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34 posts from May 2013

May 23, 2013

Friday 2 p.m. update: Pacer calls out "dirty" Heat plays; Barkley on Wade, Heat fans; Fins ripped

The Friday media column is below, for those who haven't seen it yet. First, though, an update from Heat and Pacers shootarounds Friday morning:

Call it Groin Gate or whatever you wish. 

But two Indiana players on Friday expressed dismay about two Heat offensive fouls, by Shane Battier and Norris Cole, that inflicted discomfort around the groin area of Roy Hibbert and David West in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. 

Speaking hours before Game 2, Indiana forward Paul George went as far as to call the plays “dirty” and “not called for.”

The Battier foul, in the first quarter, was a knee to Hibbert’s midsection as Battier drove for a layup. On the other play, Cole used his arm to push off West and made hard contact with West’s groin area, with 3:01 left in the fourth quarter.  

“That’s not aggressive, not a basketball play,” George said. “It’s not a tough play. It’s a dirty play.”

On Wednesday night, Hibbert said – via Twitter: “You can knee or kick me every time you drive 2 the rim. I’ll be there to protect the rim. That wasn’t inadvertent. Battier knew what he was doing.”

Asked Friday why he made that comment on Twitter, Hibbert said: “The reason I said something is I saw someone write it’s an inadvertent knee. That’s bull [expletive]. He knew what he was doing. If he wants to do that, it’s fine. I’m still going to be there to protect the rim.”

Hibbert said he believes it was intentional because “it wasn’t a regular shooting motion for a layup. You don’t shoot with your knee by your nipple unless you’re trying to do something. [But] I wasn’t whining. It was an offensive foul. I’m cool with that.”

Hibbert said he “thought” about retaliating against Battier “but I said I need to be in the game to really make an impact. In my younger days, I probably would have done something. We need every possible body out there.”

But Hibbert said he understands “it’s playoff basketball. We’re tough guys. I wasn’t saying coach needs to send this into the league. I was just saying, ‘I’ll be here no matter what, David will be here no matter what.’ They want to play tough. That’s what they have to do. We’re not backing down.”

As of Friday afternoon, neither Battier nor Cole had responded to George’s and Hibbert’s comments. Battier did not address the media after Friday’s shoot-around, and George made his comment about Cole’s foul after Cole already had left AmericanAirlines Arena.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and Pacers coach Frank Vogel declined to specifically discuss the Battier play.

But Vogel said: “I don’t think Shane Battier is a dirty player. I just think it’s teams playing hard. I don’t think there’s anything dirty about this series. We’re competing for a championship. It’s going to be intense, relentless and physical.”

### Mario Chalmers (shoulder injury) went through shootaround and is expected to play in Game 2, barring a setback.
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FRIDAY MEDIA COLUMN; (Twitter: @flasportsbuzz)

The conversation has played out a couple times on TNT in recent weeks – Charles Barkley insisting Dwyane Wade “is not the same player,” and Shaquille O’Neal responding with a stern “Leave Dwyane alone.”

Speaking in the TNT green room before Game 1 Wednesday night, both NBA legends tackled the Wade topic from different perspectives, this time without the glare of the cameras.

For starters, Barkley wants to make one thing clear: “I have nothing against Dwyane" -- his former partner on T-Mobile ads. "But I’m going to do my job.”

And? “He’s not the same explosive player he was a couple years ago,” Barkley reiterated, adding it “annoys me” when people criticize him for saying that.

“You’ve only had one good three-minute stretch in the playoffs,” Barkley said of Wade, who is averaging 13.7 points, 5.3 assists and 4.9 rebounds this postseason while battling through a knee injury. The Heat obviously would disagree with that assertion.

“And he’s hurt all the time," Barkley added. "That tells me Father Time is kicking in…. That’s one of the reasons I don’t like these reporters in Miami. You can’t say anything about these guys without them over-reacting.

Kobe Bryant is not the same guy. Tim Duncan is not the same guy. They don’t whine like the Heat does. One thing about these fans and the media here, they’re a whiny bunch.”

(In a matter unrelated to Wade, Barkley said on air an hour later that the Heat tends “to over-react anytime you don’t kiss their [butt].”)

Making a point not to whine, I mentioned to Sir Charles – who won a Sports Emmy for studio analysis earlier this month – that Wade still averaged 21.2 points and shot 52.1 percent this season.

