February 08, 2016

Future Watch

UPCOMING HOME GAMES/MATCHES

Thursday -- Men's Basketball vs. UTEP, 7 p.m.

Friday -- Softball vs. Florida State, 7 p.m.

Saturday -- Softball vs. St. John's, 5:30 p.m.

Saturday -- Men's Basketball vs. UTSA, 7 p.m.

Saturday -- Softball vs. Illinois, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday -- Softball vs. LIU-Brooklyn, 1 p.m.

Sunday -- Softball vs. Valparaiso, 3:30 p.m.

The Futures market sells big in FIU Athletics these days.

Make no mistake, it always has. Talk of what could be, should be, will be (maybe) always seems to draw more interest at FIU than what is. Maybe it's just I'm noticing this confluence this year.

Softball starts this Friday at home. Baseball begins a week from Friday at Ole Miss. Sand Volleyball will start soon after finishing last season ranked No. 4 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll. And, of course, we just had Signing Day with the football coaching staff likely looking at a Pack For a Bowl or Pack Up the Office season.

Now, take men's basketball, 11-13 overall, 5-6 in Conference USA, zero for four in its last four. You knew the season had entered the "just get ready for the conference tournament" phase when when coach Anthony Evans exuded an almost sanguine air after the Jan. 30 men's basketball home loss to Old Dominion. FIU did some things well, not enough or as many as Old Dominion and took a four-point loss. They're still trying to gain the cohesion and consistency of a team, which is where they seem to be at this point every year. Even in Evans' third year, there's still a chop shop quality to the roster -- this part from a Hialeah body shop, this piece from Sanford & Son's area, these pieces driven down from Tallahassee. There's not wholesale roster changes, but enough key players change each year that FIU seems perpetually trying to get past the dating stage.

The good news for the women's basketball team (3-19, 1-10)? Everybody makes the conference tournament. The bad news? FIU has to play with this year's team instead of next year's. This year's Panthers show about 72 times more pluck than they did last year. They're still tax refund light on talent and focus. Nobody's looked forward to next year like this since the Brooklyn Dodgers ("Wait 'til next year!") or 1960s Dallas Cowboys (Next Year's Champions).

Here's what FIU gains next year: a pair of three-star freshman forwards, 6-1 Sydney Fields from Lilburn (Ga.) Parkview and 6-2 Jamesia Amand from Dallas Skyline; three-star 5-7 point guard Alexis Gordon from Palm Bay Covenant Christian; point guard Kayla Rogers, who runs the show for Jacksonville Ribault, which has been nationally ranked this year; and 6-4 transfer Erin Garner, a former three-star recruit who transferred from Georgia Tech. Oh, and last year's CUSA Freshman of the Year, 6-1 forward Kiandre'a Pound, will be back from spending a redshirt season becoming a mommy.

Swim & Dive just finished its dual meet season at 8-5 by beating FAU 115-71 and the defending Conference USA champions enter conference meet prep. With the variation how much stress some programs put on earlier season meets, checking out top conference times can be like looking at a Kandinsky -- looks wonderful, but you might not be seeing what you think you're seeing. Still, FIU's got one of the top two CUSA times this year in the 50 freestyle, 100 free, 200 free, 500 free, 1000 free, 1,650 free (sophomores Kyna Periera and Naomi Ruele, take a bow); 100 back (Ruele), 400 free relay, 800 free relay, 400 medley relay; and sophomore Rebecca Quesnel could sweep the three diving competitions.

But FIU's owned the best individuals at conference meets before and been left to celebrate them while finishing from here to Hollywood from the team title. That changed in 2015 with FIU's depth burying second place Rice. The challenge is to repeat that feat Feb. 24-27 in Atlanta.

  

January 20, 2016

CUSA's Expectations for FIU Softball Lowered

Remember when FIU softball entered the season as Conference USA co-favorite and would host the conference tournament? Then, missed the tournament?

That was last year, Gator Rebhan's first year as head coach of what turned out to be a team in transition. This year, the conference coaches put the preseason favorite hat on Florida Atlantic while predicting FIU sixth out of 12. FIU junior infielder Stephanie Texeira was the lone Panther voted to the preseason all-conference team.

Speaking of transition, word around campus is extra construction necessary for the softball locker rooms scheduled to be habitable last summer ballooned the cost to almost $2 million. Two million dollars was the total goal of the Women's Sports Campaign anticipated (so it was stated) to fund the softball/golf locker room & lounge, among other projects. No fingers to point on this, unless you want to say the campaign's bar sat too low.

January 05, 2016

How Does FIU Compare to Its Conference USA Peers? (Part 1)

Curious about how FIU ranks among its Conference USA peers since moving from the Sun Belt Fun Belt in 2013, a curiosity prodded by several people inside and outside the athletic department asking the same thing, I did a little record hunting.

Now, obviously, the best answer to the above would be found by compiling the records of each CUSA school in each sport that FIU plays, weighting for things like missed conference tournaments, NCAA runs, conference tournament runs, individual brilliance (such as FIU's Meghan MacLaren tearing up the 2015 conference golf tournament). But all that would take up way too large a portion of whatever time I have left on this plane of existence. So, here's what I did:

I ranked the schools on overall and conference records since 2013 in football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball and then a wild card sport -- each school's best sport in which FIU also participates.

You play to win championships, so when ranking in conference play, the title winners eat first. When I assign point values later to determine an overall ranking, conference play will get greater weight. You get more credit for beating your peers than you do gorging on lesser punks.

I see the obvious flaws. With a relatively small sample size, one great or abysmal season can swing the results too hard in one direction. That's even more the case with schools that entered CUSA after the Great Sun Belt Migration of 2013 brought FIU, FAU, North Texas and Middle Tennessee State to the league. But, outside of Intelligent Benevolent Dictatorship, no perfect systems exist. 

Here's the rankings for each sport:

FOOTBALL OVERALL

1. Marshall – 33-8, three bowl wins

2. Western Kentucky – 20-7, two bowl wins.

3. Rice – 23-16, two bowl appearances, one win.

4. Louisiana Tech – 22-17, two bowl wins.

5. Middle Tennessee State -- 21-17, two bowl appearances.

6. Old Dominion – 11-13

7. North Texas -- 14-23, won one bowl game.

8. UTEP – 14-23, one bowl appearance

9. UTSA – 14-22 (ranked behind UTEP and North Texas despite a smidge better record because UTEP’s extra loss came in a bowl game and North Texas’ extra game was a bowl win).

