Panthers look to replace recent graduate in upcoming season

Anthony Calatayud/Contributing Writer

As the NBA season tips off, Miami catches the basketball fever that has been so prevalent in the city for the past four years, and looks forward to seeing how the changes of the offseason will affect South Florida teams.

The obvious– LeBron James does not play for the Miami Heat any more. His departure ushers in a new era of basketball for the team, its fans and the city. The less obvious– Tymell Murphy is also no longer a part of the FIU Panther basketball team.

Now listen, I’m not saying that Tymell Murphy is LeBron James, but what if I told you one of the two aforementioned players led his team in points, blocks, steals, assists, field goal percentage, minutes and was second in rebounds? Although it sounds a lot like a guy from Akron, Ohio, those specific numbers were of Brooklyn native Tymell Murphy. Now, you can see just how much Murphy meant to this team and how much the 2013-2014 Panthers leaned on him for production in every facet of the game.

Head Coach Anthony Evans is steering in this new season of FIU basketball after a promising 15-win season in 2013-2014, FIU’s inaugural season in Conference USA. Evans, the long time Norfolk State University coach, guided the Spartans to a 99-94 record during his tenure and more impressively had two back-to-back 20-win seasons in ’11-’12 and ’12-’13. Another shining moment for Evans was having one of his players drafted into the NBA in the summer of 2012, when the Orlando Magic selected Kyle O’Quinn with the 49th overall pick, making him the first Norfolk State player selected since 1988.

“As an alumnus of FIU, I am extremely excited about Pete Garcia’s choice of Anthony Evans as the next men’s basketball head coach,” said FIU alumni Frank Martin, head coach of the South Carolina men’s basketball team.  “He will be a great fit in the community and the University. He is a proven winner. Student-athletes at FIU just got better.”

In this new 2014-2015 season for FIU, with the subtraction of Murphy, who was LeBron-esque for the Panthers last year, which player will step up and take it upon himself to show out every night for the Panthers?

The short answer is no one. Not one player will be able to repeat what Murphy did last year for this Panther squad, but a few players can work together to help this team succeed.

Redshirt junior Adrian Diaz will be a major factor on this team. Diaz has the size at 6 feet 11 inches and 230 pounds to be a force inside in C-USA. During the annual Blue vs. Gold intrasquad scrimmage, Diaz led all scorers with 33 points going 13 for 18 from the field and 7 for 11 from the foul line, he chipped in nine rebounds, two blocks and an assist for the Gold squad.

Expect Diaz to fill in for Murphy in the big categories like points, field goal percentage, rebounds and blocks. Diaz, a Miami native, was recruited by Martin to play at Kansas State University. After Martin left to South Carolina, Diaz decided to take his talents back to his home city and play for FIU. Watch out for Diaz this year in C-USA, he will be one of the best big men in the conference.

On to another player that will command a huge look by other teams in their defensive game planning this upcoming year, senior guard Dennis Mavin. The speedy Mavin led the Blue team in the intrasquad scrimmage with 22 points, shooting at a 50% clip and adding in four assists and four steals as well. There’s your missing piece to fill in for Murphy.

With Diaz holding down points, rebounds, field goal percentage and blocks, Mavin can focus on assists, steals and minutes. Look for Adrian Diaz and Dennis Mavin to be an enormous part of the Panthers offensive game plan going in to 2014-2015 season.

The Panthers will be starting their season on Friday, Nov. 14 versus Florida College at 7:30 p.m. Marquee games this season will be at University of Louisville on Friday, Dec. 5 and at Florida Gulf Coast University on Sunday, Dec. 14. These two programs have been in the national spotlight for the better part of a couple of years, with Louisville winning the National Championship in 2013.

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