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New FIU women’s basketball coach wiping the slate clean

Video: FIU basketball teams meet with media

Coaches and players from FIU's men's and women's basketball teams meet with the media on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 to discuss the 2015-16 season.
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Coaches and players from FIU's men's and women's basketball teams meet with the media on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015 to discuss the 2015-16 season.

Upon arrival last spring, FIU’s new women’s basketball coach Marlin Chinn took the team to dinner at Texas de Brazil to hang out as people. Then, Chinn sat down with each returning player from last season’s 3-25 disaster.

“The biggest thing when I came in was to try to get to know them,” Chinn said. “I went over my background with them what type of style I wanted to play. And I told them the slate was wiped clean. There was no premeditated things I wanted to do. I said I’m going to give you guys an opportunity to paint a picture for me and my staff.”

Then, FIU’s first new women’s basketball coach since the big tech battle was Betamax vs. VHS took to social media with assistants Tiara Malcom, Keunta Miles and Brianna Skeens. Struck by the view of FIU’s main campus from his office, Chinn coined the #YouHaveToSeeThisPlace and used it on photos of campus he posted to Twitter and Instagram. Chinn found that hashtag sometimes preceded them on recruiting visits.

“I knew how much of a presence social media-wise we had at Maryland,” (where Chinn was an assistant for six years), Chinn said. “I knew we could reach a lot of people with the social media we did. I knew that was one thing we wanted to attack hard.”

Nine players return from last year’s team after a 10th — Conference USA Freshman of the Year Kiandre’a Pound — took leave from the team this season after getting pregnant. Pound’s emergence was one of the few joys in a season that saw 36-year head coach Cindy Russo fall ill, then retire midseason. Russo’s longtime assistant, Inge Nissen, handled the rest of an 0-17 conference season before retiring.

“Last year, I think we played without a purpose,” senior Destini Feagin said. We played every game not knowing what to expect.”

Junior Brianna Wright said, “A lot of the time, if we have a bad practice, the next day we’re better, he says it’s a ‘bounce back.’ I think this year’s a ‘bounce back’ for us because we have a lot to prove.”

Chinn said he watched about half of last season’s games to gauge how well the returning players probably would fit into the more up-tempo style he wants to play.

FIU roster

G Tianah Alvarado, Jr., 5-9; G Jade Cheek, So., 5-8; G Destini Feagin, Sr., 5-10; G Aajah Hawkins, So., 5-7; G Amari Hawkins, So., 5-8; G/F Janka Hegedus, Jr., 6-1; G Kristian Hudson, Fr., 5-5; F Soraya Page, Jr., 6-1; G Taylor Shade, Sr., 5-6; G Nikolina Todorovic, Jr., 5-7; F Brianna Wright, Sr., 6-2.

Schedule

NOVEMBER: 13 – Florida A&M, 5 p.m.; 17 – at Central Florida, 7 p.m.; 23 – Florida Gulf Coast, 7 p.m.; 27 – Marquette, FIU Thanksgiving Classic, noon; 29 – vs. Wichita State or Richmond, FIU Thanksgiving Classic, 2 p.m. DECEMBER: 4 – UMass Lowell, 5 p.m.; 6 – at Jacksonville, noon; 15 – at Cleveland State; 22 – at University of Miami, 2 p.m.; 28 – at Rhode Island, noon; 29 – vs. Hampton or Wake Forest, 2 p.m. JANUARY: 3 – at FAU, 2 p.m.; 7 – Western Kentucky, 7 p.m.; 9 – Marshall, 2 p.m.; 14 – at Louisiana Tech, 7:30 p.m.; 16 – at Southern Mississippi, 5 p.m.; 21 – UTSA, 7 p.m.; 23 – UTEP, 2 p.m.; 28 – at Charlotte; 30 – at Old Dominion. FEBRUARY: 4 – UAB, 7 p.m.; 6 – Middle Tennessee State, 2 p.m.; 11 – at UTEP, 9:05 p.m.; 13 – at UTSA, 2 p.m.; 18 – North Texas, 7 p.m.; 20 – Rice, noon; 27 – Florida Atlantic. MARCH: 3 – at UAB, 8 p.m.; 5 – at Middle Tennessee State; 8-12 – Conference USA Tournament, Birmingham, Ala.

G Tianah Alvarado, Jr., 5-9; G Jade Cheek, So., 5-8; G Destini Feagin, Sr., 5-10; G Aajah Hawkins, So., 5-7; G Amari Hawkins, So., 5-8; G/F Janka Hegedus, Jr., 6-1; G Kristian Hudson, Fr., 5-5; F Soraya Page, Jr., 6-1; G Taylor Shade, Sr., 5-6; G Nikolina Todorovic, Jr., 5-7; F Brianna Wright, Sr., 6-2.

NOVEMBER

13 – Florida A&M, 5 p.m.; 17 – at Central Florida, 7 p.m.; 23 – Florida Gulf Coast, 7 p.m.; 27 – Marquette, FIU Thanksgiving Classic, noon; 29 – vs. Wichita State or Richmond, FIU Thanksgiving Classic, 2 p.m.

DECEMBER

4 – UMass Lowell, 5 p.m.; 6 – at Jacksonville, noon; 15 – at Cleveland State; 22 – at University of Miami, 2 p.m.; 28 – at Rhode Island, noon; 29 – vs. Hampton or Wake Forest, 2 p.m.

JANUARY

3 – at FAU, 2 p.m.; 7 – Western Kentucky, 7 p.m.; 9 – Marshall, 2 p.m.; 14 – at Louisiana Tech, 7:30 p.m.; 16 – at Southern Mississippi, 5 p.m.; 21 – UTSA, 7 p.m.; 23 – UTEP, 2 p.m.; 28 – at Charlotte; 30 – at Old Dominion.

FEBRUARY

4 – UAB, 7 p.m.; 6 – Middle Tennessee State, 2 p.m.; 11 – at UTEP, 9:05 p.m.; 13 – at UTSA, 2 p.m.; 18 – North Texas, 7 p.m.; 20 – Rice, noon; 27 – Florida Atlantic.

MARCH

3 – at UAB, 8 p.m.; 5 – at Middle Tennessee State; 8-12 – Conference USA Tournament, Birmingham, Ala.

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