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Decisions loom in Heat training camp; Discouraging Fins news; UM, Marlins talk

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Four decisions facing the Heat during training camp, which opens Saturday:

### Starting power forward: With Chris Bosh expecting to remain at center, the options are natural small forward Shane Battier, who handled the job for most of the final three rounds of the playoffs; Rashard Lewis, looking to resuscitate his career; and Udonis Haslem. Using Battier or Lewis with the other starters would spread the floor; Haslem would provide more rebounding.

Battier and Lewis aren’t big rebounders -– the 6-10 Lewis has, at times during his career, ranked among the lowest rebound-per-minute starter for a player of his size -– but LeBron James’ work on the boards could compensate for that. The question is whether Battier, at 225 pounds, can sustain a full season at power forward.

“I think I could get away with it,” he said. “The regular season is not as physical as the playoffs. Guys aren’t hitting as hard.”

### Which two young centers to keep: Two likely will make the team from among Dexter Pittman (a front-runner), Josh Harrellson, Mickell Gladness and Jarvis Varnado. Pat Riley opted for youth over a veteran such as Mehmet Okur or Darko Milicic. Juwan Howard is still working out with the Heat, hoping for a one-year contract.

Pittman is the only one of the four with a guaranteed contract, but Riley made clear he expects more from him than his uneven, foul-plagued performance in summer league. The Heat likes his rebounding and offensive growth but has grown exasperated, at times, by his penchant for fouling: one every 4.1 minutes last season).

Harrellson, 6-10, is the best shooter of the four: 20 for 59 on threes, but probably the worst defender. But here’s what intriguing: In four of the five games when he played at least 27 minutes for the Knicks, he produced 14 points and 12 boards; 11 and 7; 8 and 7; and 18 and 9.

The coaching staff likes the upside of the 6-11 Gladness; he’s a natural shot-blocker and less foul-prone than Pittman (one every 7.9 minutes).

The 6-9 Varnado, who spent the past two years in Italy and Israel after being drafted 41st by Miami in 2010, is the biggest long shot of the four but ranks as the NCAA’s all-time career leader in blocked shots (at Mississippi State) and one of two players in NCAA history (with David Robinson) to produce at least 1000 points, 1000 rebounds and 500 blocks.

“Harrellson can be exposed defensively, but he’s a better player than Gladness and more skilled,” an Eastern Conference scout said. “Gladness is athletic and long but has no offensive game. Harrellson can shoot it and plays his butt off.” That scout gives the edge to Pittman and Harrellson among the four.

### How deep the rotation goes: Besides the Big Three and Mario Chalmers, Ray Allen, Battier and Haslem will play, Joel Anthony likely will get limited minutes (unless Pittman or one of the other young centers outplays him), and Lewis will play unless he shows nothing in camp. That’s nine.

The conundrum for Erik Spoelstra is whether to regularly play Norris Cole or give those minutes to Mike Miller, with Allen or Wade as primary ball-handlers when Chalmers is out. That could depend partly on matchups. Though Miller avoided back surgery, his health bears watching. It’s difficult to envision much time for James Jones.

### Terrel Harris or Garrett Temple for the last perimeter spot (or possibly Nigerian national team member Chamberlain Oguchi, who has impressed the Heat but hadn't been offered a contract yet as of Tuesday evening):

Harris and Temple both went undrafted in 2009 and both must improve their shooting. Harris, 6-4, showed growth in summer league but shot 34.9 percent as a rookie. He spent the summer working on that and his ball handling.

"Can he handle the ball? Yes. Can he bring it up the court and enter us into an offensive set? Yes," Riley said earlier this offseason. "Can he be a point guard? That would be a stretch. But I would play him as a scoring point guard if I had to."

The 6-6 Temple, from LSU, has played 51 NBA games for five teams, averaging 3.8 points and shooting 37.9 percent.

“Close call,” the scout said of Harris/Temple. “Temple is an all-purpose guy who can play point guard. Harris is a little better athlete.”

