Panthers look to regain momentum versus last years Cinderella

The Panthers will begin a tough three game schedule Saturday as they welcome last season’s sweet-sixteen opponent Florida Gulf Coast to the Lime Court.

 The group failed to hold on to the ball Tuesday night as they gave up 23 turnovers to Nova Southeastern University, en route to a 77-59 loss.

 FIU will learn from their loss and head coach Anthony Evans understands that there is more to the game than just wins and losses.

 “It’s an opportunity to teach,” Head Coach Anthony Evans said. “You have to respect the game, you have to cherish every moment when you’re on the floor. “

 The Panthers, led by Senior Tymell Murphy, will have to fix their mistakes if they have any hopes in taking down the Atlantic Sun Conference favorite Eagles.

 The Eagles average 67.9 points per game, while the Panthers have been holding their opponents to just under 66 points per contest.

Video by: Rhys Williams 

The Panthers will also look to rely on big man Rakeem Buckles. The redshirt senior, in just 11 games, has a total of 113 rebounds. His rebounds are currently ranked first in the nation and second in Conference USA.

 As good as the numbers may be, the loss to Nova seemed to be a wake up call for some.

 “We’re not good enough to be lollygagging everyday in practice, we gotta do everything hard,” Buckles said. “We got to, from now on, we gotta have it.”

 Buckles is one of several new faces for the Panthers. Redshirt junior Dennis Mavin understands what’s needed in order to succeed and hasn’t allowed the new system to slow him down.

 “It’s been a slow progress,” Mavin said. “Overall, it’s been pretty Ok with me, nothing too major.

 Since shocking the country last season and reaching the sweet-sixteen of the NCAA tournament, the Eagles have been on a slump. The Eagles lost their last two games versus North Carolina State and Iona, but coming off a loss themselves, both the Panthers and Eagles will be looking to get back on the right foot.

 Aside from their 4-3 record, the Eagles have three players averaging more than 13 points per game. Senior Chase Fieler, who was a part of last seasons Cinderella team, will come into FIU averaging 14.6 points per game.

 For Evans, the name of their opponent has no effect on how the Panthers perform. Evans understands that at any moment a team can overcome adversity and perform better than what their record shows.

 “You have to play with passion, you can’t take anything for granted,” Evans said. “Those will be things that I will tell this team in practice from today, until the end of the season, because we have to come out with a certain type of intensity, whether it’s Louisville, FGCU, FAMU whoever. We have to play with the same type of intensity so that we can get better as a basketball team. “

About the Author

Patrick Chalvire
: Radio Host for Panther Sports Talk Live. Assistant Sports Director for The Beacon. Majoring in Communication Arts. Sports fan and aspiring anchor.

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