Florida International U

FIU Panthers men, women face FAU to start league play

If Sunday’s start of Conference USA play isn’t enough to get the attention of the FIU men’s and women’s basketball teams, the opponent should: FAU here (the women) and up there (the men).

For the men, it is their sixth of eight consecutive road games, short trip though it is. Since starting this run of road games with a loss against Louisville, FIU won at Florida Gulf Coast, which had been dominant at home; lost at Long Island-Brooklyn and Hartford; then trounced winless Florida A&M.

“Just the fact that you’re on the road, playing at somebody’s home court, things like that are going to happen,” FIU coach Anthony Evans said. “As the team continues to evolve, you’ll get more consistency. But through that whole stretch, we’re still growing as a team. So you’ll get a great win at Florida Gulf Coast, then lose a couple on the road. If those were home games, it might be different.”

The list of players who give FIU the same thing every night stops at fifth-year senior guard Dennis Mavin and redshirt junior center Adrian Diaz, the two leading scorers and the only two players to start all 13 games.

“The other guys, the Daviyon Drapers, the Ray Rodriguezes, the Jason Boswells, Marco Porcher Jimenez, if those guys continue to improve, then it helps us because now we’ll have more people they have to worry about than just two guys,” Evans said. “That’s what our numbers say. If those guys are making shots and playing well, I think we’re a really good team.”

Mavin said: “We’re a defensive team. Sometimes, I think we get outside of that, trying to do stuff outside of our game. Taking a lot of one-on-one shots, stuff like that. That’s not our identity. Our identity is defensive. If we focus in on playing defense, we’ll be more consistent as a team because we’ve got all the tools.”

The FIU women have won two of their past three games and might be coming together defensively, holding Bowling Green to a season-low 27.0 percent shooting.

The elements usually linked to raw effort are defense and rebounding. FIU breaks that theory. While it outrebounds foes by 8.1 boards per game, it is allowing 45.8 percent shooting from the field, the 335th-best shooting percentage out of 343 Division I teams.