“That’s because he’s playing with LeBron James,” Barkley said, adding that Wade is still a good player “but LeBron covers up all their flaws.”

Is Wade still an All-Star in his opinion? “If he played well enough to be an All-Star,” Barkley answered. “I don’t give those lifetime achievement awards. I do it every year.”

But Barkley -- who picked the Pacers to win this series in six games -- worries that “once you start getting hurt, I don’t think you ever get healthy again.”

(Barkley, on Dan Le Batard's radio show Thursday, said Wade "played very well" in Game 1 but "didn't look explosive to me.) 

Shaq, meanwhile, looks at his former teammate and says: “D-Wade still has it. He still has the same skill set and same mindset. He’s smart enough - because I helped team him – to pace himself. The last five minutes of the Chicago series, it was explosive basketball.”

O’Neal says James’ presence “is going to add two years” to Wade’s career: “Now he doesn’t have to do as much.”

### Game 1 on TNT was viewed in 24.4 percent of Miami-Fort Lauderdale homes with TV sets (396,000 homes) – the highest local cable rating since Game 7 of last year’s Heat-Celtics Eastern Finals generated a 25.0… Nationally, Game 1 drew 8.2 million viewers, dwarfing the 4.7 million average for the first two games of the Western Finals.

RIP-JOB ON FINS

The Dolphins couldn’t have expected the rip-job that NFL Network and Fox analyst and former Miami fullback Heath Evans unleashed recently against general manager Jeff Ireland and his personnel decisions on an appearance on WINZ-940’s Dolphins-owned radio show.

“This might end up being a nightmare for Jeff Ireland, in every single one of these decisions,” Evans said. “GMs I talk to around the league saying, ‘This is Jeff Ireland being Jeff Ireland throwing around monopoly money.’ That’s not the way to win championships.”

Evans is entitled to his opinion, but a couple of his comments were irrational or unsupported by fact.

Perhaps the most head-scratching was this remark about Dion Jordan: “Anytime he’s in the game, he’s a liability. I don’t care if he gives you 18 sacks next year. The negative impact of him on the field for most of true football situations is scary to me.”

I must interject here: If Jordan has 18 sacks, nobody will be calling him a liability. And besides his obvious pass rush skills, he was effective in coverage on tight ends and running backs at Oregon and wasn’t overwhelmed against the run.

Evans added of the Jordan pick: “[That] messed my mind up. I get the potential, but potential will get you fired in a heartbeat. With the struggles Jeff Ireland has had making wise decisions through the draft across the board, this is a reach. He’s still 6-6, he’s still 240. “As soon as you see him in the game, even 3rd and 3, we’re thinking we still have a very good chance to run the ball. The Patriots’ run numbers on third down last year were the highest in the league. They didn’t get better with the Dion Jordan pick and they aren’t closer to beating the Patriots with that pick.

“Dion Jordan is not the type of player that frustrates Tom Brady. Cam Wake is not the type of player that frustrates [Brady]. It’s middle pressure. It’s what Baltimore is able to do to him.” (Miami has some of that inside pressure with Randy Starks and Jared Odrick when he moves inside.)

### On the moves at receiver, Evans said: “Was there anyone that was going to pay Brian Hartline that (five years, $31 million)? Was there anyone going to pay Mike Wallace that (five years, $60 million)? The Steelers have insider trader information on people.

“Yes, we know Wallace’s ceiling is high, but the floor is equally low. This is a guy that’s going to throw your quarterback an interception [and] that’s going be lazy in his routes. You talk to the Steelers, this is a guy you can’t count on in crunch time. For a young quarterback, you need a guy you can count on in crunch time. The numbers don’t add up.”

Evans must have missed that the Steelers offered Wallace a $50 million deal before last season, albeit with far less guaranteed money than Miami offered. But a big contract nevertheless.

### We’ll see if Evans is right in criticizing the decision to replace Karlos Dansby with Dannell Ellerbe at linebacker.

“[You want] middle pressure? It’s not Ellerbe,” Evans said. “Dansby is one of the more gifted athletes. We know very little about Ellerbe. We know a guy that had a lot of super natural talent around him. You had a decade of knows with Dansby. You have nine starts with Ellerbe.”

During the interview, Dolphins employee and former linebacker Twan Russell told Evans: “I think you’re very mistaken” about his criticism. Evans conceded he “might be wrong” about Wallace. When Evans left the air, Russell said he didn’t appreciate Evans’ analysis.

