Monday, July 5, 2010

Has Isiah Thomas Already Turned FIU into Contenders?

Last year, former-Knicks Head Coach Isiah Thomas filled the FIU coaching vacancy. 

Timelessly, everybody speculated that the Golden Panthers would emerge on the scene in a few years.

However, discount this year because FIU was terrible. 

They came second-to-last in the Sun Belt conference with a (4-14) record. There non-conference record of (3-11) did not help either.

They were dead last in their conference with an overall record of (7-25).

It was mostly due to the number of turnovers they produced a game. They produced almost 14 turnovers a game to go along with their 12 assist per outing.

Last time I checked, it was not good to embrace a negative assist-to-turnover ratio.

They shot a measly 69 percent from the charity stripe, while hitting 28 percent of their three’s.

After such a horrible season FIU fans are eager to see what Isiah Thomas is going to pull out of his bag of tricks—how about an ESPNU top 100 recruit?

Isiah Thomas will forever be known as a potent recruiter. I mean really, who would turn down a chance to play for an NBA great?

Dominique Ferguson is a 6-foot-8 power forward from Virginia that did not pass up the offer. 

Ferguson was a highly touted recruit out of high school and favored FIU over Kentucky, Duke, Indiana, UCLA and Arizona.

He is a four-man that bring the three-position to the post. Meaning, he has a great inside-outside game that gives defenders headaches.

He is so versatile in the post area. He can back you down, face-up, shoot the jumper or pass the ball.

He doesn’t have the softest hands in the post, but he does stay alert and is ready for the entry pass. He has the ability to throw dunks down as well as finish with a strong lay-up.

He is always around the rim. Whether it’s for a put-back, rebound or block, Ferguson is always around the painted area trying to score the basketball. 

He runs in transition well and is a great addition to the frontcourt.

To curb the backcourt problems, FIU brings in an underrated floor general.

Phil Taylor is still virtually unknown after four solid years of high school basketball. 

Taylor is 5-foot-9, which is under-sized to most but he still plays at a high level.

He has the ability to shoot lights out from the three-point line consistently—something FIU lacked last season—not to mention, he takes over games in the clutch.

He has the ability to be a key player in the turnaround.  He will bring his passing and vision to a team that is in need of it.

FIU also brought in Richaud Pack who is a decent wing threat with the ability to create havoc in transition and mid-range. 

Dejaun Wright is an aggressive slasher and the intensity he brings to the game cannot be taught.

Erick Frederick is the same way. He wants to dunk on you every chance he has. He has a nice frame that he uses to seal defenders off and rebound in the lane.

FIU has improved a lot because of this recruiting class. But it doesn’t stop there.

The top two scorers from last year’s team have returned, along with a nucleus of young role players that are going to commend the recruits well.

Next year, the turnovers will be cut in half because of the experience they have acquired. 

I expect Phil Taylor to be starting before the season is over if FIU is going to turn things around.

In addition, with the nucleus of players on the roster, FIU has a chance to run a deep 8-to-9 man rotation.

They have aggressive scorers, high-energy guys, decent rebounders, and most importantly senior leadership.

Many suspected a turnaround would come years down the road for FIU. But no, to Isiah Thomas the turnaround starts now!

Written by DeAnte Mitchell

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