andres Nunez, Mitchell Robinson, Austin Rodriguez, Jack Schaaf, Eduardo Silva, Zack Soria.

Men's Basketball (3): Larry Dennis (Huh? He transferred to a junior college at midseason), Kris Gulley, Hassan Hussein.

Women's Basketball (13): Jade Cheek, Jerica Coley (Say what? Everybody's happy she's still around campus doing graduate work, but how is she counting for this year? Was somebody just throwing names in there to see if C-USA was paying attemtion?), Marita Davydova, Arielle Durant (Uh, director of basketball oerations this year, not a player), Katrina Epnere, Aajah Hawkins, Amari Hawkins, Zsofia Labady, Tynia McKinzie (dismissed from the team at midseason), Taylor Shade, Nikolina Todorovic, Ciera Wheatley, Brianna Wright. 

Football (17): Chris Ayers, Richard Burrows, Christopher Cummins, Akil Dan-Fodio, Ricky Fernandez, Chris Flaig, Adrian Francois, Cody Hodgens, Yousif Khoury, Jose Laphitzondo, Fred Porter, Anthon Samuel, Donald Senat, Yohan Soares, Delmar Taylor, Scott Wade, Cory White.

Golf (8 -- the entire team): Coralia Arias, Sophie Godley, Carla Jane, Katerina Krasnova, Meghan MacLaren, Camila Serrano, Ashley Shimmel, Jasmine Wade.

Sand Volleyball (9): Marina Boulanger, Anna Budinska, Morgan Crawley, Aren Cupp, Alexa Diaz, Alexandria Johnson, Giovanna Pasos, Darija Sataric, Tina Toghiyani.

Men's Soccer (10): Quentin Albrecht, Roberto Alterio, Luca Giovine, Marvin Hezel, Nicholas Midttun, Deshawon Nembhard, Nico Pasquariello, Adam Sibiski, Robin Spiegel, Jesse Wear.

Women's soccer (16): Shelby Bowden, Ellen Crist, Marie Egan, Cyan Jean-Baptiste, Talia McMurtrie, Ryann Ramirez, Nikki Rios, Alyssa Robinson, Ashleigh Shim, Marlena Stablein, Sara Stewart, Nevana Stojakovic, Pat Tomanon, Johanna Volz, Madlen Weinhardt, Ashley Westberry.

Softball 10): Isabelle Barnes, Rachel Dwyer, Krystal Garcia, Samantha Green, Dominique Grossman, Jessica Hallett, Corinne Jenkins, Marisa McGregor, Michaela Mills, Rebekah Sanchez.

Swimming & Diving (20): Klara Andersson, Sabrina Beaupre (she's been off the eligibility clock since the 2014 NCAA's), Jessica Chadwick, Jenny Deist, Nadia Farrugia, Valerie Inghels, Anna Jonsson, Lily Kaufmann, Maria Lopez, Jean Madison, Alex Mayhew, Melissa Moreno, Sonia Perez-Arau (oh, come on! the only C-USA swimmer to score at the 2014 NCAAs. Lazy times in ), Valeriia Popova, Rebecca Quensel, Silvia Scalia, Alaina Smith, Kayley Tepe, Courtney VanderSchaaf, Becky Wilde. 

Tennis (6): Giulietta Boha, Valentina Briceno, Nerma Caluk, Yana Koroleva, Nina Nagode, Carlotta Orlando.

Men's cross country (7): Brandon Ballard, Ronny Greenup, Andres Magliano, Eli Monzon, Leonel Pozo, Daniel Puentes, Orlando Rodriquez.

Women's cross country (4): Adrienne Gerzeny, Katarina Rodriguez, Brittany Wasserbeck, Desmika White.

Men's track (10): Dylan Cook, Pablo Espitia, Garry Louima, Tyshawn Lytle, Desmond McGill, Luka Mustafic, Daniel Neptune, Wisdom Offor, Julian Santiago, Traivon Smith.

Women's track 12): Brittany Corbett, Phillicia Fluellen, Chandra Fulwood, Adrienne Gerzeny, Chelsea Gobourne, Anesha Gordon, Anna Heinzman, Tiffani Hernandez, Sharniece King, Symone Lindsay, Celine Murton, Lexis Shields.

