« January 2013 | Main | March 2013 »

26 posts from February 2013

February 16, 2013

LeBron responds to Jordan; Canes notes; NFL draft talk; Marlins

Saturday morning quick hits:

### LeBron James could have simply ignored Michael Jordan’s suggestion that he would favor Kobe Bryant over LeBron because “five [rings] beats one every time I look at it.”

Instead, LeBron offered a reasonable response when asked about that Friday, and give him credit for answering the question honestly.

“Jordan said he would take Kobe over me because five rings are better than one. At the end of the day, rings don’t always define someone’s career,” James said at an NBA All-Star Game news conference in Houston. “If that’s the case, then I would sit up here and say I would take Bill Russell over Jordan. But I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t take Russell over Jordan. Russell has 11 rings, Jordan has six. 

“Jud Buechler had multiple rings; Charles Barkley doesn’t have one ring. He’s not better than Barkley. Patrick Ewing is one of the greatest of all time. Reggie Miller is one of the greatest of all time.” Neither Ewing nor Miller won NBA titles, of course.

### Magic Johnson also weighed in Friday, saying on Twitter: “If MJ and LeBron played one-on-one 10 times, MJ would win all 10. MJ is the ultimate 1 on 1 player.”

### An associate of Mario Cristobal pointed to a significant salary increase as one reason for his interest in the Alabama offensive line coaching job. Cristobal interviewed Friday.

### UM’s Julian Gamble, on the Hurricanes basketball team appearing in the first news block of SportsCenter, something that would have been unfathomable a year ago: “It’s cool, but we don’t want to let it go to our head. We don’t want to be arrogant.”

Said Reggie Johnson: “We continue to get better. That’s the scary part.”

### Gamble on Shane Larkin: “It’s incredible to see how much he’s grown. He never ceases to amaze. I don’t think anyone can guard him one-on-one.”

UM (11-0 in the ACC) plays at Clemson at 6 p.m. Sunday on ESPNU.

### A few points made by Todd McShay on ESPN’s draft conference call Friday: He said even if Matt Barkley had turned pro after his junior year, “I believe Ryan Tannehill was better. I just don’t see the exceptional skill set with Barkley. What does he do that’s special?”….

Though Mel Kiper has Miami taking Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson with the 12th pick, McShay said his Volunteers teammate, Justin Hunter, “is the much better receiver. But Patterson will get drafted earlier because he’s such a freak.”… McShay has Miami taking Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro at No. 12….

McShay said he believes Alabama guard Chance Warmack “is the best player in the draft. At 8, he’s worth the pick.”… Two potential second-round options at offensive tackle for Miami should Jake Long depart: FSU’s Menelik Watson and North Carolina’s Brennan Williams. The Dolphins pick 42nd and 54th in round two.

### Toronto shortstop Jose Reyes told ESPN this week that days before trading him, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria encouraged him to go ahead and buy a home in Miami. 

February 14, 2013

Cristobal, Alabama talk; Chatter on Marlins offense; Heat-Thunder postscripts; Canes, Fins notes

Quick Friday update: Mario Cristobal, UM's associate head coach and tight ends coach, has interviewed with Alabama for the vacant offensive line coaching job on Nick Saban's staff, according to a source. The story was first reported by InsideTheU.com and confirmed by a source.

Cristobal is one of several candidates who has spoken with Saban. Alabama reportedly was interested in South Carolina assistant Shawn Elliott, but Steve Spurrier said today that he's staying with the Gamecocks. UCF o-line coach Brent Key is also reportedly a candidate.

The Alabama o-line coaching position was previously held by former UM offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, who left recently to join Chip Kelly's staff with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Cristobal joined UM's staff on Jan. 10 after being fired as head coach at FIU. Cristobal was an offensive lineman at UM and previously was an assistant coach for the Hurricanes.

Cristobal declined to comment Friday evening. He has made Al Golden aware of the interview before it happened.



A longtime National League scout made a point about Giancarlo Stanton that we’ll be hearing a lot this season: “With what’s around him in that lineup, why would you pitch to him? He could lead the league in walks. This is really going to test his resolve.”

Marlins executive Larry Beinfest wonders, too: “I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was a concern. It’s something we’ve contemplated in the office. Do we have enough around him?”

Manager Mike Redmond leans toward hitting Stanton third, with Beinfest pointing to Logan Morrison and Justin Ruggiano (13 homers) as options behind him.

Hitting coach Tino Martinez has told Stanton he needs to be more patient and willing to take walks when pitchers pitch around him. Stanton closed last season hitting .290 with 37 homers, 86 RBI and 46 walks in 123 games.

Chatter on some Marlins position players, with full team workouts beginning Friday:

### One critical question is what the two aging ex-Phillies have left. With Juan Pierre in left and Placido Polanco at third, the Marlins will get less power from those traditional power positions than perhaps anyone in baseball: They combined for three homers in 2012.

Pierre, 35, can still hit --- .307 last year (though .190 in 63 at-bats against lefties), .376 away from Philadelphia and .282 with runners in scoring position, which would have been among the Marlins’ leaders. Plus, he had 37 steals.

“He’s like the same JP [of 2003],” Beinfest said, adding his bat speed hasn’t diminished and if does, “he’ll just bunt. He looks awesome.”

### Polanco, given a one-year, $2.75 million deal, said his troublesome back has healed, but at 37, there are concerns. He hit just .200 after the All-Star break (8 for 40) before the back sidelined him, and his .257 average was well below his career mark (.299).

The Marlins would be content if he plays five times a week, but Polanco said he is striving for more. “It seems like he’s always killed us, really a clutch hitter,” Beinfest said.

