I'm not gone yet and neither are the basketballs, both of which head for the Conference USA tournaments in Birmingham this week. The first two rounds will be on American Sports Network, which means they might as well be on Bulgarian television for South Florida televisions.
The 13-18 (7-11 in conference) men, seeded No. 11, face No. 6 seed UTEP Wednesday in a game that past performance calls a push -- FIU won by 10 at UTEP, lost by 10 to UTEP at home. But the books put UTEP as the favorite both as the higher seed and that the Panthers lost nine of their last 11. Someone close to the program told me Wednesday there's a "let's get this over with" attitude among the players. Hard to argue when the only two wins in the last 11 games were against CUSA's two worst teams, UTSA and Florida Atlantic (and, the Panthers didn't beat the Owls so much as were less maladroit).
The No. 14 seeded FIU women open Tuesday against UTSA, an opponent with which the Panthers reverse split -- losing by 11 at home, winning by five in Texas. The win at UTSA was one of the two games missed by now-suspended captain Destini Feagin, the team's leading rebounding starter. Brianna Wright pulled down a ridiculous 20 rebounds in that win.
No word from either the University or Athletics as to whether or not suspended coach Marlin Chinn will be back for that game.