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Posts from May 2010

Monday’s FAU Daily Briefing: Going to Gainesville may not be so great
So the conventional wisdom is FAU heading to Gainesville and FIU staying in town to play in the Coral Gables. Some wags think ESPN wants to televise this regional to showcase Garrett Wittels’ hitting streak.
Some also think LSU will be sent here pitting FIU coach Turtle Thomas against his old team.
And of course, there is the drama of Miami possibly having to face FIU after the Hurricanes ended the series once Thomas, a former UM assistant, got the job.
A quick aside was that during the press conference, Wittels was about to answer a question about possibly facing Miami, before Thomas jumped in and told Wittels “Don’t answer that.”
Hey at least, Wittels was allowed to answer questions. He wasn’t even allowed to do interviews after the Golden Panthers defeated the Owls.
Stay classy, Golden Panthers.
One thing to keep in mind, however about the Gainesville Regional is a wild-card of Florida Gulf Coast. I’ve seen some fans celebrating like the Owls have already punched their ticket to Omaha. I hate to break it to those fans that facing FGCU in the first round could be disasterous for the Owls. The Eagles have one of the best pitchers in the country in Chris Sale, who is 11-0. If the Owls have to go against Sale, they may wish they were facing Miami again.
 
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what's being written about the Owls
Rather than spread uneducated guesses and speculation, we went to two of the top college baseball reporters in the business and asked them their opinion of where FAU is headed for a Regional. Here’s what they had to say.
Check back later today for more on the NCAA Regionals and also for our Monday Morning Quarterback feature on fullback Willie Rose, who we caught up with during our trip to Nashville.
Sunday's FAU Daily Briefing: Owls should pull for FIU to win SBC Tournament

We’re about to make our return trip from Murfreesboro, but first there is the unscheduled matter this Sunday morning of deciding the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship.

It’s Troy vs. FIU, in a battle that proves what this tournament is all about – an utter and unequivocable crapshoot. The winner of the trophy can say with pride: Our fifth pitcher and others on two days rest and lightly-used bullpen staff is not as bad as anyone else’s for these five days in May.
It’s going to be painful for many to see FIU playing for the championship, but here’s a reason Owl fans should pull for the Golden Panthers.
Should FIU win the automatic bid to the Regionals, the NCAA baseball committee could look favorably on keeping the Golden Panthers in their home county and sending FIU to the Coral Gables Regional, which would mean FAU would be sent elsewhere – a huge benefit to the Owls.
If the committee has a sense of humor, that’s exactly what they should do since it’s well known that UM coach Jim Morris and FIU coach Turtle Thomas don’t like each other and FIU and UM don’t face each other in the regular season anymore due to the bad blood.
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what's being written about the Owls
The always diligent FAUOwlAccess.com crew, the only local reporters in Murfreesboro, Tenn. this week, was there as the Owls lost to the Golden Panthers. Plenty of interesting stuff however and you can check out our recap as well as video highlights, audio of post-game interviews by clicking here.
We also posted a photo gallery of some of the images from this long week in the ‘Boro. Enjoy.
Check back later today as we breakdown where the Owls may be sent and who they will play in the NCAA Regionals .
 Other linkage…
The Palm Beach Post had this recap
Here’s the game story from The Miami Herald  
The Lafayayette-Daily Advertiser says ULL is waiting for its Regional invite
Saturday’s Daily Briefing: FAU’s back is against the wall

Thanks to a disappointing 18-16 loss to FIU on Friday, the Owls now have a loss in the Sun Belt Tournament and will be sent home with their next loss.

Maybe that’s exactly where FAU is the most dangerous.
After all, the Owls have blown big leads throughout this tournament and during the stretch run of the regular season. Usually, FAU has been able to rally back.
Not against FIU – or at least not in the 11th inning.
If the Owls are adept at bouncing back, they certainly will have to do that today vs. FIU, which teed off on Owls pitching for 22 hits and worked eight walks.
Taylor Everist will be on the mound for the Owls today vs. FIU, and fans back in South Florida will be able to watch him. Scheduling changes have forced the Sun Belt to make the FAU-FIU game the one that's being broadcast on CSS. Look for first pitch around 1:30.
Everist had a good outing vs. South Alabama in relief, but will be asked to bounce back after a rough regular season. If he mirrors what FAU has (mostly) done as a team, he'll have a chance to be a hero today. 
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what's being written about the Owls
Needless to say, after one of the craziest baseball games we’ve ever seen, we have our usual full coverage of the game including a full recap, video highlights and player interviews even though the game wasn’t over until nearly midnight here in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
No matter what time today’s action ends (hopefully not too late) we’ll keep bringing you the baseball coverage we’ve provided all year at FAUOwlAccess.com.
Other linkage...
Here’s the Miami Herald’s recap of the game
Owl Cal: Your calendar to FAU events
1:30 p.m. Baseball, FAU vs. FIU, Sun Belt Conference Tournament, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
FAU football's season opener moved to Thursday, Sept. 2

Florida Atlantic’s season-opening football game at UAB, originally scheduled for Sept. 4, will be moved to Thursday Sept. 2.

The kickoff time at Birmingham's Legion Field will be at 8 p.m. UAB announced on Friday.
FAU has opened the season on a Thursday night two times in program history. In 2002 vs. USF (L, 51-10) in 2003 vs. MTSU (W, 24-19).
Here’s FAU’s new schedule:
Sept. 2 (Thurs.)  at UAB
Sept. 11 vs. Michigan St. (at Detroit)
Sept. 25 vs. North Texas
Oct. 2 at South Florida
Oct. 9 at Louisiana-Monroe
Oct. 23 at Arkansas St.
Oct. 30 vs. FIU
Nov. 6 at WKU
Nov. 13 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
Nov. 20 at Texas
Nov. 27 at MTSU
Dec. 4 vs. Troy

 

FAU gets another shot at ending FIU’s season

Florida International defeated South Alabama 10-9 in an elimination game today and will face FAU at 5 p.m.

For the Owls that means a chance at ending FIU’s season for the fourth consecutive year.
FAU won 2-of-3 games last week including a 14-10 victory on Saturday that clinched the Sun Belt title for the Owls, who celebrated while FIU coach Turtle Thomas, his staff and players watched.
The pitcher for FAU in that game, R.J. Alvarez, will go for the Owls with Daniel DeSimone going for the Golden Panthers.
Now the two teams will meet again, with higher stakes.
“They won the regular season for a reason,” Thomas said following the Panthers' win over the Jaguars. “They have outstanding pitching. R.J. Alvarez is going to pitch against us and he’s really got their best arm velocity-wise. He’s a nice-looking freshman pitcher. We hit the ball some off him the other day and they ended up winning the game 14-10. Danny DeSimone’s got to give us a long outing and our bullpen has to come in and finish the job off. Of course, we have to swing the bats ab d put some runs on the board. ”
Here’s some recent history between the Owls and the Golden Panthers
  • 2009: FAU defeats FIU in two-out of-three games in the final series of the regular season to qualify for the Sun Belt Tournament. In the tournament, FAU defeats FIU 16-6 in a game called early by the 10-run rule to end the season for the Golden Panthers.
  • 2008: New coach, but same results. FAU defeats FIU two-out-of- three games in the final series of the regular season to keep the Golden Panthers out of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament under new coach Henry “Turtle” Thomas.
  • 2007: FAU sweeps the Golden Panthers in three games and FIU misses the Sun Belt tournament by a game.  For missing the tournament FIU fires long-time coach Danny Price (who we hear has landed on his feet and will be the next coach at junior college powerhouse Miami-Dade State College, but probably won’t be sending too many players to FIU)
  • And even going back a few years, in a game that longtime FAU and FIU fans remember it was FAU eliminating FIU in the 1999 NCAA Regionals before the Owls lost to Miami 3-2. 
Friday's FAU Daily Briefing: Owls earn important rest

While South Alabama and FIU are duking it under the hot Murfreesboro sun, the Owls will be kicking back and relaxing with the AC cranked.

