Florida International U

Tough season for FIU basketball, Anthony Evans

BY WALTER VILLA

Special to the Miami Herald

FIU's head coach Anthony Evans destures in the second period during the Florida International University men's basketball game against No. 6 Louisville at the U.S. Century Bank Arena on on Dec. 21, 2013.
FIU's head coach Anthony Evans destures in the second period during the Florida International University men's basketball game against No. 6 Louisville at the U.S. Century Bank Arena on on Dec. 21, 2013. Herald File Photo, 2013

Not counting years in which wins were vacated because of NCAA violations, this is the worst men’s basketball season in FIU history in terms of conference record, and not even a win on Saturday would change that fact.

The Panthers are 2-15 in Conference USA and wrap up their dismal season on the road Saturday night at UAB (16-14, 9-8). If the Panthers lose, as expected, they would finish 6-25 overall, matching the 1990-91 FIU team for fewest wins in the program’s 36-year history.

The 25 losses would also tie the 2009-2010 season for the most defeats in FIU history. Along with North Texas, FIU is one of just two schools in the 14-team Conference USA that failed to advance to the league tournament.

This is the fourth year for the program under coach Anthony Evans, who has yet to post a winning record at FIU and is a combined 50-76 overall. Evans has one year left on his contract, but it would seem to be doubtful he would be allowed to return for another season.

FIU athletic director Pete Garcia said he will evaluate the program when the season is over, which means as soon as Saturday night. Garcia said he would look at “wins and losses, graduation rates and whether there is a chance to improve or not.”

In terms of improvement, it doesn’t help Evans’ case the fact that this is not a young team. FIU has five seniors, including its top four scorers: Donte McGill, Michael Kessens, Eric Nottage and Elmo Stephen.

The fifth senior, Anthony Boswell, has started 14 games this season and 60 for his FIU career.

Asked to explain why Evans has failed to produce a winner, Garcia struggled to find an answer.

“I don’t know,” Garcia said. “I will have to sit down. … I don’t know. I haven’t sat down and evaluated. We are disappointed we haven’t won. But I think it wouldn’t be fair to say [why] when I haven’t sat down with [Evans].”

▪ Barry’s men’s basketball team (22-5), ranked 19th in the nation in NCAA Division II, will play a Sunshine State Conference semifinal game Saturday at 5 p.m. against Palm Beach Atlantic (15-12) at Daytona Beach. Barry is a virtual lock to play in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth season in a row. Bids will be announced Sunday night at 10:30.

Earlier this week, Barry’s Butch Estes was named SSC Coach of the Year. Barry point guard Elvar Fridriksson was named the league’s Player of the Year. He and teammate Adrian Gonzalez made first-team All-SSC, and Daniel Mortensen and Sawyer Glick made second team.

Nova Southeastern University forward Harrison Goodrick also made the second team.

▪ It might take several years for Miami’s women’s basketball program to have a senior class as good as this season’s bunch that includes three solid starters, two of whom made second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference (Jessica Thomas and Adrienne Motley). The third senior starter is Keyona Hayes. And senior guard Nigia Greene, despite an injury-plagued career, has made contributions as a shooter this season.

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