By Cristhian Plasencia/Contributing Writer
FIU hoops look to bounce back in their upcoming 2017-18 season after a disappointing 2016-17 campaign. The Panthers’ Men and Women basketball head coaches Anthony Evans and Tiara Malcom made their appearance last Monday at the 2017 Conference USA Basketball Tipoff, hosted at The Star in Frisco, Texas streamed on ESPN3.
All 14 C-USA schools presented their head coaches from the men and women’s basketball team to preview the upcoming season.
FIU women’s basketball team has the youngest team in the NCCA’s Division 1 and with Tiara Malcom, who took over the team as head coach at the end of last season. She is hoping to refine its basketball program.
“We gave away too many points last year in multiple games, so our focus this year is on the defensive end of the floor,” Malcom said.
The panthers look to close the scoring margin gap of -19.8 between their opponent in 2016-17 season. The cohesion of old and new player is essential for FIU women’s basketball to succeed this upcoming season.
“We talk about trying to create chemistry, it has to be natural, my team has done a very good job of embracing each other, those who are remaining from last year, and embracing the new comers as well,” Malcom said.
Junior point guard, Kristian Hudson, the only Panther to start all 29 games last season, also led in scoring (12.1 ppg), 124 assists (89), defensive rebounds (119), and steals (48).
“She’s been a table setter for everyone, her two years here. She has done a tremendous job working on her game, outside of being with the coaches,” Malcom said.
The women’s team has also added depth on their interior.
“We needed to be bigger and more athletic, one of our freshman [Elizabeth Toye]. She been good for us, also [Callie Cavanaugh], she has a very good job in the interior, and Walker,” Coach Malcom said.
FIU men’s basketball head coach, Anthony Evans, going on his fifth year with no starters from last season.
“We’ve had a tough couple of years, now we have an opportunity to get a brand new group, some guys that haven’t been leaders before, have opportunities to lead,” Coach Evans said.
The men’s basketball team finished 7-24 last season, but the win/loss column doesn’t display how close games were. The scoring margin between the panthers and opponents was slim (-3.3), they lack closing games.
“It comes from a defensive end, in those close games you have to be able to get stops, rebounds, it comes down to getting stops,” Evans said.
In similarity as the women’s team, FIU men’s basketball team have emphasized on defense this past summer thorough the fall. Eric Lockett gave the team a spark at the end of last season, Evans hope to see Lockett take up a leadership role.
FIU men and women’s basketball teams will tipoff their 2017-18 seasons on Nov. 10. The men’s team opens at home, hosting Florida Memorial at 7 p.m., and the women’s team will play Miami in Coral Gables at 6 p.m.