10. Southern Mississippi – 13-25, one bowl appearance

11. FAU – 12-24

12. UAB – 8-16 (loses tiebreaker with FAU on, you know, the program being dead, then revived to two-season coma).

13. FIU – 10-26

14. Charlotte – 2-10

FOOTBALL CONFERENCE

1. Marshall -- 20-4, one conference title

2. Western Kentucky -- 12-4, one conference title.

3. Rice – 15-9, one conference title.

4. Middle Tennessee State – 17-7

5. Louisiana Tech -- 16-8

6. UTSA – 12-12

7. Old Dominion – 7-9

8. Southern Mississippi – 9-15 (gets the tiebreaker over UTEP, North Texas and FAU based on a Conference USA West Division title.)

9. UTEP 9-15 (gets the tiebreaker over North Texas and FAU on combined head-to-head record)

10. North Texas -- 9-15 (head-to-head tiebreaker over FAU)

11. FAU -- 9-15

12. UAB – 5-11

13. FIU – 7-17

14. Charlotte – 0-8

MEN’S BASKETBALL OVERALL

1. Louisiana Tech – 68-19

2. UTEP – 55-27

3. Old Dominion – 53-32

4. Middle Tennessee State -- 51-31

5. UAB – 49-32

6. Western Kentucky -- 28-18

7. FIU – 38-40

8. North Texas 36-42

9. Charlotte – 17-28

10. Marshall – 27-52

11. UTSA – 25-50

12. Rice – 24-53

13. FAU – 21-53

14. Southern Mississippi – 41-36 (placed down here for two years of self-imposed postseason bans after fundamental NCAA violations, such as completing homework assignments for recruits).

MEN’S BASKETBALL CONFERENCE

1. UAB -- 20-15, one Conference USA title

2. Louisiana Tech – 31-6

3. UTEP -- 27-9

4. Western Kentucky -- 12-7

5. Old Dominion – 23-12

6. Middle Tennessee State – 22-13

7. FIU – 16-19

8. North Texas -- 17-21

9. Charlotte – 7-12

10. UTSA -- 13-23

11. Marshall – 12-23

12. Rice – 10-26

13. FAU – 7-27

14. Southern Mississippi -- 17-18 (See above)

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL OVERALL

1. Western Kentucky – 40-7

2. Middle Tennessee State – 60-20

3. Southern Mississippi – 60-22

4. UTEP – 52-25

5. UAB – 41-33

6. Old Dominion – 44-37

7. FAU -- 38-34

8. Marshall – 38-37

9. Charlotte – 22-22

10. UTSA – 34-40

11. Louisiana Tech – 33-42

12. Rice – 24-49

13. North Texas -- 23-48

14. FIU -- 20-54

WOMEN’S BASKETBALL CONFERENCE

1. Western Kentucky – 17-2, one conference title

2. Middle Tennessee State 30-5, one conference title

3. Southern Mississippi -- 27-8

4. Old Dominion -- 21-14

5. UTEP – 21-15

6. Charlotte – 10-9

7. UAB – 18-17

8. Louisiana Tech – 15-20

9. UTSA -- 15-21

10. FAU -- 14-21

11. Marshall -- 11-24

12. Rice – 11-25

13. North Texas -- 11-25

14. FIU – 6-29

BASEBALL OVERALL

1. Rice – 79-42, one NCAA at-large bid

2. Southern Mississippi – 71-43-1

3. FAU – 70-44, one NCAA at-large bid

4. UAB – 68-46

5. UTSA – 68-51

6. FIU – 66-51

7. Old Dominion – 63-54

8. Middle Tennessee State – 63-54

9. Western Kentucky – 24-28

10. Louisiana Tech – 40-62

11. Marshall – 40-63

12. Charlotte – 38-60-1

North Texas & UTEP – No team

BASEBALL CONFERENCE

1. Rice -- 45-15, one conference title

2. FIU – 29-31, one conference title

3. Southern Mississippi – 38-21

4. Middle Tennesse State – 37-24

5. UAB -- 35-25

6. FAU -- 33-26

7. UTSA -- 33-28

8. Old Dominion – 30-30

9. Marshall -- 22-37

10. Charlotte -- 21-38

11. Western Kentucky – 10-19

12. Louisiana Tech – 13-46

North Texas & UTEP – No team

WILD CARD SPORT

1. Western Kentucky – Volleyball. 62-10, 30-2 in conference, two conference tournament titles.

2. UTSA -- Men’s Track & Field. Two outdoor conference titles.

3. Charlotte -- Men’s Soccer. 37-16-7 overall, 16-5-4 in conference, one conference title, two other at-large NCAA tournament bids.

4. UTEP – Men’s Cross Country. One conference title, one conference runner-up (tell me I was the only one who thought the Miners won this every year).

5. Old Dominion -- Men’s Soccer. 32-18-5, 14-8-3, one conference title (a men's soccer championship is worth more than any other conference title because it's Conference USA’s best sport, by far).

6. FIU – Swimming & Diving. 22-3 in dual meets, one conference title (2015), one conference runner-up (2014).

7. Rice – Swimming & Diving. One conference title (2014), one conference runner-up (2015).

8. North Texas -- Women’s Soccer. 49-16-3 overall, 22-5-3 in conference, one conference tournament title.

9. Middle Tennessee State – Women’s Golf. One conference title.

10. UAB – Softball. 64-46 overall, 30-15 in conference, one NCAA at-large bid (gets close nod over FAU softball on incrementally better conference record).

11. FAU – Softball. 72-41-1, 31-16 in conference, one NCAA at-large bid.

12. Marshall -- Women’s soccer. 32-18-11, 14-9-7 in conference.

13. Southern Mississippi – Volleyball. 61-39 overall, 26-21 in conference.

14. Louisiana Tech -- Women’s soccer. 34-24-3 overall, 14-14-2 in conference.

As this is a multi-part post, the master of the multi-part hit...

 

 

December 07, 2015

Diamond Schedules & Diaz Love

Senior center Adrian Diaz wound up the only winner in men's basketball from last week.

While the team compiled a hat trick of losses to Stetson, Elon and Florida Gulf Coast, Diaz averaged 19.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.0 blocks in the three games. For this, he was honored for the second time this season as Conference USA Player of the Week.

