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2 posts from April 16, 2013

April 16, 2013

Bucks glib, candid on beating Heat; Fins draft; UM nuggets; Teams call on Stanton

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

You know when a TV station says the views expressed by the host don’t necessarily reflect those of the station? That apparently also applies to the Milwaukee Bucks after Brandon Jennings said last month that “we match up well against Miami. That’s who I would want to play in the first round.”

With that series now a reality – starting this weekend - Bucks guard J.J. Redick said: “I’m not sure why Brandon would say that.”

Bucks forward Mike Dunleavy added: “Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. No one in the league sees the Heat as a favorable matchup. It’s a monumental task.”

So monumental that Dunleavy suggests that for the Bucks to pull off the greatest playoff upset in history, a defective alarm clock might be in order.

“You need the kitchen sink,” Dunleavy said. “Shoot great, hurt them on the boards. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh would need to shoot poorly. Erik Spoelstra would need to oversleep and miss a couple games. Where do you begin? It’s a laundry list.”

Any area where the Heat is vulnerable? Any?

“When they go small, we can hurt them on the glass,” Luc Richard Mbah A Moute said. “We played them well last year [2-1 vs. Miami], and we played them well this year [1-3].”

And this from forward Ersan Ilyasova: “The pressure is on them, not us. We will give them a good fight.”

Redick added: “Any team can spread them out and shoot threes. [And] we’ve had some success offensive rebounding against them.”

But let’s get serious. Even “their support players are All-Stars,” coach Jim Boylan conceded.

Or, as Dunleavy put it: “I don’t see any weak spots. They’re even better this year. LeBron is on a different planet. He’s got complete control of the game whenever he wants it.”

So getting back to Jennings’ comment, is there any favorable matchup for Milwaukee in this series?  

“Our 15th guy,” Dunleavy cracked. “Joel Pryzbilla is 7-1. We have that going for us. They have no one 7-1.”

Good line, Mike. That’s almost as funny as Bucks guard Monta Ellis saying in all seriousness, in January, that there’s no difference between him and Wade except Wade has more wins and championships.

### With Boston out of Miami’s bracket for the first two rounds, Celtics guard Courtney Lee said: “It’s only going to make it better for a conference finals against each other.”

Not so fast, Courtney. It would be surprising if Boston gets past New York and potentially Indiana to get there.

### A Bulls win Wednesday against visiting Washington or an Atlanta loss at New York would give Chicago the No. 5 seed. The winner of the series between the fourth-seeded Nets and the No. 5 seed would play the Heat in the second round.

CHATTER

The Dolphins are again looking closely at Texas A&M players: Their receivers coach went there to audition Ryan Swope (72 catches, 913 yards), who played for Mike Sherman at A&M.

According to Pro Football Weekly, Swope should “at worst be a productive slot receiver. Intriguing combination of top-end speed and short area burst.” Davone Bess could be traded if Miami finds a slot receiver it likes in the draft.

Among other receivers Miami auditioned on their local day: West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey (effective in the slot, too) Duke’s Connor Vernon and Cris Carter’s son, Duron, who had lunch with Jeff Ireland.

### The Dolphins like Auburn and former Hialeah High defensive end Corey Lemonier (15 sacks over past two years) and are auditioning the potential second-or-third rounder this week.

### UM said it’s optimistic about finalizing a future football matchup (one or more) with Penn State, year undetermined. A neutral site is a possibility.

### UM’s final spring depth chart featured one new player (grad school student Pat O’Donnell, who will become UM’s punter immediately after doing it effectively three years at the University of Cincinnati) and one mild surprise (Asante Cleveland as first-team tight end)….Former assistant coach Don Soldinger’s rousing speech to UM players Friday drew not only an ovation, but 30 emails from coaches, staffers and players thanking him.

### Draft analysts expect UM’s Brandon McGee to be drafted in the middle rounds, Mike James in the late rounds. McGee is a polarizing prospect. One NFC scout said he would take him in the third – higher than many others: “I know he had only two interceptions, but the kid is talented. He’s better than DeMarcus Van Dyke coming out….

Mike James can be a backup in the league for five, six years. Can block, is tough, good hands. There’s no one else draft-able in this group, but [offensive and former defensive lineman] Jeremy Lewis impressed me at Pro Day.”

### The scout said former UM safety Ray Ray Armstrong “doesn’t have enough speed to play safety. He has to be a linebacker. He won’t be drafted.”

### Two NBA scouts said Shane Larkin won’t help his stock if he returns to school, and if he turns pro likely would be drafted between late in the first round and the middle of the second. TNT’s Steve Kerr, the former Suns GM, said Larkin projects as a career backup point guard.

### Perspective on how dismal the Marlins’ offense had been before their eight-run eruption Tuesday night: They entered Tuesday hitting .203; the MLB average is .252. Their 23 runs were 12 behind the next lowest (Tampa, at 35). They have two homers; Colorado has 21.

“We know we have hitters capable of doing it,” general manager Michael Hill said Tuesday afternoon, adding that no outside pickup is imminent.

### Several teams have inquired about trading for Giancarlo Stanton, but the Marlins are telling teams he’s not available.

### As great as Jose Fernandez has been, Baseball America noted that if the Marlins had waited until April 12 to call him up - instead of at the start of the season - they would have controlled his rights through 2019, not 2018, because of service time rules. That now means one less year at an affordable salary.

### I’m now on Twitter, so please join me: @flasportsbuzz 

Those that do get a prize, as soon as I think of one. Perhaps a Joel Pryzbilla cardboard cutout.