Volleyball: Lucia Castro, Tia Clay, Maria Coukolis, Briana Gogins, Gloria Levorin, Anja Licka, Natalie Martinez, Kristine Monforte, Kari Peterson, Jovanna Santamaria, Anabela Sataric, Tina Toghiyani (wait, she already got counted back at sand volleyball...)




April 07, 2015

Sand Up to No. 3

Tuesday's American Volleyball Coaches Association sand volleyball poll moves FIU up to No. 3 behind No. 1 USC (the one in LA) and No. 2 Hawaii.

FIU's 17-1 with only a 3-2 loss to Stetson early in the season besmirching the Panthers' record. Last weekend, Stanford brought several of its stud indoor volleyball players to the Doctors Hospital Surf & Turf Invitational and FIU reminded The Cardinal that the outdoor game isn't the indoor game. Just like FAU, Webber International and Carson-Newman, Stanford got rolled 5-0 by the Panthers.

Friday, FIU gets another shot at Stetson, now ranked No. 9, on Siesta Key at the Fiesta on Siesta. It sounds like a fight promoted by Don King and it should be more interesting than a number of King cards.


March 17, 2015

Spring Football Practices Now Closed

FIU announced today that spring football practices will be closed. Below is the schedule for the practices you won't be able to attend and the spring game for which you'll be invited to come in and sit a spell.

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

Mar. 26: 10 a.m.

Apr. 3: 7 p.m.

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

For what it's worth, if this scuttles your football practice viewing plans, the sand volleyball team practices around the same time and they're 7-1 with a No. 7 ranking in the latest American Volleyball Coaches Association poll.



February 16, 2015

Baseball Breaks Into One Poll; Sand 9th in Preseason Poll

With three of the five polls reporting, FIU baseball made it to No. 23 in one poll and got an almost-not-quite in two others after taking two of three from Tennessee.

Baseball America put FIU at No. 23. The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Top 30 dropped Tennessee from No. 29 to out and lists FIU in an alphabetical listing of others receiving votes. D1Baseball.com, which ranked Tennessee at No. 25 in its Top 25 poll, dropped the Volunteers and put FIU under "Also Receiving Consideration."

("Some I consider my girlfriends. Some I just consider." -- John Bender, The Breakfast Club)

Collegiate Baseball's rankings didn't include FIU and doesn't list any schools outside its Top 30. I'll update later as the USA Today Coaches poll gets released.


Meanwhile, FIU's sand volleyball team got ranked ninth in the American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason poll released Monday. Pepperdine's No. 1 with USC No. 2. Florida State breaks the West Coast dominance at No. 3, but between Tallahassee at No. 3 and Miami at No. 9, it's all Pacific Coast -- Hawaii, Long Beach State, Loyola Marymount, UCLA, Saint Mary's.

FIU opens its season Mar. 7 at the Stetson Spring Break Tournament.


Men's basketball, vs. Rice, Thursday, 8 p.m.

Softball, vs. Villanova, Friday, 11 a.m.

Softball, vs. Wichita State, Friday, 4 p.m.

Softball, vs. Columbia, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Softball, vs. Texas State, Saturday, 4 p.m.

Men's basketball, vs. North Texas, Saturday, 6 p.m.


January 21, 2015

Top Dollar

FIU's softball team enters this season as the Conference USA co-favorite with Alabama-Birmingham. Why that's to be expected is detailed in an earlier post. But that got me thinking...

When Jake Schumann left the softball coach last summer with an obvious potential conference champion and NCAA tournament team coming back, he insisted it was because of salary. Living the coaching life with wife and kids in the Broward suburbs, Schumann insisted he needed more than the just-under $60,000 per year FIU paid. He took an associate coach job at Ole Miss for more money in a cheaper area.

So, FIU's last team to be a preseason conference favorite: softball, 2015. Head coach Gator Rebhan's salary: $59,700. 

FIU's last team conference title: women's golf, 2013 Sun Belt tournament. Head coach Joe Vogel's current salary: $58,590.