They earned the extra rest by defeating South Alabama on Thursday.
And it’s not just the extra time in the shade the Owls will appreciate. The Jags and the Golden Panthers will be playing an extra game and need a few pitchers just to get to a later game in the afternoon.
There is also another advantage to playing in the late game.
There will be a few hours between the USA-FIU game and the FAU game against the winner. FAU coach John McCormack said he would be worried about facing the winner of that game immediately after it was played, but since there are a few hours between the games, it’s enough time for the adrenaline of winning the elimination game to wear off and fatigue to set in.
There are many advantages to the position FAU is in right now – it’s well-deserved and is looking pretty good for the Owls to make it to the championship game.
You can bet that FAU would rather race the Jags again than the Golden Panthers. The Owls would rather not have to go against their bitter rival, especially with freshman pitcher R.J. Alvarez throwing for FAU. You may remember that Alvarez and the Golden Panthers had more than a few words last week.
The Owls would rather Alvarez be throwing against a team he doesn’t have a history against.
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what's being written about the Owls
FAUOwlAccess.com has the only local reporters on the scene in Murfreesboro, Tenn. and had full coverage of the thrilling game vs. South Alabama. Check out our recap, video highlights, photo gallery and full analysis of the game.
We’ll be on location for today’s game vs. FIU or South Alabama as well.
Other linkage...
  • Here's the recap on the game from the Mobile Press-Register
Owl Cal: Your calendar to FAU events
 5 p.m. Baseball, FAU vs. South Alabama-FIU winner, 5 p.m. Sun Belt Conference Tournament, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Smith, Rose cheer on FAU baseball team
Former FAU football players Willie Rose and Rusty Smith decided to take in an Owls baseball game after work on Thursday.
You may have heard of their current employer – the Tennessee Titans.
Smith, the first FAU player ever drafted, and Rose went through a Titans OTA at the practice facility and then drove to Murfreesboro, Tenn. to watch the Owls defeat South Alabama in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
Smith was a standout baseball player before he came to FAU. His unique delivery throwing the football was derived from his days playing baseball and he was a frequent spectator at FAU Stadium watching the Owls the last few years.
FAU coach John McCormack made sure to walk over and say "Hi" to Smith and Rose following the game.
Here's a shot of Smith, his wife Nicole and Rose near their seats just behind home plate.
 
Thursday's FAU Daily Briefing: Owls need big game from Gipson

Regardless of the outcome of FAU’s game vs. Western Kentucky on Wednesday, the Owls were going to need a solid outing out of starting pitcher Mike Gipson today.

After the Owls needed 13 innings to defeat the Hilltoppers 9-8, FAU is going to need even more out of Gipson vs. South Alabama.
FAU’s bullpen is stretched thin after Ryan Garton threw six solid innings. In order FAU used Kevin Alexander for 1.1 innings, Ryan Bernal for 0.2, Andy Mee for 3 and Hugh Adams for 2.
That leaves very little in terms of relief for today’s game vs. the Jaguars.
After the euphoria of the dramatic rally vs. Western Kentucky wore off FAU coach John McCormack addressed the Owls pitching situation.
“We’re going to need someone to step up,” McCormack said. "I said all along that to win something like this you need a very good start or really good relief appearance. That will hold even more true…I don’t think we’ll have to worry about that, hopefully, until Friday.”
If FAU gets a strong seven or eight - or maybe even nine - from Gipson, the Owls will be in good shape. Anything less and FAU could be in trouble.
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what's being written about the Owls
 FAUOwlAccess.com has the only local reporters at the Sun Belt Conference Tournament, so if you want to know what’s going on with the Owls, check out our coverage including a recap, video highlights, analysis of what’s going on in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
We’ll be at ballpark again today, so check back soon for our coverage beginning with a special edition of Owl Talk, the weekly FAU sports podcast.
Other linkage…
The Murfreesboro Daily News-Journal has this report on the game.
The Palm Beach Post gave this update on the on-campus football stadium.
Owl Cal: Your calendar to FAU events
5 p.m. Baseball, FAU vs. South Alabama, Sun Belt Conference Tournament, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
 
Albaladejo is unlikely power source for FAU

When FAU coach John McCormack was thinking about which player was going to participate in Tuesday’s  Sun Belt Conference Home Run Derby at Reese Smith Jr. Field in Murfreesboro, Tenn. it’s unlikely catcher Mike Albaladejo was high on his list.

In fact he was probably last. No FAU regular had fewer homers than Albaladejo, who had a grand total of one in his career before Tuesday’s game.
But maybe McCormack should include his new power hitter in the next derby after Albaladejo hit his 3-run walk-off homer in the 13th inning to rally FAU to a 9-8 victory over Western Kentucky in the Sun Belt Tournament.
Albaladejo’s shot may have been unexpected to most, but not every one.
FAU pitcher Mike Gipson must be psychic, because he had this to stay on Sunday when asked about the home run derby:
The ball flies,” said Gipson, who will start vs. South Alabama on Thursday. “Alby hit a home run in BP. That’s how far the ball flies.”
It sure does.
 
Wednesday's FAU Daily Briefing: We're live from the 'Boro

In case you didn’t see Tuesday night's of FAU SS Nick DelGuidice in the home run derby or wondered how we could get that footage – there is an easy answer. Chuck King and I are in Murfreesboro, Tenn.  for the tournament and will be providing coverage of FAU’s games for the rest of the week.

We hope you’ll follow us as we provide the only live game updates from the stadium and check back as we give FAU fans our take on the games and of course, our video highlights.
Here’s what’s on our minds as we woke up in Middle Tennessee…
  • FAU coach John McCormack is an excellent and deserving choice for the Sun Belt Coach of the Year. In just his second season he took the Owls from the eighth seed in the SBC Tourney to the SBC champion. Congratulations to McCormack.
  • I have seen Middle Tennessee’s Reese Smith Jr. Stadium from the outside before, but never from the inside. It’s quite impressive and really gets you thinking about just how far behind FAU is in the facilities war. At MTSU, it’s a brick façade with plenty of suites and a modern press box. At FAU its Port-O-Lets, racoons and chain link fences. We’ve been told improvements are coming to the baseball stadium – and that’s good. It’s long overdue.   
  • We haven’t forgotten that today could have been a big day in Boca Raton for the on-campus football stadium. However, today instead of the trustees voting on approval for the stadium, FAU VP David Kian will instead just update the trustees on the progress of the project. I talked to Kian on Monday and the trustees will likely hear plenty about the changes in rules by Division of Bond Finance. However, Kian re-iterated the stadium is still on track to open by 2011, although likely a few weeks later into the season.
 
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what's being written about the Owls
We’ve got you covered for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament with our preview complete with the schedule and team-by-team capsules.
Check back when it gets closer to the Owls’ game vs. Western Kentucky for the only live updates you can get from Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Other linkage…

 

Owl Cal: Your calendar to FAU events

1:30 p.m. Baseball, FAU vs. Western Kentucky, Sun Belt Conference Tournament, Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Tuesday's FAU Daily Briefing: Regular season should count more than tourney

FAU coach John McCormack is among those coaches who think too much emphasis is placed on conference tournaments.

“To me the regular season is a big deal,” said McCormack, who celebrated the regular season title with his father and son on the field (photo). “It would be like, after 162 games, the American League East now all meets in New York and has a round robin tournament.”

The Owls, of course, have more to lose than gain from the tournament this year. Winning the regular season title in a conference that holds the No. 6 RPI in the country should be enough to merit an NCAA tournament at-large bid even if they fail to take the tourney title in Murfreesboro.

Still, it’s a little disconcerting that the Owls could play so well through the course of the season then have to sweat out a bid should they drop two straight.

“Conference tournaments are set up for financial reasons in a lot of leagues,” McCormack said. “You telling me after 30 [conference] games you don’t know who the best teams in the league are? You’re telling me after the 55 to 56 games that most people have played that you don’t know who the best teams are?”

Coaches of all sports like to bemoan the conference tournament, believing the teams that win them are frequently more lucky than good. Baseball tournaments are not like regular season series.

The teams that win them tend do so because their fourth and fifth starters throw their best games of the year. It’s a war of pitching attrition.  And while pitching is an important – perhaps the most important – factor in baseball, it should be the front line pitchers who determine a champion.

Still, the Owls have to play the schedule in front of them. Winning the tournament title will be another trophy and what has already been a fantastic year. And I’m interested to see how they celebrate another title.

The one positive McCormack and the Owls should be able to take from this year’s Sun Belt Tournament is that it should serve as good preparation for the NCAA tournament the following week.

Owl Links: Your daily guide to what is being written about FAU

FAUOwlAccess.com looked at why the stadium is once again delayed in our Monday Morning Quarterback segment.

Check back later today for a preview of the conference tournament.
 

Other linkage...

Owl Cal: A calendar of FAU events

Wednesday
1:30 p.m. Baseball, FAU vs. Western Kentucky, Sun Belt Conference Tournament

FAU proposes hiking student athletic fees to highest in state

FAU is proposing a 15 percent increase in the student athletic fee, which would require FAU students to pay the highest athletic fee rate in the state.

