February 08, 2016

Future Watch


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.


June 12, 2015

...and Comings

Year Three, time to see. Time to see progress that can be spotted at a glance. Time to see recruiting significantly improve as relationships develop. Time to see a foundation for the future formed by a consistent way of doing things.

That's where both football coach Ron Turner and men's basketball coach Anthony Evans find themselves in 2015. Turner's recruiting class looks like an improvement over 2014, at least at the highest end, but we'll see when the pads start popping. Evans announced his third class last week, three freshmen and three junior college players.

I stopped by Evans' office to talk to him about what he expected from each of them.

Guard Donte McGill, 6-3, 185, Phoenixville (Pa) Mont Clare Academy, Goldey-Beacom College, Vincennes University -- "Coming from Vincennes, been in a winning program. I think he can help us offensively. Definitely losing Dennis, we tried to bring in some guys who could help us scoring-wise and I think he's one of them who can give us some points. Really good in transition, Nice mid-range game. Shot 38 percent from 3-point range."

Forward Elmo Stephens, 6-7, 200 (somebody feed this young man before they lose him through a shower drain), Auburndale High, Tallahassee Community College -- "Good player, really good three-point shooter. Definitely someone who can spread the floor. When 6-10 Adrian (Diaz) is being double-teamed, he'll be able to knock down shots and create his own shot. Another person we're looking to give us some offensive punch."

Forward Cam Smith, 6-7, 210, Tallahassee Leon, Tallahassee Community College -- "Really coming into his own. He blew out his knee coming out of high school. Sat out the year before, then played last year. He's got a ton of talent. Definitely someone I feel can come in and give us a contribution in points, rebounding, defensively, to go along with helping Adrian and Daviyon (Draper) and those guys out."

Now, to the freshmen. "Those guys, obviously, we want them to come along. I don't know how quicly that'll happen. All three will come in and contribute. We know they're freshmen and they will go through their ups and downs."

Forward Michael Douglas, 6-5, 190, Sachse (Tex) High School -- "More of a shooter, really athletic."

Forward Eric Turner, 6-5, 193, The Villages Charter High School -- "Averaged 24.0 points per game in 2013-14. He's a scorer. Can get to the basket, shoots the three. Very athletic. Was recruiting by some high major schools, so it was a great addition for us."

Guard Kimar Williams, 6-1, Philadelphia Constitution High -- "Philly Public League Player of the Year. He just brings that toughness. He played in a really good league."

I asked Evans how he got such a player out of the Philadelphia are to come to FIU. Evans smiled, "Relationships."

He explained Constitution High coach Rob Moore coached at Bodine High School when Pendarvis Williams (no relation to Kimar) went to play for Evans at Norfolk State. McGill's from Newark, Delaware, about 45 miles from Philly. 

Three of the six being from junior colleges prompted me to ask Evans if the percentages of junior college recruits to freshmen will drop from 50 percent.

"I think the thought with it is sustain, at this point and bring in guys who can help us with immediate needs," Evans said. "Obviously, we brought in three freshmen who we feel we can build on. That's what we like to do. When they're juniors, we should be able to bring in freshmen and continue. Junior college will always be an option. Not that it'll be a 50-50 thing. When there's a need, we will go out and recruit." 

Evans didn't say what follows on the record or indicate it privately. No one representing Evans said this. But, you don't have to be a a real-life Sheldon Cooper to do the math:

FIU's not a destination job for a young coach with a still-mobile family. Few so-called mid-major jobs are destination jobs. Most are springboard jobs -- you're on the board for a few years, then either get propelled upward to a head coaching job with a fatter budgeted program or or you splash back down into being an assistant.

All you need to get a positive bounce off the board one or two seasons of unexpected winning basketball. Your name gets hotter than a Warren Buffet stock tip. A job opens up, you're on it with the inside track. That's what happened when Richard Pitino left FIU in 2013 after one 18-15 season for a $1.2 million per year job at the University of Minnesota. That same year, Andy Enfield went from Florida Gulf Coast to USC (the one in LA) after two seasons as a college head coach and one trip to the Sweet Sixteen as a No. 15 seed.

So why not play heavily in JuCo land? Few places give the coach the benefit of time to build a program anyway. Might as well try to build a winner quickly, then hope an opportunity opens to do a George and Weezy.


Forgot to add late night...

Tampa Gaither High's Shane McGough, brother of FIU sophomore quarterback Alex McGough, announced his verbal commitment to FIU via social media. Shane plays on both the offensive and defensive lines, 6-2, 265, and is unrated by any of the recruiting sites we usually quote.