FIU's last team conference title in a completely team sport: women's soccer, 2011 Sun Belt tournament or 2012 Sun Belt regular season, if you count that. Head coach Thomas Chestnutt's current salary: $63,024.

FIU's highest ranked team nationally: sand volleyball, 2014. Head coach Rita Buck-Crockett's current salary: $60,000 (for being in charge of sand and indoor volleyball).

FIU's best team over the last four years when combining athletics and academics: swimming & diving. Head coach Randy Horner's current salary: $57,590.

FIU athletic director Pete Garcia's bonuses during the 2013-14 academic year: approximately $99,550.

Numbers according to either contracts in possession of The Herald or Florida Has a Right to Know website.


May 02, 2014

Sand spiked

FIU lost to Hawaii 4-1 Friday morning in the first round of the AVCA Collegiate Sand Chamionships. Florida State smoked FIU 5-0 Friday afternoon to eliminate the Panthers.

And that's that.

May 01, 2014

First Friday of the (College) Summer

Friday morning at 10 a.m., FIU's sand volleyball team faces Hawaii in the first round of the AVCA Collegiate Sand Championships. Should FIU win, the Panthers get No. 1 seed Southern Cal at 1 p.m. An FIU loss means they wait until 5 p.m., when they get the loser of No. 2 Pepperdine vs. the Florida State-Stetson winner.

Got that?

Of the aforementioned schools, FIU faced only Florida State this year, losing 4-1.


A good weekend against East Carolina, tied for third in Conference USA with a 13-8 conference record, will go a long way toward FIU clinching a spot in the conference tournament.

With 10 games remaining, FIU has an 11-10 conference record, tied for seventh with Middle Tennessee State. Ninth place FAU sits at 10-14. Realistically, FIU's safe. FAU still has three games of flailling at that Alabama-Birmingham staff and Friday begins three games against Old Dominion's vacuum cleaner infield. So In three games with East Carolina; three games against Middle; and three games against weak Tulane, FIU should be ablde to come up with enough wins to outdistance FAU no matter what happens when they play May 13 at FAU.


April 28, 2014

Here We Are Now -- Ignore Us

I dropped by the North Florida-FIU sand volleyball exhibition Monday to shoot photos for a piece on the team that we had planned to run later this week, right before the American Volleyball Coaches Association Collegiate Nationals. Though my best Herald photo credits come from disasters -- massive car crashes, storm-razed Blue Monster scoreboards and television towers, the first quarter crowd at November's Marshall-FIU football game -- I figured I could save our stretched photo staff a trip to Camp Mitch.

After an hour of shooting, I left, planning to return Tuesday to talk to folks for the story. Got the word via e-mail around 3:30 that stated Coach Rita Buck-Crockett "will have practice closed to ALL MEDIA tomorrow due to the fact that she wants the team focused on Nationals with no distractions."

The team leaves Wednesday morning.

Looking at the e-mail recipients, "ALL MEDIA" apparently means me and a member of FIU Student Media, which made the capitalization all the more amusing. I'd gauged from the vibe at the courts that certain volleyball folks weren't happy I pointed out the whole gofundme.com thing, which is kind of strange. They created the page, they promoted it on social media and still have said page up there, presumably so more people will see it and pony up bucks for the program.

Or maybe some other folks aren't happy.

"Whaaatever," (said in Squidward voice). That's why there won't be a story in The Herald on the closest thing FIU will have to a national championship team this year as that team goes to the national championship tournament.

Anyway, good luck to Marina Boulanger and Jessica Gehrke, the No. 1 pair; No. 2 pair Tina Toghiyani and Aren Cupp; No. 3 pair Maja Rosko and Camila Rosado; and the rest of the team this weekend.




Texeira C-USA Player of the Week; Pitching Zeroes; On The Beach

As predicted on this blog yesterday, Conference USA named FIU freshman Stephanie Texeira its Player of the Week for the second time this season. Texeira went four for five with four walks, five RBI, two home runs, a 2.000 slugging percentage (that's Babe Ruth-on-a-1980s-video-game numbers) and a .900 on-base percentage.