FAU students currently pay $14.30 per credit hour, but under a proposal to be presented to the FAU Board of Trustees Audit and Finance Committee on Wednesday, that rate will be increased $2.15 to $16.45 per credit hour.
Currently FIU has the highest athletic fee rate in the state, requiring students to pay $14.51 per credit plus a $10 flat fee in student athletic fees.
The increase, which would take affect on July 1, is expected to add $1,055,650 to FAU's revenue.
Background materials for the committee say the increase is needed to offset addition costs for “tuition, fees, room, board and books, summer school, medical insurance, conference mandated travel, baggage/gas fees, game related expenses (officials, EMT, police at Lockhart, etc.) contracted salaries, fringe benefit rates and (Fiscal Year 2009-10) athletics fee shortfall for scholarships.”
Monday's FAU Daily Briefing: DelGuidice to represent Owls in HR Derby

Here’s a bit of a surprise: FAU coach John McCormack said he’s going to have Nick DelGuidice, not Dan Scheffler, represent the Owls in Tuesday’s Sun Belt Conference home run derby.

Scheffler’s 14 home runs led the Owls and tied for eighth best in the conference. DelGuidice (photo) finished second on the Owls with nine round trippers.

McCormack said the primary reason he’s choosing his shortstop over his first baseman is that the ballpark in Murfreesboro, Tenn. features a short leftfield fence.

“Scheffler’s power is the other way, where Del’s is pull,” McCormack said. “He’s really good between the third baseman and the line.”

Scheffler also struggled at the plate near the end of the season, which McCormack said contributed to the decision. A single in the eighth inning of Saturday’s season finale broke Scheffler’s 0-14 slump – a streak that included nine strikeouts. He hasn’t homered since May 9 against South Alabama.

“They’ve been awful,” Scheffler said of his recent at-bats. “They’ve been really bad, but as long as I keep getting at-bats and swinging at good pitches I think I will be fine.”

Part of Scheffler’s issue has been pitch selection. McCormack added that he didn’t want to risk having the already struggling slugger alter his swing for the contest then not get it back to normal for the post-season.

“That came into play a little bit because Scheffler’s swing path is not a pull home run,” McCormack said.

Despite his recent struggles, Scheffler’s .376 regular-season batting average trailed only Andy Mee’s .390 for tops on the team.

On Sunday, DelGuidice said he is looking forward to hitting at Reese Smith Jr. Field.

“It’s a launching pad,” he said. “It’s fun to hit there.”

Owl Links: Your daily guide to what is being written about FAU
At FAUOwlAccess.com we took a look at how the Owls’ baseball team spent Sunday – the day after claiming their first Sun Belt Conference regular season title.

Check back later today for our Monday Morning Quarterback feature a weekly report on the Owls' football program.

Other linkage...

  • Aaron Fitt over at Baseball America likes the way the Owls celebrated their Sun Belt Title and called FAU “one of the most lovable teams in college baseball in 2010” as part of this review of Saturday’s college baseball scene.
  • For those that missed the Bowling Green Daily News’ recap of Western Kentucky’s final game of the season, here’s a link. WKU coach Chris Finwood had some interesting comments about the Sun Belt tourney and FAU. The Owls face the Hilltoppers in Wednesday’s opening game.


Owl Cal: A calendar of FAU events
Wednesday
1:30 p.m. Baseball, FAU vs. Western Kentucky , Sun Belt Conference Tournament in Murfreesboro, Tenn.

Sunday's FAU Daily Briefing: McCormack should be SBC Coach of the Year

The official ballots are due soon for the All-Sun Belt team and the other awards the league office will announce this week.

One can expect a few FAU players to be recognized on the team, but also John McCormack to be named the Coach of the Year.
In fact if McCormack doesn’t win, there needs to be a Palm Beach County-style recount.
In his second year, McCormack improved on last year’s eighth-place finish in the Sun Belt Conference by winning the conference championship this year.
He did so while losing his closer early in the season and having to juggle the pitching rotation throught the season.
I think McCormack, shown here taking a dive after the Owls won the title,  pushed the right buttons and kept the team on an even keel throughout the season.
I think it’s a no-brainer, but we’ll see what the voters think when the winners are announced this week.
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what's being written about the Owls
After a long day at the ballpark, FAUOwlAccess.com had complete coverage of the Owls winning their first Sun Belt title. Check out our recap, video highlights of the game and a separate package on the FAU celebration as well as analysis and audio of interviews after the game by clicking here.
Other linkage...
Owl Cal: Your calendar to FAU events
Wednesday
TBA, Baseball, FAU vs. Western Kentucky in Sun Belt Conference tournament, Murfreesboro, Tenn.
 
 
Wittels can have his streak, FAU has the title

After three hectic nights and days at FAU Stadium, most of the fans who were out there for a tense FIU-FAU series got what they wanted – to see the Owls celebrate winning the Sun Belt Conference title.

Of course, I just saw a snippet of what happened this weekend on ESPN, but it wasn’t what I’ll remember from this series.
I’ll be the first to say hats off to Garrett Wittels, the FIU player who extended his consecutive-games hitting streak to 48 games and now trails just Oklahoma State’s Robin Ventura, who hit in 58 games in 1987.
It’s a great individual accomplishment and, yes, that’s our FAUOwlAccess.com video of Wittels on ESPN, so technically we helped fuel the hype.
But FAU’s accomplishment of winning the Sun Belt Conference championship is also something to be pretty proud of, it just won’t be talked about on ESPN.
Wittels can have the attention, FAU will be more than happy to celebrate their championship in anonymity.
Congratulations to the Owls- the 2010 Sun Belt Conference Champions.
Saturday's FAU Daily Briefing: Bat change sparks Gratton

BOCA GRATTON - FAU third baseman Sean Bukovich figures he knows why teammate Colby Gratton has been so hot lately.

“He finally switched to a big boy bat and he’s been hitting,” Bukovich joked following Gratton’s walk-off home run against FIU last night. “It’s about time. I taught him good.”

There is plenty of truth in Bukovich’s ribbing,

Gratton’s early-season struggles at the plate prompted the leftfielder to switch from a 34-inch bat to a lighter 33-incher. The switch provided an initial boost, but Gratton’s at-bats over the last few weeks didn’t feel right.

“I swung a 34 last year and hit .340 – that’s not the problem,” Gratton said. “I’m not weak. A 34 is not that much heavier.”

Gratton actually made the switch back to a 34 for Thursday’s game and promptly hit two home runs.

“In BP it’s been awesome – so much more barrel,” he said.

Gratton and the rest of the Owls will try to win their first Sun Belt Conference regular season baseball title today. A victory over FIU and the championship is theirs. A loss by Louisiana-Lafayette later in the day would also put FAU on top.

You know FAUOwlAccess.com will be at the ballpark from the first pitch to the final out. The game, which is also the regular season finale, starts at 1 p.m. Stop by the Trashcan Café and say hi.

Owl Links: Your daily guide to what's being written about the Owls

FAUOwlAccess.com had our usual team coverage of the game. You can check out our recap, breakdown, video highlights and all the extras that we usually provide by clicking here.

The Miami Herald breaks the news to Golden Panthers fans - they are eliminated from the title chase

The Sun-Sentinel and The Palm Beach Post were also at the game

Here's the account of ULL's doubleheader sweep of ULM that has the Ragin' Cajuns in first place from the Daily Advertiser.

Owl Cal: Your calendar to FAU events

1 p.m. Baseball, FIU at FAU

 

 

Trump provides enjoyable day on the links

FAU hitters may not have been too successful on the diamond last night, but there were some big hitters on the course earlier in the day.

Traveled up to the Trump International course yesterday prior to the ballgame to check out the FAU Golf Tournament. Unlike last year when rain was a factor, yesterday’s conditions were perfect.

The course was in immaculate condition and everyone I talked to in the sold-out field seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The first hole and the 17th were the biggest hits. FAU Athletic Director Craig Angelos schmoozed with each foursome as they passed the first tee, hitting a fifth drive that the groups had the option of using.



That’s Angelos in the second photo. It may not be picture perfect, but his swing provided a few useful shots.

 

Defensive Coordinator Kurt Van Valkenburgh split his time between the first and 17th. He even let Jesse Sun take a gander at his championship bling.

Many FAU sports were represented. Football radio analyst lucked into a foursome that included ringer Joan Joyce.

 


A couple of girls from the Blue Martini manned the cosmo station on the first.


Hooters girls monitored the tequila and cigars at the 17th.


The tournament is one of the biggest fundraisers for the Owls every year. Broadcaster Roger Twibell played this year and also emceed.

Friday's FAU Daily Briefing: Owls have to recover from rout again

After Thursday’s 12-4 loss to Florida International, FAU players and coaches left the dugout preparing to put the difficult loss behind them.