 

2016 FIU Panthers Baseball Schedule

Date                       Day                           Opponent                                          Location                                    Time (ET)           

Feb. 19................. Friday                       at Ole Miss....................................... Oxford, Miss............................ TBA

Feb. 20................. Saturday                  at. Ole Miss...................................... Oxford, Miss............................ TBA

Feb. 21................. Sunday                    at Ole Miss....................................... Oxford, Miss............................ TBA

Feb. 23................. Tuesday                  ST. THOMAS................................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

Feb. 24................. Wednesday            MISSOURI....................................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

Feb. 26................. Friday                      SETON HALL.................................. FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

Feb. 27................. Saturday                 SETON HALL.................................. FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

Feb. 28................. Sunday                    SETON HALL.................................. FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 1................ Tuesday                  SETON HALL.................................. FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 4................ Friday                      LOYOLA MARYMOUNT................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 5................ Saturday                 LOYOLA MARYMOUNT (DH)...... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 6................ Sunday                    LOYOLA MARYMOUNT................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 8................ Tuesday                  STETSON........................................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 9................ Wednesday            ILLINOIS STATE............................. FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 11............. Friday                      MANHATTAN.................................. FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 12............. Saturday                 MANHATTAN (DH)........................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 13............. Sunday                    MANHATTAN.................................. FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 15.............. Tuesday                  at Jacksonville................................ Jacksonville, Fla..................... TBA

March 16.............. Wednesday            at Jacksonville................................ Jacksonville, Fla..................... TBA

March 18.............. Friday                       at Charlotte*.................................... Charlotte, N.C......................... TBA

March 19.............. Saturday                  at Charlotte*.................................... Charlotte, N.C......................... TBA

March 20.............. Sunday                    at Charlotte*.................................... Charlotte, N.C......................... TBA

March 24............. Thursday                MARSHALL*................................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 25............. Friday                      MARSHALL*................................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 26............. Saturday                 MARSHALL*................................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

March 29.............. Sunday                    at Bethune-Cookman.................... Daytona, Fla............................ TBA

April 1................... Friday                       at UTSA*.......................................... San Antonio, Texas................ TBA

April 2................... Saturday                  at UTSA*.......................................... San Antonio, Texas................ TBA

April 3................... Sunday                    at UTSA*.......................................... San Antonio, Texas................ TBA

April 8................... Friday                      OLD DOMINION*............................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

April 9................... Saturday                 OLD DOMINION*............................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

April 10................. Sunday                    OLD DOMINION*............................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

April 13................. Wednesday            BETHUNE-COOKMAN................. FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

April 15................. Friday                       at LA Tech*...................................... Ruston, La................................ TBA

April 16................. Saturday                  at LA Tech*...................................... Ruston, La................................ TBA

April 17................. Sunday                    at LA Tech*...................................... Ruston, La................................ TBA

April 22................. Friday                      FLORIDA ATLANTIC*.................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

April 23................. Friday                      FLORIDA ATLANTIC*.................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

April 24................. Sunday                    FLORIDA ATLANTIC*.................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

April 26................. Tuesday                  at USF............................................... Tampa, Fla.............................. TBA

April 27................. Wednesday            at Louisville..................................... Louisville, Ky........................... TBA

April 29................. Friday                       at WKU*............................................ Bowling Green, Ky................. TBA

April 30................. Saturday                  at WKU*............................................ Bowling Green, Ky................. TBA

May 1.................... Sunday                    at WKU*............................................ Bowling Green, Ky................. TBA

May 6.................... Friday                      RICE*................................................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

May 7.................... Saturday                 RICE*................................................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

May 8.................... Sunday                    RICE*................................................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

May 13.................. Friday                       at UAB*............................................. Birmingham, Ala.................... TBA

May 14.................. Saturday                  at UAB*............................................. Birmingham, Ala.................... TBA

May 15.................. Sunday                    at UAB*............................................. Birmingham, Ala.................... TBA

May 19.................. Thursday                SOUTHERN MISS*........................ FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

May 20.................. Friday                      SOUTHERN MISS *....................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

May 21.................. Saturday                 SOUTHERN MISS *....................... FIU Baseball Stadium.......... TBA

May 25-29............ Wed.-Sun.               Conference USA Tournament..... Hattiesburg, Miss.................... TBA

May 29-31............ Sun-Tues                NCAA Regionals............................ TBA........................................... TBA

TBA....................... Fri.-Sun.                   NCAA Super Regionals................ TBA........................................... TBA

TBA....................... Sat.-Tues.                College World Series.................... Omaha, Neb............................ TBA

 

2016 FIU Softball Schedule

Date                     Day               Opponent                                      Location                                                            Time

FIU Invitational

Feb. 12                Fri.                Florida State                                Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 13                Sat.               St. John’s                                     Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 13                Sat.               Illinois                                            Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 14                Sun.              LIU Brooklyn                                Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 14                Sun.              Valparaiso                                    Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Panther Invitational

Feb. 19                Fri.                Holy Cross                                   Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 19                Fri.                Indiana                                          Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 20                Sat.               Delaware                                      Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 20                Sat.               Holy Cross                                   Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 21                Sun.              Holy Cross                                   Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

 

Feb. 25                Thurs.          Central Connecticut State       Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Felsberg Invitational

Feb. 26                Fri.                Siena                                             Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 26                Fri.                Central Connecticut State       Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 27                Sat.               Central Connecticut State       Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 27                Sat.               Delaware                                      Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

Feb. 28                Sun.              Siena                                             Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

UF Invitational

March 4               Fri.                vs. Illinois State                            Gainesville, Fla.                                               TBA

March 4               Fri.                at Florida                                       Gainesville, Fla.                                               TBA

March 5               Sat.               at Florida                                       Gainesville, Fla.                                               TBA

March 5               Sat.               vs. Florida A&M                            Gainesville, Fla.                                               TBA

March 6               Sun.              vs. South Alabama                      Gainesville, Fla.                                               TBA

March 8               Tues.            East Carolina                              Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

March 9               Wed.             Notre Dame (DH)                       Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

March 12            Sat.               Charlotte (DH)*                           Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

March 13            Sun.              Charlotte*                                     Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

March 15            Tues.            Rutgers (DH)                               Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

March 19             Sat.               at WKU (DH)*                               Bowling Green, Ky.                                         TBA

March 20             Sun.              at WKU*                                         Bowling Green, Ky.                                         TBA

March 25            Fri.                UTEP (DH)*                                  Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

March 26            Sat.               UTEP*                                            Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

April 2                  Sat.               at North Texas (DH)*                  Denton, Texas                                                  TBA

April 3                  Sun.              at North Texas*                            Denton, Texas                                                  TBA

April 9                  Sat.               Florida Atlantic (DH)*                Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

April 10                Sun.              Florida Atlantic                            Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

April 13                Wed.             at Bethune-Cookman (DH)       Daytona Beach, Fla.                                       TBA

April 16                Sat.               at UAB (DH)*                                Birmingham, Ala.                                            TBA

April 17                Sun.              at UAB*                                          Birmingham, Ala.                                            TBA

April 23                Sat.               at Florida Gulf Coast (DH)         Fort Myers, Fla.                                                TBA

April 24                Sun.              at Florida Gulf Coast                   Fort Myers, Fla.                                                TBA

April 30                Sat.               at Marshall (DH)*                         Huntington, W.Va.                                           TBA

May 1                   Sun.              at Marshall*                                  Huntington, W.Va.                                           TBA

May 7                   Sat.               Middle Tennessee (DH)*          Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

May 8                   Sun.              Middle Tennessee*                    Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium     TBA

May 12-14           Thurs-Sat.   C-USA Championship               Denton, Texas                                                  TBA

May 20-22           Fri.-Sun.       NCAA Regionals                         Campus Sites                                                  TBA

May 26-29           Thurs.-Sun. NCAA Super Regionals             Campus Sites                                                  TBA

June 2-8              Wed.-Sun.   NCAA WCWS                               Oklahoma City, Okla.                                      TBA

* - Conference USA game

May 27, 2015

APR, Adidas, Athletics Cash

As the baseball team practiced (with adidas bats -- more on that later), the 2013-14 Academic Progress Rate numbers dropped. Not literally, but in the modern popular music vernacular.