### The Marlins believe they have two possible starting third basemen on the cusp, with Derek Dietrich (who will start at Double A) generating more buzz than Zack Cox (Triple A). Dietrich has more power and comes off a better year.

### Morrison, unsure if he will be ready for the April 1 opener, had just five hits in his final 43 at-bats, closing at .230, before realizing he needed another knee procedure. Scouts thought he would pound right-handers, but he has hit .257, .249 and .236 in three seasons against them.

His power rose unexpectedly in 2011 (23 homers; one every 20 at bats), then dropped in 2012 (two homers, one every 120 at bats). “It’s way too soon to give up on him,” an NL general manager said. “He’s got a good swing, and he has shown he can hit for power.”

### Here’s the book on new starting shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria: “The glove is spectacular,” Beinfest said. “We had him rated as one of the top defensive shortstops in the minors. His body type is similar to Edgar Renteria’s. The bat is a little behind the glove, but he hit in the minors.”

He hit .312 at Triple A last year and .254 in the big-leagues, but .291 in his final 72 at-bats. He isn’t a patient hitter: four walks in 137 plate appearances.

### Washington’s Davey Johnson and Atlanta’s Fredi Gonzalez raved about catcher Rob Brantly, who aced his 100 at-bat audition, hitting .290. Redmond will work with him on defense, which must improve. He allowed 18 steals in 22 attempts.

### Owner Jeffrey Loria loves Donovan Solano (.295 in 93 games, .302 with runners on), and Solano said the Marlins told him he likely will start at second.

### Chris Coghlan, who has hit .237 the past three seasons after batting .321 as the 2009 Rookie of the Year, will try to earn a backup job in the infield or outfield.

His career “is still salvageable,” Beinfest said. “The Wes Helms pie-in-the-face thing [which caused a knee injury] really set him back.” Unlike Gorkys Hernandez, Coghlan is not out of minor-league options, so he could be sent down to start the season if he doesn't win a job.


### Packers receiver Greg Jennings, a potential Dolphins target in free agency, told NFL Network: “I wouldn’t mind that at all [signing with Miami]. The weather’s nice. They have an up and coming quarterback and a defense that’s pretty solid and some pieces on offense that are pretty solid.”

### Beyond Wednesday’s oral commitment from Class of 2014 Hialeah quarterback Alin Edouard – who got a call from Penn State Wednesday and whom his coach compares to Vince Young – the Hurricanes also have offered three other local quarterbacks: Class of 2014 players Treon Harris(Booker T. Washington) and Quinton Flowers (Jackson) and Class of 2015 left-hander Torrance Gibson of Plantation American Heritage.

Though Kevin Olsen has a good shot to be Stephen Morris’ multiyear successor starting in 2014, UM might add two local quarterbacks next year. “Flowers is a freak of an athlete, can throw 74 yards, and he and Harris are both high-level BCS guys,” analyst Larry Blustein said. Both like UM.

### UM baseball coach Jim Morris, whose team opens Friday, said he met three times with president Donna Shalala about the athletic director job (before it was filled by Blake James), “but I never thought I would be offered the job. It’s better for me to be the coach. It’s great Blake is A.D.”

Morris, who has taken UM to the College World Series 11 times in 19 seasons(most recently in 2008), said Shalala called him at 8 a.m. the day after UM was eliminated by Missouri State in the 2012 NCAA Tournament and expressed her full commitment to him.

### For those who have asked, UM has not and will not give any thought to self-imposing an NCAA Tournament ban in basketball this season. UM will release NCAA Tourney ticket info on Friday.


### A few Heat-Thunder postscripts from Miami's 110-100 win: Though LeBron James' streak of six consecutive games shooting at least 60 percent ended (barely), he scored at least 30 in his seventh game in a row --- just three short of his career high. And he joins Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor as the only players to enter the All-Star break with at least seven consecutive games scoring at least 30. Chamberlain was the last to do it, in 1962-63, before James matched that streak Thursday night. Amazing...

LeBron closed with 39 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists -- the first player this season to achieve those marks in all three categories in one game. He closed 14 for 24 from the field --- 58.3 percent, ending his streak of games shooting 60-plus percent. "All good things must come to an end," he said afterward, noting he was unaware that a long missed three late in the game put him below 60 percent....

He's now shooting an absurd 69 percent in his last seven games, including 51 for 61 in the paint and 14 for 26 on threes....

What's more, LeBron is now 13-3 all time against Kevin Durant....

LeBron is hardly the only one shooting brilliantly. Chris Bosh is 23 for 30 in the past two games after shooting 10 for 14 Thursday on a 20-point night. And he has double-doubles in three straight games, corraling 11, 11 and 12 rebounds in those contests. Good to see him snap out of his rebounding malaise....

The Heat is 9-1 since Erik Spoelstra held the team's last non-game day practice. That's not entirely a coincidence; players say the rest has kept them fresh for games...

How rare was it for Dwyane Wade to foul out? He has done it only seven times in 10 seasons, the most recent in March 2012.

### Whereas Ray Allen said he hasn’t decided whether to opt out of his Heat contract this summer, Rashard Lewis said he’s “pretty sure” he will not opt out of his two-year, $2.8 million deal. 

February 13, 2013

UM gets another quarterback; Golden on local recruiting; Kiper on Fins, draft

Some Wednesday night news:


### On a day UM received a written commitment from Class of 2013 running back Cornelius Elder, the Hurricanes also picked up an oral commitment from Class of 2014 quarterback Alin Edouard from Hialeah High.