With two games left to decide the Sun Belt Conference championship, what choice do they have?
The team that looked like it had all the momentum, now has the deer-in-the-headlights look.
The problem isn’t that FAU won’t be able to turn the page on the loss. The major issue is that the Owls have had way too many of these types of games recently.
With the conference championship on the line, the Owls played their worst game of the year complete with shoddy pitching, pitiful fielding, baserunning blunders and inconsistency at the plate.
Was it just rust after a 8-day layoff and can FAU turn it around with Mike Gipson on the mound today? Of course. But it won’t be easy. FIU is also in the hunt for a share of the title – and Thursday the Golden Panthers were the only team playing like it.
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what's being written about the Owls
FAUOwlAccess.com was at the ballpark early and late to bring you coverage of the game vs. FIU. For our recap, analysis and post-game interview with coach John McCormack, click here.
It must have been a big game, or at least FIU’s Garrett Wittels must be on a 46-game hitting streak because this game was covered by both the Sun-Sentinel andThe Miami Herald.
Owl Cal: Your calendar to FAU events
Friday
6:30 p.m. Baseball, FIU at FAU
Saturday
1 p.m. Baseball, FIU at FAU
 

 

Thursday's FAU Daily Briefing: Owls don't mind Wittels' streak

It’s easy to think that one of FAU’s main goals during the weekend series against FIU is to end Garrett Wittels’ 45-game hitting streak. It would also be wrong.

Most of the players seem to share FAU coach John McCormack’s view on the topic.

“If we win the game and he gets his hits, it doesn’t matter to me either way,” McCormack said following Tuesday’s washout at UCF. “Our job is to win the game and however that is accomplished is fine. The hitting streak has nothing to do with us. That’s good for him. We recruited him. He’s a nice kid. I’m happy for him.”

Wittels’ 45-game hitting streak is tied for the third longest in college baseball history. Robin Ventura’s 58-game streak in 1987 stands as college baseball’s best. (In his professional career, Ventura allowed Nolan Ryan to get in almost as many hits in one game.)

The record is even more impressive considering Wittels has only batted in 45 games this year. His 78 hits (eight less than Andy Mee) have propelled the sophomore to a .408 average on the season.

“It’s a great streak and he can get three more hits for all I care as long as we win the conference,” Friday’s starting pitcher Ryan Garton said. “He can have the spotlight with the streak, I just want the spotlight by winning the rings.”

If Wittels’ streak lasts through the series he will be alone in second place on the all-time list.

Sunday starter R. J. Alvarez admits he feels a little different than some of his teammates. He wouldn’t mind ending the streak.

“It would be awesome for sure, but hopefully it happens Friday night,” the freshman said. “I’m just going to try to do what I do all the time - try to get him out.”

Owl Links: A guide to what is being written about FAU

The big series is here. If FAU takes two of three from FIU, the Owls are the Sun Belt’s regular season champs. Here’s our look at the series.

Other linkage:


Owl Cal: A calendar of FAU events

Thursday
6:30 p.m. Baseball, FIU at FAU.

FAU Golf Tournament ready to tee off Thursday

A quick check of the calendar shows that we are less than 24 hours from the FAU Golf Tournament at Trump International.

That’s surprising because I haven't heard much of a push to sign people up for the biggest fund-raiser of the year for the FAU athletic department.
There’s a reason for that.
According to Associate AD Terry Mohajir, the event is sold-out!
Sounds like the event will be success, like last year’s.
For those who weren’t there, here’s some photos and a video we shot from last year’s event.
Wednesday's Daily Briefing: FAU should follow UCF's lead on baseball facilities

Was thinking about putting together a photo gallery from Tuesday’s three inning affair at UCF, but decided the pictures actually enhanced this story.

Let me congratulate UCF on that facility. As many of you know my younger brother Brad played baseball for UCF in the mid-1990s. During that time we looked forward to his games at FAU because the Owls actually had the better stadium. Far better. Not so much anymore. The Knights have a wonderful place to see a ballgame and I would go see another game there regardless of their opponent.

By the way, that's their football stadium beyond the right field wall in the second photo.

To their credit, many FAU fans took advantage of the Orlando trip. The Owls have a half dozen players from the Orlando area, and their families and friends were at the game in force.

The biggest contingent probably belonged to catcher Mike Albaladejo. That’s his sister Ariana holding the sign. Below her is the grandmother of Albaladejo’s girlfriend, who, for 19 years has kept her own scorebook at the baseball games she attends as a means of keeping her heart from racing. That whole group had plenty of fun for the three-plus innings that played.

Nathan Pittman had a good-sized fan club. They saw him recover nicely from a ball that took an unfriendly carom off the fence in the left field foul territory to throw out the runner at third.

Chase Vergason’s family was well represented as was Eddie Cassidy’s. There was also a surprising amount of FAU students who live in Orlando and decided the ball game was a good way to spend a summer night.

The UCF side of the ballpark was also full - something that didn’t happed at the old ballpark even when school was still in session. Well, at least it was full until the bad weather assaulted the ballpark. Check out the bottom photo. How’s that for a storm cloud?

It’s well known that FAU has made building a football stadium one of its top priorities. The Owls are also working on a much smaller plan to upgrade the baseball ballpark. It’s unlikely that project will receive the go ahead before the Boards of Trustees and Governors approve the football stadium.

Despite the delay, summer construction on the first couple phases of the baseball upgrades could still produce significant improvements for the start of the 2011 season.

Historically, the baseball team has played at a high level without much university support. With the Owls currently battling for the Sun Belt title, they are once again at the top of their game.

UCF’s facility has helped build a fan base, thereby making baseball a financial asset. It’s hard to believe upgrades to FAU’s stadium won’t have a similar effect.

Owl Links:  A guide to what is being written about FAU


As you’ve already realized, FAUOwlAccess.com braved the kamikaze love bugs (they gave their lives so I  couldn't see out my windshield) to get to the game in Orlando. The game wasn’t a total washout for FAU coach John McCormack, as this story shows.

Owl CalA calendar of FAU events

Thursday
Baseball – vs. FIU, 6:30 p.m.
 

Former Panther Worrell named coach of FAU hockey team

Just got a note from Scott Grosky, who does a great job with the FAU hockey team.

The Ice Owls have a new coach – it’s former Panther Peter Worrell.
The FAU hockey team is a club sport and isn’t part of the athletic department, which means they have to work pretty hard to make the program work.
Here’s the complete release:

Florida Atlantic University Ice Hockey is pleased to introduce their new Head Coach; Peter Worrell.


Beginning this season, Peter Worrell will assume the role of Head Coach. Coach Worrell, a native of Quebec, Canada played in the NHL over 7 seasons. He brings his wealth of knowledge and experience to the nationally recognized hockey team at Florida Atlantic University. Coach Worrell has been active in coaching for the past several years in South Florida.

 
Florida Atlantic University (based in Boca Raton, Florida) competes in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Men’s Division 3 – South region. Last season the team was a top-ranked team throughout the season and was narrowly edged-out of playoff contention during the regular season’s last weekend of play.

ACHA guidelines offer degree seeking undergraduates taking at least 9 semester hours and graduate students taking at least 6 semester hours to qualify for participation. This is an excellent opportunity to play competitive ice hockey in an exciting and fast paced environment.

All interested players are encouraged to tryout. We hope to offer a position on the team to every player that attends tryouts.
FAU Ice Hockey offers excellent co-operative marketing opportunities. Non-player positions also exist for FAU students and others without ever lacing up the skates. All interested parties and prospective sponsors are strongly encouraged to contact: Assistant Coach Scott Grosky at
GroskyS@aol.com  or 954-275-3275. Check our website for continual updates. www.fauicehockey.org

Tuesday's Daily Briefing: Rain Delay video reappears on Marlins telecast

Just when it looked like the Rain Delay Theatre video might be fading into posterity, Pete Montalbano over at Owl TV has given it new life.

When not advising FAU’s student television station, Pete can frequently be found at his day job, which this time of year is in a production truck under the stands of whatever they call Joe Robbie Stadium these days.

Pete has a copy of the video and oddly enough, the video aired last night during the Marlins rain delay. If you ask me, the video was better than the actual game. I think if you asked Fredi Gonzalez, he’d agree.

Fox Sports Florida went to a half hour poker show to kill time, but still had a little time left while the grounds crew prepared the field. Broadcasters Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton (whose son, Derek, played for the Owls a few years ago)  discussed their favorite clips from the video, settling on the Shake Weight spoof and the wrestling re-enactment (philosophy question: can you spoof something that is already of itself a spoof?)

Pete expects the network to air at least parts of the video throughout the summer during rain delays and blowouts.

So congrats again goes out to the FAU baseball team for raising the profile of the university. Some of the guys may not ever make it to the major leagues, but they can say they were featured during a big league game.

By the way, FAU may find itself in another wet situation today. There is a 30 percent chance of rain in Orlando, where the Owls will play UCF. The Knights may be itching to make a video, but I don’t think FAU players will bite.

Owl Links: A guide to what is being written about FAU

On FAUOwlAccess.com we offered this preview of the game in Orlando. We also told our subscribers about a local wide receiver who received a scholarship offer and was impressed with his visit to FAU’s campus.

