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The under-the-radar keys to UM's tourney team; Fins, Canes football, Heat chatter

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

As UM embarks on its NCAA Tournament adventure Friday, you hear four names, deservedly so, credited most: Jim Larranaga, Shane Larkin, Durand Scott and Kenny Kadji. You hear about slumping Reggie Johnson. But others, inside and outside the UM family, also deserve acknowledgement to varying degrees, players say.

That group includes a role player that everyone with the program vastly underestimated, an ex-Kangaroo, one of the Heat’s Big Three, a former NCAA Tournament MVP, the former head coach and a key staffer who recently left for Arizona State.  

Giving credit where it’s due:

### Start with quintessential role players Julian Gamble and Trey McKinney-Jones, roommates who have watched more than 100 movies together when they’re not working on their games.

“Those guys don’t have huge egos,” Larranaga said Monday. “They’re not all about me, me, me. They’re more: What can I do to help? They listen a lot more than other guys.”

Gamble’s defense, toughness and overall production (6.6 points, 4.9 rebounds) have been invaluable. Frankly, UM coaches never saw this coming from a player who averaged no more than four points or four rebounds in his first three seasons and missed last season with a torn ACL – an injury he now says “was the best thing that happened to me” because “it made me so much stronger as a player and person.”

Said Kadji: “When I came here, Julian was a decent player, but we never expected THIS. Soon [after] he went in the starting lineup, that’s when we went on our 14-game streak. With his effort, he just elevates everyone’s game during practice and games. He doesn’t get tired.”

Once largely anonymous, Gamble has heard ESPN’s Dick Vitale and Seth Greenberg call him UM’s “unsung hero” and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski call him “the most underrated player in the ACC.”

North Carolina coach Roy Williams approached Gamble after Sunday’s game and said, as Gamble recalled: “I am really proud of you. You’ve gone through a lot. To be here and come out on top the way you have, it really says a lot about you. You’re an inspiration to a lot of people.’”

Among other ACC schools, only North Carolina State made him an offer. “Never had interest from Duke or Wake Forest,” the Durham, N.C. native said. “It was a little bit of motivation. I pride myself on being an enforcer, protecting the rim and being relentless.”

McKinney Jones, who picked UM over Wisconsin when he decided to transfer from Missouri-Kansas City three years ago, forged his signature Hurricanes moment Sunday with 20 points. Beyond his three-point shooting, Krzyzewski has raved about his physical defense on the perimeter.

He went under-the-radar out of high school because he focused on track, twice winning the Wisconsin state championship in the triple jump.

“You look at the last five minutes of games – his shooting percentages and what he’s been able to contribute have been amazing,” Larranaga said. “He’s one of those steady Eddie types, doesn’t seek attention.”

### Heat center Chris Bosh and former Arizona guard Miles Simon: Johnson credits Bosh and Simon (the 1997 NCAA Tournament MVP) for giving players the jolt they needed, with summer speeches that still resonate.

Bosh’s was delivered in 2011, and Larranaga calls it “the best five-minute talk I’ve ever heard.” Bosh was playing in a pickup game with UM players, “and I remember guarding him and thinking I did so well,” Kadji said last week.

“But we then had a meeting in the weight room, the whole team, and Bosh just called us out. Told us we didn’t play hard. He felt like we couldn’t improve because our team wasn’t playing hard at all. I took it personally, because I was guarding him. That was a wake-up call.”

Larranaga said Bosh “talked about how disappointed he was that he didn't play better” in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against Dallas, and said, 'You can't compete at the highest level of college basketball with the effort that you're giving.' It was just music to my ears because that was the message we were trying to deliver."

Bosh appreciates that players mentioned that speech in recent weeks: “I am just happy to see them successful.”

Bosh’s memory of that day? “A 36-year-old man with a belly who didn’t play college basketball was working out with us, and he got an offensive rebound and put back. There was no way he was supposed to do that. Please!

