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Posts from January 2009

Women vs. Louisiana-Lafayette live blog
If you believe Google, and there's little reason not to, this will be the first-ever live blog of an FAU women's basketball game. The Owls (8-12, 5-5 Sun Belt) face ULL (3-17, 0-9 Sun Belt) here at FAU Arena in a couple minutes, and that game will be followed by the men's game.

The pre-game shootaround just finished and from the looks of it, the Owls will have a significant size advantage - something that doesn't happen often. I'll give an update at every media timeout and a complete wrap-up following the game will appear on FAUOwlAccess.com. Enjoy the game.

15:35 ULL 9: FAU 7: ULL jumped out 4-0 before Carla Stubbs got the Owls on the board. Brittany Bowe stole the ensuing inbounds pass and tied the score at 4-4.

On a personal note, The 5 p.m. start allows the setting sun to shine directly through the west windows. It's the first indoor basketball game I've ever covered while wearing sunglasses.

TIME: Susan Beauzil's 3-pointer put the Owls up by 19 points.

11:45 ULL 11, FAU 9: Lafayette's uniforms don't have the word "Lafayette" on them. Instead, the white letters on their red shirts read: Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns. Jana Momoh's backdoor cut tied it at 9-9 for the Owls. Cajuns offered three of airballs and FAU had one of their own since the last update.

7:39 FAU 19, ULL 14: Bowe got her own rebound, put it back and drew the foul to put the Owls up 12-11. Stubbs came up limping after drawing a foul on a drive. She made one of two free throws and stayed in the game. Bowe's drive gave the Owls a five-point lead - their biggest of the game.

3:24 FAU 24, ULL 18: Center Jessica Knurick answered Lafayette' Alexis Green's 3-pointer with one of her own. Momoh's jumper pushed the Owls' lead to six.

HALFTIME FAU30, ULL 20: FAU is getting opportunities near the hoop but is having trouble taking advantage of the them. Taylor's drive with less than 30 seconds remaining gave the Owls a 10-point lead - their biggest of the game.

SECOND HALF TIP-OFF: FAU is the better team and should be able to pull away in the second half. ULL is sloppy, allowing the Owls to score 12 of their 30 points off turnovers. Bowe led all scorers with 10 points. ULL didn't make a field goal in the final 6:23 of the half.

15:28 FAU 36, ULL26: FAU hit its first two shots of the second half pushing the lead to 14 points. The Cajuns scored the next four and will be at the line following the timeout.

11:45 FAU 36, ULL 28: FAU's score didn't change since the last update. The Owls are getting open shots, but they aren't falling. Luckily for the Owls, ULL isn't doing much either.

7:46 FAU 44, ULL 28 - Stamps' putback of her own miss broke the Owls' scoring drought. Bowe's layup put FAU up 16 and the Owls are starting to pull away.

2:22 FAU 51, ULL 36: The Owls led by as much as 19 points. FAU has been working the shot clock and as a result aren't getting the best shots. ULL cut the lead to 11 before the Owls latest couple of buckets. Will the 15-point lead be big enough to prevent a Cajun foul fest?

FINAL FAU 61, ULL 50: The Owls held on pretty easily to boost their Sun Belt record back above .500. Stubbs' layup upped the Owls' lead to 53-36. FAU coach Chancellor Dugan called timeout following Stubbs' shot - not sure why. ULL followed with a couple of 3-pointers to get back within 11. That ened up being the margin of victory, though the Cajuns' did cut the lead to single digits at one point.

Chuck
Recruiting trail is often rocky
I once had a high school star looking me square in the eye as he told me that he had given his commitment to a certain school and that he stood by it.

In the next breath, and with all sincerity, he said he had committed to another school as well.

Most would say the player didn't know the meaning of the word "commitment," but in the crazy world of recruiting, it made perfect sense.

Players commit – sometimes to more than one school – and they de-commit. And all commitments are not created equal. They can be "soft" or "firm" and are all apparently subject to which way the wind blows. Or at least to how an 18-year old kid is feeling that day.

Its been that way for years, even before internet recruiting analysts proliferated faster than citrus canker.

When I started covering recruiting, in football-crazy Alabama in the mid-1990s it was the recruiting magazines which were just starting to take a foothold.

But even then, it was obvious what was happening. To sell magazines recruiting analysts write up recruits who go to traditional powers. They knew – as internet analysts do now – the fans of big schools don’t spend money to read about how bad their recruiting classes are.

To me the "stars" awarded to prospects appears to be in direct correlation to what schools are interested in those players – not necessarily the potential of the player.

