With FIU opening spring football practices on March 19 — and the spring game set for April 12 — here are some story lines:
▪ Christian Alexander transferred, which left the backup quarterback job up for grabs. Kaylan Wiggins and Caleb Lynum will compete this spring with All-Tennessee whiz kid Stone Norton joining the battle this summer. James Morgan returns as the starter.
▪ There are jobs available on the offensive line. Tackle D’Ante Demery, guard Shane McGough and center Dallas Connell are established, but, after that, it’s fairly open. Junior college transfer Logan Gunderson is already on campus, and he will get a shot to start at guard.
▪ Defensive coordinator Brent Guy stepped down last month, which means there will be new energy on that side of the ball. Standout defensive tackle Anthony Johnson graduated, but most of the other standouts on defense return.
THIS AND THAT
FIU’s men’s basketball team (19-12, 10-8 Conference USA) has the most wins since reaching 20 victories in 1992-1993. The school record is 21 wins, set in 1997-98.
FIU can get to 20 wins on Wednesday when the seventh-seeded Panthers open the C-USA tournament against 10th-seeded North Texas. Tip-off is at 9:30 p.m. in Frisco, Texas, which is the site of the entire tournament.
The Panthers would need four consecutive victories to win the tournament and earn an automatic bid to the NCAAs.
FIU is 2-0 against North Texas this season. The Panthers beat North Texas 69-59 on Feb. 16 and again 73-58 on Saturday night. Both games were in Miami.
With a win, FIU would play second-seeded Western Kentucky on Thursday. FIU beat host Western Kentucky 77-76 on Jan. 17.
On Monday, FIU point guard Brian Beard and center Osasumwen Osaghae were named to the C-USA All-Defense team. Beard was also named second-team all-league.
Beard leads the league in steals (2.9) and ranks second in assists (6.1). For his career, he is second on the FIU charts in both categories.
Osaghae leads the league in blocks (3.0) and ranks third for his career on the FIU all-time list in that category.
▪ FIU high jumper Clarissa Cutliff, who has won three consecutive C-USA indoor titles, will compete for a national championship starting Friday in Birmingham, Alabama. The senior finished fifth at nationals last year, earning first-team All-American honors.
▪ FIU’s baseball team (9-6) has a big game on Tuesday against 2018 super regional team Stetson, which won 48 games last season and advanced out of the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.
FIU, which went 4-1 this past week, is riding a season-best four-game win streak and will open C-USA play on Friday at Marshall.
▪ The women’s basketball team finished its season 5-24, including 2-14 in league play and 0-11 on the road. Ce’Nara Skanes, a 6-0 forward from Oklahoma, was named to the C-USA All-Freshman team, averaging 8.6 points and 8.1 rebounds.