Men and women’s basketball teams look forward to season openers

Peter Holland, Jr. // Asst. Sports Director

Last season, the men finished 13-19 (7-11 in C-USA) and was eliminated in the second round of the Conference USA tournament against University of Texas El-Paso. Anthony Evans will be going into his fourth year as head coach for the Panthers with 44-52 career record. He is looking forward for his team to take the next step in having their first winning season under him.

“We’re excited with the group that we have, returners who has some experience and played a lot last year,” said Evans. “So we’re looking to come in and be consistent and played the way that we have been playing every night and continue to build the program.”

The Panthers will have  huge shoes to fill in replacing their scoring leaders Daviyon Draper and Adrian Diaz, FIU’s all-time leader in blocked shots.

“I don’t think we can do it with just one person,” said Evans. I think it’s going to be a combination of players that has to make up for the loss of Adrian and the loss of Daviyon.

With opening night being on Veterans Day, Evans has embraced having their first game on that day and takes pride in dedicating their opening night to the veterans who come to see the team play. It also helps the fact that Evans had friends and  relatives who served in the Navy for a long time, which makes it more special for the head coach.

“We have a lot of things that goes on in our lives and our veterans have done a great a job to make sure that we maintain the freedom and the rights that we have,” said Evans. “It means a lot to play on Veterans Day, so we looking forward to a good game.”

On the women’s side, Tiara Malcom will be going into her first season as head coach after the firing of Marlin Chinn. With last season finishing the year 5-26 (2-16 in C-USA), Malcom is confident to see the improvements from this year’s team.

“I think the biggest thing for us is to try to be consistent and compete,” said Malcom. “If we do that, more often than not we put ourselves in the position to be successful.”

One of Malcom’s challenges she wants to improve for her team is defense. FIU has recorded an average 72.7 points allowed against opponents last season, which was ranked last in C-USA. Malcom made adjustments and changed concepts to improve on the Panther’s defense.

“We had practices where we only do defensive stuff,” said Malcom. “So for them to be on that mindset, this is the switch we are trying to make and for us to be successful, we have to hold people to a certain amount of points. And they have to commit themselves into the defensive end of the floor.”

Majority of the players has returned for the Panthers despite losing their leading scorer Taylor Shade. Malcom assigned different roles for each player. She wants to make sure her team is contributing in different ways.

“Even though we have some people that returned, some people’s roles has changed, some people are looking to have a leadership role, other people with more of a scoring role, other being a teammate role said Malcom.

Malcom,  just like Evans, enjoys having tipoff on Veterans Day and takes pride in the holiday with having both her parents served in the air force, she is looking forward to night dedicating to the military.

“We are very proud with our people that represent our country because they gave us a chance to have all the opportunities that we have now,” said Malcom. “Hopefully with our play, this is our way to show and thank them for everything that they’ve done.”

FIU’s double header tipoff will be at 5 p.m. when the lady Panthers will face University of Central Florida on Nov.11. The Men’s team will follow after at 7 p.m. as they will face Florida Memorial University.


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