Schools like FAU which doesn’t have a large fan base aren't going to cause a seismic shift when it’s learned a player plans to come to Boca Raton.

But that's fine with the FAU coaches, who never said they were going to waste much time trying to convince a prospect leaning toward Miami, Florida or Florida State that they should be an Owl.

If I've heard Howard Schnellenberger say it once, he's said it a hundred times that "It would be counter-productive to go against those schools. We just want to keep the carpetbaggers from raiding the state."

Despite its trials and tribulations recruiting is a serious business . Don't let anyone tell you any different. It's not for the faint of heart, but following it gives you a real insight into just how difficult it is to build a winning program.

I've covered the recruiting process for every FAU class of signees and this one appears to be coming together nicely.

There aren’t many "stars" for some of the FAU players who have said they will sign with the Owls on Wednesday, but the ones that are apparently coming look solid and if one or two players who haven’t committed (or at least given what Webster's defines as a commitment) in FAU's sights signs on the dotted line, the Owls could have a class that Schnellenberger will be pleases with and may even impress a few internet analysts.

Marcus
Women's hoops on right track
While there is still time for the FAU men's basketball team to reverse course and salvage some of this season, the team that shares the same floor at FAU Arena is already on solid footing.

The women's basketball team has won four consecutive games heading into Wednesday's game vs. Arkansas-Little Rock. The Owls are 8-11 and 5-4 in the Sun Belt and have already won more games than each of the past two seasons.

Not bad for a program that some had left for dead and screaming for the firing of coach Chancellor Dugan. Never mind that the past two seasons FAU took the court with players who were recruited when FAU was still in the Atlantic Sun Conference.

When FAU joined the Sun Belt, no program had to get better quicker than the women's basketball team. Playing in the Sun Belt, one of the better mid-major programs in women's basketball, hasn't been easy, but Dugan never panicked and began to quietly assemble recruiting classes with much better players.

As it often does, the maturation of those players took time, but it appears their time is now.

The Owls may not be battling for the SBC title yet, but they are competing and improving. With players like junior guards Brittany Bowe and Carla Stubbs, junior forward Jessica Knurick and talented freshman guard Breana Turner, who turned in a 26-point game earlier this season, the Owls appear to be not that far away from reaching the level of the top SBC teams and next season could be eventful.

A big test will be in Wednesday's game against UALR, but regardless of the outcome, the program is moving in the right direction.
Charting the changes
We've got a few additions and a deletion - but one with a caveat - to our upcoming recruiting chart.

The deletion will be St. Cloud receiver Donnie Jennert who committed to FAU earlier this month, but changed that commitment to Iowa State after visiting Ames, Iowa this weekend.

However, according to his high school coach, FAU visited Jennert on Monday in an effort to change his mind on committing to the Cyclones.

It is believed that visit was productive and Jennert is still considering signing with FAU. We'll take him off the list of commitments but keep monitoring the situation.

More importantly, the additions are:

Treon Howard, a 5-10, 160-pound defensive back from Fort Meade
Jimmie Colley, a 6-3, 260-pound offensive lineman from Milton-Pace
Jarred Williams, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound defensive end from Fort Walton Beach
Davis a leader on and off the field
Howard Schnellenberger constantly talks about recruiting players of good character. Jamal Davis certainly seems to fit the criteria.

In our conversation Saturday night for FAUOwlAccess.com, Davis frequently mentioned his family and it quickly became obvious how strong an influence his parents have been on his development as a person.

His character carried over onto the field, where Davis was the only captain on Coral Springs Charter chosen unanimously by the players.

"He's a good character kid," CSC coach Robb Wilgoren said. "The type of kid you want to be on your football team."

Wilgoren said Davis' 40 time is in the in the mid to high 4.5s, but unlike what he termed "track players," Davis doesn’t slow down much with pads on.

Already academically qualified, Davis is a standout in the classroom. His 4.32 weighted gpa places him 17th out of a class of 188. Davis also qualified for a Florida Bright Futures Scholarship. He'll major in Business at FAU.

Chris Bonner hosted Davis on his visit during the weekend that started Jan. 9.

"I just liked the overall experience and the overall feeling I got being there," Davis said.

Below is Davis' video highlight package.





chuck
FAU sends message with swift decison on Jarvis
The co-stars in her movies may openly embrace porn star Mary Carey (and do they!) but at FAU, where Carey attended a few years back, she doesn't often receive the same warm welcome.

Her mere presence at Thursday's basketball game already had some administrators squirming in their seats.

By the end of the night, Carey was the least of anyone's worries as many were more embarrassed by the sight of Mike Jarvis making apparent contact with one of the officals and then being forced off the court under the watchful eye of a campus police officer after the team received four consecutive technical fouls.

