We're only four games into the 2012-13 FIU basketball season, but the Panthers are an improved bunch under new coach Richard Pitino. After four games this season FIU is 2-2. FIU was 1-3 last season after four games, including a season opening win against perennial NCAA Tournament team George Mason.
The Panthers take on South Alabama at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at U.S. Century Bank Arena. You can also catch the game for FREE on PantherVision with Jared Schwartz and myself calling the game. We'll be on the air with the pregame at 7:20 p.m. or 20 minutes after the FIU/South Alabama ladies game. CLICK HERE to access PantherVision.
Again it's early in the season, but a look at the Panthers statistics after four games in 2012-13 versus after four games in 2011-12 show that FIU has improved. Here's the breakdown:
Field Goal Percentage: FIU (2012) .466; (2011) .404; Opponents (2012) .466; (2011) .510
3-Point FG Pct: FIU (2012) .403; (2011) .373; Opponents (2012) .277; (2011) .412
Free Throw Percentage: FIU (2012) .741; (2011) .775
Points per game: FIU (2012) 74.2; (2011) 65.8; Opponents (2012) 72.8; (2011) 71.2
** As you will see in the assists category below, the Panthers are passing the ball more leading to better looks and easier shots, therefore FIU's field goal percentage is up.
Defensively, FIU is more than 10 percent better in FG pct. defense, which is what RP stresses. The FIU coach told his team Thursday that the top two teams in field goal percentage defensively in the nation are undefeated: Stephen F. Austin and Florida. FIU's 3-point field goal defense leads the Sun Belt Conference.
FIU is just a tick below from the 2011-12 season when it comes to making its free throws. Still, the Panthers lead the Sun Belt in this category as well.
Rebounds per game: FIU (2012) 30.0; (2011) 29.5; Opponents (2012) 37.0; (2011) 33.0
Assists per game: FIU (2012) 14.0; (2011) 10.5
Blocks per game: FIU (2012) 2.3; (2011) 2.25
Steals per game: FIU (2012) 9.5; (2011) 9.0
Turnovers per game: FIU (2012) 16.8; (2011) 14.8; Opponents (2012) 18.8; (2011) 18.8
** FIU's rebounds per game are about the same and the Panthers are being outrebounded. Blocks and steals per game are also about equal. Pitino has talked about the Panthers getting better on the glass and that's something the team is working on. If FIU wants to play a fast tempo game offensively, they have to control the boards better.