Also as predicted on Sunday night's blog post, FIU retook the national lead in team ERA, which is now down to 1.93 for the season. Mike Franco ranks sixth with a 0.95 ERA and freshman Cody Crouse is 25th with a 1.35 ERA.


Two years ago, when FIU executive director of sports and entertainment Pete Garcia mentioned FIU adding a sand volleyball team, he crested on "giddy." His reasoning: the sport's a natural for a school in a town with popular beaches and FIU could be a national power quickly because the sand Panthers wouldn't be scrambling to make up everybody else's 10 or 100-year head start.

Such was the theory, so has it been danced. FIU's seeded No. 5 going into the American Volleyball Coaches Association national championship for sand volleyball, which is still what the NCAA classifies as an "emerging sport." CBS Sports Netowrk will show a delayed broadcast in late May.

Should FIU as a team or one of the pairings come back with the biggest trophy, you can predict the trophy-snuggling photos: Garcia, several other athletic department administrators, FIU President Mark Rosenberg, all getting around the team and the trophy with the enthusiasm of taking selfies with a new baby. 

Why, then, doesn't the department put enough bucks behind the sand volleyball and volleyball programs so that it doesn't have to do the gofundme.com thing? It's not embarrassing for the programs -- they're doing what they have to do. That's what coaches and ahtletes do. It reflects on the school and the athletic department that those programs have to do the electronic version of pleading car to car at 107th Avenue and 8th Street. FIU's doing the reverse Strom Thurmond -- instead of giving child support, but no name or claim to a daughter, FIU's giving name and is happy to claim, but are almost deadbeat dads.

Schools consider Division I athletics marketing. It's about getting the school name and positive impressions of the university out there. It works, too. Applications went up when the football team went to bowl games. But these words go back to what I wrote in the fall and the winter -- details in operation and presentation form an initial impression of your school to those who haven't been around it daily. Failure there presents a negative impression.

This is too basic to be a detail. Those who want to show love after the team wins should show love beforehand by showing the money.


April 21, 2014

We're back...

Apparently, Typepad, which hosts our blogs, suffered malfunctions Easter Sunday and Why Are They Off School? Monday. That's the reason for all the funkiness in the comments -- and no posts -- since Saturday.

So, let's take care of a few things...



FIU heads for the Big Ten's most beautiful campus, Bloomington, Ind., to play Indiana University on Sept. 12, 2015 and hosts the school with the Big Ten's leanest football tradition Sept. 3, 2016. IU bought its way out of a game with the University of South Florida before going after games with FIU. Clearly, the thought in Bloomington is Willie Taggart can get things turned around at USF before Ron Turner can do it down here.

FIU goes to the University of Massachusetts on Oct. 3, 2015 then hosts UMass Sept. 15, 2018. FIU's 2015 non-conference schedule includes the aforementioned road games and a trip to Central Florida.


FIU's most recent team conference champions, last year's Sun Belt queens, sit in fourth, 14 shots back of leader Tulane after the first day of the Conference USA championship at the Peninsula Golf & Racquet Club in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

While FIU's top two, freshman Camila Serrano and sophomore Sophie Godley, were 1-under 71, tied for fourth, and even par 72, tied for sixth, respectively, the rest of FIU's roster were the bananas in the tailpipe: sophomores Carla Jane and Meghan MacLaren, 4-over 76, tied for 29th; and freshman Coralia Arias, 9-over 81, tied for 52nd.


FIU ranks No. 6 in the most recent coaches poll, tied with St. Mary's, but the sand women will be seeded No. 5 in the national tournament, the American Volleyball Coaches Association announced Monday. The tournament runs May 2-4 in Gulf Shores, just like golf.


I asked Turtle Thomas if freshman pitcher Chris Mourelle's dropoff in performance in his last two starts -- two runs in six starts, nine runs in his last two -- could be a sign of a pitcher getting tired. Thomas said it was possible, but Mourelle actually had better stuff in Sunday's loss to FAU than the previous week against Louisiana Tech.

Mourelle pitched 61 innings last year at Southwest High. He's at 54 1/3 innings this year.



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