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.



May 05, 2014

Smoke Dealers & signings

Junior Shelby Graves garnered the last Conference USA Pitcher of the Week award after throwing a no-hitter against Southern Miss and allowed no runs in Sunday's save. She finishes the regular season with a 15-7 record, 3.37 ERA, 100 strikeouts and 32 walks in 135 innings pitched.

Mike Franco somehow didn't win C-USA's baseball Pitcher of the Week. Reid Love from East Carolina beat North Carolina, so he got the honor. Still, Franco's 0.96 ERA ranks fourth in the nation and FIU stayed atop the team ERA charts at 1.94.


The long and the short of it: 6-9 incoming freshman Larry Dennis from Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas and 5-10 junior college transfer Tayshawn Desir, a third-team NJCAA All-America selection for Monroe Community College. Dennis was unrated by 247sports.com and Scout.com, but got two stars from ESPN.com.



September 17, 2013

New B-Ballers & Old B-Ballers

A reminder folks -- pick a name and stay with it in the comments. It's one of the few ways I can try to keep one or two people from coming off like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Now, to the new among the men's basketball Panthers...

Jason Boswell, a 6-6 guard, averaged 7.3 points per game for the Elizabeth, NJ Patrick School. Before that, Boswell threw in 17.0 points per game for Trinity Catholic in Stamford, Conn. Boswell’s rated at three/four stars by 247sports, three stars by Scout.com, two stars by ESPN.com and unrated by Rivals.com. Nice get for FIU.

Dominique Williams averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds per game at Charlotte Mallard Creek High School before averaging 19 points per game at Believe Prep. The 6-7 forward was unrated by Scout.com and Rivals.com.

Forward Jonas Page averaged 12.5 points per game for Susquehanna (Pa.) Township and is
unrated by any of the recruiting sites.

As long rumored, Hialeah Miami Lakes graduate Adrian Diaz transferred all 6-10 of himself from Kansas State back to South Florida and will sit out this season. So will Ray Rodriguez, a 6-1 star for Hialeah Gardens’ High’s 2012 Class 8A State Championship team who went to North Florida and averaged 9.1 minutes and 2.4 points per game.

With Tymell Murphy, Raymond Taylor and Rakeem Buckles, if FIU can get some outside shooting, this year's model could be as fun to watch as last year's was. Which makes that whole NCAA postseason ban a shame. Speaking of that...

After Buckles transfer request to Minnesota was denied by the NCAA, Louisville coach Rick Pitino said to ESPN that Buckles didn't know the school would be facing a postseason ban this year when he followed Richard Pitino to FIU in 2012. FIU will insist Pitino the Younger knew when he took the job in April 2012 that the Panthers probably would get an APR-prompted postseason ban in 2013-14. So, we have a few possibilities...

a) FIU's played down the potential penalties to Pitino before the hiring and only revealed them after the hiring orafter Pitino scrambled to throw a team together for 2012-13. Mario Cristobal would say there's precedent for this. He's always made reference to feeling misled as to the depth of the penalties about to crash down on FIU football when he was hired in Dec. 2006.

b) FIU told Pitino and Pitino didn't fully fess up to his recruits because, hey, what player with two years or less left is coming to a school that's looking at a rebuilding year followed by a no-postseason year.

c) FIU told Pitino, Pitino told his players and they didn't care or didn't listen. You know how young folks can be. 

Thursday, FIU will announce a partnership between FIU Health, the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine’s Faculty Group Practice, and the National Basketball Retired Players Association through which FIU Health will provide health and wellness physicals to uninsured and underinsured NBRPA members and their spouses.


August 09, 2013


As all the fall sports start practice, men's basketball coach Anthony Evans filled out his staff with assistant coaches Louis Rowe, Marco Morcos and Stephen Ott; director of basketball operations Gerald Gillion; and assistant director of basketball operations Juan Hernandez.

Rowe's a St. Petersburg native who has spent most of his college basketball staff career at James Madison. Ott worked on staffs at Siena and Lehigh during surprising NCAA runs, but most notably for FIU's purposes are the contacts he made while Director of Team Events for The Hoop Group. That put him in contact with AAU coadhes, directors and players around the nation.

Morcos most recently was an assistant at Rice from 2010-12 and director of basketball operations there and at Alabama-Birmingham. So, he knows Conference USA.

Morcos, born in Egypt, and two former Rice players, Iranian-born Arsalan Kazemi and Egyptian Omar Araby, alleged they were the targets of derogatory, discrimatory racial remarks from recently-departed Rice athletic director Rick Greenspan.