The punishment was swift and sent a message. Rather than wait to see what the Sun Belt Conference would dole out, the university took a proactive step with a one-game suspension that was doled out by Athletic Director Craig Angelos, who met with Jarvis after the game Thursday. One can also bet the penalty has the approval of President Frank Brogan, who was at the game, but made a hasty retreat after Jarvis was tossed.

In addition to being vastly concerned with FAU's image, don't forget Brogan used to be a referee himself and several eyewitnesses said he was aghast after Jarvis' meltdown.

To be fair, Jarvis himself acknowledged the display was not his finest hour. He'll likely learn from this mistake and the ensuing punishment just like he hopes senior guard Paul Graham learned after he was forced to sit a game for missing the team plane last week.

Both incidents are similar and are just momentary lapses of judgment which are regrettable. However, in both cases after the punishment is administered, everyone will be able to move on.
Rose donates hair to Locks of Love
Thought we could all use a little levity following the chaos at The Burrow last night.

Those who enjoyed watching fullback Willie Rose race down the field with his long hair snaking out from underneath his helmet will have to get accustomed to a new look. Rose shaved his head over the Christmas break, then donated his hair to Locks of Love - an organization that provides hair for wigs. The wigs are then given to financially underprivileged children who lost their hair after undergoing chemotherapy.

"As soon as the thought came to my mind that I was going to cut my hair immediately I was like, yeah I'm definitely going to donate it," Rose said. "I just think it would be common sense to donate your hair. I mean, yeah, why not?"

Rose sported long hair for a couple of years, but said it had become more of a hassle than it was worth. Aside from the extra time it took to take care of his locks, Rose grew tired of his hair constantly being in his face.

Once Rose decided to make the change, his family was happy to help. They held a mini-ceremony, pulling his hair into several ponytails before taking turns removing them.

"Mom hacked off a pony tail, my dad hacked off a pony tail, my brother hacked of a pony tail and my aunt hacked off the fourth one," Rose said.

The top photo shows that process. FAUOwlAccess.com took the bottom photo showing Rose's new look at the football banquet.

"I feel great now," Rose said. "I'm so glad I did it. At first I was a little worried because a lot of people like long hair. I was so happy when I cut it. It feels great."

Cool feature: For those who may not have seen this, Marcus Nelson presented a live blog of last night's game. It offered some insightful commentary about the night's events. It should become a must see for fans who want to follow the Owls but can't make it to the Burrow.

chuck
Live blog from ULM-FAU
BOCA RATON - Don't really know if there is a demand for this sort of thing, but as an experiment we will try some live blogging from tonight's game between FAU and Louisiana-Monroe.

Check back for updates during the games.

Here's the first update...

FAU senior guard Paul Graham is not in the starting lineup. Here are the starters.

G Carderro Nwoji
G Shavar Richardson
G Alex Tucker
F Chris Watson
F Brett Royster

and ULM's

G Kenneth Averette
G Jarvis Hill
G/F Malcom Thomas
F Rudy Turner
F Lawrence Gilbert

At the under 16 media timeout
14:32 - FAU 10, ULM 6
A sloppy start - not entirely expected with two teams in last place in the Sun Belt. The Warhawks have had a few easy baskets wich must be driving FAU coach Mike Jarvis crazy. Nwoji has hit a couple of shots with the shot clock winding down.

At the under 12 media timeout
11:44 - FAU 16, ULM 10
Graham enters the game with 13 minutes remaining before a scary moment when Tucker hit his head on the floor. After a few moments Tucker stays in the game. Royster registers his second block of the game and then has a nice dunk on the other end. ....Nwoji already has six points.

At the under 8 media timeout
7:23 - FAU 23, ULM 21
ULM rallies to tie it at 19, but Graham gets a couple of baskets to put the Owls back in front


At the under 4 media timeout
3:50 - ULM 30, FAU 29
Watson has a monster dunk that gets the small crowd at The Burrow energized and the Owls a 25-21 lead. ...Chris Coleman gets in the game and in the box score with a basket but ULM's Malcom Thomas hits a 18-footer with his foot on the 3-point line to give the Warhawks the lead.

Halftime
ULM 42, FAU 34
Things just got interesting. At the 1:54 mark Mike Jarvis gets at least two technical fouls and appeared to make contact with an official although it looked unitentional from what I saw. After the officials huddled, there were two more technicals called but not sure if those were charged to the bench. An official called for a FAU policeman to escort Jarvis from the court and to put him handcuffs if he needed to. He didnt need to as Jarvis then went peacefully before ULM stepped to the line for EIGHT free throws. Mike Jarvis II is now coaching the team.