Terry McMillan's Waiting to Exhale concerned African-American women and early 1990s relationships, not APR. But, it does tend to describe FIU around this time of the year. It's entirely possible one of the breezes I felt at the baseball stadium today came from the department exhaling over an APR report without any red flags or even yellow flags.

Men's track (indoor and outdoor), women's track, volleyball, softball, golf, women's cross country each registered perfect single-year APRs of 1000. Golf owned the lone perfect multiyear APR.

Proving that bad APR falls somewhere between tires and herpes in durability, men's basketball came in with the lowest multiyear APR, 879. That's still represents progress from 858 in 2011-12 and 866 in 2012-13 and allows basketball to proceed penalty free for the first time since the Richard Pitino-coached season of 2012-13.

Multiyear APR

Golf 1000

Women's basketball 995

Women's cross country 987

Tennis 982

Men's cross country 977

Women's outdoor track 977

Women's indoor track 975

Swimming & Diving 973

Volleyball 973

Softball 971

Men's soccer 970

Women's soccer 969

Men's outdoor track 958

Men's indoor track 956

Baseball 938

Football 933

Men's Basketball 879

2013-14 Single Year APR

Men's indoor track 1000

Women's indoor track 1000

Women's outdoor track 1000

Men's outdoor track 1000

Women's cross country 1000

Volleyball 1000

Golf 1000

Softball 1000

Women's soccer 979

Women's basketball 967

Swimming & Diving 962

Tennis 955

Football 935

Men's basketball 933

Men's Soccer 932

Baseball 931

BASEBALL

Businesses show love by showing material and money. As detailed here in the February post "Getting Dressed," the FIU athletic team Adidas loves most is baseball. No other program gets the amount of equipment under Adidas' agreement with FIU Athletics that baseball does. No other FIU head coach gets $4,000 of free product annually as FIU's baseball coach does.

According to Camp Mitch sources, baseball's love of its Adidas clothes and gear didn't extend to the bats. So FIU brought other brands along with Adidas to the plate throughout the season.

Apparently, somebody at Adidas noticed FIU's bat diversity as the Panthers battered Conference USA tournament opponents. That's not a problem unless there's a clause in the agreement between the school and the athletic wear company stating "each Sport...shall exclusively use or wear Adidas products whenever School's athletic teams are playing one of the Sports (including games and practice sessions)..." and that failure to do so constitutes a material breach of contract.

FIU swung Adidas bats at practice Wednesday and you can bet they'll do so this weekend in Coral Gables.

MONEY

USA Today's annual college athletics finances report demonstrated little of surprise beyond Oregon taking over the Total Revenue title from Texas.

Of the 230 schools ranked, FIU placed 90th in total revenue ($28,104,962), 92nd in total expenses ($27,542,910), 16th in subsidy ($22,540,365) and 36th overall, second to Eastern Michigan among FBS football schools, in percentage of total revenue that comes from subsidies (80.2%).

FORMER FOOTBALL

Click here to see the current real world job of former FIU running back Darian Mallary.

 

May 07, 2015

Jenkins' All-Academic (again)

Conference USA's softball All-Academic team included FIU pitcher Corinne Jenkins for the second consecutive year.

Along with her 3.67 grade point average as a psychology and sociology double major, Jenkins went 18-11 with a 3.11 earned run average, 108 strikeouts and .251 opposing batting average. 

May 06, 2015

Texeira, Belans Get Conference Softball Hugs

The day before FIU hosts the Conference USA softball tournament, the league announced it's postseason bests.

FIU's sophomore Stephanie Texeira, last year's Freshman of the Year, made Second Team All-C-USA after finishing third in all-games hitting with her FIU-record .444 average and second in slugging percentage (.798). In conference games, Texeira ranked 31st in average (.321) with a .500 slugging percentage.

(As a team, FIU finished 10th in hitting in conference games (2.64) and in earned run average (4.96). That's offense and defense. No special teams in softball.)

Ashley Belans was an All-Freshman team selection after hitting .277 with 19 RBI. 

May 03, 2015

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.

SOFTBALL

 

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.

BASEBALL

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 20, 2015

Small Ball Drop

Well, that descended quickly.

Most of Day 1 of the Conference USA women's golf championships, FIU maintained a gap on the field that would do Annika Sorenstam proud. The Panthers' team lead fluctuated between three and five strokes. Their team score held within a similar range, 3-under to 5-under. Junior Meghan MacLaren and sophomore Camila Serrano joined a gaggle atop the leaderboard.

Cruising along as if enjoying their new ACME Bat-Man outfits, when...

 

So why will FIU wake up tomorrow for Day 2 at Fort Myers Verandah Club tied for fifth with Southern Mississippi at 7-over 295, eight shots behind leader Middle Tennessee State? A five-hole collapse that ended with a THUD on the 18th.

With the golfers playing at different times, it's hard to pinpoint when FIU started to imitate Aaron Rodgers in the 2005 draft. Serrano owned a share of the lead when she triple-bogeyed the par-4, 382-yard 16th hole. That hole turned into the second of back-to-back bogeys for Katarina Krasnova, who bogeyed three Nos. 15, 16 and 18.

MacLaren bogeyed Nos. 15 and 18. FIU''s No. 2, sophomore Coralia Arias, got down to 1-over with a birdie on the par-5 13th. But she gave that back and then some with a double bogey on the par-4, 361-yard No. 14. A birdie on No. 16 was matched by a bogey on the par-4, 380-yard 18th (of FIU's five Round 1 golfers, only Serrano escaped a bogey on No. 18.).

FIU's five golfers played the last five holes at 12-over. Fortunately, two days remain for the Panthers to get revenge on the course and climb the leaderboard in the process. 

To see a collapse like that by an FIU team, you have to go all the way back to...Sunday. The 17-2 battering FIU took from Western Kentucky cost them the series with a team around them in the standings. It also dropped them to 2-4 on Sundays in Conference USA play, a big reason they're 8-10 in the conference with little room for error to make the conference tournament.