June 14, 2013

Isiah and The APR and the Mid-Major Dance

Former FIU coach Isiah Thomas used a Huffington Post column to fire back at accusations from media and FIU (particularly athletic director Pete Garcia) that he's responsible for FIU's men's basketball's postseason ban for under-the-basement APR.


Some of what Thomas says in the column has been seen here in the April 5 post on this blog. He's right about the post-firing transfers damaging FIU's APR, although they weren't all in protest of his firing. That APR effect is one reason, I believe, some football transfer requests have been denied. Football could be in enough APR trouble next year without that.

Anyway, also note what I put in last week's post on the Board of Trustees Athletic Committee: the men's basketball team's GPA for the two semesters of 2011-12 were 2.18 and 2.16. Not exactly a trend of academic achievement there.

CORRECTION ON JUNE 18: The 2011-12 team GPAs were 2.16 and 2.48.

One member of the committee asked Dr. Phil Moses, director of the Student-Athlete Academic Center, if the problems in football and men's basketball were the academic abilities of the athletes recruited or the support system after they're here.

Look, let's be real about this: the four-star guy with the Stanford-level SAT or ACT isn't coming to FIU. He's going ACC, SEC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-10. Maybe he gets a wild idea he'd like to be part of the group running the country and go to Harvard or Yale. But he isn't coming to Camp Mitch.

And we all know football and men's basketball coaches at any level get more job security from guys who can do 4.4 on the field or court than guys who can make a 4.4 in the classroom. Coaches at FIU and elsewhere at the "mid-major" level are trying to steal the best players they can from more prominent schools. They usually fail. They must scavange the remains -- a lot of guys who inspire "yeah, but he..." qualifiers. Sometimes, those cautions concern the academic end. But what's a coach to do?

You know: bring the kid on campus. Maybe that support could compensate for any shortcomings in teaching or academic acuity. At least, that's what the coach hopes while running the extracurricular activity that pays for the student-athlete's formal education while perhaps also hindering it.


June 07, 2013

Picking up a class

This year's women's basketball class, announced Friday morning:

Karrah Johnson -- 6-0, forward, from Lake Highland Prep. Johnson averaged 11.0 points per game and 10.0 rebounds per game during her senior year.

Kiandre'a Pound -- 6-0 forward, from Sebastian River High, and was on Sebastian's 2012 Class 7A state titleists. She averaged 18.7 points and 10.8 rebounds in high school. She also did triple jump and high jump on the track team.

She's the sister of former FIU defensive tackle Andre Pound. According to TCPalm.com, she fell for FIU when she accompanied her older brother on his visit. Looking at their names, it's no shock that their father is Andre Pound, Sr.

Janka Hegedus -- 6-1, forward, out of Budapest Eotvos Jozsef High School. She's played for the Under 16 Hungarian National Team. FIU's had good fortune with players from Hungary (Andrea Nagy, Delma Ivanyi, more recently Fanni Hutlassa and Finda Mansare)

Nikolina Todorovic -- 5-6, guard from Bosnia Gymnasium Banja Luka, averaged 25.0 points, 6.0 assists and 5.0 steals per game .


May 17, 2013

This time, it's personnel

While Western Kentucky's Bobby Petrino all but dropped a blizzard of scholarship offers from a helicopter over Southern Broward, FIU got to work putting in face time and offers around the state.

Tampa Alonso running back Ish Witter, 5-8, 190, has and FIU offer, but 10 others also including Louisville and Missouri.


FIU's also sniffing around quarterback Jacob Kaiser out of St. Joseph (Mo.) Central High, a three-star recruit (CORRECTION: Kaiser isn't rated by ESPN or Rivals. I'd had another player slotted in here I'd heard, erroneously, FIU was recruiting and he was a three-star guy.)


Two-star defensive tackle Keiwan Jones from Dunnellon High got an offer from FIU.



Men's basketball coach Anthony Evans said "none that I know of" when I asked him Thursday if he saw any more players transferring out of the program. Guard Deric Hill's headed for Barry and Malik Smith's following former coach Richard Pitino to Minnesota.

I asked Evans if there was consideration given to offering Hill, a walk-on who was the Die Hard battery in FIU's defense, a scholarship. Evans said he was going to wait until grades came out at the end of summer school, but Hill asked for his release.

