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Giannini Blog - March 17, 2011

March 17, 2011

The last two weeks have really been busy for the Golden Eagles. Our baseball and softball teams are in full swing; we just started spring football practice, just completed the men's and women's C-USA Basketball Tournament and also had our highest ever NCAA Women's Indoor Track finish and our first ever national champion in Tori Bowie.

Baseball is off to a C-USA leading record with a 12-3 mark. Coach Berry's team heads to the College of Charleston and the Cougar Invitational this weekend. They will face Charleston, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Charleston is 15-3 and ranked 20th in the latest Baseball American poll. UCONN and Charleston were both made it to the NCAA Baseball Regional's last year. Tyler Koelling is leading Southern Miss in hitting with a .397 average as eight Eagles are batting over .300. B. A. Vollmuth leads the team with six homeruns. Todd McInnis (3-1, 3.00 ERA), Jonathan Thomson (2-0, 6.06 ERA) and Geoffrey Thomas (3-1, 1.46 ERA) are the weekend starters.

The women's softball team had a super 7-0 shutout win over nationally ranked LSU last night at the USM Softball Complex. USM's broke a 17 losing jinx to the Tigers and also set a new attendance record of 847. The Lady Eagles are 9-13 on the season and head to UAB for the first C-USA series this weekend.

Our men's and women's basketball teams finished their seasons at the C-USA Tournament in El Paso. The men lost a heart breaker to Memphis, the eventual tournament winner, by three points in the last minutes of the game. They finished the season with a 22-10 mark and their highest RPI ranking (63 of 351) in over 10 years. With two weeks to go in the season they led C-USA standings with a 21-6 mark and were in great shape for post-season play. However, two one-point losses to UAB and UCF along with an eight-point loss at Tulsa ended the regular season.

Gary Flowers was named the most outstanding collegiate player in Mississippi by winning the coveted Cellular South Howell Trophy. He was the first Southern Miss player to make the finals and win the award since it was established. Freshman D. J. Newbill was named to the freshman all C-USA first team and Sai'Quon was named to the all C-USA defensive team. The team also made great strides in attendance this year. One of the reasons they fell short of the NIT is the fact that the NCAA is required to take 31 conference champions. If any of the 31 fail to win their regular season league tournament and do not get an NCAA at-large berth, the NIT in required to take them. Two years ago this affected eight teams and this year it jumped to 13, leaving only 19 at large spots. It was disappointing to all Golden Eagle basketball fans.

Statistically the Golden Eagles improved greatly in C-USA as well as the overall league. C-USA went from the 11th best basketball conference in 2010 to the eighth in 2011. In 21 conference statistical categories, USM finished number one in six areas, and placed six or better in 17 categories of the 21 categories.

The Lady Eagles finished with a 10-20 mark. They suffered throughout the season with injuries and last several key players for most of the year. Senior Tanesha Washington made third team all-conferecne while freshman point guard Jamierra Faulkner made the all-freshman team. Junior Rachel Vigers led the league in scoring with 16.4 average points a game, although she missed nine games with an injury.

I will to meet with coaches Larry Eustachy and Joye Lee-McNelis in the next few weeks to thoroughly evaluate the season and future of our basketball programs.

Our women's track team placed 13th in the nation in the NCAA Indoor meet, under the direction of Coach Kevin Stephen. Bowie,a junior, became the first USM track and field athlete to become a national champion. She won the long jump with a leap of 21-4.75. Ganna Demydova, also a junior placed fourth in the triple jump with a mark of 43-6.50. USM jumps coach Adrian Ghioroale played a major role in their success. Four Lady Eagle tracksters including Bowie, Ghioroale and senior sprinter Chastity Riggien and junior high Jumper Ke'Airra Jones were named All-Americans.

Spring football practice began on Monday of this week. The Golden Eagles will hold scrimmages in Biloxi on Friday, March 25 and Pearl on April 1, prior to the annual spring game in Hattiesburg on Saturday, April 9. Coach Larry Fedora welcomes back a veteran team along with new defensive co-coordinator, Dan Disch, receivers coach Walt Bell and tight ends coach Robert Mathews.

Jeff Hammond, Dick Vogel, John Miller and Corky Palmer are hard at work on our golf and baseball facility fund-raising projects. They are also working to increase the Eagle Club membership and its effort to get 3011 members in 2011 and bring in a record $2.1 million for student-athlete scholarships.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our baseball games or the spring Game in the next few weeks. Thank you for your continued loyalty to Southern Miss athletics.

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