But the Dolphins have not issued any edict saying Evans cannot be invited back on WINZ.

Notes, quotes, postscripts from Heat's Game 1 win

Postscripts from the Heat’s scintillating 103-102 overtime win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals:

### LeBron’s layup at the buzzer was his second career playoff buzzer beater to win a game. The other: vs. Orlando in Game 2 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals. That happened exactly four years ago - May 22, 2009.

On Wednesday, he closed with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, including the two layups late – one with 11 seconds left, and the other just as time expired. And don’t forget the three blocks, either.

### LeBron, on the winning layup: “We had two different calls. Spo asked me which one I was comfortable doing. I had enough time to get to the basket and make a play. I knew I had enough time to get to the rim. Two-plus seconds is enough time. Once I got the ball, I was the only option. As unselfish as I am, there is no way… to make a pass in that situation” with such little time left.

### LeBron’s reaction to making the winning basket was pretty reserved. Why? “I made a layup. Wasn’t like I made a halfcourt [shot],” he said. “I’ve been doing that since I was 8.”

### James has nine career playoff triple doubles. Only Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd, Rajon Rondo and Larry Bird have more, according to Elias.

### Since 2006, only four times has a player had a triple double in postseason in which he scored at least 30 points. LeBron had all four of them.

“No matter how much you watch basketball or played it you get amazed by spectacular talent, and I get to see behind the scenes what makes him a special, special player,” Dwyane Wade said. “He continues to amaze the world of basketball.”

### Why did Pacers coach Frank Vogel not have his defensive enforcer and ace shot-blocker, Hibbert, in the game on either of the Heat’s final two offensive sequences – both of which ended in LeBron layups?

"That’s the dilemma they present when they have Chris Bosh at the five-spot and his ability to space the floor,” Vogel said, referencing Bosh’s ability to take a big man out of the paint and hit a jump shot.

“We put a switching lineup in with the intent to switch, keep everything in front of us and try to go into or force a challenged jump shot. We pushed up a little too much and LeBron beat us off the bounce.”

But Vogel conceded he might have made the wrong move by not having Hibbert in the game. “Obviously, with the way it worked out, it would have been better to have Roy in the game. But you don’t know. If that happens, maybe Bosh is making the jump shot, and we’re all talking about that.”

### Paul George said “we all would” have preferred to have Hibbert in the game on the final play. “I’m 100 percent sure he would have been there” to contest LeBron’s layup.

George said he was distracted on the play “because I saw Ray Allen running by. LeBron made a good play. You’ve got to make LeBron shoot the jumper at that point. I was up too close on him. You’ve got to make him shoot a jumper. That’s what we wanted.”

LeBron said “I don’t think any of us know how it would have been different” if Hibbert had been in the game. “It’s not for us to worry about. I was able to get in the lane on George Hill on the first one and Paul George on the second.”

### George scored 18 of 27 in the fourth quarter and overtime – including the 32-footer to tie the game with 0.7 seconds left in regulation, and the three free throws that put Indiana ahead briefly with 2.2 second left in overtime. (George got those free throws when Wade fouled him on a three-pointer. Wade fouled out on the play.)

“I felt everything was in our favor,” George said. “I felt confident we were going to be able to take care of business. We slipped up at the end…. This one might be the toughest one to swallow [in my career]. That one hurts.”

But… “We have to feel good about how we played. A couple turnovers I wish we could take back. We can play at their pace or slow it down when we need to.”

## David West (26 points, 11 for 17 shooting) was a force but was 0 for 2 in overtime. He outplayed Chris Bosh, who scored 17 points but had just two rebounds. Hibbert had 19 points and 9 rebounds.

### Wade was generally efficient: 19 points on 9 for 15 shooting, with six rebounds and five assists. His eight fourth-quarter points were big.

### Wade expects a lot of close games in this series: “We can expect this for seven games.”

### Mario Chalmers suffered a bruised left shoulder and did not play in the fourth quarter or overtime. “There is concern,” James said of Chalmers’ injury. “Rio is a tough guy. Hopefully, he’s available by Friday. He should be. We don’t know.”

### The Heat's 21 turnovers were its most in a playoff game since April 21, 2001 against Charlotte. Norris Cole had five.

