« February 4, 2013 | Main | February 6, 2013 »

2 posts from February 5, 2013

February 05, 2013

2 p.m. update: Mixed UM recruiting news; Big name rebuffed trying to buy Marlins; Heat, Fins

The Wednesday buzz is below, with some surprising Marlins news and more. First, a quick Wednesday morning UM recruiting update: Staten Island-based running back Augustus Edwards picked UM over FSU, lessening the blow of Alex Collins choosing Arkansas.... But Port St. Lucie defensive tackle Jaynard Bostwick chose UF over UM. That's a setback in the wake of junior college defensive tackle Terrell Brooks choosing Baylor over UM Tuesday night.... Another UM disappointment came at 9:15 Wednesday morning, when linebacker Matthew Thomas chose FSU.... Minutes later, Thomas' Booker T. Washington teammate, offensive tackle Denver Kirkland, chose Arkansas over FSU and UM.... But UM got good news when Oakland Park Northeast receiver Stacy Coley announced at 11:07 a.m. that he will be attending UM.... More good news came three hours later, when Miramar linebacker Jermaine Grace committed to Miami... But Keith Bryant's family said he will pick FSU, leaving UM without any of the defensive tackles it targeted the past couple weeks.

##########################################################################

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Owner Jeffrey Loria, in recent months, has rejected overtures from a half dozen people who expressed interest in buying the Marlins, including one of South Florida’s most famous residents: Former Florida governor Jeb Bush.

According to a source, Bush made a “large offer” to buy the team this offseason, but Loria told him he’s not selling. A second source said Bush had put together a group of wealthy investors, with Venezuelan media mogul Gustavo Cisneros among possibilities mentioned. Cisneros declined to discuss the Marlins in an e-mail.

Bush -- who was governor from 1999 to 2007 and now runs an education advocacy group, consults and gives speeches – refused to discuss the matter or confirm whether he would have been Marlins CEO and managing partner if Loria had agreed to sell. Managing partner was the title his brother, George W. Bush, held when he co-owned the Texas Rangers before he was elected President.

MLB rules would have allowed Jeb Bush to become Marlins managing partner even if he owned only a small percentage.

Loria, 72, theoretically would have more incentive to sell after 2014, when he no longer would need to share profits with Miami-Dade County. But a friend of Loria insists that barring a health problem or change of heart, he does not want to sell because he loves owning a team.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who has explored buying a baseball team, e-mailed that he hasn’t inquired about the Marlins and doesn’t plan to.

A longtime official in MLB’s offices said MLB always has hoped the Marlins would someday have an owner with deeper pockets than Loria.

CHATTER

### The good news on Chris Bosh: Nobody in the NBA (minimum 10 attempts) has shot nearly as well in the last five minutes of close games, with Bosh now an incredible 18 for 21 from the field. The bad news: Bosh already has 14 games with four or fewer rebounds, and just 15 in the last four. His rebound average has sunk to a career-low 7.1.

Bosh has a theory: “Guys I’m defending are a lot bigger than me and I’m putting myself in position to take them off the boards. And you aren’t in position to get the ball a lot when you’re doing that.”

### Puzzling: Players that Udonis Haslem is guarding are shooting 49.2 percent, which synergysports.com calls “poor” and far worse than throughout his career, including 35.6 last year. For perspective, this season opponents shoot 43.1 against Bosh, 36 against Joel Anthony and 35.1 against Shane Battier.

### Offensive tackle Denver Kirkland said UM coach Al Golden called to apologize for revoking his scholarship offer before reinstating it two days later and that he’s again considering UM, FSU and others, a Booker T. Washington official who spoke to him said Tuesday. He announces at 9:20 a.m. Wednesday.  

### Though UM hopes to add a few local stars on National Signing Day, UM entered Wednesday with as many players from Nigeria as Miami-Dade (Artie Burns, Jamal Carter).

“Miami could have used [University School defensive tackle and LSU commit] Maquedius Bain [and South Plantation running back and Arkansas-bound Alex Collins], but there was a big drop-off in local talent this year,” recruiting analyst Charles Fishbein said. “They got the two best defensive backs in Dade. And there’s a great local class in 2014” – led by Plantation American Heritage running back Sony Michel, who averaged 9.7 yards per carry.