His coach, Mark Berman, told me Edouard called Mario Cristobal to commit this evening, after receiving UM’s offer earlier today.

He also received offers from Mississippi, Louisiana Lafayette, FIU and Appalachian State and on Wednesday picked up offers Penn State and Boston College. Berman said UM offered him as a quarterback. "He reminds me of Vince Young, the way he can run," Berman said.

He had nine touchdowns and nine interceptions last season, threw for 926 yards and ran for 559.

See our last post for a lot more on Elder.

### Al Golden, asked on Dan Le Batard’s show today about those who say UM should sign more players from Florida than the five it did this month: “They’re absolutely right.”

Golden said he would have “loved” to find a quarterback in Florida but “we got Greg Olsen’s little brother, Kevin [from New Jersey] and I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

“We got the best J.C. tight end in the country [Beau Sandland], who just happens to be in L.A.” and Standish Dobard, a highly-regarded tight end from New Orleans.

“There aren’t many tight ends down here who signed Division 1 scholarships,” Golden said.

Overall, “we had six or seven Florida kids that de-committed from us. When you’re signing 16 kids and six or seven de-commit because of all this [NCAA] nonsense going on, that’s a tough number to recover from.”

### Any day now, the NCAA will release results of the external investigation into what it did improperly in the UM case. When Golden found out about that three weeks ago, “I was angry. I was bitter.”



Among highlights from Mel Kiper’s conference call today:

### He continues to advocate the Dolphins drafting Tennessee receiver Cordarrelle Patterson at No. 12, even though “he did not have dominating performances in a number of games.”

### He said there might be only two, maybe three first-round receivers (Patterson, Cal’s Keenan Allen and West Virginia’s Tavon Austin or Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton) but “you could see as many as six, seven go in the second or by early in the third round.”

Among them: Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins, West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey, Tennessee’s Justin Hunter, Baylor’s Terrance Williams, USC’s Robert Woods and Oregon State’s Markus Wheaton.

### He said UF defensive tackle Shariff Floyd “is skyrocketing up the board” and defensive tackle “is flat out loaded” in the draft.

### Kiper said Michigan quarterback and Deerfield Beach native Denard Robinson “looked raw” as a receiver at the Senior Bowl. “He could be a corner, a situational running back, a slot guy, a return man.

“If he runs a great 40, the second round is not out of the realm of possibility. I would rather take Robinson in the second than Pat White. White was a reach. He wasn’t used properly, because he didn’t want to be a receiver; he wanted to be a quarterback. Second or third round for Robinson.”

### Kiper has only two cornerbacks in the first round: Alabama’s Dee Milliner and Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks, who presumably will buy a vowel after he gets his first NFL contract.

### UF safety Matt Elam “is deserving of being in the late first round discussion.”

### He rates no quarterback in his personal top 25 and projects West Virginia’s Geno Smith and USC’s Matt Barkley will go between 20 and 32.

But “Todd McShay thinks Geno Smith goes in the top 10,” Kiper said. “North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon would not be a stretch if you took him in the late first round.”

### Kiper believes North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard, from St. Thomas Aquinas, could go in the third round: “He can catch the ball, can light up the scoreboard in a variety of ways.”



February 12, 2013

UM commit gets go-ahead to play two sports; Golden addresses signing; Braman, Dolphins battle

The Wednesday buzz column is below, but a quick Wednesday news item, updated with an Al Golden quote and a quote from the coach of UM's newest two-sport player:

UM made a surprise addition in two sports on Wednesday, landing four-star running back Cornelius Elder, who was ranked the No. 17 running back and 203rd-best player in the Class of 2013 by ESPN.

UM said he also will be permitted to join the basketball team, which was his desire. As a basketball player, he's ranked 35th among all point guards in the 2013 Class.

"It's a great marriage for us," UM coach Al Golden said on 790 The Ticket, after Elder signed his letter of intent. "We have a need at that position [running back]. Excellent speed, lateral quickness, change of direction.

"Corn was having trouble trying to decide between going Division 1 in football or playing Division I basketball. He will have an opportunity to walk on [in basketball] and play basketball for a Top 5 program. We're excited to get him in the fold."

The UM football team showed limited interest in Elder for months before making an offer Wednesday morning. He committed a few hours later, choosing UM over Ohio State, Georgia Tech, Mississippi, Auburn and Vanderbilt. 

Elder, the 18th player in this UM football recruiting class, tweeted that he has always been a Hurricanes fan. So he was thrilled when the Hurricanes finally made an offer a week after National Signing Day.

Though he can also play slot receiver and cornerback, Elder will play running back for UM - a position of need because of the graduation of Mike James and the precarious health situation of Eduardo Clements. Clements has been wearing a neck brace and his status is uncertain, Golden said last week.

Elder, listed at 5-10 and 170 pounds, will join Duke Johnson, Danny Dillard, Dallas Crawford, Clements and another newcomer (Augustus Edwards) as the top backs on UM's roster, and newcomer Ray Lewis III can play running back or defensive back. Maurice Hagens returns at fullback.

During his high school career in Tennessee, Elder produced 6351 yards and 84 touchdowns. He helped lead his team to three consecutive state titles and ran for 217 yards and three touchdowns in this past season's championship game. He was Tennessee's Mr. Football in 2011 and 2012.

He also led his basketball team to state titles as a sophomore and junior and is averaging 21 points per game this season.

Though UM hadn't been recruiting Elder in basketball, UM coaches like his game and he had several major basketball offers, including from Purdue.

