Rakeem Buckles

Rick Pitino sounds off on NCAA denying Rakeem Buckles a waiver


This summer has provided a number of interesting rules by the NCAA, and Louisville head coach voiced his opinion on Friday in the wake of one of the NCAA’s most recent head-scratching rulings.

Rakeem Buckles started his career at Louisville, but decided to follow Richard Pitino to the FIU, sat out the season, and then chose to go with Pitino to Minnesota. On Wednesday, Buckles, who has one year of eligibility remaining, had his waiver to play immediately was denied by the NCAA. This ruling is puzzling for two reasons: FIU is ineligible for postseason play due to APR issues from Isiah Thomas’ tenure as head coach. Also, this comes five weeks after FIU transfer Malik Smith was granted a waive to play right away at Minnesota.

When talking to Jeff Goodman of ESPN, Rick Pitino expressed his disbelief in the NCAA’s decision.

“I’m just blown away by it,” Pitino told Goodman. “It makes no sense. It’s amazing the NCAA can do this. He’s a model student-athlete who had a 3.2 GPA when he left Louisville. He just wants a chance to play in another NCAA tournament.

“[Buckles] had no idea that the program wouldn’t be able to play in the NCAA tournament when he transferred to FIU. This is a good kid who has dealt with plenty of adversity over his career. It’s completely unfair.”

The 6-foot-7 Buckles has torn both his ACLs — right in February 2011, left in January 2012 — during his time in a Cardinal uniform. He would have seen considerable action on the Golden Gophers frontline.

The NCAA’s decision has since been appealed.

Report: 6-10 forward Adrian Diaz transferring to Florida International

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Between Richard Pitino accepting the head coaching job at Minnesota and the school learning that low APR numbers may result in a postseason ban for the 2013-14 season, the offseason hasn’t been a smooth one for the FIU basketball program.

New head coach Anthony Evans has made an addition to the roster, as it was reported by Jeff Goodman of on Sunday that former Kansas State forward Adrian Diaz will transfer to the school. In two seasons at Kansas State, the 6-10 Miami native played just nine minutes per game and averaged three points and two rebounds per game.

With the move Diaz becomes the second former Wildcat to transfer to a school located in Miami, as point guard Angel Rodriguez is now a Miami Hurricane.

FIU has lost its second-leading scorer from last season (guard Malik Smith, who is transferring to Minnesota) and three recruits who were talented enough to make the move from the Sun Belt to Conference USA a smooth one.

The good news for Evans (at this point) is that leading scorer Tymell Murphy (14.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and promising forward Jerome Frink (10.2, 6.3) are both expected to return, but the Panthers are still lacking in the depth department.

Diaz likely won’t be able to help FIU immediately due to NCAA transfer rules, but his commitment gives the Panthers some much-needed front court size for the future.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

FIU considering daring new court design

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While the FIU Panthers aren’t playing in the NCAA tournament the first season of the Richard Pitino era resulted in a much-improved product on the court in Miami. The Panthers (18-14) improved their win total by ten games and reached the title game of the Sun Belt tournament, where they fell to Western Kentucky.

With their top three scorers from this season all due to return next season, which will also feature the addition of Louisville transfer Rakeem Buckles, the future looks to be bright at FIU.

And according to Coach Pitino’s Twitter account the school is considering a new court design for its debut season in Conference USA. Pitino sent out two of the possibilities earlier this week via Twitter, and to say the least the proposals are interesting:



Those designs would certainly grab some attention for the program. Given some of the different jersey designs that schools have worn this season there really isn’t much of a surprise when it comes to things like this. But in the case of an ugly jersey at least a team can decide not to wear it; the same can’t be done with an expensive floor design.

But regardless of what FIU decides to do with its court design, it’s better to look for some extra publicity in this manner as opposed to how they went about hiring the coach prior to Pitino.

h/t The Dagger

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Washington picks up FIU transfer Gilles Dierickx

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Washington coach Lorenzo Romar added size on the interior Monday, brining in Florida International transfer Gilles Dierickx, the school has announced.

Dierickx, a 6-11 center from Ghent, Belgium, will have three years of eligibility remaining for the Huskies once he is eligible for the start of the 2013-14 season.

“Gilles is a very skilled post player that can step outside as well as play on the block,” Romar said in a statement. “He is someone that has potential for a lot of growth and he gives us some size at 6-foot-11.”

Dierickx started 15 games for FIU last season, averaging 2.6 points and 2.2 rebounds for a team that finished 8-21, including 5-11 in the Sun Belt.

Coach Isiah Thomas was fired at the end of the season and replaced by former Louisville assistant Richard Pitino.

Dierickx played his high school basketball at West Hills Chaminade in West Hills, Calif., so the move to Washington will bring him back to the West Coast.

During his senior season at West Hills Chaminade, he averaged 13.2 points, 9.2 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks per game.

Washington is coming off a season in which it finished 24-11 and reached the semifinals of the NIT.

Top two leading scorers Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross were both selected in the first round of last week’s NBA draft, going to Memphis and Toronto, respectively.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Rick and Richard Pitino to face off in Louisville-FIU three-game series, beginning in December

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It’s the age-old story. Father and son part ways, son returns to defeat his father.

Well, maybe it’s not that medieval or that epic, considering Rick Pitino and his son, Richard, still maintain a strong relationship, but when Louisville and Florida International meet on Dec. 19, a new storyline will emerge.

The two men, both head coaches of their respective programs, will begin a three-game series this upcoming season that will run through 2014-15.

It will begin in December at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, then move to Miami in 2013-14, then back to Louisville to close out the series.

“Getting a chance to play one of the premier teams in the nation will be great for our fans as well as our program, especially in 2014-15, when the Cardinals come down here to Miami,” Richard Pitino said in a statement. “To be able to get a Top 5 team in the country to come into your building is not only a landmark moment in the evolution of our program, but it will open the door for other opportunities.”

Pitino comes to FIU after serving as an assistant under his father at Louisville. The two programs were drawn even closer this past week, when injured Louisville forward Rakeem Buckles announced he would be transferring schools, trading one Pitino for another and heading to FIU.

Louisville is coming off a Final Four season in 2011-12, while FIU is working to build after an 8-21 finish.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Report: St. Anthony (N.J.) forward Jerome Frink commits to FIU

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Richard Pitino has reeled in another recruit at Florida International.

Jerome Frink, part of coach Bob Hurley’s undefeated St. Anthony (N.J.) team this past season, has committed to FIU, reports Adam Zagoria of

The 6-6 Frink had cut his list to Hofstra, Quinnipiac, Iona, and FIU in recent days and now chooses an FIU program that moved to the C-USA this past week.

He averaged over 16 points and 6 rebounds per game in the New Jersey State tournament this past season and is a player who rebounds with intensity and can add a scoring presence on the offensive end.

Pitino recently scored an offer from scorer Diamante Lewis, and now adds Frink, who could flex between the small forward and power forward positions, though he will have to bulk up to play in the paint and add skill to be effective at the small forward.

The Golden Panthers finished 8-21 last season, including 5-11 in the Sun Belt. Coach Isiah Thomas was fired in early April.

FIU was one of five schools that joined Conference USA this past week, along with North Carolina-Charlotte, Louisiana Tech, North Texas, and Texas-San Antonio.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_