### The most popular selling-apparel at AllCanes across from the UM campus? A green and orange shirt that says: National Communist Athletic Association… Overstepping their bounds and prosecuting the innocent since 1906.” The store has sold a couple hundred since November. UM is still awaiting an update from the NCAA.

### For more Tuesday night news from the UM/NCAA investigation, please see our last post.

DOLPHINS CHATTER

Besides the Dolphins’ glaring needs on offense – more speed, more talent at receiver, better play from Ryan Tannehill – a postseason study of Miami’s analytics reveals other more specific areas that must improve, and the Dolphins know it. Among them:

### Short-yardage offense. The Dolphins were 15 for 30 on third and one, much worse than two years ago, when Lousaka Polite routinely converted. Daniel Thomas gained six yards on seven carries on 3rd and 1 or 2.

### Besides craving a receiver with the speed to beat defenses deep, Miami will target players that also have the elusiveness to create more yards after catch on intermediate routes. Anthony Fasano’s 2.2 YAC average was worst among starting tight ends, 60th of 62 overall. Brian Hartline is a keeper, but his 3.4 YAC average was better than only four receivers that played even nearly as much.

Incidentally, the Colts’ T.Y. Hilton, whom Miami passed up to take Michael Egnew, had a 7.7 YAC average – fifth in the league – mostly from the long TD passes that were missing from Miami’s offense.

### The Dolphins don’t break enough tackles. Reggie Bush’s 2.1 yards after contact was fifth-worst among starting backs, and Thomas (2.3) wasn’t much better. Lamar Miller averaged a decent 2.7 after contact, and the Dolphins expect big things from him in 2013.

“Lamar shoots out of the cannon when he hits the hole,” Jeff Ireland told WINZ-940 this week, adding Miller can be a three-down back because he was “very good in pass protection.”

 

NCAA/UM update; UM still waiting on recruits; Marlins sign reliever; Lewis, Miller adjust

We'll post the Wednesday buzz later, but here's a quick UM and Marlins update, and our full story on three Heat players adjusting to playing far less than they're accustomed:

### Maria Elena Perez, Nevin Shapiro's attorney, expected to be paid for far more than out of pocket expenses when she took two depositions that would help the NCAA's case against Miami. She also wanted to be paid for her time to conduct those depos, more than a year ago, with Sean Allen and Michael Huyghue.

So how much was her time worth?

More than $20,000, according to a CBSSports.com report Tuesday evening. CBS says that's how much NCAA enforcement director Julie Roe Lach authorized to pay Perez to do something the NCAA had no legal power to do on its own.

That Perez/NCAA relationship angered NCAA President Mark Emmert, who hired an outside law firm two weeks ago to explore what the NCAA did improperly during its UM investigation. That investigation apparently is still ongoing. And UM won't get its notice of allegations until the investigation is complete.

Once it's complete, UM will push the NCAA for a setttlement, but Emmert's appetite for that remains to be seen. As we wrote last week, NCAA experts say Emmert likely couldn't unilaterally strike a settlement with UM without gaining the approval of two key NCAA boards - the executive committee and the board of directors. Both are made up of college presidents who may or may not be willing to allow UM and the NCAA to circumvent the usual enforcement process.

### UM hoped to get a commitment today from junior college defensive tackle Terrell Brooks, but he has delayed his decision, potentially until Wednesday.

His coach said he will choose between UM and Baylor. UM really needs Brooks if it doesn't get Keith Bryant or Jaynard Bostwick, who both have been considering Miami. UM hasn't given up on Bryant and Bostwick is a toss-up with UF, UM and Alabama.

### Running back Augustus Edwards, who UM badly wants, plans to announce at 7 a.m. Wednesday whether he will attend UM or FSU.

#########################################################

The Marlins found a set-up man for Steve Cishek Tuesday when they signed 6-11 right-hander Jon Rauch to a one-year, $1 million deal. Rauch has 62 career saves. He was 3-7 for the Mets last season and converted only four of eight save chances. Outfielder Bryan Peterson was designated for assignment.