"If anyone can do both sports, it's him," said Ricky Bowers, his football and basketball coach at Ensworth High in Nashville. "That's because of his skill level, speed, and competitive spirit. As a running back, he's fantastic in space, rare feet, great anticipation. As a basketball player, he has great explosion."

The UM basketball team has been searching for a point guard to back up Shane Larkin next season, and Elder likely will compete for that job.



Add this to the list of obstacles the Dolphins face in procuring public money to upgrade Sun Life Stadium: Norman Braman told me Tuesday he “will have a vigorous campaign” to try to defeat the Dolphins’ proposal that Miami-Dade residents will vote on, likely in early May.

“I’m going to do whatever I possibly can,” Braman, the former Philadelphia Eagles owner, said. “I will be spending my own money.”

Despite his efforts, Braman could not derail the Marlins’ ballpark --- which never went to a public vote at the ballot box –-- but successfully led a push to recall then-Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez after he supported both the Marlins’ stadium and increased property taxes.

Dolphins CEO Mike Dee said “we believe a decision by the voters will go our way.”

Meanwhile, Braman said Dee and Dolphins owner Stephen Ross came to his office last year and unsuccessfully tried to persuade him to change his position.

“I respect Steve. He’s a good person,” Braman said. “But the man is worth over $4 billion. He can afford to do it himself. It’s welfare for billionaires. The [proposed] roof [over the stands] has nothing to do with attracting Super Bowls; they’re playing outdoors in [New Jersey] next year. The vote is a gimmick.”

The Dolphins and NFL in tandem will pay for just over half of the $400 million cost --- with the NFL potentially matching Ross' contribution --- and the Dolphins might increase their offer, according to a team source who said the Dolphins will “get their message out” by running their own aggressive ad campaign. (And you thought political ads were over for a while after last November's election.)

Even before the referendum, the Dolphins must convince the tax-averse Florida Legislature to approve changing laws so they can get a state sales tax rebate and money from an increased hotel bed tax. And some legislators from Dade remain on the fence.

The referendum might help the Dolphins’ chances in Tallahassee, but the Legislature might not know the results of the referendum before it addresses the issue.

That’s because the county needs 60 days notice for a referendum, and it can’t be scheduled yet because the Dolphins and county must hammer out language of what’s precisely on the ballot. So the vote likely will happen in early May, after or around the time the Legislative session ends May 3.


### For those wondering whether UM sophomore point guard Shane Larkin might turn pro, Larkin told me Monday that “it’s pretty definite I’ll be back” next season. Larkin, who patterns his game “as close to Chris Paul’s as I can can,” said North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski sought him out to tell him he’s a “great player.”

### With five roster openings to fill for next basketball season, UM is recruiting players in Europe and is a finalist (with USF and South Carolina) for Demetrius Henry (the nation’s No. 14 center) and a finalist (with USF) for high-scoring three-star guard Niem Stevenson, Henry’s teammate at Faith Baptist Christian in Brandon, Fl. They're also a top contender for Virginia-based Junior Etou, the nation's No. 14 power forward.

But former Lakers coach Mike Brown’s son, point guard Elijah, chose Butler over UM and others. Recruits keep asking UM coaches about whether the Canes will face NCAA sanctions. But Jim Larranaga believes the team's exceptional play is going to help recruiting by the time April's signing period rolls around.

### Two prominent high school coaches – Central’s Telly Lockette and Oakland Park Northeast’s Donnell Bennett – appreciated that Al Golden interviewed them for the running back coach’s job and say there are no hard feelings after Golden instead promoted Hurlie Brown to the position.

“I wished it would have worked out – it’s my goal to coach in college,” Lockette said. "Al Golden said I have a bright future," Bennett said.

Both said they haven’t talked to Golden about replacing Brown as football operations coordinator.

### While UM struck out on defensive tackles in this recruiting class, analyst Larry Blustein said they have a good chance to land the top local one in next year's class: Hollywood Chaminade Madonna's Khari Clark.

### Cleveland has emerged as somewhat of a front-runner for former Ohio State and Portland center Greg Oden, who wants to resume his career at the start of next season after recovering from last year's fifth knee surgery. But his agent said contrary to a Monday report, the Heat is still very much in it and Oden will visit with Heat officials after the All-Star break.

### One subtle change helping the Heat’s offense: Erik Spoelstra is allowing Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole to get Miami into offense a lot more – instead of having LeBron James or Dwyane Wade do it.

Chalmers said that “gets LeBron is better positions to score,” and James appreciates it, too: “You don’t want to go into a game where you handle a lot. The minutes our point guards give us when we don’t have to handle as much helps us a lot.”

No joke: the Heat outscored Portland by 41 points with Chalmers in the game Tuesday but was outscored by 28 with Cole in the game. Both both struggled defending Portland's Damian Lillard (33 points).

### The headline stat from Tuesday's win was, of course, LeBron becoming the first player in NBA history to score at least 30 points and shoot at least 60 percent in six straight games. In fact, LeBron has shot 72 percent over that stretch, while averaging 30.8 points.

This isn't as impressive as that, but it's still pretty darn amazing: By outscoring Portland 18-5 after the game was tied at 99 with five minutes left, the Heat has now outscored opponents by an absurd 94 points in the final five minutes of games with a margin of five points or less (over 124 minutes).

### The Marlins haven’t pursued a trade for a center fielder because they’re comfortable with Justin Ruggiano as a stopgap and believe ace prospect Christian Yelich (.329, 12 homers, 48 RBI in Class A) could be in the majors by late 2013.

“It’s fun to watch him hit – he’s always in favorable counts,” Marlins executive Larry Beinfest said, calling Yelich and elite pitching prospect Jose Fernandez “spectacular.”