CHATTER

### With the Dolphins auditioning veteran NFL cornerbacks Alphonso Smith, Aaron Berry and Morgan Trent on Tuesday (see our last post for details), this should trouble them: Of 100 qualifying cornerbacks ranked by Pro Football Focus, Richard Marshall is 78th and Nolan Carroll 89th. (Sean Smith is 43rd.)

Also troubling: Of the 21 passes thrown against Marshall this season, 14 had bad results (10 catches, for 140 yards plus four penalties). Of the 12 thrown against Carroll, seven had bad results (including five catches for 88 yards).

But if there’s any consolation, the Colts’ Vontae Davis has been worse (12 of 14 caught, for 165 yards).

### Reggie Bush said on the Paul and Young Ron Show on Big 105.9 FM that he feels no sympathy for the Jets losing Darrelle Revis for the year with a knee injury because "what goes around comes around. They talked all week about putting hot sauce [on me] and this and that and they ended up losing their best player." Bush says his injured knee is merely bruised and he's trying to do what it takes to play Sunday.

### So what’s the deal with two promising Dolphins and UM tight ends that have been nearly invisible? The Dolphins’ Charles Clay (16 catches for 233 yards last season) has just one for two this season. “Part of that is him; part of that is us putting him in position to make plays,” offensive coordinator Mike Sherman said.

Clay said Sherman’s preseason criticism of him on HBO’s Hard Knocks “was good; it got me refocused. I needed it.” But it hasn’t translated to production.

Asante Cleveland, UM’s first-team tight end for six months until Dyron Dye beat him out opening week, is now on the third team and has two catches for 12 yards. UM wanted 60 catches from tight ends; they’re on pace for 39. “We’ve got to get them the ball more,” Al Golden said.

### UM coaches expected receiver Robert Lockhart would contribute immediately, but he hasn’t even played. Why? Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch said he needs to “keep studying and play faster.”

### No, UM’s Tracy Howard (who has played 100 snaps in three games) is not in the doghouse. Golden said the ballyhooed freshman corner “has been great” and displayed a good attitude but didn’t play much against Georgia Tech because he wasn’t “ready for the triple option. It was hard enough having Deon Bush back there at safety. It's scary. The option is no place for freshmen.” Senior Brandon McGee said: “I let Tracy know you can’t freelance.”

### How much has UM’s conditioning improved (which was key in the Georgia Tech win)? In August 2011, 40 players failed Golden’s conditioning test. None did this year.

### One National League general manager said this week that the struggles of Ozzie Guillen (Marlins) and Bobby Valentine (Boston) reinforces it’s better to have a “steadier” manager who isn’t “larger than life” and looking for attention for himself… Though some Marlins people thought he should have gotten his veterans to play better, Guillen countered: “Hanley Ramirez hasn’t performed in five years.” (Actually, two years.) “And John Buck hit .210 last year, too.” (Actually, .227.)

 

Comments

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George

If I'm the Heat, I hold onto Pittman and Harrellson. Anyone watching Pittman understands he has all the tools to be at least an average center in the league. His issue is his fouling. That is so easily corrected with playing time and some experience. Give the guy a shot.

And, if anyone witnessed Harrellson throughout the season w/ the Knicks and the way he was ready to play vs. the Heat in the playoffs, you'll realize why I'm happy the Heat are giving him this opportunity. He's an excellent shooter and a very good rebounder. In the power rotation, that is the perfect combo. I thought defensively he was decent on pick and rolls (which, the Heat rely HEAVILY on) and overall he plays solid.

I expect Pittman and Harrellson to make the team and I expect Rashard Lewis to be the starting 4 or Haslem. Battier the entire season at that position seems too 'gimmicky' to actually work.

===

Thrilled with the way UM has looked. I think for the first time in a long time, UM has the athletes, players, AND mental capacity to do great things. Shannon always had great players but they were weak mentally and were divas. This team now understands that just because your a 5-star recruit, you aren't going to walk in and get the job. Great to see these guys really take a step forward and hopefully they keep up the good work.

Freddie

Agree on Pittman. Cole can play in the regular season for some minutes, but in the playoffs you really need only a three guard rotation of Wade, Rio, Allen.

