In six seasons as an assistant women’s basketball coach at the University of Maryland, Marlin Chinn helped the Terps compile a 164-41 record, reaching the NCAA Tournament’s Final Four in each of the past two years.
Those winning days are over for Chinn, for now at least.
In just a couple of months as FIU’s new coach, Chinn has been mired in defeat after defeat — a 2-17 record overall, 13 consecutive losses and a 0-8 mark in Conference USA.
But one could make a strong argument that Chinn inherited a mess — the Panthers were 3-26 last season — and it will take some time to dig out of the wreckage.
Chinn started the reconstruction of FIU’s program last April when he signed three players, including two who are starting now — 5-5 freshman point guard Kristian Hudson (team-high 4.4 assists per game) and 5-9 junior wing Tianah Alvarado (12.9 scoring average).
More backcourt help will arrive in the fall, when 5-8 freshmen Kayla Rogers and Alexis Gordon report for duty.
Rogers isn’t highly ranked and hasn’t put up big numbers, but Chinn said that’s because she plays for a state powerhouse that thrives on balanced scoring. Indeed, Jacksonville Ribault has made it to the Class 4A final four in each of the past three years, winning two state titles during that span.
Gordon, meanwhile, is averaging about 25 points at a small school — Palm Bay’s Covenant Christian — and is ranked the No. 80 point guard in the country, according to espn.com.
“Alexis can stretch the defense with her shooting,” Chinn said.
Perhaps the team’s biggest addition for next season is 6-4 sophomore center Erin Garner, a transfer from Georgia Tech who will be eligible in December.
Chinn has known Garner, who is from Philadelphia, since she was in eighth grade. Garner once blocked 17 shots in one high school game, and she was ranked the No. 16 prep center in the nation when she enrolled at Georgia Tech.
Back surgery sidetracked her career, but Garner is practicing with FIU every day and is fully healthy, Chinn said.
“She will be an instant difference-maker for us because of her length, her rebounding and her shot-blocking,” Chinn said. “We’re super excited to have her.”
Current FIU starter Janka Hegedus, a 6-1 junior wing who is averaging 12.2 points, should be in the running to keep her spot next season. But Chinn is bringing in a pair of 6-2 freshmen power forward/center types in Jameshia Amand from Dallas Skyline and Sydney Fields from Parkview (Lilburn, Georgia).
Fields is ranked the No. 45 forward in the nation, and Amand is No. 56, according to espn.com. Chinn said both are rugged post players who thrive on contact.
In addition to those five recruits, Chinn said he is looking to add one more player in April, and he hopes the losing will end soon.
“I don’t walk around like I know it all — this has been a learning experience for me as a first-year head coach,” Chinn said. “But I demand that our kids play with a ton of energy every night, and they’ve done that.
“We’re going to fall short right now because of our talent level, but that doesn’t excuse anything other than all-out effort.”
On Monday night, before Miami and Duke tipped off, ESPN’s Dick Vitale called Hurricanes sophomore point guard Ja’Quan Newton “the best sixth man in basketball.”
The Bobcats baseball team, ranked No. 1 in the NAIA by perfectgame.com, has loaded up on South Floridians — 25 of its 32 players are from Dade or Broward counties.