It's November 26, and Marquette women's basketball is winless in four tries on the season. Generally speaking, that's bad. Even with a roster stocked with eight freshmen still finding their way at the collegiate level and two players who have never been called on to play a major role, it's still not great. The Golden Eagles have been on the verge of wins twice this season, first at home against IUPUI, and then again on the road against Northern Kentucky.
You want to feel like the Golden Eagles are making progress in Carolyn Kieger's second season, but then they do something like get blown out by 28 against South Dakota. Outings like that remind you that this isn't really so much Kieger's second season as much as it is Kieger starting the program over nearly from scratch.
Marquette's down in Florida for a holiday week event, and hopefully they can reverse their luck at least once in their two games in Miami.
Game #5: at Florida International (1-2)
The Panthers have yet to leave the state of Florida this season. They've only left home once in their three games, suffering an 89-72 loss to UCF. FIU opened the season with a win over Florida A&M, but they've dropped their last two, that loss to UCF, and then a home beat down at the hands of Florida Gulf Coast, 81-53. I suppose none of that should really be surprising, since the Panthers were picked to finish 13th of 14 teams in Conference USA.
(Side note: have you looked at who's in Conference USA these days? YIPES.)
FIU is in a bit of transition this season. They're coming off of a 3-26 season a year ago, and while that would be enough to cause a recalibration on it's own, head coach Cindy Russo retired in January. That was in the middle of her 36th season as head coach of the Panthers, and they lost their last 13 games of the season after that. The Panthers went in a new direction in the offseason, bringing in Marlin Chinn as the sixth head coach in FIU history. Chinn was an assistant at Maryland for the past six seasons, where the Terrapins went to the Sweet 16 each of the last four seasons, including trips to the Final Four in each of the last two campaigns.
Janka Hegedus is the top scorer for the Panthers, averaging 17.7 points per game. She has three teammates who are willing to let fly from long range, as they're all averaging four or more long range attempts and all shooting over 33%. One of those three, Destini Feagin, is leading FIU in rebounds at 5.3 per contest, but there's three Panthers averaging at least five boards a game. Another one of their gunners, Kristian Hudson leads the team in assists at just over four per game.