### When Fox’s Ken Rosenthal tweeted this winter that the Marlins “need a center fielder,” Ruggiano tweeted: “No we don’t. I got this.” Ruggiano explained: “I woke up at 7 and that’s the first thing I read! It seems people are forgetting what I did. I did a good job.”

### Beinfest, on Marlins fans’ pain: “I hear the frustration. It’s justified…. Fans don’t need to be patient. This is Major League Baseball. I know this guy and that guy are gone, but wait until you see this guy.”


February 11, 2013

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.


February 10, 2013

Pippen on LeBron/Jordan; James Coley on UM's offense; New incentive for Fins; Marlins


Scottie Pippen was sitting inside an AmericanAirlines Arena suite last week when he mentioned something he said 21 months ago that irked some Michael Jordan fans.

“I said LeBron James is probably going to be the best player to ever play the game at the end of his career, and everybody knocked me for it,” said Pippen, who teamed with Jordan to win six championships with the Bulls.

So now that James has won another MVP and his first championship, does Pippen feel vindicated?

“I don’t feel vindicated, but the numbers don’t lie,” he said. “They speak for themselves. No one can compare to [James]. He’s powerful, he’s strong, he’s big. He’s the most complete player the game has ever seen.”

Pippen, at the arena promoting Prime Joint Support Formula, was asked if James is now as good as Jordan ever was. “Physically,” Pippen said. “Mentally, Michael was more mature, not to take anything away from LeBron. Michael had four years of college under Dean Smith.

So a lot of what LeBron had to experience in the league, Michael experienced before he got there.”

But Pippen doesn’t like the James/Jordan comparison because “LeBron doesn’t play the same way. If you want to compare somebody to Michael, I would say Kobe Bryant. He’s got more that mentality.

“LeBron is a willing passer, plays more gracefully, bigger, easier. Michael was more flamboyant. There was more of a wow [element] of, ‘How did he do that?’ because people saw him being small doing all this stuff against giants. LeBron is a giant.”

At 28, James this season is shooting better (56.0 percent) than Jordan ever did in a single season (53.9). Jordan still owns the higher career scoring average (30.1 to 27.6), but James boasts superior career numbers in rebounds (7.2 to 6.2), assists (6.9 to 5.3) and three-point shooting. James, incidentally, will pass Jordan’s point total (32,292) in 5 1/2 seasons if he averages 27 a game.

“LeBron can guard the fastest guy on the floor and also has the size and strength to guard the biggest guy,” Pippen marveled. “Shaq would be the only guy he couldn’t guard and he ain’t in the league.”

### When the Big Three convened, some believed they could rival the Bulls’ dynasty. Even Jeff Van Gundy, who works Sunday’s Heat-Lakers game on ABC, predicted in 2010 that Miami would break Chicago’s single-season 72 win record.

So why hasn’t that happened? “I don’t think they’re that good,” Pippen said. “I’m not taking anything away from the Big Three, but I don’t think that team is that good. They’re one out of two.”

Though owner Micky Arison said a year ago that the luxury tax – which becomes more onerous in 2014 – won’t force him to break up the Big Three, it will affect the supporting cast.

Pippen said: “I don’t know that that group stays together” long enough to come close to the Bulls’ six titles. “LeBron may do it, but Dwyane Wade won’t last that long. Chris Bosh may get traded. You can’t compare them with [our Bulls] teams. You may be talking about [something like] the Pistons that won two championships.”

Couple final thoughts from Pippen: Contrary to Erik Spoelstra’s claims, he believes the Heat “is kind of bored. Championship teams normally don’t try to come back and set records. I don’t think there’s any concern.”

And he disagrees with Charles Barkley’s contention that Wade’s skills have diminished. “He’s still at the top of his game,” Pippen said. “Why should he have to kill himself to try to quiet his critics in the regular season? He’s coming off a championship. What does he have to prove?

“The media is going to always kill him, because if you aren’t playing up to LeBron’s level, you [allegedly] aren’t who you say you are or who you used to be. That’s the way I felt playing with Michael.”


Here’s what new UM offensive coordinator James Coley tells us he would like people to say about his UM offense in time: “Here’s a guy that creates explosive plays in the run game and passing game and is always seeking how to stretch the field, whether it’s horizontally or [vertically] and gets your guys in space where they can do damage.”

He will use a pro style offense with multiple formations and spread elements. “You are not handcuffing yourself into a two-back set all the time,” he said, adding he’s willing to use formations, at times, such as five receivers and an empty backfield, and isn’t opposed to occasionally lining up Duke Johnson at receiver to flummox defenses.

Tight end is a UM strength, and Coley said: “[If] you’ve got athletic tight ends” the key is “find the bad linebacker and exploit them.” Of emerging Clive Walford, Coley said: “The more he’s played, the better he’s gotten. I’m looking forward to start feeding him the rock.”

Coley, 39, helped craft the Seminoles’ game plan as offensive coordinator, but coach Jimbo Fisher called the plays. “It was time for me to go out and do my own thing,” said Coley, who called plays in 2006 for a talent-deficient FIU team. “Calling games is my passion. I want to try it on my own.” Besides Fisher, his other offensive mentors include Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan, both colleagues in his three seasons on the Dolphins’ staff.

### UM people believe Florida State and Arkansas were two schools that negative recruited against the Hurricanes, with FSU warning players that UM is going to be on NCAA probation, despite having no firm evidence. FSU was irritated about losing Coley to Miami, but UM believes FSU bad-mouthed UM last year, too.  