#######################################################

Together, they have scored 28,232 points, drained 3707 three-pointers and hit a ton of big shots.

But on perhaps the deepest Heat team in history, Mike Miller, Rashard Lewis and James Jones are essentially 10th through 13th men --- center Joel Anthony is lumped in that group now, too -- reduced to spare parts on a roster rich in shooters.

Lewis and Miller are sharing the 10th spot in Erik Spoelstra’s 10-man rotation, with Lewis usually getting the nod in recent games until Spoelstra chose to play neither Monday night against Charlotte.

Jones has been nearly invisible all season, playing 73 minutes and scoring 23 points.

The three skilled shooters “are good soldiers and very professional, but they’re pissed,” Dwyane Wade said good-naturedly.

“They want to play. You want guys like that. You don’t want guys who are just happy to be along for the ride. They understand when they signed up there’s a possibility this might occur.”

None have complained and all have handled their roles with class. Miller’s minutes have taken the biggest hit, largely because of the addition of Ray Allen, Spoelstra’s faith in Shane Battier, and Spoelstra’s decision to begin using Lewis again.

Miller played in 35 of the Heat’s first 37 games but appeared in just three of the past eight.

"It’s tough, but it’s part of being on this team,” said Miller, who is averaging a career-low 3.7 points on 40.3 percent shooting. “Some nights, you get four minutes. Some nights, you get 18. It’s not easy but we’re all happy where we’re at.”

It would be very surprising if Miami does not use the amnesty clause on Miller next summer when the luxury tax becomes more punitive.

He’s due to earn $6.2 million in 2013-14 and will be paid in full even if he’s amnestied. Keeping him would cost the Heat more than $10 million in luxury tax payments, even beyond his salary.

Miller’s playoff success --- including the seven three-pointers in the NBA Finals-clinching Game 5 against Oklahoma City – suggests Spoelstra might use him more in the postseason.

“If I can come out of any game where Mike’s healthy and rested, that’s a positive for us,” Spoelstra said.

Lewis was in the Heat’s rotation for Miami’s first 11 games but wasn’t used for 17 of the next 23.

He resurfaced during the Heat’s West Coast trip, first out of necessity when Battier missed three games. Averaging 5.0 points on 49 percent shooting for the season, Lewis has played in nine of the Heat’s past 11 games, but just nine minutes over the past three.

“If we’re playing a little bit of a bigger team, it gives us a little more balance with that unit to [use] Rashard” instead of Miller, Spoelstra said.

When he signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with Miami last July, “Rashard knew what he was getting into,” Spoelstra said. “Those were long meetings we had with Rashard and Ray Allen during the summer about nothing being guaranteed. All had the option not to come here.”

Even when he wasn’t playing, Lewis said, “I had a feeling I would get called again. I just didn’t know when. You don’t want to complain about minutes. When you are on a good team, you have to sacrifice.”

Jones plays the least of the group, which he knew might happen. Jones, who has a $1.5 million player option for next season, did not want to uproot his family and move out of Miami, where he grew up. And he relishes being a part of this team.

“Only so many can play,” he said. “It’s not due to lack of talent. I’m an idealist. I guess I’m crazy, but I always feel I can overcome all obstacles. I know it’s tough to find minutes here. But I’m playing with the game’s best players and won a championship.”

He said some fans tell him he should be playing more, “and I enjoy the conversations because it shows people are interested.”

Wade said the veterans who are playing talk to the veterans who aren’t, trying to keep their spirits high. “When you have a team like this with so many different parts, everyone at some point is going to become frustrated with their role,” he said. “We all do a good job of keeping each other uplifted.”

### Spoelstra is pleased with Chris Andersen – “he will play until his tank is absolutely empty” – but said he is still working on conditioning. “Right now he is probably capable of eight minutes [at a time] at the pace he goes at,” Spoelstra said.

### By shooting 13 for 14, LeBron James (31 points) became the first player to miss no more than one field goal in a 30-point game since Dwight Howard went 11 for 11 in a game in February 2010.