 

More tidbits from UM/NCAA case; Heat chatter; Broadcast notes

Notes on a Monday night/Tuesday morning:

### In UM’s motion to dismiss the case against the Hurricanes and the NCAA enforcement staff’s response, one of many caustic and fascinating exchanges between the sides details how the NCAA spread what appeared to be misinformation regarding its interview with former Canes quarterback Kyle Wright and how it came about.

To refresh: Wright was interviewed by now-retired NCAA investigator Rich Johanningmeier on Feb. 24, 2012.

Brynna Barnhart, the NCAA’s assistant director of enforcement, told UM that Wright called the NCAA to initiate an interview – not the other way around – and that Johanningmeier knew what to ask Wright because he received a tip from a confidential source about improper benefits.

UM asserted that the NCAA asked questions of Wright that it wouldn’t have even known to ask if it hadn’t used testimony from a bankruptcy court hearing with Sean Allen. Allen’s deposition and subsequent NCAA interview were tossed, as most of you know, and any information from other interview subjects that was gleaned from using Allen’s testimony was also supposed to be tossed.

Barnhart told UM that the interview happened only because Wright called the NCAA “out of the blue.”

But when UM called Wright on Feb. 25 of this year, Wright said the NCAA called him in February 2012 – not the other way around – and he agreed to the interview after hearing about Allen’s deposition from a “third party.”

UM asked the obvious question: If Johanningmeier had a tip from a confidential source about improper benefits, why would he not call Wright on his own? Why would the NCAA need to wait for Wright to call them “out of the blue?, as Barnhart claimed?

The NCAA’s claim simply didn’t add up.

In its motion to dismiss, UM said Barnhart “repeatedly misled the university” and “should be immediately removed from any continuing involvement with the university’s case.”

In its response to UM’s motion to dismiss, NCAA interim vice president of enforcement Jonathan Duncan said the NCAA originally struck Wright’s comments about a bachelor party from the evidence it used because it knew details came from the Allen interview.

But the NCAA has now agreed to strike all of the Wright interview “based on new information developed during [UM’s] subsequent interview of Wright on Feb. 25, 2013.”

Duncan then staunchly defended Barnhart, claiming she told UM only what she was told by the two former investigators on the case: Johanningmeier, who retired last summer, and Ameen Najjar, who was fired last May.

Barnhart said she was not involved in the interview with Wright and merely was repeating what Johanningmeier and Najjar told her. Of course, Najjar has his own credibility issues.

“It is clear Barnhart did not intentionally mislead [UM] and the committee on infractions should deny the request that she be removed from the case,” Duncan said. “It is insulting and incredulous that [UM] would attack her.”

### Though the infractions committee – which will decide what, if any additional punishment will be given to UM – has said it does not believe it has the authority to dismiss the case before a hearing in mid-June, UM insists there is precedent.

UM cited a case involving Pittsburgh in the late 1970s.

“Individuals involved in the enforcement at the time recall the case was dismissed by the Committee of Infractions on the basis of finding that evidence had been fabricated by a member of the NCAA staff,” UM wrote in its motion to dismiss. “The specific information that was found to be fraudulent impacted an individual allegation, but the finding so undermined the COI’s confidence in the enforcement staff’s evidence that the case was dismissed.”

UM added that ‘the scope of misbehavior by the enforcement staff [in the UM case] equals or exceeds the concerns that led to dismissal in the Pittsburgh case.”

The NCAA’s Duncan, predictably, disagrees, claiming his “enforcement staff was unable to locate any substantive information about the case because there is no public report available.” There’s no public report because the case was dismissed, Duncan. Of course you know that.

The infractions staff should consider that Pittsburgh case before deciding whether to drop the case against UM.

UM does not expect the case to be dropped before a hearing.

### Coveted four-star power forward Demetrius Henry "liked his visit" to UM this past weekend --- according to his AAU coach - and will choose among UM, USF and South Carolina later this month.

### On Monday, the Heat became the 16th team to win at least 65 games during the regular season. Of the previous 15, 12 have won an NBA title. Miami can become the 12th team to win 66 games by beating Orlando on Wednesday.

Also, Miami finished an amazing 15-1 on the second night of back-to-back games, equaling the 2006-07 Mavericks’ all-time record.

### Erik Spoelstra said his reserves have played so well that some of those players not a part of his usual rotation (including Mike Miller and Rashard Lewis) have made his playoff decisions tougher. Ray Allen, Chris Andersen, Norris Cole and Shane Battier are automatic to play, and it’s difficult to envision Spoelstra carving out regular minutes for a 10th rotation member.

### The Heat will open the playoffs against Milwaukee either Saturday or Sunday, with the schedule not expected to be released until Wednesday night. ABC – which has 3:30 p.m. games Saturday and Sunday – always has opted for the Heat when it has the opportunity, regardless of the opponent. This weekend, a tougher choice awaits for its two slots among the Heat series, Knicks-Celtics and the Lakers (if they make it) vs. the Thunder.

### Check the previous blog with a couple Monday Dolphins notes.

### Couple of broadcast items: HBO has a feature Marlins president David Samson on Real Sports at 10 p.m. Tuesday…. As expected, NBC replaced Tom Hammond with Dan Hicks as the voice of Notre Dame football... With the NBA canceling the Pacers-Celtics game Tuesday because of Monday’s tragedy in Boston, TNT will air Toronto-Atlanta instead.

### I'm on Twitter now, finally. Please follow me: @flasportsbuzz