BillyB

Ireland could go another 10 years without filling all their needs. Not enough acorns in the forest...

vaustn

Pittman has had a couple of years to prove...feels like beasley all over again. He doesn't seem to have the IQ needed. Hense all the fouling. you can learn to defend with out fouling. May be time to cut bait.
Heat is loyal - commend them for that, which makes them the best in the biz.

Joe

Yep the Fins have Clay but he s not showing up.Their secondary is weak but the entire NFL knows that.Holmes made the plays when he had to....to win the game...despite alot of chatter from Marshall....who obviously TALKS better than he PLAYS.Finally.......conspicuous from their absence are the good WR s that the Fins are lacking/missing.Still don t get that secondary / defensive players are being brought in but no one is out looking for a decent WR for Miami.What s that about????????NOT a single prospect available in the entire country??????Unbelievable....just unbelievable.Then go to Canada and find 1 of Cameron Wake s pals from up there.Geezzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Swampbilly

It's obvious John Buck is mal-coached. His problem as all non hitters is mental. This can be corrected within a hour. There is a reason why most catchers can not hit and it is all mental and very fixable.

sickandtired

our corners are probably the worst in the league. S. Smith peaked in his 4th ever pre-season game (anyone remember the 1 handed interception in the endzone against New orleans)yet carries himself like he is the second coming of D Revis. what a joke this team is. No need to run against our great d-line when you can pass all day.
Thanks Jeff for building us a team in 2012 that can neither pass the ball on offense nor stop the pass on defense. All this in an era where passing now dominates the game.

mike

Swampbilly, I love it when people like you say that hitting is all mental, and good coaching will greatly improve his hitting in an hour. Have you ever played a game of baseball above rec league, that is the most stupid statement I have ever heard. I played at a mid D-1 college, and was a pretty good hitter, I have never ever heard such ignorance in my life. Buck has only had one year where he batted above .250, he's a career .236 hitter. He is what his average says he is. No amount of coaching is going to make him a consistent .250 hitter, much less a good hitter. What ignorance, go yell at your kid when he plays rec. Amazing.

CANETILLIDIE...DH

""### How much has UM’s conditioning improved (which was key in the Georgia Tech win)? In August 2011, 40 players failed Golden’s conditioning test. None did this year.""

Thanks to Golden!!!! He proved what everyone was saying from the beginning but he did it with actions instead of words. All of our players were gassed when playing under candy randy in every 4th qtr of every game. Al Golden saw this and spoke to strength and conditioning coach Swasey about this and showed him his new plan. Swasey said along the lines "this is what we should be doing". Proves that candy randy really screwed up as a head coach. He didn't leave the players in the gym long enough to even get a work out and talked about "flying around" and "upper and lower extremities". Golden obviously took notice, since he's not blind, dumb, and ignorant. He let Swasey "beat the hell out of them" so to speak. Howard would have been proud. "NO WATER, BROKEN LEG? MOVE IT UP 10yds." THAT'S CANES FOOTBALL. 1pm game is a 7pt advantage. Don't fix what ain't broke. Once Butch was gone, Coker didn't have anyone telling him "where" to recruit so he freelanced around the country leaving the back gate open for everyone and anyone to walk right into the STATE OF MIAMI. Howard locked down everything from I-4 down for a reason, because it was a hot bed. Candy randy knew this so he recruited in the STATE OF MIAMI, though shunning many high schools which is never a good idea and never developed those he did recruit. See 2008/2009 class and where they are now. Golden has hit the pavement hard and hasn't stopped from DAY 1. Even high school coaches all agreed that with the previous regime (candy randy) there was little to no contact and now under Golden there's 100% communication across the board to every school in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Someone finally gets it. Thank you Golden for being our coach and CanesNation looks forward to many more years of State of Miami Football.


GO GOLDEN!!! GO CANES!!!

Diving Fins

Golden said the ballyhooed freshman corner “has been great” and displayed a good attitude but didn’t play much against Georgia Tech because he wasn’t “ready for the triple option. It was hard enough having Deon Bush back there at safety.Thanks for proving the information.

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