### The Heat shot just 5 for 18 on three-pointers, continuing a playoff-long slump affecting everyone except Chris Bosh and Norris Cole. Overall, Ray Allen was 1 for 8, Shane Battier 0 for 4.

### Chris Andersen shot 7 for 7 and is now an absurd 29 for 35 in postseason. “Without Bird’s energy and effort, we don’t win this game,” James said.

### Indiana, which outrebounded the Heat by nearly 15 per game in three regular season meetings, closed with a 43-38 edge in that category.

### Vogel said his team’s mood was “good” because “we know we can play with this team. We’ve got to play better. We can’t have 20 turnovers and give up 24 second-chance points and miss eight free throws [of 32]. You have to play a near perfect game to beat this team. We played a very good game, but we have to play better.”

### Erik Spoelstra’s postgame take: “Our group is mature enough to know that’s one game. They earned it tonight. But we didn’t feel we played to our capabilities. A large part of that is what Indiana was doing.”

May 21, 2013

Wednesday buzz: Heat playoff chatter; Dolphins notes from minicamp, UM QB update

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Heat, Dolphins and Canes chatter:

### To appreciate how stingy the Heat's defense has been, consider this: Miami is putting up numbers that -- if they can be sustained -- would be the best in nearly a decade of playoff basketball across the NBA.

Miami is allowing 84.7 points and 40.9 percent shooting – the NBA’s best in postseason in both categories since 2004 (minimum nine games), the good folks at Elias told us. Throw in opponents’ 29.8 percent three-point shooting, and the Heat’s across the board defensive stats are the best since Detroit in 2004.

The caveat, of course, is “Milwaukee wasn’t really a playoff team and Chicago was missing players,” as TNT’s Steve Kerr said by phone. “Their team defense is great because the pieces really fit. They have so much speed and quickness between LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Norris Cole and Chris Bosh. And they have a gear they go to when they need it.”

Ask James the best defensive teams he has seen, and he immediately reels off the 1996 Bulls, those ‘04 Pistons, and the Spurs of 1999 and 2007. But the Heat’s numbers so far are clearly better than the first and last of those teams.

Look at how the Heat’s defense has improved: 96.8 points allowed before the All-Star break, 92.2 after and now 84.7. (Incidentally, Miami allowed 93, on average, against both Indiana and San Antonio.)

Though the starting lineup lacks a natural center/defensive enforcer, keep in mind that Bosh finished 17th in blocks this season and ranks sixth in postseason. And the Heat, so far, is allowing fewer points than three of the five 1997-2001 playoff teams featuring Alonzo Mourning.

“Our past teams with Zo, it was protect the paint and we’ll pound you,” Erik Spoelstra said. “We’re a physical defensive team as well. [But] we try to apply more pressure than those teams – try to make our opponent more uncomfortable.”

The biggest question about this Heat defense will be tested in this series: Miami’s ability, particularly Bosh's, to defend skilled low-post scorers such as Indiana's Roy Hibbert.

“Every time we play a bigger or taller team, they say, "If you can beat up the Heat’s frontcourt, you can beat them,'” James said.

But, as Shane Battier said: “It’s a new NBA. A lot of people are still hung up on size. Size doesn’t matter as much. We’re undersized most nights, but we have the speed advantage most nights.”

Said Udonis Haslem: “Dwyane, LeBron, Chris, Chris Andersen can block shots, so we definitely guard the basket – just in a different way from the Zo and Shaq teams.”

### A warning from Bulls guard Richard Hamilton: “I think Indiana, San Antonio or Memphis could give Miami trouble. If they play smash mouth basketball, that can give them some trouble.”

### Carlos Boozer said the Bulls are “100 percent” the team best equipped to beat Miami and it would have been “a very different series” if they had been healthy….

Asked about LeBron’s improved free throw shooting, Chicago’s Nate Robinson cracked derisively: “The man must be perfect.”

And what about the Heat’s chances of defending its title, Nate? “I don’t care what they do,” Robinson said. “I don’t give a bleep.” OK then.

### The Heat might dislike the Pacers more than the Bulls, because of coach Frank Vogel’s perceived cockiness, Lance Stephenson’s choke sign to LeBron last May, Tyler Hansbrough’s over-the-top fouls and injured Danny Granger’s baiting tactics against Wade and James in last year's playoffs, which irritated both.