Owl Cal: Your daily calendar of FAU events

Tuesday
6:30 p.m. Baseball, FAU at UCF

Monday morning briefing: Watch FAU's long relievers this week

Early in the season when FAU received a couple weekends worth of solid starting pitching, FAU coach John McCormack joked that he was upset that he couldn’t use the bullpen more.

That joke has taken on a new edge heading into the final week of the regular season.

FAU’s pitching, especially the back end of the bullpen, is a major reason the Owls are on the cusp of the Sun Belt regular season title. The long relief situation is every bit as suspect, if not more so, as it was at the start of the season.

Make no mistake, if there is going to be an area of concern on a pitching staff, long relief is where you want it. It’s also to some extent a weakness on all but those teams with extremely deep staffs. By this time of year the best long relievers have usually been converted to starters – like FAU did with R. J. Alvarez.

Teams can get by without using long relievers during the regular season (see South Alabama), but the nature of baseball tournaments dictates that to be successful FAU will need more out of the bullpen than set-up man Ryan Bernal and closer Andy Mee. The Owls will be looking for a reliable long reliever during these final four games of the regular season.

“It hasn’t been used enough,” FAU pitching coach Jason Jackson said. “When you get good starting pitching it’s a good thing and a bad thing. Mike (Gipson) and Ryan (Garton), and even R. J. until Sunday, have gone so deep into games that we haven’t been able to use them much”

Yesterday’s story on FAUOwlAccess.com highlighted the recent performance of Lou Morey, who’s 2.12 ERA is now third best on the team. FAU coaches have considered Morey mostly as a groundball specialist against righthanded hitters. Morey’s four shutout inning performance against Florida Gulf Coast has Jackson considering using Morey more down the stretch.

“Sometimes we overlook him for guys who have a little more fancy stuff, but he’s certainly earned the right to be in there,” Jackson said.

Taylor Everist, Hugh Adams and Kevin Alexander (photo) are three pitchers who fit into the category of having fancier stuff. Everist was the opening day starter and Adams began the 2009 season as the Owls’ closer.

Everist will likely get the chance to prove he can be effective against Central Florida. Adams looked like he might step into the role of long reliever when he picked up the win in the crucial Sunday game at South Alabama. Two days later he allowed four runs in one inning against FGCU.

Alexander may be the hurler best suited to pitch in long relief, but the Owls will likely try to save the former Sunday starter to be their fourth starter in a deep tournament run.

The situations these four players are place in this week and how they respond will likely dictate who McCormack turns to if Garton, Gipson or Alvarez gets in early trouble at next week’s Sun Belt Conference tournament. No joke.

Owl Links: A guide to what is being written about FAU

Didn’t feel like clicking on the above link to the Lou Morey story that ran on FAUOwlAccess.com yesterday? Well, here is another chance.

Ckeck back later today for our Monday Morning Quarterback - where we bring you a weekly report on FAU football during the off-season.

Owl Cal: A calendar of FAU events

Tuesday
6:30 p.m. Baseball, FAU at UCF 

Sunday's FAU Daily Briefing: Everist trying to climb back

Taylor Everist hasn’t taken the mound in a game since allowing three earned runs while walking five in two innings against UCF on May 4.

FAU coaches, though, aren’t ready to write off the righthander. In fact, there is still a possibility he will start on Tuesday at UCF.

Even if Kevin Alexander once again draws the midweek start, the Knights are still likely to see Everist.

“We believe in our guys,” FAU pitching coach Jason Jackson said. “Just because they have a couple of bad starts we’re not going to tuck tail on them and throw them out with the garbage.”

Jackson was pleased with the way Everist threw in Friday’s intra-squad game. The problem is, those performances are nothing new.

Coaches have been talking about Everist’s good bullpen sessions throughout his struggles. But over the last two months almost every time he’s taken the mound it’s been difficult to watch.

His 6.91 ERA and 2-7 record certainly doesn’t inspire confidence. Neither does watching the relievers sprint to the bullpen three batters into the game, as has happened during Everist starts. As Jackson admits, “When it’s bad, it’s bad.”

FAU coaches are having trouble forgetting the Taylor Everist they saw in the fall and the first few weeks of the season. Remember those early weeks? The Owls’ opening day starter, Everist lost the first two Friday games of the season despite only allowing three earned runs in 13 innings. Since then he’s allowed 29 runs in 28 2/3 innings.

“You want to keep running him out there because you’ve seen the good,” Jackson said. “You know that it’s in there. You just hope that you can get him back on track.”

Everist did look good early in those early games. He even looked like he might be regaining that form after allowing two earned runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings against Florida Gulf Coast on April 20.

The first UCF game suggests he’s still hit or miss (or hit really hard). If Everist throws like he did at the beginning of the season, he will be a huge asset in the coming weeks. It’s worth routing for, if only because Everist is one of the nicer guys on the team.

But more often than not his outings are ending in disaster. Will there come a point where coaches simply say, Let’s fix this over the summer and start fresh next season?

The unsettling answer to that question appears to be: No.

“For us to get through the conference tournament, for us to get through a regional – hopefully we get there – he’s going to have to pitch some big innings for us,” Jackson said. “Maybe that’s two innings, maybe that’s 10 innings, I don’t know. But he’s going to have to be on that mound at some point.”

FAU doesn't have many choices other than relying on Everist should it need a fifth starter come tournament time. If the Owls don't want to use Ryan Garton, Mike Gipson, R. J. Alvarez or Alexander for a second start that weekend,  Everist, Barry Rooks (1-0, 9.82) and Kenny Gray (0-1, 12.15) are the lone remaining Owls who have started this season.

If Everist somehow regains that early-season form, FAU will have a pitching staff primed for deep runs in the Sun Belt and NCAA tournaments. If not? Well, FAU coaches might do well to remember that the NCAA berth isn’t locked up yet…

Owl Links:
Your daily guide to what is being written about FAU
Sure there weren’t any baseball games, but there are still baseball stories out there. On Saturday FAUOwlAccess.com examined the recent struggles of catcher Mike Albaladejo.

Owl Cal:A daily calendar of FAU events
6:3- p.m. Baseball, FAU at UCF
 

FAU signs international player

Florida Atlantic’s basketball team is going international - again.
 

The newest overseas player is guard Pablo Bertone, a native of Argentina.

Per FAU, Bertone has signed with the Owls out of Philadelphia’s Rise Academy.

The Owls have quite a history of international players, such as Motiejus Reimeris (Lithuania), Phillp Huyler (Bahamas), Seydou Kone (France),  Eni Cuka (Albania), Bjorn Sjolund (Norway), Ingo Wolf (Germany) and, of course, my favorite - Gary Durrant, a native of Canada
 

Owls coach Mike Jarvis has recruited international players and was recently quoted in an ESPN.com article on foreign players. As coach of George Washington, Jarvis fielded teams “with a Brazilian, a Dutchman, an Israeli, a Spaniard, a Brazilian and three Belarussians, among other nationalities,” according to the story.

According to his ESPN profile, Bertone, has only been in the United States for less than a year and is still developing as a player.

“He is an outstanding person who will add class, dignity and extreme work ethic to the FAU program,” coach Vin Sparacio wrote when Rise Academy announced the signing last month on its Facebook page.

Saturday’s Daily Briefing: Idle FAU moves up in standings

Even with the baseball team off, the Owls still bettered themselves Friday night.

Thanks to losses by South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette, FAU extended its first-place lead.
We talked with some of the players on Friday and asked them if they were going to be keeping up with Sun Belt Conference scores while they are off this weekend.
Some were and some weren’t.
Shortstop Nick DelGuidice planned to monitor some of the action on his phone and with his computer, but others weren’t as interested.
Many of the players said they were headed to the movies and catcher Mike Albaladejo is headed for the beach.
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what's being written about the Owls
The baseball team is off this weekend, but we couldn’t help ourselves and wrote a weekend preview anyway. Just because there is no action doesn’t mean we didn’t get some good details. For instance read how FAU tried to do some late scheduling so they would have a non-conference game this weekend. Check out the story here.
Owl Cal: Your calendar to FAU events
Tuesday
6:30 p.m. Baseball, FAU at UCF
Friday’s Daily Briefing: Former FAU baseball coach Kevin Cooney watching Owls’ success

Keeping up with the RPI, watching the projections and trying to figure out where the Owls will be sent in their regionals have really made me pine for what I consider the good old days of  FAU baseball.

