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Monday night quick hits: UM hoops, Heat, football

Some Heat and football quick hits, and feedback on UM being rated No. 3 in the AP poll – its highest men's basketball ranking ever – behind only Indiana and Duke:

### Dick Vitale said UM actually should be No. 2, behind only Indiana, considering it thrashed Duke. ESPN analyst and former Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said a strong case could be made for Miami to be No. 1. Jay Bilas says simply: “Miami is damn good.”

### Center Reggie Johnson: “I never really thought Miami could be a top 10 program. I didn’t think we’d be here in February. It does feel strange Duke is still ahead of our team. I feel if the polls were really legit, we should be ranked in front of them.”

Forward Julian Gamble said: “The target on our back is bigger than it was” now. “Being No. 3 is kind of surreal.”

Said forward Kenny Kadji: “It’s kind of mind-boggling we’re No. 3 in the nation. It’s not Miami football. It’s Miami basketball! It’s something people will talk about years and year after this.”

### Jim Larranaga said it “was heartwarming to me” when Heat fans cheered him when he was shown on the overhead scoreboard during a timeout in the Heat-Lakers game. “I was surprised how many people came up to me. But I went to Publix and nobody knew me.”

 ### UM is recruiting a bunch of players to fill five remaining roster openings for next season, and when Larranaga texted them with news of Miami’s CBS.com ranking (fourth), “I heard back from all our recruits by 9 a.m."

UM is a finalist for Brandon (Fla.) based four-star recruit Demetrius Henry, rated the nation's No. 14 center. South Carolina and USF are the other finalists.

### Despite the 11-game winning streak, “I’m going to be on them very hard today,” Larranaga said before Monday’s practice. “There are a number of areas that need attention, areas that need to improve dramatically. We’re 280th in offensive rebounding efficiency. That needs to be improved dramatically.”

### The Dolphins are expected to pursue Pittsburgh free agent receiver Mike Wallace, among others, if he hits the market as expected, and CBS’ Jason LaCanfora reported Monday that “many” in the Steelers organization believe he might sign with the Browns.

### Dennis Erickson, who won two national titles at UM, joined the University of Utah on Monday as co offensive-coordinator. Erickson, 65, has been out of coaching since Arizona State fired him in 2011.

### Nobody was more effusive about LeBron James and Dwyane Wade after the Lakers game than Kobe Bryant, who seemed almost relieved to answer questions about LeBron instead of talking more about Dwight Howard.

"LeBron has figured out his game – what he wants it to be, how he can use his size and post up,” Bryant said. “He’s a little more focused than when he was younger. At this stage, he starts to value each year. He’s a fantastic passer.

“At his size, he can look over the defense like Magic Johnson could. The thing he’s added is the ability to square up and shoot. They have two very special players – two of the best we’ve seen.”

Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said: “LeBron has no weakness. He is about as good as you can get.”

### Encouraging to see how Mario Chalmers outplayed Chris Paul on Friday and narrowly outplayed Steve Nash on Sunday. But even beyond the 18 and 13 points in those games, this is significant: Chalmers has 24 assists, just three turnovers, in his past seven games. And Shane Battier has shaken out of a prolonged shooting slump, hitting 19 of his past 35 shots from the field.

           

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