70 - 99 Final
  for this game

Thomas still winless after FIU loses to Monmouth

Nov 14, 2009 - 4:32 AM WEST LONG BRANCH, N.J.(AP) -- Back in the New York area, Isiah Thomas got a hostile welcome that was more than a little out of line with his new job as coach of Florida International.

Yes, the former Knicks coach and executive left a lot of bad memories.

"I'm used to being in hostile arenas," Thomas said. "As an athlete and as a former 'Bad Boy,' every place we went to was kind of this kind of environment. So I'm used to dealing with tough environments."

Thomas failed for the second straight time Friday to earn his first college coaching win when Florida International was trounced by Monmouth 99-70 Friday night.

Travis Taylor led the Hawks (1-0) with 18 points. Marvin Roberts led FIU (0-2) with 21.

Thomas was greeted by derogatory chants from the student section at times and he indicated that an adult fan said something to him after the game, but security interceded.

"There was a gentleman that I don't even think he goes to school here and he's not even in college, but he got out of line and security put him back in line, which was good," Thomas said. "He didn't grab me. If he did that, then I would have had the right to go Charles Barkley on him.

"I think the students were well in line and in-bounds in terms of the chants and the things they were saying. It was all in good spirit.

"But for someone who was older to act that way and conduct himself in that manner, particularly at a college game and a college environment, he should have known better."

The Golden Panthers have just one starter back from last year's team and dropped their opener 88-72 at defending national champion North Carolina on Monday, the day his mother, Mary, underwent open-heart surgery in Chicago. Thomas said she's doing much better.

"It's been a stressful week," he said.

The Hawks didn't help. They made nine of their first 11 shots to take a 23-13 lead and went into halftime up 41-33.

Roberts drove for the first basket of the second half to cut it to six, but Monmouth quickly pushed the advantage back into double figures and to finish the rout.

"It's a very humbling experience," Roberts said. "I've learned a lot so far. I'll learn everything he has to teach me. I'm all ears."

Thomas took over as Knicks president of basketball operations on Dec. 22, 2003, and eventually was head coach for two seasons. Donnie Walsh took over the organization in 2008 and dismissed Thomas as coach after the Knicks tied a franchise record with 59 losses.

Thomas' tenure with the team included no winning years, personnel moves that backfired, a sexual harassment lawsuit and conflicts with players.

FIU hired Thomas on April 14 to turn around a program that went 13-20 in 2008-09, its ninth consecutive losing season.

The Golden Panthers have just one starter back from that team. But Thomas brought in several junior college transfers, including Roberts. The 6-foot-5 junior forward from Brooklyn led juco players last season with 29.6 points per game at Redlands Community College in Oklahoma.

FIU forward Nikola Gacesa went down in the left side of the lane with 5:22 left in the first half clutching his right knee and was helped off to the locker room.

Monmouth coach Dave Calloway was optimistic about the former Detroit Pistons star's attempt to turn the Golden Panthers right side up. Florida International's next game is at Tulsa on Sunday.

"It takes time," Calloway said. "Recruiting is a big part of it. Guys are going to want to go play for him because he's an NBA guy. Everybody wants to play in the NBA."

    FIU 70

    Nov 13 9:23 PM

    FIU 33

    Nov 13 8:12 PM