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Basketball practice report | Tuesday Feb. 22, 2011

Injury report

Dominique Ferguson (right) is dealing with a toe injury. FIU coach Isiah Thomas is hoping Ferguson's Ferguson07 fiuhoop MHS ADD injury will not carry over into the Sun Belt Conference tournament in early March.

"Dominique is battling a toe injury," Thomas said. "For the most part everybody is pretty healthy."

Ferguson should played at Western Kentucky on Thursday.

Practice report

The Golden Panthers (9-17, 4-10 Sun Belt) have continued having trouble closing out games this season. The Panthers have lost 10 of their last 11 games, riding a four-game losing streak, with two games remaining (WKU, Troy) before the SBC tournament.

FIU has fallen to last place in the east division of the SBC standings, with ULM the only team with a worse record in the conference. I had a chance to catch up with coach Thomas after practice on Florida Intl Florida St Bas Tuesday. Thomas is not very concerned about entering the SBC tournament as one of the lower seeds in the field.

"You have to play everybody anyways," Thomas said. "If you gonna win the tournament, you have to beat the best teams regardless of where you are seed."

One of the things I asked Thomas was if he has been frustrated with how his team has not been able to hold on to late leads.

"That is just the way it is when your trying to teach a group of kids how to win," Thomas said. "Sometimes they don't realize the importance of doing the little things."

The little things Thomas is talking about - rebounding, foul shooting and turnovers - have hurt FIU in late-game situations.

Improving on the little things, has a been a big part of what Thomas has been trying to do with the team this year. After nearly every game, Thomas has commented on how his team has to keep working on fundamentals, especially foul shooting.

"We have emphasized the small things since we got here," he said.

In Saturday's 80-78 (OT) loss to FAU, the Panthers shot 21 of 33 from the foul line, including 9 of 15 in the second half.

FIU did a better job on rebounds and turnovers against the Owls, winning both categories.

"We've had two great games with [FAU]," Thomas said. "Every play in the game is a big play."

Below is a short Q&A from our interview

I asked Thomas what he would tell FIU fans that might be getting frustrated with how this season has gone.

"This is really my first year when you look at it," Thomas said after a long pause. "We are building. We are not established."

Nuggets_Life_After_Melo_Basketball I could not resist asking Thomas about the pending trade that would send Carmelo Anthony (left, AP photo) to the Knicks.

"Hey, I think, other than Miami, LA, Chicago and Boston, I think any team in the league would be happy to have him," Thomas said.

What does the future hold for FIU?

"Right now, what the future holds for me, is I'm going to get me a cheeseburger," Thomas said with a laugh. "We have a nice class coming in to join the class we have got now. That will give me two solid recruiting classes. Once you get two or three classes under your belt, now you're moving. I'm pretty excited and hopefully the students can get excited about what's coming."

(In case you are curious, Thomas was on his way to Sunset Place in South Miami to eat at Town Kitchen and Bar.)





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