### The sense here has been that the Dolphins at least will try to make a big impact move in free agency, especially with Steve Ross telling friends he expects to spend a lot of money. But there is even more incentive now, with the Dolphins taking their stadium financing plan to a vote of Miami-Dade County voters, likely in late March or April.

What better way to excite your fan base than signing a marquee player (Mike Wallace, Greg Jennings, etc.)? Of course, some fans excited by the signing of a neon name will still oppose public financing, and the Dolphins face an uphill climb getting voter approval. But there is now even more incentive for the Dolphins to make a big free agent splash.

### Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland predicted last week defensive end Olivier Vernon is “going to get much, much better” – he had 2 ½ sacks in the first six games, just one in the last 10 ---  and Cameron Wake said he will spend time this offseason teaching Vernon more pass-rush moves.

“This is a big offseason for him, and that’s an understatement,” Wake said.

###  Some Dolphins free agents are frustrated Ireland has made unappealing contract offers or none at all. But he often waits until the NFL Combine in late February to get serious. Players can sign with other teams starting March 12.... The Dolphins say they won't raise prices for season tickets or individual game tickets.

### Marlins camp opens Monday, but Logan Morrison hasn’t been cleared to run off knee surgery and said he won’t know for awhile if he will be ready for opening day April 1. “We will go as far as I go,” he said, knowing he must “help” Giancarlo Stanton offensively. Moving from left field to first base “will help my knee.”

### Juan Pierre said he was 15 minutes from signing with Houston before the Marlins called this winter and offered $1.6 million. Returning here “was a no-brainer,” he said. “It’s a special place. I met my wife when I was with the Marlins.” (She worked in the team’s marketing department.)  “Juan Pierre and Tony Gwynn had the best work habits of any players I ever managed,” Jack McKeon said last week.



February 09, 2013

Dolphins' new stadium approach; Marlins president addresses state of franchise

We'll post the Sunday buzz column on Sunday morning, but here's an update on two Saturday developments:

### Please see our story on the Dolphins' new plan (with the county) to hold a referendum for Miami-Dade residents to vote on the upgrades to Sun Life Stadium, including the building of a canopy to cover the stands, but not the field. It will be announced Monday.

If the voters approve it -- and the Dolphins have an uphill climb here -- that would give the county's local Legislative delegation the impetus to push the issue in Tallahassee. At the moment, the county's local delegation lacks that motivation. Even if voters support the plan, approval from the state House and Senate are required for this plan to go forward. They would need to approve changing a law that would allow the county to increase the hotel tax rate to fund the renovations.

So there's a long way to go for the Dolphins to get the money they're seeking. Expect Steve Ross to increase his contribution beyond $200 million. And actually, the NFL likely will cover as much as half of the Dolphins' contribution.

Also expect the Dolphins to launch an advertising campaign to try to convince you why Dade county residents should support an increased tourist tax to pay for this.

The Dolphins and county hope to schedule the referendum in late March or April. They want the financing plan approved before the NFL awards Super Bowls 50 and 51 on May 22.


After imposing a gag order on president David Samson, owner Jeffrey Loria has changed his mind and decided to allow Samson to speak publicly again.

And Samson addressed several issues Saturday at the event formerly known as Marlins Fanfest:

### Samson said owner Jeffrey Loria is “not selling” the team. That assuredly will disappoint a fan who attended Saturday wearing a shirt saying the Marlins “need a new owner.” And another who came wearing Blue Jays attire to honor the traded Marlins (Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes).

### He said tickets sold last year were “drastically” below projections and “that’s why the payroll is where the payroll is” – at around $40 million, lowest in baseball.

### Will the Marlins go back to having crowds similar to the dismal weeknight turnouts at Sun Life Stadium? “I don’t know. I certainly hope not."

### On what future payrolls might look like, he said: “It always depends on revenue. We want to be a responsible team. We got away from that, and we’re back to it. We’re trying to fill this ballpark. We’re in the top seven in marketing budget still. Our signing bonus budget is three times the highest in franchise history. It’s also a function of losing, because we have such a high pick.”

### He said season ticket sales are down but wouldn’t say to what extent. “We’re in a different neighborhood this year, which we projected prior to November. And we’re exactly where our guys said we were going to be."

The Marlins said their season-ticket renewal rate before and after the Toronto trades are essentially the same.

“That’s something we have to address,” Samson said. “We have to address how to get people here. We have a ton of ticket deals. Our games are like a hotel. If you go to the desk and pay [the posted] rate, you’re not paying attention. We have discounts opening night and every game. It’s affordable. There are no parking problems. It’s easy in, easy out.”

Are the Marlins having trouble selling out their first home game?  “Absolutely.”

### On fan frustration: “People were disappointed last year and they showed it. The second half of the season, this park was not full to put it generously. People are disappointed because of payroll. If we traded every player and then signed other players making the same money, that would be totally different.

“But that’s not the situation we find ourselves in, and I’m not sure that’s the right way to do it. Larry Beinfest and Michael Hill are really excited about the players we have, and the players coming through the system.

“Free agent signings have not been our forte. They really haven’t. Go back to the beginning of time. Without getting in trouble with the union, there is an argument to be made that if you went through all free agent signings, it’s hard to make a good one. "

(But Pudge Rodriguez was great, and Reyes and Buehrle played well, though they would have been a big drain in a few years when their back-loaded contracts call for salaries of $22 million and $21 million annually.)

### Pressed about fans being angry, he said: “I get it, I do. It’s very unfortunate it came to that. It was the wrong mix at the wrong time. Everything from the beginning of April on portended what was coming. I acknowledge the frustration everyone has. When Josh Johnson threw strike one April 4, that was the highlight. It went downhill from there.