With two scholarships left for next season, Evans remains unsure whether to use them or holster them for 2014. He didn't mention the probable postseason ban, but it's an obvious element. Unless there's a player who gives you the shivers, you want him so badly, why not get past whatever treading water will be done next season before using all the aresenal at your command. 

"If I hold for 2014, I'll have a larger class and I can build a foundation fo what I want this program to be," Evans said.


Aramis Garcia is one of the 15 semifinalists for the Johnny Bench Award, given to the "most deserving Division I catcher nominated by his school." Finalists will be announced June 4.


April 23, 2013

Evans signee No. 1: Daniel Robinson

New FIU men's hoop coach Anthony Evans wasted no time trying to get more size onto the roster, signing 6-10 Daniel Robinson to a letter of intent.

Robinson spent the 2012-13 season across the state at the IMG Academy after going to high school at Chesapeake (Va.) Atlantic Shores Christian. As a senior, he averaged only 9.3 points per game, but 8.4 rebounds and 3.3 blocks.

FIU lacked size and a fearsome defensive presence inside last season. If teams could avoid FIU's thievery in the backcourt and on the perimeter, open or easy shots often resulted. The Panthers ranked 253rd in blocked shots per game and 279th in field goal percentage defense. Clearly, Robinson's meant to address some of that.










April 16, 2013

A few things from Anthony Evans introduction

Amidst the fumes from The Beach at The Branch, FIU introduced Anthony Evans as its new men's basketball coach. Packing the suite were coaches (including Ron Turner, Rita Buck-Crockett and Cindy Russo), some of last season's FIU team and a plethora of folks connected with the athletic department, past and present. More people there than at the start of the FIU-FAMU game.

"For the recruits in the South Florida area, we're going to recruit you extremely hard," Evans said. "We want to build this program on local talent, so we can get this community energized and behind this basketball program."

Evans said he thought he was close last year to getting the FIU job that went to Richard Pitino. "Obviously, Richard has a great reputation as a recruiter. I know that's something (FIU athletic director) Pete (Garcia) was huge on." Garcia said Evans lost to Pitino "by a nose."

Evans thanked Pitino "for saying great things about me. For being an advocate for me getting this position and for building a solid foundation moving forward for years to come." He also thanked South Carolina (and former Miami High) coach Frank Martin and Marquette coach Buzz Williams, whom he called "great friends," for recommending him to Garcia.

Evans said he liked The Beach at The Branch: "I love it. Naw, it's unique. if Pete had anything to do with it, I knew it would be unique...I think it sets us apart from other schools and I think that's what you want."

Garcia said FIU would tour Spain for two weeks in August.

Evans explained afterwards that the APR bouncing during his time as Norfolk's head coach was the result of players not adhering to the structures and rules in place and not being made to do so by the coaching staff. And by "coaching staff" he made clear he meant himself, not any assistant.

The team's leading three-point shooter, guard Malik Smith, might not be transferring as he indicated on Twitter and via Instagram the night Minnesota announced Pitino's hiring.

Evans hadn't made any decisions yet on how many of his Norfolk assistants he's bringing with him.

On Evans & golf

About eight seconds after I started my Monday with a car crash, I thought, this FIU men's basketball coach thing will break today.

Now that I've returned from the emergency room (my daughter, an earring, an embedded second back...sigh. I really need a drink), let's take a quick look at Anthony Evans. And if you're going to read a Herald story on Evans, read the one online now. I didn't get much of a chance to update the quickie early online version before we had to go to print.

Norfolk State went Division I in basketball in 1997. An annual 20-win team at the Division II level, Norfolk put up a winning season in its second D-I season, the only season Mel Coleman coached. After that, the program lived at the same just-under-mediocrity neighborhood that FIU's lived in most of its time in Division I. They didn't have another winning season until Evans' first year, 16-15 in 2007-08.

Though Norfolk put up losing records each of the next three seasons, the conference record never got worse than 8-8. That says Evans never let his program fall into being the least among its peers. He was considered one of the great bargains in coaching. He made only $125,000 per season before last year's contract extension.

In basketball, so much more than football, sometimes, all it takes is one player to turn a program in the right direction for a little while. Kyle O'Quinn, a 6-10 forward who slipped through the cracks and down to Norfolk, and 6-6 guard Pendarvis Williams were those guys for Norfolk in 2011-12 and 2012-13. O'Quinn became the first player to be named Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the seame season.

Norfolk did have more than those two players. In fact, O'Quinn was gone last year and Norfolk still put up impressive defensive numbers and slipped only a little (40th to 49th) in the national blocked shot rankings.

