TAMPA -- Apparently, FIU baseball brings out a much more spirited debate than some people thought. The 2010 season is just 6 days away when the Panthers open next Friday, Feb. 19 against Maryland at University Park Stadium.
Went out to another intrasquad game the other day and this time caught four innings. Since FIU baseball brings out such passion in some of our readers, there will be a comprehensive FIU baseball blog on the next post. And you can look for the Herald's FIU baseball preview in next Thursday's paper.
But for now will let you catch your breath from the last post whether you were talking baseball or talking about which school has the better apple pie in their food court.
Yours truly is in Tampa for the weekend working a soccer tournament, but here's a little mix of FIU sports stuff going on in case you missed it.
Three members of the FIU football coaching staff are among some of the candidates being considered for the open running backs coaching job. Among them are special teams coach Apollo Wright, who coached Philadelphia Eagles running back Brian Westbrook at Villanova. Grad assistant Dennis Smith and director of football ops Juan Navarro.
Congratulations to FIU receivers coach Frank Ponce (above left making a "W" sign for Willis Wright, thanks to Alex J. Hernandez photo) who was named by ESPN as the top recruiter in the Sun Belt for securing ManChild to join the Panthers. Former FIU OC James Coley, now the OC at Florida State, was named the ACC's top recruiter. Click on this link: Top College Football Recruiters for more info and notice that it looks like ESPN used a mug shot of Coley wearing an FIU coach's shirt.
HOOPING IT UP
A pretty inaccurate article in the new times about FIU hoops. Hey, we're in America and you can express whatever opinion you want, but when you use facts (i.e.: actual numbers and actual people that said certain things -- "Isiah Thompson") at least get those right in a story.
PG responded to the article on Friday and here is a short story that is expected to run in the Herald at some point:
FIU athletic director Pete Garcia fired back at a recent New Times article on FIU basketball.
Garcia noted several inaccuracies about the story which chronicles Golden Panthers coach Isiah Thomas’s first season and the program’s ticket sales.
Among some of the misinformation from the article that has Garcia perturbed is FIU basketball’s average attendance numbers.
Garcia is also upset about the article’s writer misidentifying FIU President Mark Rosenberg as the person to wrongfully introduce Thomas at the coach’s hiring news conference.
Former FIU provost Ronald Berkman, now the president at Cleveland State University, introduced Thomas as “Isiah Thompson” at the April 15, 2009 news conference.
Rosenberg was not working at FIU at the time. Since the Times article was published Wednesday, the error was corrected to Berkman mis-introducing Thomas.
“This is a classic example of irresponsible and sloppy journalism from someone who uses inaccurate numbers and inaccurately quotes President Rosenberg with introducing Isiah Thomas at his hiring press conference which he never did,” Garcia said. “This is the end result and it’s unfortunate, because the quality of journalism in South Florida is among the best in the nation and this one story won’t ruin the good journalism that takes place in South Florida on a daily basis.”
The Times article states “. . . the basketball team has averaged a paltry 120 attendees per home game this season. The arena seats 6,000.”
U.S. Century Bank Arena, which seats 5,000, has averaged 1,163 fans per FIU basketball game this season, according to figures FIU ticket operations manager Jeremy Lamb provided the Miami Herald.
Lamb added it’s an increase from the 2008-09 FIU basketball season’s average attendance of 487 fans per game. Lamb said FIU has also sold 46 of 50 courtside seats added to the arena this season.
The Panthers are 7-20 this season, but Thomas has signed the No. 17 2010 recruiting class in the nation.
WARMING UP IN THE BULLPEN
Catch your breath yet about FIU baseball? Apple pie? (Cracker Barrel has a pretty good one). Ok, then.
FIU was picked to finish third in the Sun Belt by the conference's coaches on Friday. Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky were picked ahead of the Panthers. But don't take the SBC coaches word for it, you decide in our poll question below.
FIU first baseman Tim Jobe (left, thanks AJH photo and for Zeke photo above, right) was selected to the preseason All-Sun Belt team. Jobe was a member of the 2009 All-Sun Belt team.
Several publications and websites are picking FIU baseball to finish near the top of the conference, but I think you have to wait and see how the Panthers starting rotation and bullpen shake out.
FIU is going to miss projected No. 2 starter Logan Dodds (academically ineligible). Dodds -- like Scott Rembisz 2 years ago -- was the Florida JUCO Pitcher of the Year last season at Miami Dade College. R.J. Fondon, Corey Polizzano and Daniel DeSimone are going to have to step up.
A bigger concern could be the Panthers bullpen. It could be a closer-by-committee until someone nails down the job. Among the candidates are freshman Alberto Cardenas, last season's part-time closer Jorge Marban and third baseman/pitcher Garrett Wittels.
Eric Berkowitz (a.k.a "Harry Potter" as his teammates call him, because of the Potter-like glasses he wears) is likely moving to middle relief where he had some pretty good outings last season.
Will have a Happy Blog Hour 2-for-1 special in LIVE BLOGS next week. Log on to the GPP on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 7:54 p.m. for a LIVE BASKETBALL BLOG of FIU/Hooters basketball when the Hooters from Del Boca Vista Phase 2 visit the Bank for game two of the Pat Riley Classic this season.
Then log on to the GPP the next night, Feb. 19 at 6:56 p.m. for a LIVE BLOG BASEBALL of FIU's season opener against Maryland from the House that Mike Lowell Built. Yes, I know she is one of the FIU Witches.
Gooch7: Pete: Who will the closer be? Any input about him?
PP: Hope the two paragraphs above at the end of the baseball section of this post answers your question.
Yandro: Pete, thanks for the update. Do we know who the starters will be come Opening Night, or are positions still up in the air with a week left?
PP: Competition still going on at several positions. Will have TT come on here next week and give you an update straight from the head coach's mouth.
Wes Kendall: Hey Pete, I've heard rumors that Rosenberg is rebranding FIU, which might again lead to another logo change/color change. Have you heard anything?
PP: Nothing to it. The university changed their logo to block letters not too long ago and the athletic program went to block letters with a more fierce Panther just 2 years ago.