“It’s time to start over. We expect to see progress of young players and win more games than last year. The general aura around our club is very good. Our aura last year was challenged to say the least.”

### He said despite the negative comments people post on blogs or newspaper stories, “I had nothing but pleasant interactions with fans” Saturday.

### Though he maintain he isn't angry, Samson said Saturday that he doesn’t agree with the Dolphins discussing the Marlins' ballpark funding plan, with a negative tone, in their bid for public financing to upgrade Sun Life Stadium because “I think we’re all in it together. We’re not competing against the Dolphins.”

The Dolphins have tried to distance themselves from the Marlins’ ballpark deal, and owner Stephen Ross has said the Dolphins are offering a better stadium deal than the Marlins did.

Asked if the Dolphins’ criticism of the Marlins deal bothered him, Samson said, “Yes. There are so many things that are being said that are incorrect factually that it’s staggering to me. I don’t believe it’s [Dolphins CEO] Mike Dee, because... I don’t believe he would do that. Do I believe there are other people lobbying for that renovation who would perpetuate complete mistruths who were unable to get our deal done or be hired by us to get a deal done? I do believe that.”

Samson said unlike the Dolphins’ proposal, “the Marlins did not have one cent of tax increase, and there wasn’t any money from the general revenue. The sales tax rebate in Tallahassee they’re seeking is straight general revenue. That is money that can be used for social services. Just say it. I hope they get it. I think Sun Life should be renovated."

### He said: "We’ve been approached to do lots of soccer, exhibition baseball games, football games. We’d love to have football and soccer games. The ballpark is being used every day. It’s been much greater [than expected].”  

### Samson said “the field last year was horrific” and so the Marlins are trying a new kind of sod, one the Atlanta Braves use.


February 07, 2013

UM names A.D.; UM starter on suspension; UM roster shuffling; Barkley on Heat; Fins, Marlins chatter

Quick Friday morning update: The interim title has been removed, and Blake James is now UM's permanent athletic director. He has impressed president Donna Shalala with his handling of several matters since Shawn Eichorst left for Nebraska in September.


Beyond adding 16 players on National Signing Day, a few other roster moves are playing out at UM, with one key player suspended and three changing positions.

Linebacker Eddie Johnson is “suspended indefinitely” for an accumulation of undisclosed issues, coach Al Golden told me. Asked if he would play for the team in 2013, Golden said he is “hopeful” but preferred not to discuss it further.

Johnson needs to starting behaving maturely, because UM needs his speed and skill set, especially after parting ways with Gionni Paul and losing senior Ramon Buchanan.

Johnson – who was fourth on UM’s defense with 59 tackles, including a team-high 7.5 for loss, plus three forced fumbles -- was left home for the Virginia and Duke games last November for violating team rules, prompting Golden to say at the time: “I’m disappointed he’s not doing the things he needs to do.” Tardiness was believed to be an issue.

Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio, asked in general about players who had missteps, said: “We can’t have immaturity. We can’t have guys going into their second and third year not acting and not playing like veterans.”

If Johnson gets his act together, he presumably would continue to start along with linebackers Denzel Perryman and Jimmy Gaines. But D’Onofrio also is excited about Raphael Kirby and believes Devante Bond, who had 17 sacks in junior college last season, is ready to play.  

Tyrone Cornelius, Gabe Terry, freshman Jermaine Grace and others offer depth.

Meanwhile, Golden told me three players are changing positions: Tight ends Dyron Dye and David Perry have moved to defensive end, an area that needed depth. And defensive end Jake O’Donnell, who redshirted, is shifting to tight end.

Dye, a former defensive end, started eight games at tight end in 2012, but the Canes believe they have enough at the position, led by Clive Walford (234 receiving yards in UM’s final two games), Asante Cleveland and two newcomers -- Beau Sandland (the No. 1 rated junior college tight end) and Standish Dobard.

### As for other possible roster moves, Golden told WQAM's Joe Rose on Thursday: "There could be a JC kid still available. There could be a transfer or two."

### Here were some signing day comparisons made by UM coaches: Mario Cristobal compared Sandland to Jeremy Shockey; Micheal Barrow called Grace “a combination of Sean Spence and Denzel Perryman” and running backs coach Terry Richardson (who left for the same job with the Jacksonville Jaguars) likened running back Augustus Edwards to Eddie George.

### Oakland Park Northeast's Donnell Bennett, the former Canes running back, is a possibility to replace Richardson, and Canesport.com reported Miami Central coach Telly Lockette also is a candidate, with both interviewing Friday.

### UM was surprised it didn’t get FSU-bound linebacker Matthew Thomas; some assistants were left with the impression he would pick Miami. Meanwhile, receivers coach Brennan Carroll revealed that UM-bound Stacy Coley told UM at one point that he expected to attend FSU. “Terry Richardson and Al Golden flipped the kid!” Carroll said.

### Former UM offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland left Alabama to join Chip Kelly's Philadelphia Eagles staff as o-line coach.

### Whereas Brandon McGee and Mike James on Thursday were invited to the NFL Combine in two weeks, former Cane Ray-Ray Armstrong - once billed as potential first-round pick by ESPN - was not even invited. Armstrong did not play this past season but his father said he's working with one of Tom Brady's former trainers. Two FIU players were invited to the Combine -- Jonathan Cyprien and Tourek Williams.



### TNT’s Charles Barkley said on a conference call Thursday that simply adding Chris Andersen won’t be enough for the Heat. “They need another big guy to repeat,” Barkley insisted. “They need a big guy for this year but also the future. What LeBron James is able to do on a nightly basis to cover up all their flaws is remarkable.”