15:49 - ULM 52, FAU 36
The crowd is really riled up now. ...I assume Jarvis was in the lockerrom for halftime, but I'm not sure about that...The Owls appear to be fired up, ULM clearly has the momentum and ULM's Rudy Turner already has 16 points - six above his average.

At the under 12 media timeout
11:23 - ULM 65, FAU 51
ULM's Jarvis Hill landed awkwardly and is helped off the court by a trainer. ...Watson gets a steal and a layup to cut it to 49-62 and then Richardson is fired up after he hits a layup, is fouled but misses the free-throw.

At the under 8 media timeout
6:33 ULM 75, FAU 66
Graham getting hot and when he scores his 16th point with 8:40 remaining, FAU is only down 68-61. ...A few minutes later Graham hits a jumper with his foot on the 3-point line to cut the lead to 72-63 and on the next possesion, Graham hits a triple to cut the lead to 75-66.

At the under 4 media timeout
3:38 - ULM 77, FAU 70
FAu starting to get it together defensively and Graham has the hot hand and has shot the Owls back into the game.

Final: ULM 94, FAU 88
The Owls battled but ULM made free thwrows down the stretch and the Owls missed a few key shots. We'll have a full recap soon on a wild night at the The Burrow.
Academic offerings, new buildings sold Sirmans
It sounds like FAU's two biggest selling points to Jacksonville-Robert E. Lee commit Brian Sirmans - aside from the opportunity to play Division I football - were the academic programs the school offers and the new facilities.

Sirmans plans to pursue pharmaceutical studies when he arrives in Boca Raton. He also mentioned liking the Oxley Center and the new campus fitness center.

"They showed me a good time down there," Sirmans told FAUOwlAccess.com. "I'm looking forward to staying in Florida. I want to be a part of the up-and-coming football program."

Sirmans, who works at Publix after school, chose FAU primarily over Arkansas St., but he may make a visit Jonesboro this weekend just to be sure. He visited FAU the weekend of January 9 and Ed Alexander served as his host.

Now that Sirmans is sure that he's coming to Boca, he's been offering advice to fellow Lee recruits Tiray Dove and Josh Edmonds, who visit this weekend.

"Enjoy the trip and if they offer you, make the commitment so that we can stay together," Sirmans told them.

It's all relative: Sure, the Owls' men's basketball team is struggling. Yep, they've lost 10 straight. Can it get worse? You bet. New Jersey Institute of Technology lost 51 consecutive games before beating Bryant University last night. Think those guys did a little post-game partying?

Chuck
Best and worst moments? Let the debate begin
Year-in-review stories are fun to write because they often evolve from the kind of barroom banter that makes being a sports fan worthwhile.

Was Frantz Joseph or Rusty Smith the Owls MVP?

What was the season's high point?

Who was the most disappointing?

In writing Owls never gave up in 2008, the most vigorous debate at FAUOwlAccess.com attempted to determine the season's low point.

There is a great argument to be made that the loss to Troy was more of a downer. Prior to the season, Sun Belt prognosticators pointed to the Troy game as the battle that would ultimately decide the conference championship. The Owls, playing at home and in front of a national television audience, played perhaps their worst game of the year - although that second half at Arkansas State was pretty bad.

The loss to Troy dropped the Owls to 1-5 on the season and they could have buried their burrowing heads in the sand. Instead, they battled to bring renewed hope to the season. And diehards could always say, if they win this week FAU could get on a roll and reach some bowl.

I ultimately settled on the loss to Arkansas State being the low point because that loss seemed to dash all hope. At the time, I figured the Red Wolves rendered the Florida International game meaningless. Really, who thought a 6-6 FAU team would be considered for any at-large bowl bid? To the Owls credit, they proved me wrong.

Fortunately for FAU fans the Owls ended the season on a huge upswing, taking the emphasis away from the Troy and ASU games. A couple years from now few will even remember the specifics of either contest.

So enjoy the season review, and the videos - how cool are they?!! February brings with it Signing Day, which means spring workouts can't be too far away. The exuberance the Owls provided with their Motor City Bowl victory allows fans to continue to climb their ladder of hope.

Chuck
Leftovers from Awards Banquet
BOCA RATON - My food is all gone but here are some leftovers from Sunday's 2008 FAU Awards Banquet at the Embassy Suites.

Hope you enjoy them as much as I did the steak and eggs -mmmm.

  • FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger said FAU is still trying to land one more game for this upcoming season. With non-conference games at Nebraska and at South Carolina highlighting the schedule, he said the opponent will likely be a "C" team meaning a team the Owls should be able to beat.