### One Eastern Conference scout who has watched both teams a lot said he expects “Hibbert’s defensive prowess – his post defense – will be neutralized because Bosh is a jump shooter. Hibbert cannot guard pick and rolls. He can’t get out there. He couldn’t on [Atlanta’s] Al Horford. That will give him a lot of problems. If you start David West on Bosh, West isn’t that much better getting out there on Bosh’s jump shots. He isn’t mobile. And Indiana’s bench is weak.”

But the reason this won’t be a sweep, the scout said, is Wade’s health, Paul George’s excellence and the fact “the Pacers are very balanced, have outstanding length. Good defensive team. They’re better than what the Bulls had available against Miami. And Lance Stephenson can really make a difference. He can pass. Very good defender. And he has reduced his idiot quotient this year.”

DOLPHINS, CANES CHATTER

### Beside Mike Wallace’s mere presence, a few other encouraging signs from the Dolphins’ first OTA practice of the off-season Tuesday: Ryan Tannehill was patient and accurate in the pocket, and completed two of three deep balls; Lamar Miller showed his usual burst; tight end Dustin Keller consistently got open; and receiver Brandon Gibson displayed good quickness on a sideline dump-off.

“Tannehill puts the ball right on the money and is a good decision maker,” Keller said. 

And Keller likes that the Dolphins give Tannehill total freedom to “change a lot of things up and do anything. That’s what Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are allowed to do. It’s cool they’ve given him that much leeway.”

### Keller, who signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal, said he declined a multiyear offer from Miami because after missing eight games last season, “my worth wasn’t where I think it was at. So I took a gamble on myself and said I’m better than everyone thinks I am. This is where I want to be longterm. But I want to prove to them I’m better than last year.”

### Joe Philbin expects an open competition for the punt return job. Brian Hartline, Brent Grimes and Brandon Gibson all took turns Tuesday; according to NFL.com, none have returned a punt in an NFL game. But Hartline said he has the longest punt return in Ohio State history.

Philbin wouldn't rule out having kickoff returner Marcus Thigpen – who last year shared punt return duties with departed Davone Bess (now with Cleveland) – handle both jobs.

Thigpen’s 12.2 average on 26 punt returns was fourth in the AFC last season. But Bess fielded 22 punts, mostly with a short field, and called for fair catches on 18 of them.

### See the last post for a lot more Dolphins notes from Tuesday's first OTA session.

### Hialeah coach Marc Berman said UM offensive coordinator James Coley came to campus to assure quarterback/2014 UM oral commitment Alain Edouard “that they want him.” But Edouard – whose 25-plus offers include Wisconsin and Nebraska – “will re-assess where he is at the end of spring,” Berman said. “If UM has other quarterbacks in mind and doesn't make him feel at home, he’ll take up other opportunities. If UM is offering more than a couple quarterbacks, [what] does that say for him?”

Besides an oral commitment from California’s Brad Kaaya, UM has offers out to multiple other Class of 2014 quarterbacks, including Louisiana’s Donovan Isom and Alabama’s Malik Rosier.

UM is competing with schools from non-major conferences for both; Isom's offers are from South Alabama, Louisiana Tech and Tulane; Rosier's include Arkansas State, Western Kentucky and Southern Mississippi, among others that are comparable. Both like the Hurricanes, and UM believes both have gone under the radar. Remember, Al Golden encourages his assistants to make independent assessments of players, rather than relying on recruiting services to drive their decisions.  

### I'm entering my second month on Twitter, so please join me: @flasportsbuzz

Dolphins rookie has surgery; Lineup news, quick hits from Dolphins first on-field practice Tuesday

Dolphins rookie cornerback Jamar Taylor had sports hernia surgery in Philadelphia this morning but is expected to be ready for the start of training camp, barring a setback. Typical recovery time is four to six weeks.

Taylor had been bothered by the injury for a while, and decided to go ahead with the surgery.

He tried treatment but that did not help the injury. And though Taylor can take Tylenol, he cannot take anti-inflammatories because, as we reported here previously, his kidneys were negatively affected by a blood pressure medication that he is no longer taking. That kidney issue was discovered at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis and was a factor in some teams passing on him in the draft -- though the kidney should not be an issue going forward. 

Taylor will return to Miami at the end of the week to begin rehab.

Taylor, who impressed the team in rookie minicamp, will compete for a top-four cornerback job during training camp.