It was in 1999 when the Owls kicked the door down on the national scene by winning 34 games in a row and were nationally ranked in the Top 10. That was the beginning of some heady days for the program that lasted a few years.
I was thinking about how much fun it was around the program a few days ago when the phone rang and on the other end was former coach Kevin Cooney, who won more than 700 games at FAU from 1988-2008.
Cooney said he has been following the team and likes the way they are playing loose. He can even pinpoint when he saw a change in the team’s demeanor. Cooney said he loved the Rain Delay Theater video and thought by the team getting the chance to perform the skits set them at ease for the weekend series.
We all know what happened next as the Owls swept the Hilltoppers and have been playing at a different level since then.
Cooney was supposed to be working on a farm just outside Knoxville, but  last year bought an antiques shop in Sweetwater, Tenn. and is putting in plenty of tough but rewarding hours running the store.
“It’s interesting,” Cooney said. “It’s all public relations. You get to meet all kinds of people and it’s fun. Sometimes people will come in and want to know what something is worth and I have to just to tell them ‘I don’t know. I’m a former baseball coach.’”
 As I hung up the phone, I had to laugh as the coach that spent so much time getting the most out of the young players when they came to play at FAU is now dealing with getting the most out of old things left laying around other people’s houses.
Glad to hear Cooney is living the good life.
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what's being written about the Owls
Quit guessing about the latest on the stadium and what  FAU is doing about conference expansion. Hear Craig Angelos give the very latest on both issues on this week’s Owl Talk as Brian Rowitz asks Angleos about those very topics.
Check back later today as we give an update on the baseball team as it gets ready for the final games of the regular season next week.
Owl Cal: Your calendar to FAU events
1:30 p.m. Sun Belt Softball Tournament, FAU vs. North Texas, Mobile, Ala.
Thursday's FAU Daily Briefing: Ping will be in the air this weekend

There won’t be any games at FAU Stadium this weekend, but I’m guessing there will be plenty of activity there over the next 72 hours.

If you venture anywhere near the batting cage, you will probably hear the “Pings” of hitters taking extra cuts.
At least I hope that’s what you’ll hear because after the Owls’ 7-3 loss to Florida on Wednesday, FAU hitters need to find their stroke for the final week of the regular season and then the Sun Belt Tournament.
FAU picked up three runs off one swing of Andy Mee’s bat and then managed four hits the rest of the game – two of those were balls that didn’t leave the infield.
And this wasn’t against Florida’s aces. No, FAU was the team that used its two best starting pitchers in the game (although at times it was hard to tell).
Look, there is nothing to be embarrassed about by losing to the Gators, a legitimate Top 5 team. However, it is a bit troublesome that the lineup hasn’t come up with many big hits in the last two games while some of the Owls most dependable arms struggled.
This is not the time of the season for anyone to be going through a slump.
 
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what's being written about the Owls
FAUOwlAccess.com was following every pitch from Gainesville and had this recap of the 7-3 loss to Florida.
Also, check back later today for a special edition of Owl Talk with Brian Rowitz for an interview that FAU fans won’t want to miss.
Other linkage...
The Gainesville Sun's coverage of the game
There are plenty of post-season projections and Josh Parrott of the Lafayette Daily Advertiser breaks them down
 
Owl Cal: Your calendar to FAU events
Thursday
6:30 p.m. Sun Belt Conference Softball tournament, FAU vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, Mobile, Ala.
Wednesday’s Daily Report: Owls going with Gipson vs. Gators

How bad does FAU want to win tonight's game at Florida? Bad enough to make a change in pitching plans as the Owls will start ace Mike Gipson for the game against the Gators. Ryan Garton was originally going to start - and will still throw vs. UF - but it will be Gipson to take the hill on a day where he would be throwing a scheduled bullpen session.

The move makes sense. After last night's loss to Florida Gulf Coast, this game is a bit more important to the Owls. 

FAU had a chance to be driving up to Gainesville today feeling good about themselves, but after falling to FGCU, players and coaches may be squirming in their seats a bit.

Thanks to the loss to the Eagles, the Owls need to beat the Gators to avoid losing both games this week. With no games this weekend, it would be a long time to sit and stew on two losses.
But had FAU beat FGCU, it would have been playing with house money as it went up to face the No. 6 Gators.
The Owls don’t really need this victory to get in the NCAA Tournament, but it appeared the Owls were just about to break in to some of the polls – a nice accomplishment. With an 0-2 week, they can forget it.
Don’t forget that the Owls beat the Gators last season and, unlike FAU, Florida has a conference series this weekend.
I like FAU's chances a lot more with Gipson going a few innings, with Garton going a few as well vs. an inexperienced UF starter.
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what's being written about the Owls
FAUOwlAccess.com was at Tuesday’s game and provided a recap, analysis and post-game audio, plus other extras. See our complete coverage by clicking here.
We will be providing updates and post-game coverage of Wednesday’s game at Florida beginning at 6:30 p.m.
 
Owl Cal: Your calendar to FAU events  
Wednesday
6:30 p.m. Baseball, FAU at Florida
 
Tuesday’s FAU Daily Briefing: FAU prepares plan for conference expansion

FAU is taking a wait and see attitude toward upcoming realignment among conferences, but says it will be ready if it happens.

Members of FAUOwlAccess can read the first extensive comments from Athletic Director Craig Angelos and football coach Howard Schnellenberger after they arrived back in town from meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz.  attended by coaches and ADs from around the country.
Owl Access Pass members can read the full story here.
One point that Angleos made that wasn’t in the story is that the later conference shuffling begins, the better it is for FAU.
It would look better to show conference commissioners an actual football stadium instead of artist renderings of a proposed stadium. The same goes for renovations to the baseball stadium.
“We are on a course to enhancing our facilities, but, quite frankly, I wish the expansion talk was going to happen in a few years when we would be a little more mature,” Angelos said.
Another thing that was interesting is Angelos’ belief that the Sun Belt could be on the offensive when it comes to adding members. Conventional wisdom is that the Sun Belt could lose one, two or three teams to other leagues and then scramble to replace them or risk having the conference have to fold.
The most difficult part in trying to figure out how the conferences will look after this round of realignment is that the best minds in college sports are playing a guessing game because no one is sure how this will all shake out,
The educated guess here is that FAU would be best served by moving up to Conference USA, if Central Florida moves to the Big East and C-USA decides it wants to keep a strong presence in Florida.
I have a hunch it won’t be that simple.
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what is being written about FAU
Other linkage...
Owl Cal: A calendar of FAU events

Tuesday
6 p.m. Baseball, Florida Gulf Coast at FAU
Sun Belt makes wrong choice, snubs FAU's Mee for Player of Week

From time to time around the Oxley Center people will grumble that the Sun Belt likes to snub FAU when it comes to awards.

While those musings can frequently be filed in the “Home Team Bias” folder, this week’s Sun Belt baseball awards give conspiracy theorists some ammo.

Consider the weekend stats of these two players:

Player A: 8-for-13 (.615), 7 RBI, 0 HR, 3 doubles 1R
Player B: 7-for-11 (.636), 7 RBI, 1 HR, 2 R

Player A is Louisiana’s Alex Fuselier, the Sun Belt Player of the Week as voted on by members of each conference institution. Player B is FAU’s Andy Mee.

To me, the numbers put up by Mee are slightly better than those of Fuselier, but if the award was Hitter of the Week, you could make a case for either player. (Although if you add Mee’s 2-for-4, RBI, run scored performance on Tuesday, while ULL didn’t have a midweek game, it really pushes the stats in favor of Mee.)

The award, however, is Player of the Week, which means a player’s entire body of work should be considered. Mee played right field, gunning down a runner at home that allowed the Owls to stay within reach on Sunday.

He also earned a save in Sunday’s game, and even though that is a pitching stat, it can still at least be considered as part of a player’s accomplishments.

Fuselier is a DH, which means his own coach finds his defensive skills to be poor enough that he doesn’t deserve to be on the field.

Mee also produced his stats against South Alabama – the Sun Belt leader entering the weekend. Fuselier countered against the batting practice machine that is New Orleans pitching.

That should have made the decision easy.

Look, in the grand scheme of the season this award is nice, but it really doesn’t mean too much. And should they choose to try to counter conspiracy theorists, Sun Belt officials can point to FAU’s Mike Gipson winning Pitcher of the Week honors a week ago and softball player Blair Bodenmiller taking the Player of the Week award during the same period.

However, if the purpose of the award to recognize the best player, the conference that chose to televise the FIU/Arkansas State game instead of the battle between two first place schools allowed its members to choose poorly again.

Mee’s stats weren’t monumental, but his performance was far better than Fuselier’s. Andy Mee got jobbed. 

Monday's FAU Daily Briefing: Mee locates power swing

That Andy Mee delivered the decisive hit in Sunday’s pivotal game of FAU’s weekend series at South Alabama isn’t surprising. That it cleared the fence is far more noteworthy.

Mee started the season going homer-for-homer with Dan Scheffler in a battle for the team lead. Scheffler’s pace remained fairly constant throughout the season. When Mee pounded D.D. Hanks' hanging slider in the eighth inning on Sunday, he delivered his first home run since April 16 against Western Kentucky. Mee now has seven on the season.

