FACTS & STATS: Site: Conte Forum (10,000) -- Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Television: ESPN3. Home Record: FIU 0-0, BC 0-0. Away Record: FIU 0-0, BC 0-0. Neutral Record: FIU 0-0, BC 0-0. Conference Record: FIU 0-0, BC 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The Richard Pitino era at FIU will begin today as he and the Panthers invade Conte Forum for a non-conference bout with the Boston College Eagles.
After the Isaiah Thomas experiment failed for the Panthers' program, FIU's administration brought in another big name. FIU's newest head coach is more famous for being the kin of the highly successful Rick Pitino, who Richard worked under at Louisville as the Cardinals' associate head coach last season. Louisville reached the Final Four with both Pitinos making the calls from the bench. Now the younger one will branch out and try to build his own legacy, but he has a lot of work to do. FIU finished last season with just an 8-21 overall record under Thomas.
Boston College was one of the bottom dwellers of the ACC last season as it struggled on both ends of the floor. Steve Donahue's squad won just nine games in his second year at the helm of the program, but he has more reason to be optimistic in season three with most of the production back from last year. The Eagles had plenty of reason to struggle in 2011-2012 with one transfer and four freshmen making up their starting lineup. BC averaged just 59.3 ppg with its inexperienced bunch.
The Panthers lost all five of their starters from last season, but that may not necessarily be a bad thing as last season' squad went just 5-11 in Sun Belt Conference action. Deric Hill, a 5-9 point guard, will be running the show again. The Miami native averaged only 1.8 ppg last season as a freshman, but Pitino's new offense fits his strengths. Juco transfer Tymell Murphy will make his debut for the program after leading South Plains to an undefeated record and the 2011-2012 NJCAA National Championship. Junior guard Malik Smith will also be making his debut with the team after averaging 15 points and four assists per game for Jacksonville College last season. Freshman forward Jerome Frink from the powerhouse St. Anthony's High School is expected to be a vital component of FIU's program over the next four years.
The most important player for BC may be the man in the middle, Dennis Clifford. The sophomore center provides inside scoring and a defensive presence with his 7-0, 250-pound frame. Forward Ryan Anderson was very effective as a rookie last season with averages of 11.2 points and 7.4 boards per game. The sophomore forward will be looking to eclipse his career-high of 22 points. Lonnie Jackson is a dynamic scorer in the backcourt. The freshmen duo of Joe Rahon (6-2, 195) and Olivier Hanlan (6-4, 188) round out the starting five. Hanlan competed in the 2011 FIBA World Championships for Canada.
The Eagles will be a team to keep an eye on this season. They are not ready to challenge for the ACC title, but the young Eagles could be a difficult opponent once their talent develops. FIU will run into too many issues against an ACC opponent to steal the victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Boston College 72, FIU 60
11/11 10:33:37 ET
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