The Academic Progress Rate situation at Norfolk over the years might give a little pause. Progress has looked more like the charting of a Wall Street rumble between bulls and bears.

Norfolk's 888 multi-year APR in 2006-07 was enough to draw a public notice finger wag from the NCAA. It slipped to 885 next year, but the Four-Letter Organization noted that the basketball team still was outperforming Norfolk State's regular students in this regard.

A 2008-09 APR of 962 bumped the multiyear to 904. But an 840 the following year dragged the multiyear APR down to 894. Scholardhips were reduced to 11 and basketball time was cut to only five days a week and 16 hours total. Another year of 962 in 2010-11 brought the multi-year back up to an acceptable 926.

Unless I'm missing my count, that means Evans coached a 26-win team while under some pretty serious NCAA restrictions. That's an attractive accomplishment to a program that's looking at some NCAA sanctions.

At least FIU got this done before the signing period starts for men's basketball. Between seniors, a couple of transfers and probably a signee getting out of his letter of intent, the Panthers should be back on the player hunt.


FIU leads the pack after the first round of the Sun Belt Women's Golf Championships. The Panthers leads Middle Tennessee by two and Troy by 3. Freshman Meghan MacLaren is on her way to a possbile medalist award, tied atop the leaderboard with Arkansas-Little Rock sophomore Sofia Berglund.



April 03, 2013

"What now?" asked the boxer...

Unlike Marcellus, we can't exactly tell you what now.

Raymond Taylor, the guard sitting out this season after transferring from FAU, summed FIU's dilemna up when he Tweeted Wednesday afternoon, "Wow!!!! What's my next move!??"

Nobody saw Richard Pitino staying at FIU until his face possesed the topography of age etched into his father's. He'd learn the head coaching craft here in the minor leagues of major college basketball, learn how to get players to come to college basketball's Congo and keep them eligible, how to compete with very limited resources and the nuances of being a program's face.

Then, either Billy Donovan would leave Florida or Rick Pitino would retire from Louisville and Richard the Second would get called up.

Nobody anticipated an 18-14 season. Nobody thought a major conference would even look at a first-year FIU coach, even if his last name has been attacted to national championships. Now, though, FIU's almost back to where it was a year ago, if more talented and athletic on the court. They might be in an even worse situation -- if the 2011-12 APR is as bad as I've heard it is, FIU could be banned from postseason play. No conference tournament, no shot at the NCAA Tournament.

Junior guard Malik Smith, a junior college transfer and team leader who ranked 16th in the nation with 3.0 three-pointers per game, posted on Instagram Wednesday night, "Thanks to FIU for the opportunity to do something special and help turn a program around. With that being said, I'll be asking for my release some time next week and taking my talents to a different university. Coach Pitino helped show me what hard work was and I'll forever appreciate it. With him and the rest of my teammates the best in the future. Everything happens for a reason." 

So here's what Pete Garcia gets for making a hire that worked better than anybody had a right to expect: the chance to do it again. And he might need to in the worst way.

Or, with the football program rebuilding also, he might lose his Camp Mitch privileges.

Pitino one-and-done; football day change

Another major conference men's basketball program has reached to a surprising Florida mid-major to get its next coach. Word out of Minnesota and the FIU athlete community is the Gophers have snagged FIU's Richard Pitino. 

Word out of FIU is, officially, silence. Pitino hasn't answered calls, texts or messages and, in fact, his voice mail box is full. FIU athletic director Pete Garcia has gone underground similarly the last few days, but will address the media Thursday morning. President Mark Rosenberg's voice mailbox is full. 

Pitino coached FIU to its first winning record in 13 years and the final of the Sun Belt Conference tournament. He accomplished this despite only six players left over from the previous season. Of those, only forward Tola Akamolafe could be called a major contributor and then for only part of the 2011-12 season before he became academically ineligible. 

Following this remarkable coaching job would've been tough, both because FIU will be moving to Conference USA next season and there might be some punishment coming from the NCAA once the 2011-12 APR comes out. Now, it'll be interesting to see which players, if any, go with Pitino to Minnesota. 


The FIU game at FAU has been moved to Nov. 29, a Friday night. Blame TV.

January 15, 2013

Baseball schedule released; FIU fishing

At least FIU will start the baseball season playing against a College World Series team.

Stony Brook, which made last years CWS despite a name that looks lifted from The Flintstones, comes to town for a season-opening three-game series, Feb. 15-17. That starts a run of 16 of the first 17 at home, including three games Mar. 8-10 against perennial power and future intraconference foe Rice.