The power drought had slipped into batting practice, too, but Mee saw a precursor of things to come in the hours prior to the series finale.

“This is the first time in a while I hit them out in BP,” Mee said following the win. “Then it finally happened in the game.”

Didn’t notice the power outage? Well, it’s not as if the junior’s overall production has been slumping.

With five hits on Sunday Mee pushed his average above .400 - .404 to be exact. His 84 hits are far and away the most by an Owl and has some thinking he could reach 100 if FAU makes a strong post-season run.

Mee’s 44 RBI trails Nick DelGuidice by one for second on the team, his 46 runs scored is second behind Scheffler and with one more home run he’ll tie DeGuidice for second on the club.

“I never worry about Andy Mee at the plate,” FAU coach John McCormack said.

Way to stay RJ: It wasn’t the best outing for R.J. Alvarez, but he pitched well enough to keep FAU in the game. He allowed a run in the second and two more in the third, but got out of trouble without allowing a run in the first, fourth and fifth innings. He gave FAU a chance to win despite lacking his best command. That’s what a Sunday starter needs to do.

Owl LinksYour daily guide to what is being written about FAU


FAUOwlAccess.com kept fans updated during the Owls’ critical victory and talked with Mee and McCormack immediately following the victory as part of the game story.

Other linkage...

  • The Mobile Press-Register's account of the game


Owl Cal A calendar of FAU events


Tuesday
6 p.m. Baseball, Florida Gulf Coast at FAU

FAU will be in first for a while

It’s hard to over state the importance of FAU’s 6-3 victory at South Alabama today.

The win, highlighted by back-to-back homers by Andy Mee and Dan Scheffler (photo) in the eighth, vaulted FAU back into first place in the Sun Belt Conference – and the Owls will be there for a while.

FAU, South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette all have eight losses, but the Owls’ 19 conference wins are three more than either Jags or Cajuns.

The Owls don’t play a Sun Belt series this weekend – the odd number of teams in the Belt dictates that one team will be off each weekend – so they can’t be passed for a while.

The best South Alabama and Louisiana-Lafayette can do is tie FAU with weekend sweeps of FIU and Western Kentucky respectively – no small task either one.

Even then, though, the Owls still hold the tiebreaker, taking two-of-three from each team during the regular season.

“This is a good position to be in,” FAU coach John McCormack said. “But as I told the guys, put it on hold - league play is on hold. There’s still a lot of things going on.”

FAU’s next three games may not count toward the Belt, but they will have heavy RPI implications. The Owls host Florida Gulf Coast (No. 57 RPI) on Tuesday, travel to Gainesville to play Florida (No. 2 RPI) on Wednesday and have a re-match with Central Florida (No. 89 RPI) on May 18 before ending the regular season with three games against FIU.

The Owls needed extra innings to beat FGCU a couple weeks ago and lost to UCF on Tuesday. The Gators also figure to be pretty good.

Had the Owls lost two-of-three to South Alabama this weekend, they might have been fighting for their NCAA tourney lives in those three games.

Thanks to Sunday’s win, a rejuvenated Owl squad enters these non-conference games with a sizeable cushion and controls their destiny in the Belt - weather permitting.

Sunday's FAU Daily Briefing: Today's game vs. South Alabama will decide plenty

We were all thinking FAU’s series this weekend against South Alabama with first place in the Sun Belt Conference on the line was essentially a playoff series.

After the Owls lost to the Jags on Saturday, it’s safe to say today’s game will have a Game 7 feel to it.
The stakes are pretty high. Not only does the winner of today’s game remain in first place for a week, but it will also hold the tie-breaker between the two teams.
I also think the regular-season champion of the Sun Belt, the No. 5 conference in the nation in terms of RPI, will get strong consideration on making the NCAA field should it fail at winning the conference tournament.
I like the Olws' chances today, especially sending freshman fireballer R.J. Alvarez to the mound.
Also, Happy Mother’s Day out there to all Moms of Owls and Owl fans.
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what is being written about FAU
We followed every picth and provided frequent updates of Saturday’s game before providing this recap. We'll be following every pitch and providing updates of today's game so cheack back later.

Owl Cal: Your daily calendar of FAU events

Sunday
2 p.m. Baseball, FAU at South Alabama
Saturday's FAU Daily Briefing: View from top is sweet for Owls

I really wish better records were kept on things like this, but this morning’s standings in the Sun Belt Conference shows something that probably hasn’t happened in quite some time.

FAU is indeed at the top of the conference after defeating South Alabama 7-2 on Friday.
Off the top of my head, I don’t think the Owls have been in first since they joined the Sun Belt in 2007.
Heck, FAU hasn’t won a regular season conference championship since it captured the Atlantic Sun (then known as the Trans America Athletic Conference) in 1999.
Of course that was that magical year when the Owls tied an NCAA record by winning 34 consecutive games.
FAU hasn’t won 34 consecutive games this season, but this year is shaping up to be a pretty special season as well.
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what is being written about FAU
FAUOwlAccess.com was tracking every pitch thrown up in Mobile, Ala. and had this recap.
We’ll be providing updates for the entire game again for today’s game, so check back as the Owls go for the series win. USA coach Steve Kittrell announced after the game that Lance Baxter will throw for the Jags. He will face FAU’s Mike Gipson.
Other linkage…

Owl Cal: Your daily calendar of FAU events

Saturday
7 p.m. Baseball, FAU at South Alabama
Sunday
2 p.m. Baseball, FAU at South Alabama
 
Friday's FAU Daily Briefing: Baseball program has made great strides in a year

With Florida Atlantic heading into a series among the top two teams in the Sun Belt Conference it’s worth a few minutes and look back at where the Owls baseball program was just one short year ago.

You remember don’t you? FAU was struggling around the .500 mark and as the season was heading down the stretch, it was clear FAU was going to need a near miracle just to finish in the 8 of the Sun Belt Conference and qualify for the conference tournament,
We all know what happened, FAU caught fire down the stretch and won just enough to make it to the post-season.
Until that happened, I hope people remember the naysayers that were just as quick to criticize the program last year as they are to jump on the bandwagon this year.
There were those who pontificated that the baseball program would never be relevant and some even went as far as to incredulously question if McCormack would be on the hot seat if the team failed to make it to post-season play in his first-year.
Well, the seat McCoramck sits in is nice and cool and while the question of whether the program is relevant can be subjective, I’ll defer to Baseball America, Mark Etheridge at SEBaseball.com and others from around the nation who cover college baseball and have written about the Owls lately.
While college baseball is technically what is referred to as  a “non-revenue” sport, it is important here in Florida. With the players available in the area, and the possibility of a years-overdue renovation to the baseball stadium, the FAU baseball program possibly has the best chance of any sport at the school to make a national splash.
In fact, it’s already done it. Within a span of a few years FAU thrust itself into the national record book by tying a 30-year old record for winning 34 consecutive games in 1999 and then became the first team at the school to advance in post-season play by making a Super Regional appearance in 2002.
In just McCormack's second-season FAU appears headed for another NCAA Tournament appearance and in some projections is seen as a No. 2 seed.
Regardless of what happens this weekend, that fits my definition of relevance. How about yours?
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what is being written about FAU
Check out our preview of the series vs. South Alabama by clicking  here and check back tonight as we follow the game and pass along updates.
Other linkage…
Rivals.com’s Kendall Rogers, one of the top national college baseball writers around, must find FAU relevant as he examines FAU’s success and non-conference schedule.
The Sun-Sentinel looks at Owls pitcher Mike Gipson.
Here’s a preview of Owls-Jaguars series from Mobile Press-Register.
The Gainesville Sun gives their report on Dennis Mavin signing with FAU.
Rusty Smith gets some ink in the Nashville City Paper.
Owl Cal: Your daily calendar of FAU events
Friday
7 p.m. Baseball, FAU at South Alabama
Saturday
7 p.m. Baseball, FAU at South Alabama
Sunday
2 p.m. Baseball, FAU at South Alabama
Thursday's FAU Daily Briefing: Recruits often mention McCall
 After talking to guard Dennis Mavin, who signed with the Owls on Wednesday, I’m beginning to detect a trend.
When I ask players why they chose FAU, the response often is the relationship they struck during recruiting with FAU assistant basketball coach Matt McCall.
The latest to sing the praises of McCall, not surprisingly, was Mavin.
“I’ve known him since 8th grade, but during the recruiting process I really built a special relationship with coach Matt McCall,” Mavin said.
Of course McCall was also instrumental in bringing in Greg Gantt, FAU’s leading scorer last season as a freshman.
One other player who is still undecided said of McCall: “He’s a cool dude. He always comes over and says ‘hello’ everytime he sees me.”
McCall obviously learned something sitting on the bench while a member of the Florida staff from 2004-08, and I bet having two national championship rings to show recruits doesn’t hurt either.
Whatever the reason, players seem to connect with McCall and, combined with his eye for talent, he is paying big dividends for the Owls.
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what is being written about FAU
FAUOwlAccess.com tracked down Mavin just moments after he signed with FAU and had this report.
Owl Cal: Your daily calendar of FAU events
Friday
7 p.m. Baseball, FAU at South Alabama
Saturday
7 p.m. Baseball, FAU at South Alabama
Sunday
2 p.m. Baseball, FAU at South Alabama
 
Wednesday's FAU Daily Briefing: Departures of Hughley, Watson sends Owls back on recruiting trail

The Florida Atlantic basketball team didn’t have any seniors on the team last season, but that doesn’t mean the Owls won’t be bringing in any new players.