“I felt they needed to be more competitive. I didn’t want them to have that feeling of regret when you don’t work as hard as you could and come up short. I told them that. I said, ‘If you want to take a day off, don’t.”

As for Simon – whose NBA career totaled just five games – he told UM players last summer that they weren’t tough enough. “That stuck with us,” Johnson said. “He told Durand and me and we took that to heart. We got the guys together and stayed in town during the summer to work out in the weight room. Now, I feel we’re one of the most physical teams.”

### There are others who deserve mention, too: Guard Rion Brown… Assistant coaches Chris Caputo, Eric Konkol and Michael Huger, who have been key in player development… Former strength and conditioning coach Jim Krumpos – whom Kadji called the under-the-radar person most worthy of credit for UM’s season – before he left for Arizona State last month. “He did an unbelievable job with us – we really look like grown men now,” Kadji said. “I lost 22 pounds, Julian [16 pounds].” His successor, Sean Muldoon, has carried on his program….

And finally, give some credit to Missouri and former UM coach Frank Haith, who left behind the nucleus of this team two years ago, excluding Larkin. “I love those guys and am very happy for them,” Haith texted. “Jim has done a tremendous job with them. Pulling hard for The U.”

CHATTER

### Besides looking at Sebastian Vollmer, Eric Winston and other tackles (including considering a trade for Kansas City's Branden Albert), the Dolphins also are open to upgrading at right guard, and Jets free agent Brandon Moore (ranked fourth among all guards by Pro Football Focus) is on their radar, along with Bears free agent Lance Louis. Joe Philbin said incumbent right guard John Jerry “has to do a better job of staying on his feet" and managing his weight.

(Wednesday morning update: Winston is visiting the Dolphins today.)

### Quick hits from Philbin: He said Daniel Thomas has to “play more consistently, eliminate the fumbles and mental errors”; is “excited” about safety Kelcie McCray, who missed all last year with a foot injury after impressing in minicamps; loves new receiver Brandon Gibson ("runs routes effectively,... moves the chains" and “played a little bigger than he is" at 6-0"); and said cornerback Dmitri Patterson is “athletic and fairly instinctive” but needs to evaluate him more. Patterson could end up starting.

### Jets coach Rex Ryan said of the Dolphins on Tuesday: "No question, they've added a lot of talent to their team. I'm kind of happy to see Jake Long leave, though." He isn't pleased about losing Dustin Keller to Miami: "If Dustin's healthy, he's a weapon. He's got wide receiver skills in a tight end's body.".... The 49ers signed former Dolphins receiver Marlon Moore on Tuesday.

### UM’s Duke Johnson has added seven pounds (to 192) and Al Golden said Tuesday: “We have to increase his touches." But "you have to be careful because you can overload him with the skill set he has.” Johnson averaged 11.5 carries and 16 touches per game last season.

### For more Dolphins and Canes notes from Tuesday evening, please see our last post.

### One official with another team said the Heat expressed frustration with Mario Chalmers’ inconsistency earlier this season, but that has changed. He has been very good during this win streak (79 assists, 33 turnovers). And this shows his value: Not only is Miami 17-1 when he scores in double figures, but he is shooting 46 percent in Heat wins, 29 percent in losses. 

Comments

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notacane

The Gators will go further than Miami and Miami will be back in cellar next year.

Ed

they better get a better backup running back than daniel thomas. if lamar gets hurt, theyre screwed.

Deja vU []_[]

Enjoy it while U can U once in a 4-score Wonders (that's 80 years U dopes, ie- Forever). After U nUbies crash n burn and get booted from the Dance it'll be back to 2k crowds and mediocrity for U as U have ZERO talent on the Bench to replace 5 Seniors and absolutely NOBODY commited or signed as recruits to come in and help... Visit the Penthouse, back to the oUthoUse.