After those 17 come three road games Mar. 15-17 all the way up at FAU, then back home for three series, ending with a pair of games against Florida A&M April 2-3. The return series with FAU, May 16-18, closes the regular season before the Sun Belt tournament May 21-26 at Louisiana-Lafayette.  


FIU made an offer to Virginia Beach (Va.) Cape Hendry Collegiate shooting guard Ayron Hutton, a class of 2014 player.

December 01, 2012

New guys

I asked FIU coach Richard Pitino for thumbnail sketches on this week's signees. Here's what he said:

On Jaquan Lynch, a 6-1 senior at Brooklyn Thomas Jefferson High: "Lynch we saw over the summer. Really liked him a lot. It turned out (assistant coach) Kimani (Young) had known him growing up. He had a relationship with him. He reminded me a lot of a kid I coached at Louisville, Russ Smith, where he just puts the ball in the hole, great defensive player. I thought he’d be perfect for our up-tempo style, our pressing style. Plays both positions, the 1 and the 2."


On Daquein McNeil, a 6-3 senior guard at Saxton River Vermont Academy, rated as the No. 41 shooting guard in the country by Rivals.com, three stars by Rivals and Scout.com, two stars by ESPN: "I think he can play three positions. I like getting guys who can play multiple positions because we switch a lot and do a lot of different things defensively. Daquan is a kid I’ve known because I recruited him at Louisville. Really liked him a lot. Loved how hard he played, his leadership skills, his versatility, loved his potential."


On Jonathan "Sponge" Holton, a 6-9 sophomore at Palm Beach State College and Coral Gables High graduate: "He was a guy who could play a couple of different positions for us. Very talented player, very skilled player. Good pick and pop guy.”

Holton's also faced accusations of video voyeurism while a freshman last year at Rhode Island University for posting videos of himself having sex to his Facebook account.


October 02, 2012

Confirming a commit

This blog will be updated erratically the next few days -- as it has been the last few days -- because of family business. The normal pregame blog, if there is one, for FIU-Arkansas State will be as abbreviated as last week's.

Some Camp Mitch sources confirm the verbal committment of Daquein McNeil, a 6-3 guard out of Baltimore and Vermont Academy. Rivals ranks McNeil at three stars. According to ESPN, FIU beat out Louisville and Oklahoma, among others, for McNeil.


June 22, 2012

Thanks, Dad!

Pending both Pitinos stay where they are, traditional college basketball power Louisville (coached by Rick Pitino) and FIU (coached by Richard Pitino, Jr.) will face each other once each of the next three seasons.

FIU goes to Louisville the first two seasons, including Dec. 19 this year. Louisville, a Final Four team in 2011-12, comes to FIU in 2014-15.

This comes a day after Louisville announced 6-7 forward Rakeem Buckles, who the Cardinals got out of Pace High after an excellent high school career under current FIU assistant coach Mark Lieberman, would be transferring to FIU. Buckles suffered a second torn ACL this past season so he'll be recovering during most of the season he'd be sitting out as a transfer anyway.




June 12, 2012

Pitino finishes staff with Young hire

On break from Dolphinland and the Dolphins in Depth blog...

Turns out the answer to the question I asked in a post last week is "Kimani Young." Young comes from Queens, worked at New Heights in the Bronx and at St. John's. In summary: FIU gets a foot in the New York area well-versed in that area's basketball scene. 

Don't be surprised if that's reflected in Richard Pitino's first two recruiting classes while he builds trust down here.


June 04, 2012

Ball Stuff...

The only question that remains about Richard Pitino's men's basketball coaching staff is who the African-American assistant will be.

Pitino's already hired former longtime Pace High coach Mark Lieberman and Mike Balado of FIU, UM and Miami-Dade Community College. But trying to recruit in basketball without a black coach is like going into a WWF Battle Royale and tossing your competitors all your foreign objects. It'll be used against you at every turn, in ways you never expect. Then, there's the whole can-relate-to-the-player thing.

Barry University assistant coach Michael Bradley, who knows the South Florida recruiting scene well, is a possibility. And Bradley certainly would strengthen FIU's pull in South Florida, which has always been wispy at best.

Expect that decision before summer basketball practices start.


FIU offered defensive end Tevin Jones of Locust Grove (Ga.) Luella High.


Georgia's like Louisiana, where FIU's gotten some mid-level ranked talent away from the local schools: not densely populated, but what there is runs dense with good players, enough to feed many programs.  Don't be surprised if FIU goes Harlan County there as well as Louisiana.



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