But the Heat wants to get an extended look at Andersen, who has impressed, before deciding whether it needs any more help. “They’re a very small team and it’s too difficult to win multiple championships when you can’t out rebound teams,” TNT’s Kenny Smith said.

### As much as Reggie Bush would love to stay with the Dolphins, they still hadn’t made him an offer as of midweek…. Impending free agent Chris Clemons said if the Dolphins keep him and 2014 free agent Reshad Jones together longterm --- and Miami wants to keep both -- "we can be the best safety tandem in the NFL." Among all NFL safeties, Clemons allowed the lowest percentage of passes in his coverage area to be completed for first downs or touchdowns, according to ProFootballFocus. Jones was fifth.... Among 57 big cities, only Los Angeles had a worse TV rating for the Super Bowl than Miami-Fort Lauderdale.

### One upshot of the Marlins’ depressing offseason: “Our minor league system is a lot better than it was a year ago,” executive Larry Beinfest said, with the Marlins placing six players among MLB.com’s top 100 prospects: pitchers Jose Fernandez (7), Justin Nicolino (72) and Andrew Heaney (82), outfielders Christian Yelich (13) and Jake Marisnick (70) and shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (82), the only one of the six expected to open the season in the majors.

Beinfest said the Marlins’ minor league system “was a little unfairly criticized” before the Toronto trade, which netted Nicolino, Marisnick and Hechavarria, among others: “We have players that maybe don’t get the love some other players get, like [outfielder] Marcell Ozuna, who led the Florida State League in home runs.”

And Beinfest said Double A prospect Derek Dietrich, acquired from Tampa for Yunel Escobar, “could be our future third baseman. We love him.”


February 06, 2013

UM loses coach; postscripts from Canes recruiting, Heat

Quick Thursday afternoon update: Running backs coach Terry Richardson officially has left UM to take the same job with the Jacksonville Jaguars.  It will be interesting to see if UM speaks to Don Soldinger or Oakland Park Northeast's Donnell Bennett, the former Canes back. Soldinger would love to return.


A dozen Hurricanes and Heat notes:

### The final rating for UM’s class varied widely, depending on who was doing the ranking.

UM’s class was rated 17th by 247Sports; 21st by ESPN; and 44th by Rivals.com.

Despite missing out on linebacker Matthew Thomas and three defensive tackles, “It’s a class that’s done a nice job of addressing many needs at many positions,” ESPN’s Tom Luginbill said.

By the way, Alex Collins told NBC 6's Joe Rose tonight: "I'm staying with Arkansas" even though his mother wants him to go to UM and took his letter of intent without signing it.

### Puzzling quote of the day --- Keith Bryant, in picking FSU, said: “It’s important for me to stay home because I have a one-year-old daughter.” Earth to Keith: Coral Gables is a lot closer to Delray Beach than Tallahassee. Somebody buy the young man a map.

### UM self-imposed five to six scholarships to help mitigate NCAA sanctions.

### Though UM would have liked to get Denver Kirkland, a source said he seemed disinterested and aloof during his initial visit, which left UM with the impression he was never all that serious about going there.

UM lost no sleep over not getting Kirkland. What disappointed them was not snagging Thomas (who said he rated both FSU and USC ahead of Miami) and a d-tackle among Jaynard Bostwick, Bryant and Terrell Brooks. Curtis Porter better stay healthy next season.

### Though running backs coach Terry Richardson told me earlier today he’s not sure if he will stay at UM or take the same job with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jaguars and UM people expect him to take the job and reunite with Jaguars and former Canes offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch.

Don Soldinger would love to work at UM again and would be a good choice. But Al Golden didn't pursue him the first time around.

### Five of UM’s 16 signings already are enrolled: tight ends Beau Sandland and Standish Dobard, linebacker Alex Figueroa and offensive linemen Hunter Knighton and Sunny Odogwu.

Micheal Barrow said Figueroa, who also was targeted by Virginia Tech and Virginia after not playing last season due to injury, “is the type of linebacker Miami was built on – under the radar, not a four-star guy. The common denominator is they have speed and toughness. [Defensive backs coach] Paul Williams did a good job identifying him.”

### Several readers have asked whether UM’s academic standards have cost the Canes any recruits. Golden gave an unequivocal no when I asked him that today.

### Golden, on his decision to hire Mario Cristobal last month: “He’s got a poise about him, a wisdom to see things like a head coach.”

### UM set its spring game for April 13 at Sun Life Stadium.

### Odd to see Ray Allen in such a shooting slump: 1 for 8 Wednesday, 3 for his last 22. Even odder to see Allen not play in the last couple minutes of a close game. He had played in nearly every “clutch minute” before Wednesday.

In Wednesday's win against Houston, the Heat was outscored by 11 in Allen’s 21 minutes, Miami's worst plus/minus of the night.

### Udonis Haslem (season-high 13 rebounds) and Mario Chalmers each drew key charges in the final 46 seconds, both with the Heat nursing a three-point lead.

Haslem was on the floor late because Chris Bosh missed the game with flu-like symptoms. How unusual has it been this season for Haslem to play with the game on the line?

Consider: The Heat has played 116 “clutch” minutes as defined by the NBA – a margin of five or less in the final five minutes.

Haslem had played only 8 of those, Chalmers 41 before Wednesday. Both justified being on the floor during crunch time tonight.

### Wade (31 points) “took it upon myself to be more aggressive” with Bosh out. As for James (32 points), he has now shot an absurd 53 for 83 in his last six games, including 8 for 15 on threes.


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.



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.


### 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.


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.”