UMcanes

Hey, NOTACANE: Maybe so...UM is losing all of our players, but you're problem is even worse because you're a STINKIN' GAYTURD FAN, and GAYTURD FANS are low-life skank burgers from hillbilly country.

Now be gone, you BIG GIRL....your stinkin' Gayturds couldn't win their conference, you lost to Kentucky, the same Kentucky who lost to ROBERT MORRIS UNIVERSITY last night, you dumb ASS CLOWN!

This is UM COUNTRY - so get lost, GAYTURD SKANK!

jmike

ED,no they're not, if Thomas stays healthy he's a pretty good back. I bet you didn't know that he ran for 300 yards that 1st 3 games he played.His problem is staying on the field.

Gary

To not a cane! Gators couldnt even win their own tournament. Explain that off moron!!!!!

Gary

to Deja Vu- I notice you dont point out who your team is. Such a punk you are!!!!

mahoney-pearson

Question to all the non-hurricane fans that troll the site; can you show me the same on your team's site?

Trolling UM fans?

I'm sincerely curious and won't think there's something wrong with you if you can. I just find it strange to waste time on something you pretend to hate so much. Get a life.

I really think, deep down inside, you love the []_[]. The mystique. You love it with so much passion that you hate it because you can't be down with us. Like a jilted lover. Except, there was never a relationship, and the guy doesn't even know who you are. Never met you before. A stalker you are. Obsessed. Sick. You should get help.

Reality Bites

Posted by: mahoney-pearson

Stop the psycho babble and just go to Gator Clause in the sports section of this paper and you will see several UM trolls posting crap there.
It goes both ways, deal with it.
BTW this is not a UM blog, Barry talks about the Fins, Heat and Marlins too. You are not that important to have the blog to yourselves.

Fins so far so good. We still need corners and OL and we should pick up another RB in the latter rounds just in case.
How about them Heat!
Canes will exit the dance in the second round, Gators will make it to the final 4, so says your President.

green

http://www.cbssports.com/video/player/play/cbssportsnetwork/OZqs2dhdMCEP

Want a behind-the-scenes look at UM hoops? Miami March Madness Confidential will air on TruTV tonight from 6-6:30 p.m.
-- hurricanesports

TRUE TO YOUR SCHOOL

green

Overnight ratings for the SEC Championship Game were the lowest in at least a decade on ABC.

Sunday’s Mississippi/Florida SEC Championship Game drew a 1.3 overnight rating on ABC, down 38% from Kentucky/Vanderbilt last year (2.1), and down 28% from Kentucky/Florida in 2011 (1.8).

Excluding 2008, when the game aired on ESPN2 due to weather-related issues, the 1.3 overnight is the lowest for the SEC title game since at least 2000.
-- smw

GO GATORS

green

In other conference tournament action, Sunday’s Miami/North Carolina ACC title game drew a 1.6 overnight on ESPN — up a tick from Florida State/North Carolina last year (1.5).
-- smw

HOLD OUR OWN

green

https://www.facebook.com/notes/sports-on-facebook/march-madness-fandom-on-facebook/10151473245234487

According to Sports on Facebook, the most popular basketball conference nationwide is the ACC.
-- Hokie Mark

LIKE MY STATUS

green

http://www.forbes.com/sites/chrissmith/2013/03/18/louisville-cardinals-lead-the-list-of-college-basketballs-most-valuable-teams/

"Louisville Cardinals Lead The List Of College Basketball's Most Valuable Teams"

GREEN GRASS

Reality Bites

Posted by: green

So even in a year where the SEC viewership is down, it still beats the pants off the ACC.
Maybe that is why the SEC ship game was on ABC prime time while the ACC was on True TV

green

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/ncaab-the-dagger/facebook-fun-ncaa-tournament-region-breaks-down-number-054303642--ncaab.html

Mentions of #Miami were up 1,100 percent Sunday. Could the nation be falling in love w/ @CanesHoops & @CanesCoachL
-- chris freet