Head coach Turtle Thomas played off the tonnage of the beating, noting how many times the 1927 New York Yankees got slaughtered. But the team meeting after the game lasted a very long time. Senior shortstop Julius Gaines, who went three for four, theorized after the game and before the meeting that maybe the chemistry on the team still isn't right. Also, Thomas said sophomore Chris Mourelle, FIU's most reliable pitcher all season, threw only in the 81-82 mph range Sunday. Hopefully, there's not a problem there.

Truly, nothing went right for FIU.  Western got a run out of a pair of choppers to Gaines that hopped higher than Denver today. With two outs in the fourth, FIU third baseman Josh Anderson fielded a grounder from Danny Hudzina that looked fair to the top row of the press box. It was ruled foul, putting Hudzina back in the box.

BAM -- home run. Next batter, Ryan Church, ZOOM -- home run. Western scored two more that inning.

Church went six for six for the day, but a spectacular defensive play of his would've ended the game if umpires could stop a game the way boxing referees can stop a fight. First and second, one out in the fourth, FIU's Zack Soria blasted a missile down the first base line, a sure double for the half-second before first baseman Church snapped his arm out for the snag and stepped on first to double the stunned runner.

FIU trailed 8-1 at that point. If you're in Vegas, that's when you get up from the table, call it a night.

Bizarre game. FIU pitcher Garrett Cave's natural hat trick of hit batters, which loaded the bases and brought in two runs, then a walk that brought in a run. Dillon Maya hitting the first batter he faced to bring in another run. Third baseman Hudzina trucking his longtime pal Church as Church tried to settle under an infield fly ball (that actually put the first runner on before Church played Laser Snag in the fourth).

Also, FIU wasted its opportunities. First and second, no outs in the second? One run and that because Josh Anderson slid to break up a double play relay and keep the inning alive. Bases loaded, one out in the third? Bupkes. Anderson lined out hard to the shortstop and JC Escarra flied out to center field to end the inning.

Meanwhile, the softball team made the most of two hits against Western's superthrower Miranda Kramer and eked out a 2-1 win as Corinne Jenkins pitched a four-hitter. Freshman Jessica Hallett ruined Kramer's no-hitter and shutout with one swing that tied the game in the fifth. An RBI single by Gabby Spallone brought in Rebekah Sanchez. Jenkins finished the job from there. 

The win kept alive FIU's slim chances for making the Conference USA tournament, which will be at Felsberg Field May 7-9. To make the tournament, the Panthers probably will need to sweep Charlotte May 2-3 in the season-ending three-game series at Charlotte.

April 17, 2015

Weekend of Hope

This weekend at Camp Mitch will be about hope.

Not "hope" as a verb. To me, that connotates too much of dealing with things as you wish they were or as they will be if some long odds uncertainty comes through instead of dealing with things as they are. "If everything goes right this season, we'll win X games" describes sports hoping at its best.

"Hope" as a noun, on the other hand, means "a chance." That's what baseball, football and softball will be trying to give themselves or demonstrate they have starting Friday at 4 at the baseball stadium and running all the way through the finish of Sunday's 1 p.m. baseball and softball games.

Between those, at 7 p.m., the football team will try to nurture hope among its fans at the annual Spring Game. The "Friday Night Lights" promotion that starts at 6 p.m. includes schedule posters for the first 1,000 fans, a DJ, a meet-and-greet with the swimming & diving team (is there any other school, excluding Cal with Missy Franklin, who could use the swim team to draw fans to football stuff?) and all sorts of other giveaways.

Despite the running-in-place nature of spring football, there are things to be learned. Watching the 2013 Spring Game gave you that Otter-in-the-Dexter-Lake-Club feeling about the season. During last year's Spring Game, you could tell freshman quarterback Alex McGough possessed the bearing, style and enough smart decision-making that eventually Ron Turner would elevate him over incumbent E.J. Hilliard. Also obvious: running back injuries would give freshmen Alex Gardner and Napoleon Maxwell a shot at starting.

This year, the team wants to build a crowd, build hope in that crowd for 2015, build some kind of buzz, even muted buzz. Another year of dragging in the standings and in the stands by the athletic department's flagship sport puts a drag on the whole department. I'm interested to see how the inexperieneced safeties and wide receivers look as well as the offensive line. The defense, with advantages in experience and overall talent, should dominate.

Softball, Conference USA co-favorites in the preseason coaches' poll, can't get swept this weekend by C-USA best Western Kentucky or just making the conference tournament moves into sorcery-miracle category. The Panthers problem in that regard stands 5-6, Western pitcher Miranda Kramer. She's one of the best in the nation with a 0.91 earned run average, a 17-4 record and only 58 walks against 271 strikeouts. And one ace like her in softball can open up many options for a coach, especially over a doubleheader Saturday and a Sunday.

And then there's baseball, having one of those seasons when you feel like you're always spitting into the wind. The Panthers might get the eighth and final conference tournament spot by default. But if Charlotte or Old Dominion get hot for a weekend or two and FIU keeps taking one per weekend, as Richard Pryor used to say, "Cancel Christmas."

The baseball crew's also facing Hilltoppers, albeit slightly less scary. Western's Austin King, Josh Bartley and Ryan Thurston go 5.31, 5.44, 6.00 in earned run average. I expect some long games Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

April 10, 2015

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 09, 2015

Some Thoughts on Marlin Chinn

Some synapse fires on FIU's new women's basketball coach...

1. Chinn's first name is spelled "Marlin" like the fish, not as in "Marlon Jackson" from The Jackson Five. I guarantee I'll misspell that at least twice before Thanksgiving break next year.

2. When Chinn flew down to meet folks at FIU as part of the interview process, one of the folks he met with was Kiandre'a Pound, Conference USA Freshman of the Year in 2014-15. Last summer, the voice of softball's Conference USA Freshman of the Year Stephanie Texeira carried some tonnage with FIU athletic director Pete Garcia in the hiring of Gator Rebhan.

I asked Garcia Wednesday if such student-athlete participation would become the norm in coaching searches. He said he'd do it again if it fit the situation. In both cases, the best player on the team involved showed potential for consistent greatness with three years left on the eligibility clock.

Former FIU guard Jerica Coley, doing graduate work on campus this year after three Honorable Mention All-America seasons, also met with Chinn 

3. Both FIU head basketball coaches came to FIU from ACC country, have height, brown-skin and shaved heads. Redd Foxx, your thoughts?

 

4. One regular refrain from FIU coaches across many sports (save football) is they often find it easier to recruit across the ocean than across the town. Name glitz and status mean more to American kids, parents and (very importantly) club team coaches than a kid in Italy or the Ukraine who hears, "I'll get to go to college in Miami for free and play my sport?"