In fact, FAU coach Mike Jarvis said he expects to sign two new players for next year’s team.
The scholarships became open because junior guard Sanchez Hughley won’t be coming back next season and sophmore forward Chris Watson is transferring to Division II Lynn, Jarvis said.
“We have two scholarships open which is kind of nice,” Jarvis said. “Chris Watson is transferring to Lynn University and Sanchez mentioned to us that he won’t be coming back and that opened up two spots.”
Hughley’s departure isn’t a complete surprise and has been the subject of plenty of speculation since January.
Watson leaving is more of a surprise, but after missing the entire 2009-10 season with a knee injury he will be going to a place where he is likely to get more playing time.
One of the new players coming to FAU will be guard Dennis Mavin of The Rock in Gainesville, who will sign with the Owls today.
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what is being written about FAU
FAUOwlAccess.com was at Tuesday’s baseball game, won by UCF 14-3 we have a recap, video highlights and post-game audio Click here for our extensive coverage of the game.
Other linkage…
Owl Cal: Your daily calendar of FAU events
Friday
7 p.m. Baseball, FAU at South Alabama
Tuesday's FAU Daily Briefing: Schnellenberger goes back to school

Howard Schnellenberger continues to come up roses. Well, orchids actually.

From the I Wouldn’t Believe It If There Wasn’t A Photo category comes this story:

Barbara DeRusso’s fourth grade class at Candil Jacaranda School in Plantation is conducting a science project with two orchids. The girls in the class are taking care of one plant – the boys the other.

DeRusso decided the plants should have names. When she called on Cade Fergus to name the boys’ plant, he promptly exclaimed, “Howard Schnellenberger.”

Now, Cade (pictured with Howard) is not yet an FAU fan even though his uncle covers the Owls for a fast-growing web site. Both his parents are Miami grads and he’s been a regular at Hurricane games.

He’d recently finished watching ESPN’s "The U" on the University of Miami and Schnellenberger’s name stuck with him.

When the coach heard the story, he smiled - then wondered whether the teacher had any idea how to spell the name.  (They got it right.)

I also relayed the story to Schnellenberger’s wife Beverlee and took the opportunity to ask whether the coach possesses a green thumb.

“We have about 250 orchids at our house,” Beverlee said smiling. “He looks at them everyday and when he walks by, he hasn’t killed any.”

Word is that the class is doing a very good job taking care of Howard Schnellenberger. There is apparently no truth to the rumor that students who come to school early are finding diagrammed plays on their desks.

Now if they could just teach the plant to do that famous Schnellenberger whistle, they might get out of class early.
 

Owl Links: Your daily guide to what is being written about FAU

With the latest installment of its weekly update on the football program, FAUOwlAccess.com found out about the Owls' strategy as they head out for the May recruiting period.

We also had a look at Dan Scheffler's improvement on defense and a preview of Tuesday's game vs. UCF.

 

Owl Cal: Your daily calendar of FAU events
Tuesday
6:30 p.m. Baseball, UCF at FAU

Monday’s Daily Briefing: Sweep should bring attention

With its three-game sweep of Arkansas State over the weekend, FAU has a chance at receiving some attention for its efforts.

The Owls were receiving votes in one the NCBWA poll the last few weeks and could breakthrough this week.
Also Mike Gipson’s complete-game two-hit performance was noted by Baseball America and Gipson is nominated for the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week.
Also FAU has moved up to No. 30 in the Boyd’s World pseudo-RPI.
This is going to be a pretty exciting next few weeks for the baseball team, so stay tuned.
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what's being written about the Owls
FAUOwlAccess.com was at Sunday’s baseball game to bring you coverage of thee sweep of the Red Wolves. Check out our recap, video highlights, analysis, photo gallery and audio of post-game interviews by clicking here.
Other linkage…
The Sun-Sentinel had the recap of the weekend
The Mobile Press Register is getting ready for the big series between the Jaguars and the Owls.
Even Yahoo! Sports has a mention of the FAU baseball team
 
Owl Cal: Your calendar to FAU events

Tuesday

6:30 p.m. Baseball, Central Florida at FAU

Sunday’s Daily Briefing: FAU has yet to sweep after sleep

FAU will try and do something it has yet to do this season when the Owls face Arkansas State at noon.

That’s arrive at the ballpark on Sunday and go out and finish off the sweep of a Sun Belt opponent.
Oh, the Owls have completed a sweep this season – against Western Kentucky, the top team in the Sun Belt at the time. But that sweep had a different dynamic because both the second and third game were played on Saturday as part of a doubleheader.
When the Owls have won the first two games and went to sleep on Saturday night thinking about a potential sweep, the next day it failed to materialize.
Remember that FAU  won the first two games of the series at Troy and at New Orleans, but dropped the game on Sunday.
So, the Owls go for the sweep today, but they know it won’t be easy.
“These guys understand it and they know what’s going on,” FAU coach John McCormack said. “(Arkansas State) is a prideful team and are not just going to roll over and play dead.”
The Owls are already in a virtual tie with South Alabama - FAU has one more win and one more loss than the Jags - and are mere percentage points behind USA.
Also, just to clear up any confusion, even with a victory on Sunday, FAU will be behind South Alabama in the standings. FAU's SBC winning percentage with a 17-7 record would be .708. South Alabama is idle and at 15-6 has a winning percentage of .714. The Sun Belt standings are determined by winning percentage.
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what's being written about the Owls
A big series means big coverage from FAUOwlAccess.com. We have Mike Gipson’s 2-hitter covered with a recap, analysis, video highlights and audio of Gipson’s post-game interview.
Check back at noon today for our live updates on the game and complete post-game coverage as FAU goes for the sweep vs. Arkansas State.
Other linkage...
  • The El Paso Times raises an interesting point in this article on conference expansion. If Central Florida were to leave Conference USA, that league could keep its Florida presence by looking at FAU and FIU.
  • The article doesn't have much from Rusty Smith, but the Titans home page this morning has a cool, big picture of Smith with the rest of the Tennessee draftees.

Owl Cal: Your calendar to FAU events
Sunday
Noon Baseball, Arkansas State at FAU
 
 
Saturday's FAU Daily Briefing: Another dramatic ending for Owls

FAU has only had one walk-off hit this season, but have had plenty of dramatic endings.

For the second time in two weeks, the Owls won a game by gunning down a runner who made a bad decision of rounding third – and both times it was leftfielder Colby Gratton who did the gunning.
In the first game of a doubleheader vs. Western Kentucky, FAU won a game on a walk-off single by Eddie Cassidy, but it got even crazier in the second game when an overzealous Hilltopper was going to try and score, but changed his mind after he rounded third. He never made it back as Gratton quickly got the ball back into the infield.
Last night was also a wild ending as Gratton dropped an easy fly ball but recovered in time to make a semi-accurate throw home. Catcher Mike Albaladejo went up the line, caught the ball and got back to the plate in time to nail the ASU runner to end the game with FAU winning 3-2.
“When that happened, I knew everyone would have their head down, but I didn’t care if the guy made it to home, I was throwing him out,” Gratton said.
We've got all the action, including Gratton's throw, in our video highlights of the game
Owl Links: Your daily guide to what's being written about the Owls
For a big series, we brought out the big guns during coverage of the ASU-FAU game we have our recap, analysis, video highlights and photo gallery of the game. Check out our coverage here.
Other linkage:


Owl Cal: Your calendar to FAU events
Saturday
4 p.m. Baseball, Arkansas State at FAU
Sunday
1 p.m. Baseball, Arkansas State at FAU
 

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Go watch college football in Boca. It's that simple. Support your local team and go have a good time!

Great article on Tyler Cameron. Let's put his skills to work with the QBs and make some plays. The Neighborhood fans are ready. Time to rally the...

Nicely done Jake. Great addition to Owl Access.

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Sorry, I read the above question wrong. Who will be UNDER center? No one. They will operate primarily from the shutgun.

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