U DON'T SAY

green

http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/pageone0318.pdf?mod=WSJ_hp_ItpPdf

What's a great way to start a Monday morning? Seeing @CanesHoops on the front of the Wall Street Journal
-- chris yandle

STREET CRED

green

http://theuhoops.tumblr.com/post/45737034397/espns-colin-cowherd-who-has-correctly-picked-the#_=_

Colin Cowherd, who has correctly picked the winners of the last 3 NCAA Tourneys, likes the Canes to cut down the nets
-- hurricanesports

HERD MENTALITY

green

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EmxOnHrTKEc&feature=youtu.be

My fave video of the @theACCDN's #ACCTourney coverage LOL #mustwatch - Miami's Julian Gamble Photobombs ACC Tourney
-- amy ufnowski

BEING THERE

green

Odds to win NCAA per @RJinVegas UL 5/1, IU 8/1, Miami 8/1, Duke 10/1, UF 10/1, KU 10/1, Gonzaga 12/1, OhioSt 18/1, MSU 18/1, Gtown 18/1
-- brett mcmurphy

CHALK BOARD

green

Cable's top sport last week: Saturday night's Big East final (Louisville-Syracuse) averaged 3.419M viewers on ESPN.

ESPN's Big East final is the only sport on cable's top 180 last week. Sunday's ACC Tournament final (UNC-Miami) averaged 2.2M viewers (183rd).
-- john ourand

NOT READY FOR PRIMETIME PLAYERS

green

The Big East’s move to Fox also opens ESPN’s prime-time Saturday championship game window. The final Big East title game on ESPN, between Syracuse and Louisville, tipped at 8:30 p.m., Saturday, certainly a more desirable television slot than 1 p.m., Sunday.

“That would be going back to the future, if you will, because ironically we moved to a championship day on Sunday afternoon (in 1983) for television and exposure,” said Commissioner John Swofford, then the athletic director at North Carolina. “Either one can work, so we’ll see if it comes up.

“We’re comfortable with what we’re doing now. Of course, some of these developments (with the Big East) are fairly recent.”

As fans’ obsession with the NCAA tournament bracket and Selection Sunday mushroomed over the years, I’ve thought the ACC’s championship game got lost. As soon as the final horn sounded, if not earlier, everyone was focused on the field’s unveiling.

Watch SportsCenter on Sunday night and see how long you have to wait on ACC highlights. Odds are you’ll see endless bracket dissection first.

Swofford disagrees with the “gets lost” premise but said league officials have discussed whether a Saturday conclusion would allow the NCAA selection committee to better evaluate ACC teams and their seedings.

“(But) I think our game, and others (the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten) have been played for so long on Sunday afternoon that the selection committee has adjusted to that,” Swofford said. “I don’t think it’s detrimental to us. It’s one of the reasons we keep it as early (Sunday) as we do.”

With the arrival of Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame next season, the ACC grows to 15 teams and a five-day tournament. Switching to a Saturday final would translate to a Tuesday start, which some (many?) prospective ticket-buyers would find untenable.

“There are pros and cons in either direction,” Swofford said. “Class time, the closeness to end of regular season. We play some Sunday games on that closing weekend, and I would not anticipate that changing.”
-- david teel

SATURDAY'S ALRIGHT FOR FIGHTING

green

GREEN RULES!!!

Posted by: Canester-Nip | 03/17/2013 at 09:53 PM

EXQUISITE TASTE

ANOTHER SEC RING ...

your stinkin' Gayturds couldn't win their conference,

Posted by: UMcanes | 03/20/2013 at 06:07 AM

They're 2013 S.E.C. SEASON CHAMPIONSHIP RINGS and BANNER have already been ordered U typical misinformed 1 n done Cane ClUck... For the 6th. time.

sh[]_[]t []_[]p

GREEN ='s Poll[]_[]tion

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