  • Schnellenberger isn't wavering on the timeline for the on-campus stadium. He told those in attendance the stadium will open up in 2010. A source familiar with the process told me the latest FAU could start construction and still be ready for 2010 is June.

  • After getting stung by the NCAA for a low Academic Progress Rate last season, Schnellenberger had a clear message for the team as he addressed them for the last time this season - study hard.

    "It doesn't matter how good you get on the football field, if you are not there academically and you let football team as well as yourself down, it's going to hurt us." Schnellenberger told the team.
  • Recruiting class taking shape
    Florida Atlantic is in the midst of its second weekend of playing host to football recruits and last week was quite productive for the Owls.


    It looks like FAU is ahead of where it was last year at this time.


    The class is also shaping up nicely considering last weekend, several
    local prospective recruits were playing in the Outback Steakhouse
    All-Star Game which features the best players from Palm Beach County
    and the Treasure Coast – both prime recruiting grounds for FAU.


    This weekend, FAU will be impacted by the annual Dade-Broward All-Star
    game, but still may have some players who played in the game on-campus
    today.


    So far, the Owls have landed verbal commitments from the following players:

    Tyrie Allen RB Western
    Chris Chappell OL West Nassau
    Jamal Davis WR Coral Springs Charter
    Mike Flash OL Northeast
    Carlton Falconer OL Dillard
    Donnie Jennert WR St. Cloud
    Dominic Jones WR Fernandina Beach
    DeAndre Richardson WR Panama City - Bay
    Brian Sirmans ATH Jacksonville-Lee
    Winfred Strickland CB Cocoa
    Andrew Stryffler DL Sanford (N.C.) - Lee County
    Mean Green fans ready for Owls
    Looks like North Texas is getting prepared for Saturday's game vs. the Owls.

    On GoMeanGreen.com, the "cheer sheet" for the game is posted. It looks like the Mean Green did their homework and will be ready with some informed heckling.

    Check out the "cheer sheet" here.
    Why FAUOwlAccess?
    Hello Owl fans -

    Of all the assignments handed to me by the Palm Beach Post over the past several years, covering Florida Atlantic was always one of my favorites. It's great to be around the energy of a growing program. That energy rubs off on the scribes that cover such teams.

    That's why when Marcus and I started seriously talking about FAUOwlAccess.com, the decision to move forward became easy.

    The creation process has been a challenge. It's also been fun.

    There is a growing market for information about the FAU athletic program. The rabid fans have always been there. Now, there are more casual fans than ever - many of whom are quickly progressing to the "rabid" category.

    Other major institutions have sites devoted to in-depth coverage their athletic programs. It's time for FAU to have one, also. Florida Atlantic is ready to take big steps. We'll be there to cover them.

    And we'll enjoy every minute of it.
    Caldwell on Schnellenberger
    New Indianapolis Colts coach Jim Caldwell had some nice things to say about Howard Schnellenberger in his introductory news conference earlier this week.

    Here's a transcript:

    "The third question that one might ask is, 'Who has been an influence on you and your career?' I have been influenced by a number of great men in this profession and I want to recognize a few that have had a profound impact on my career. ...
    I worked for Howard Schnellenberger at the University of Louisville. Howard is a Bear Bryant clone. He measures his words the same way, a very hard-nosed individual. Let me tell you something, he could probably instill toughness in a teddy bear. He's one of those guys that really does a great job in terms of setting standards for winning, and he continues to do so even today. He's over 70 years old and I saw he just won his last bowl game. He's won six straight bowl games and is down at Florida Atlantic."
    Welcome
    I'd like to welcome you to this blog and the soon-to-be-launched FAUOwlAccess.com, a Web site dedicated to providing coverage of Florida Atlantic sports.

    Owl Things Considered is the site's companion blog, a place where you will find news and insightful commentary on FAU's growing athletic program.

    With more than 15 combined years of covering the Owls for area newspapers, my colleague Chuck King and I will provide what we hope you will think is the best coverage of FAU sports.

    We think the Owls are worthy of the kind of serious, in-depth coverage provided to every other major college in the nation and hope FAU's growing fan base will support FAUOwlAccess.com - a site that provides meaningful coverage of its teams.

    So, Owl fans, please read, enjoy and interact with the new site, which will be launched soon.

    Let me know what you think and what you would like to see (or don't want to see) at FAUOwlAccess.com.

    Thanks for your interest

    Marcus Nelson
    Editor
    FAUOwlAccess.com
    Marcus@FAUOwlAccess.com

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