You get off the high water pants side of the recruiting room via relationships. Chinn believes he's built those during his time recruiting down here for Maryland and Seton Hall. If he's right, glazed donuts and guava pastries for FIU.

5. According to Garcia, Chinn's five-year deal starts him at around $161,000 per year. Russo made $161,861 in the last of her 36 seasons at FIU. That ranks in the lower half of Conference USA, and is the lowest when adjusted for cost of living in the South Florida market, Conference USA's most expensive. Nobody's needing payday loans, however. 

According to a Maryland state employee salary database accessed via The Baltimore Sun site, Chinn earned $106.492.94 as base salary in 2014 and grossed $157.814.24 (you roll to the Final Four, even as an assistant, bonuses, baby).

6. FIU chased a male career assistant coach without head coaching experience at any level instead of going after one of the female coaches in the nation with head coaching experience who might be interested in making $160K while living in Miami. That left some folks saltier than sardines.

 

March 06, 2015

Gulley & Davydova CUSA All-Academic; Softball beginnings, hoops endings

Before we head out to The Blue Monster to watch the course do to the world's best golfers what the Composite Superman used to do to Superman and Batman, a few things...

Senior Kris Gulley, a transfer from Long Beach State and working toward his criminal justice graduate degree, was named to the Conference USA men's basketball All-Academic team Friday.

The women's basketball season ends Saturday to the relief of all concerned. They didn't come close to qualifying for the Conference USA tournament. Don't be surprised if center Marita Davydova remembers this season more fondly than anyone else, however.

She played this season after being ineligible last season in a paperwork screwup by the previous Compliance Department. Individually, her 9.9 rebounds per game puts her among the national leaders. And, Thursday, Conference USA announced the economics major's 3.7 grade point average put her on the league's All-Academic women's basketball team.

The men end a truly weird regular season with Saturday's Senior Night, at which they'll honor seniors Gulley, Dennis Mavin, Marco Porcher Jimenez.

In conference only games, Mavin averages 17.8 points per game, third in C-USA. Jimenez averages 14.5 minutes per game as a three-point specialist. Gulley averages 4.1 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.

SOFTBALL

Softball starts its conference schedule with weekend three-game series against 13-5 Marshall, a doubleheader Saturday at 4 p.m. and a 1 p.m. Sunday game.

The series features two of the conference's best hitters. From FIU, there's sophomore Stephanie Texeira, hitting .528, third in the conference, with six homers, 26 RBI and 1.057 slugging percentage. Marshall's Morgan Zerkle hits .531 with 11 RBI and goes when she gets on -- 27 steal attempts, 25 successful, almost twice as much as anyone else in C-USA.

ON THE HUNT

 

March 02, 2015

Ball So (Diamond) Hard

The Felsberg Invitational on Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium went thusly for FIU: three for three against Bethune-Cookman, even 1-1 split with Michigan State (shutout win, close loss to Big Ten dregs) and a loss in their only game against Ole Miss (resident of the SEC softball's Bikini Bottom).

All of FIU's goals -- a 40-win season, conference title, NCAA tournament regional berth -- remain in play for the preseason Conference USA co-favorites when the conference season starts Friday with a three-game home series against Marshall. And after losing their Felsberg opener to Ole Miss 5-0, they came two runs from sweeping the remaining five games.

After the loss to Ole Miss, FIU coach Gator Rebhan immediately criticized sophomore Stephanie Texeira for impatience at the plate with runners in scoring position. In the next five games, Texeira went eight for 12 with three doubles, a home run and six RBI. Pitcher Corrinne Jenkins pitched a perfect 2 1/3 relief innings in the 4-3 loss to Michigan State, and gave up only two hits in five innings that comprised the 4-0 shutout. 

That first game featured Rebhan-coached FIU vs. FIU Past -- Ole Miss with last year's FIU head coach Jake Schumann and a former FIU assistant Sharon Palma as assistant coaches to Mike Smith.

This wasn't just one of 54 on the schedule for FIU. Unfortunately, it wound up being closer to zero of 54 after FIU managed three hits on Ole Miss pitcher Emily Gaitan.

"Obviously, it was a little bittersweet," Schumann said. "This is my team now and I would've been really upset if we'd lost the game. Part of you really wants those kids at FIU to do well. You brought them in, you put the time in. I'm not as excited as I would be, like I was in game 1 when we came back and won that game (after four last inning runs on Bethune to send the game to extra innings)."

Ole Miss carries the same "SEC team" designation that 2014 College World Series winner Florida and runner up Alabama carry and with all that means. That's about where the similarity ends. The preseason SEC poll picked Ole Miss last and the program's history of losing almost matches that of the Florida Panthers.

"A couple of things I've had to adjust to: I've been a head coach for 14 years. So, not being the boss, but being OK with the decisions being made," said Schumann, who handles the infield and the hitters. "Obviously, going to a town of 16,000 people in the middle of a forest from Miami is a big shock. There's not much to do especially on Sunday when everything's closed."

Schumann's first coaching job above mid-major level opened his eyes about the current state of college athletics. 

"It's obviously haves and have nots. The Power Five conferences definitely have an advantage over all the other conferences in the country. Coming from both, and actually seeing it, it is a big difference," he said. "Hopefully, the NCAA will do something to even it out, but I think it's just going to keep becoming a wider span (between the Power 5 and Group of 5 conferences). Not that teams like FIU shouldn't beat SEC schools or ACC schools or Big 12 schools, but the resources -- from academics to food to travel to everything -- is just so vast. It takes a lot of pressure off of you as coach. All you have to do is coach."

An FIU coach told me that at most schools, they fund raise for extras. At FIU, coaches fund raise to survive.

"Don't have to fund-raise at all," Schumann said. "All I have to do is coach and recruit."

And for more money in a cheaper market.

This is why, without some of the fund-raising groups you see at Rice or snagging someone tethered to South Florida, FIU's non-baseball head coaching jobs always will have a problem avoiding being seen as stepping stones.

BASEBALL

FIU took three of four from Manhattan College, outscoring the Jaspers 46-12. FIU got in batting practice. Manhattan got to escape the emasculating cold of New York. Call it a win-win.

 

February 26, 2015

Field Work; Felsberg Invitational Familiarity; Manhattan Holiday; Coaching Matters

The City of Birmingham, quivering like Rock Ridge before Mongo, closed all public facilities Wednesday in fear of what places in the former Confederacy consider major snowfall. This condensed the Conference USA Indoor Track & Field Championships to a one-day event.

Not so condensed were the throws of FIU junior Raquarra Ishmar, who turned today into Throw Forward Thursday by winning the women's weight throw and finishing second in the shot put.