Here are some quick hits, by position, from the Dolphins’ first offseason practice Tuesday:

### Cornerback: Brent Grimes (looking fully recovered from last September’s Achilles injury) and Richard Marshall (looking fully recovered from last season’s back injury) opened with the first team.  Dimitri Patterson and Nolan Carroll lined up with the second team. Second-round pick Jamar Taylor was not present, as noted…. Grimes was very sharp on intermediate routes, knocking away passes to Rishard Matthews and Armon Binns, but was beaten deep once by Binns…. Marshall was beaten deep by Brian Hartline on a Ryan Tannehill throw. Hartline scored on the play.

### Safety: Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons lined up with the first team, as to be expected. Jimmy Wilson and Kelcie McCray were behind them. This roster has far more depth at corner than safety.

### Linebacker: Dannell Ellerbe opened at middle linebacker, flanked by Philip Wheeler and Koa Misi. The Dolphins believe this will be a faster unit than the Karlos Dansby/Kevin Burnett anchored group, at the very least. Philbin said Tuesday he has been impressed by Ellerbe.

### Defensive line: With Randy Starks absent because of a contract issue, Jared Odrick moved to tackle, alongside Paul Soliai. Olivier Vernon lined up at one end, opposite Cam Wake. Dion Jordan was absent as he finishes school at Oregon... Joe Philbin said the fact Odrick played tackle shouldn't be taken as an indication that he will play there. Odrick -- who did good work Tuesday -- typically plays inside on third downs. But Starks and Soliai remain the first team tackles when both are available.

### Quarterback: Ryan Tannehill, operating a fast-pace offense, was sharp on intermediate routes and completed 2 of 3 deep passes – to Binns and Brian Hartline. He couldn’t connect with Mike Wallace on another deep ball that was well defended by Grimes. He was patient, under control, and more polished than the Tannehill who was just out of college at this time last year... Aaron Corp, trying to challenge front-runner Pat Devlin for the No. 3 job, gave no indication to believe he's an NFL quarterback.

### Running back: Lamar Miller opened with the first team and showed his usual good burst. Daniel Thomas and Marcus Thigpen got work behind Miller… Jorvorskie Lane opened at fullback.

### Receiver: In three-receiver sets, Brandon Gibson lined up in the slot and showed good quickness, with Wallace and Hartline outside. Matthews and Binns got a lot of work as the fourth and fifth receivers. Matthews caught several passes cleanly. Binns caught a couple balls but also had a drop.

### Tight end: Dustin Keller looked good in his first Dolphins OTA session, and surprisingly, Michael Egnew joined him for several snaps on the first team. Philbin said Egnew, a rookie disappointment last year, earned those snaps. Dion Sims and Kyle Miller also got work.

### Offensive line: From left to right, the first team was – as expected – Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito, Mike Pouncey, John Jerry and Tyson Clabo. Dallas Thomas and Lance Louis did not participate while recovering from injuries.... Nate Garner played some at guard, center and tackle... Tackle Will Yeatman got work at guard, but Philbin said he will play both.

### Check back here late tonight for more Dolphins news from today's session, plus Heat and Canes.

### I'm entering my second month on Twitter, so please join me there as well: @flasportsbuzz

May 20, 2013

Potential UM departures; Heat update: Big Three notes; Pacers' Vogel makes local radio rounds

We'll get to Monday Heat news in a second, but first a quick UM update:

Defensive end Ricardo Williams has sought his release from UM and UM will not stand in his way. Receiver Robert Lockhart also has explored transferring. Canesport.com reported that both have been granted their release, but UM said it could not confirm that and has nothing to announce on either player.

Williams, a three-star prospect out of Homestead High, redshirted in 2011 and played in one game in 2012.

Lockhart, a four-star prospect from Boca Raton High and Fork Union Military Academy, was injured in the second game he played in 2012 after sitting out the first six games.

UM was not counting on Williams being a major contributor this upcoming season, and its outstanding depth at receiver will make Lockhart's potential departure a non-issue.

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The coach on the other sideline in a playoff series generally doesn’t get under the skin of the opposing team, but Pacers coach Frank Vogel has managed to do it two years in a row – one of them for reasons not of his doing.

First, Vogel accused the Heat last year of a penchant for flopping, which resulted in the NBA fining him $15,000.

On Saturday, he called the Heat the “next team in our way,” though he was misquoted later as having said the Heat “is just another team” – which drew a strong reaction from LeBron James.

