Because of the damage, the arena will get a new floor for the first time since 1986 when it opened. Florida International spent $50,000 to paint the floor last season to make it look like a beach scene.
According to Neal, the new floor will take eight weeks to put down, which means that FIU’s home opener against Florida College on November 14th could be pushing it.
The men’s and women’s basketball team will also have to find a new place to practice, with the campus rec center being a possibility.
This is obviously terrible timing for Florida International, and poor planning, as well. Did they not put down mats to ensure the floor would remain in proper condition?
All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here.
In 2012, the Norfolk State Spartans stunned second-seeded Missouri behind the play of now Orlando Magic forward Kyle O’Quinn. Last season, Norfolk State was in good position to make a second-straight trip to the NCAA tournament after running the table and going undefeated in MEAC play. However, in the quarterfinal of the conference tournament, Norfolk State was on the wrong end up an upset as eighth-seeded Bethune-Cookman took down the regular season champion.
Anthony Evans has left the program to fill the coaching vacancy at Florida International, giving the reigns to Robert Jones, who has spent six years at Norfolk State with last season being his first as the associate head coach. He’s been with the program through the highs of 2012 and the disappointment of last March. Coming up short has fueled his team early in the fall.
“I think it humbles a team. It makes them a little hungrier,” Jones told NBC Sports during a phone interview on Friday afternoon.
Norfolk State is the projected No. 1 team in the MEAC again this season with reigning MEAC Player of the Year Pendarvis Williams back along with Malcolm Hawkins, Brandon Goode, Jamel Fuentes and Rashid Gaston.
“We have so many guys coming back, they have a bitter taste in their mouths,” Jones said.
“It’s been a lot of hard work,” Jones said of the offseason. “Some it has to do with stuff we implemented such as workouts. But a lot of it has to do with the guys, who have a chip on their shoulder, trying to redeem themselves from last year.”
The talent is there, and according to their coach, the Spartans have been more intense in practice than the team from 2012. Norfolk State doesn’t have a player like O’Quinn — though the 6-foot-6 Williams will get his fair share of pro looks — but the depth is better than two seasons ago. So could this team possibly be better than the fifth No. 15 seed to knock off a No. 2 seed?
“Potentially,” Jones answers.
Jones acknowledges that postseason play can come down to luck, just like last season when Bethune-Cookman dropped a one-point game to the Spartans, made some adjustments, and beat Norfolk State nine days later the MEAC tournament.
“That 2012 team, the luck of the draw was that we were playing a Missouri team that: 1. We were bigger than and 2. They played a style that we had already seen throughout the seen in the MEAC with four guards against us,” he added. “It was a perfect matchup. If we can get a couple of those things to happen this postseason, you never know what could happen.”
Jones hasn’t changed too much since taking over. He’s tweaked some stuff, with a little more focus on the offensive end. “I think in the past we concentrated more on the defensive side of the ball, and lacked on the offensive side of the ball,” Jones said. “[We’ll] play a little bit faster, get some more points on the board. I think we have the athletes to get over the 70 range.”
Norfolk State showed what can happen in 2012. Like Jones said, they’ll need some bounces to go there way, but if Norfolk State doesn’t live up to the expectations once again, it won’t be for lack of effort. The Spartans have talent, an improved offense, and something to prove heading into its season, which starts on Nov. 8 against Texas Southern.
It may have taken four years to get here, but there is finally a bit of good news for Rakeem Buckles’ college basketball career.
His head coach at Florida International told Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com that the fifth-year senior will, in fact, be on scholarship heading into the 2013-2014 season.
When Buckles’ waiver for a transfer to Minnesota was denied by the NCAA last week, there was initially concern that a return to FIU would force him to play as a walk-on this season. Alas, Buckles will avoid have to take out student loans, which, for anyone currently paying them down, is a blessing.
It’s about time that Buckles got a bit of good news, however. The kid has been through enough. Not only did his waiver to transfer and play at Minnesota get denied (there’s a strong argument to say it was wrongfully denied), but Buckles will now be forced to play out his final season without the possibility of making the NCAA tournament. This comes after a career that saw his twice have a season ended by a torn ACL and once miss the beginning of the year with a spiral fracture in his finger.
Dr. Brett Reed and Lehigh athletics announced the hiring of Kyle Griffin as an assistant men’s basketball coach on Tuesday afternoon.
Griffin will take the place of Stephen Ott on the coaching staff who was recently hired by first-year Florida International head coach Anthony Evans.
Griffin, who comes to Lehigh from the Hoop Group, joins a list of current and former Patriot League coaches who transitioned from running camps and instructing players at the Hoop Group camps to assistant coaching.
Ott, Griffin’s predecessor, was the Director of Team Events at the Hoop Group before becoming the Director of Basketball Operations at Siena. Kevin Driscoll, an assistant coach at Holy Cross in his first season, was formerly the director of the Elite / Eastern Invitational and the Skills / Pocono Invitational for the last four years at the Hoop Group. Current Old Dominion assistant Lamar Barrett, who was an assistant at American last season under Jeff Jones, was the director of the Hoop Group from 2006-2008.
[Kyle] has also grown a tremendous number of recruiting relationships through his very productive experiences with the Hoop Group. At the Hoop Group, Kyle was responsible for the organization and communication with various coaches around the nation to field competitive tournaments for a very strong basketball organization in this country.
A former player at La Salle and Siena who battled knee injuries his entire collegiate career, Griffin won’t be a stranger to the culture and program at Lehigh as his father, Bill Griffin, is the Assistant Director of Athletics at Lehigh and former member of the Lehigh basketball team.