Ishmar (63 feet, 4 inches), junior Chelsea Goburne (59-1/4) and sophomore Chandra Fullwood (56-3 1/4) gave FIU its strongest team performance of the day, a 1-4-6 finish, in the weight throw. Going into the last two throws, the 61-2 from Western Kentucky's Janessa Jackson held the lead. Ishmar cranked off a 62-footer to take the lead, then muscled out the 63-4 on her last throw to hammer home who the alpha female was in this event.

Ishmar finished a solid second in the shot, her 50-8 3/4 being 1-8 1/2 ahead of third place Rachel Polk of Southern Miss and 8-2 behind Rice blowout winner, Claire Uke.

In the men's triple jump, junior Marcus Ghent reached 50-2 3/4 to finish second by 4 3/4 inches behind Western's Cyrus Johnson. Ghent also picked up points with a sixth place long jump of 22-8 1/2. 

The team standings found the women finishing ninth of 13 and the men finishing ninth of nine. 

SOFTBALL

Jake Schumann, FIU's coach the last three seasons, knows the way to Felsberg Field. So does former FIU pitching assistant coach Sharon Palma.

So, the Ole Miss bus shouldn't get lost on the way to Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium for Friday's opening of this weekend's Felsberg Invitational. The 8-4 Rebels are scheduled to play Bethune-Cookman at 2. Bethune will rest while FIU and Ole Miss get it on at 4:30. FIU plays Bethune at 7 p.m.

Last week, FIU saw the fourth member of last year's coaching staff (current FIU head coach Gator Rebhan was an assistant last year), current Texas State assistant coach Kelly Kretschman. It wasn't a happy reunion for the Panthers, losing 8-0. 

BASEBALL

Manhattan comes down for its four-game winter beating from FIU. Two years ago, the Jaspers got bombed in the first two games and outscored 40-17 for the three-game series.

By the way, did you know that FIU got back from last week's tournament in South Carolina around 7:30 a.m. after a 13-hour bus ride and some players had to hit class immediately? That's unfair to the student-athletes.

There should be a rule that teams have to fly if the road trip ends over a set number of hours away from the main campus and the team has class the next day. 

Break time...

 

SWIMMING & DIVING

FIU coach Randy Horner's contract is up at the end of April, two months after FIU won the Conference USA women's swimming & diving title. That's producing when the time's right.

Horner makes just over $57,000 in a contract that began when FIU wasn't close to competitive in the Sun Belt and ends with FIU being one of the nation's best mid-major teams. They've also been the top academic team on campus three of the previous four years.

That's the kind of work that'll attract attention if a Power Five school with manatees in the pool wants someone who can transform the team into motorboats. And that school will offer a significant raise. Just as an example, Michigan State clearly doesn't care about its swim program. The Spartans annually finish in the bottom two at the Big Ten meet and have for two decades. Yet, head coach Matt Gianiodis has held that job since October 2003.

All those signs of department apathy toward a sport and Gianiodis still gets paid over $76,000 while living in East Lansing, Michigan, a cheaper market than Miami. They might be paying Gianiodis extra for staying in East Lansing, which one Michigan State graduate I talked with Thursday called "Siberia" and about which Sports Illustrated writer Dan Jenkins quipped, "It looks like Stalingrad."

Anyway, that's just an example of why FIU might want to give Horner more than a little bump when it puts rings on the swimming & diving women's fingers.

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

Some might wonder if former FIU assistant coach Desma Thomas Bateast, now an assistant coach at South Florida, might want to come back to rebuild the program. Putting the hard hat on to deal with this catastrophe takes a relatively young, energetic coach and she's familiar with the place.

That doesn't always work in the school's favor, understand...

 

February 24, 2015

C-USA Indoor Track Starts Wednesday, Golf Wins & Other Stuff

We know at least one FIU winter sports team will head for the Conference USA championship gathering in Birmingham.

Women's basketball? Nope. Men's basketball? Probably. The indoor track team's already in Birmingham for its conference meet, which runs Wednesday and Thursday.

FIU brings the most muscle in the field events, such as the women's weight throw, where junior Raquarra Ishmar has the top seed throw at 19.01 meters and junior Miriam Pierre ranks second at 18.26. Ishmar's also got the No. 2 seed throw, 15.35 meters, in the shot put. Junior Phillicia Fluellen's 6.13 meter long jump has her as the top seed. Tikiera Relaford, third in the high jump last year, should be in the mix again this year.

Junior Luka Mustafic holds the top seed in the men's shot put, 18.01 meters. In the long jump, junior Marcus Ghent should contend for second or third. 

GOLF

A rained out final round left FIU as the winners of the Amelia Island Collegiate event. Junior Meghan MacLaren's 11-under 133 got her medalist honors.

SWIMMING & DIVING

FIU's new butterfly queen, Valerie Inghels, has a 3.92 grade point average as a communications arts major in addition to her Conference USA third in the 200 butterfly, fifth in the 100 fly and place on the second place 400 medley relay, all via school records. Which is how Inghels is on the Conference USA All-Academic swimming team.

SOFTBALL

The Sunday, Mar. 8 home game against Marshall will be televised nationally on Fox Sports.

FOOTBALL

FIU announced what The Herald reported first last week: Tim Harris Jr. will coach the running backs this year.

Harris Jr., son of "Ice" Harris, served as Booker T. Washington High's offensive coordinator for several years before taking over the head coaching job last year when his father went to Coral Gables to be the Hurricanes' running backs coach.

 

 

 

 

February 23, 2015

Coming Home

The buses fired up Sunday to bring everybody home after their wins. Well, except for the women's basketball team, which came home by plane after another two-loss road trip, leaving them zero for Conference USA.

Softball, now 11-6, came back from the EMU Madeira Beach Invitational after battering Villanova, Columbia and North Dakota by a combined 26-2, edging Wichita State 6-5 and getting mercy-ruled 8-0 by Texas State (with 2014 FIU assistant coach Kelly Kretschman).

Brianna Bartuccio threw the four-hit shutout in the opening 4-0 win against Villanova and Shelby Graves whipped a one-hit shutout on Columbia, 7-0. Gabby Spallone's grand slam accounted for all the scoring against Villanova. Stephanie Texeira knocked two out of the park against Columbia while Krystal Garcia went two for three with a homer and two RBI.

A Texeira homer provided half the scoreboard total for FIU against Wichita State. In the bottom of the sixth, down 4-3, Texeira doubled and was replaced by pinch runner Marisa McGregor. Krys Garcia singled in McGregor. After a walk to Dominique Grossman, Aleima Lopez doubled the two runs home. Corinne Jenkins went the distance, giving up only five hits. But, two were solo shots to Melanie Jaegers, two other batters reached base by being hit and defensive errors put two others on base.

This weekend's Panther Invitational opens Friday with a game against Ole Miss and associate head coach Jake Schumann, FIU head coach 2012-14.

Hours after the softball bus left Madiera, in a Carolina weekend's gloaming, the baseball bus revved to leave South Carolina. The arctic weather that sent southerners calling northern friends and family to learn about starting the car in the morning wrecked the weekend schedule for the Caravell Resorts Baseball at the Beach. So, FIU wound up playing a doubleheader Sunday against North Carolina Central before the long bus ride back.

(That's the same North Carolina Central you'll see during football season as FIU's lone non-conference opponent).

Andres Nunez got the win in the 4-0 opener after pitching six and two-thirds, striking out four and giving up four hits. All four runs came in the third inning, two on a Brian Portelli double and Portelli came on on Zach Soria's single.

The nightcap (afternoon cap?) provided fans with the one thing FIU didn't need -- bonus baseball. Better than a loss, however. That's what FIU avoided when Portelli doubled in Jack Schaaf in the bottom of the seventh. In the bottom of the 13th, a Jack Schaaf home run brought in Ray Perez and a 7-5 win.  Now at 4-4 after a tough early schedule, FIU swings bats at Manhattan this weekend.

Hours before, FIU's swimming & diving team got on a bus for the three-hour ride to Atlanta with the Conference USA Championship Trophy. The trophy got prize seating and was the first off the bus when the team arrived back on campus to a nicely whipped up welcome in the Parkview Hall breezeway.

 

 

From what I gather, Senior Associate AD Julie Berg did much of the heavy lifting to organize this. She and Senior Associate AD Bobby Staub were present.

Good for President Mark Rosenberg to mention the team's athletics-leading academic accomplishments, too, because that's one of the things that really makes this the department's best all-around team.

Rosenberg handed the mike to FIU Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Jessell for a review of the Conference USA meet. Jessell, by the way, donated $4,000 to the program last fall. His son, John Jessell, was a good swimmer at Florida State for four years.

Head coach Randy Horner, named Conference USA Coach of the Year Saturday, arrived in 2010. At that time, forget a conference champion, the school hadn't had an all-conference swimmer in any event since 2007. So, no individual or relay team in the top two of the Sun Belt.

Now, a perfect dual meet season. A Conference USA title with six swimming, one diving and one relay title. The third conference Swimmer of the Year award in the last four years (should be four for four -- Gustafsdottir got ripped off in 2013 after two firsts, a second, leading off three relay winners at the Sun Belt meet). And freshman and sophomore classes that look as if they'll make FIU a mid-major problem for everybody else the next several years.

I'm sure his contract has bonus clauses for a conference title and conference coach of the year (and adidas chips in $1,000 retail of product for the latter). But it sounds like somebody needs a bump from $57,590.

 

 

February 20, 2015

Maintaining The Gap; Softball So Hard

 

FIU owned Thursday at the Conference USA Swimming & Diving Championships. All indications pointed to Friday being when two-time defending C-USA champion Rice kicked in its Torqueedos while FIU tried to diminish, maybe even eliminate, the loss of its lead.

That's kind of how Friday morning's preliminaries played out. Still, the numbers indicate FIU still should find itself in the lead come Saturday morning.

Rice will make a push in the 400 individual medley, though FIU's Johanna Gustafsdottir's 4:18.59 topped the prelim times; the 100 butterfly, where Valerie Inghels took down Marina Ribi's FIU record 54.78 with a 53.88; and the 100 breaststroke. FIU will slow the charge in the 200 freestyle, as freshmen Skye Carey (1:48.27) and Brittney Fant (1:49.10) made the final and freshmen Kyna Pereira (1:49.14) and Paulina Zelazna (1:50.85) could finish high in the consolation race.

And the Panthers could make a late move of their own in the 100 backstroke. Silvia Scalia broke her own FIU record of 53.30 with a 52.97 that led FIU going 1-3-5 in the prelims. Sophomore Jenny Alfani (53.96) and junior Karin Tomeckova (54.13) put the Panthers into position to dominate this event the way they did the 200 IM and the 50 free Thursday.

Tonight's the 400 medley relay. FIU's seeded third behind Western Kentucky and Rice and came home fourth in this event last year. That won't happen again.

SOFTBALL

Sophomore center fielder Gabriella Spallone went one for 3 Friday against Villanova at the EMU Madeira Beach Tournament. Spallone's lone hit produced the only RBI of the afternoon for FIU. Sometimes, you only need one bullet.

Especially if it's a grand slam. FIU pitcher Brianna Bartuccio made Spallone's homer stand up for a 4-0 win by holding Villanova to four hits. Bartuccio struck out one and walked four.

 

 

 

February 17, 2015

Getting Dressed

You can skip this unless you're an athletics business wonk. Or just curious.

A few things about the deal with adidas, announced by FIU in January as a five-year deal worth around $2.6 million:

*FIU gets adidas footwear, clothes, equipment and accessories, but not for free. They get sort of a Costco deal on stuff -- shoes at 45 percent off retail price; clothes, equipment and accessories 50 percent off retail for everyone but baseball/softball, which gets only 37.5 percent off The Price is Right price. But baseball/softball gets theirs elsewhere, as you’ll soon see.  FIU must spend at least $300,000 each year, which is air hockey money for a properly-funded Division I athletic program.

*If FIU does spend $300,000 each year, it gets an additional $260,000 retail value of adidas product (stuff) in 2015-16, 2016-17, 2017-18, $285,000 in 2018-19 and $310,000 in 2019-2020.

*For the football team using adidas footballs in practices and games, FIU gets $10,000 retail value of product each year.

*Under “Athletic Department Fund Raising”, adidas gives FIU $15,000 of retail product value each year.

*There’s various bonuses for team achievement and Coach of the Year. The largest realistically attainable one is $20,000 retail value product for a football team bowl appearance.

*Baseball gets the most extra stuff. Softball will get the same stuff in “an amount to be agreed upon when Adidas introduced these hardgoods” according to the contract. (Yes, I think it should be “introduces” but I’m quoting directly from the contract, so…)

Each year, FIU Baseball gets:

Up to 48 wood bats, up to 42 non-wood bats, 6 aluminum fungo bats, up to 36 fielder’s gloves, up to 40 wheeled locker equipment bags, up to 40 individual duffel bags, 6 coach’s briefcases, 5 wheeled catcher bags (two to be used for equipment), up to 96 pairs of batting gloves (replaced by wear and tear), up to 96 pairs of wristbands, up to 25 batting helmets, up to 6 sets of catching gear.

432 fitted baseball hats

$34,000 retail value of free product.

$4,000 retail value of free product for the head coach

The only other individual in the athletic department who gets free product is the athletic director, who gets $10,000 retail value of free product each year.

  


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