"We’re not just another team,” James said Sunday. “I don’t understand what he’s saying.”

Vogel heard James’ reaction on SportsCenter and issued a statement, saying he never said anything of the kind.

Vogel told 790 The Ticket today: “They’re better this year than last year. They’re not just another team.”

Asked by WQAM-560 whether he should have even said the words “the next team in our way,” Vogel said: “I’m sitting with my daughters on my lap, elated [about beating the Knicks]. I wasn’t thinking about saying anything dismissive.

“We have a great deal of respect for them. They’re even better this year than last year. It was a quote taken out of context.”

James said he had no reaction to Vogel’s clarification. “We have respect for them as well,” James said. “It’s two really good teams.”

Vogel said he regrets calling the Heat floppers last year “because I got fined. I don't want to give away money.”

WQAM’s Jorge Sedano then asked: “So you still think they’re floppers?"

“No,” Vogel said.

Asked kiddingly if he was lying just then, he said, “Yes” before quickly saying “No.”

Vogel, as usual, came across as confident and engaging in interviews this week with two local radio stations.

Asked by WQAM about people who say he is arrogant, Vogel said: “We’re definitely confident. We’ve got a good basketball team. But they’ve got a great basketball team. We know we need to play a great series to beat this team. We know we can. Anytime a team has gone through that championship experience, they become that much stronger the following year.”

He said the Heat is better than the team that eliminated the Pacers in six games last season not only because of that championship experience, but also because “Chris Bosh is back. The efficiency he has on the offensive end for a big man is ridiculous. The depth they have off the bench – Ray Allen in particular, Norris Cole seems to be playing at a higher level. Birdman makes a big difference for them.”

But Vogel said the Pacers also “are a better team. We’re more mature. We’re a better defensive team this year than last year. We have better discipline to play without fouling.

"We were 29th in fouling last year. We moved up to 14th this year. Foul trouble last year cost us a couple games in this series. We’re playing a much more disciplined brand of basketball this year. We led the regular season in most defensive categories.”

But the Pacers also were fifth-worst in the league in turnovers and finished 19-21 on the road, compared with 30-11 at home.

But “we got quality road wins in the first two series in Atlanta and New York,” Vogel said. “We are very young and we’re new to roles. Lance Stephenson is a third-year player, but this is the first year he has been in the rotation. Paul George is a third-year player, but this is the first time he has had to carry the scoring load.”

Asked by 790 The Ticket what scares him most about his team, he said: “Turning over the ball. That’s a weakness of ours, a strength of theirs…. Turnovers equal dunks against the Miami Heat.”

He said what scares him most about the Heat is James’ and Dwyane Wade’s “ability to just take over a game.”

What’s the most unknown thing about his team? “Our players’ names,” he told The Ticket. “America doesn’t know a whole lot about our team. We’re playing as well as a team as anyone has this year.”

### Bosh, on his ability to draw centers away from the basket: “It’s a weapon that we have that a lot of teams don’t have.”

### Spoelstra called Roy Hibbert “arguably the best rim protector” in the league.

### Asked about how to attack a shot-blocker like Hibbert, Wade said: “To be smart. You have to always know where he is. Sometimes you have to go in to attack, sometimes you have to go in and make plays to draw the defense in.”

Asked if he’s physically up to consistently challenging Hibbert at the rim, he said: “We’ll see. I’m going to do what my body says I can and cannot do… I’ll figure out a way to be effective.”

### James: “Every team wants to play physical with us. We always accept that challenge.”

### James, asked how he developed the restraint to not respond to especially hard fouls or over-the-top physicality by opponents:

Such tactics against him "started when I was in sixth, seventh grade," he said. "I was a lot faster, taller than a lot of kids. It took a while, honestly. It’s maturity. Leadership. I can’t afford to get out of my game and get unfocused if the play becomes more than basketball. It’s difficult at times, for sure. There are times I want to retaliate but I can’t. Football has given me an advantage. I’ve been around physical play.”

May 19, 2013

Heat players keep adding weapons; UM/NCAA, Dolphins, Marlins chatter

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN 

There is so much to appreciate with this Heat team: the individual excellence of the stars, the sacrifices many of the players have made, the crisp ball movement.

Here’s another that is sometimes easier to overlook: How the players have worked tirelessly to expand their skill set during the Big Three era, adding or improving elements to their repertoire that were deficient, non-existent, or in Ray Allen’s case, kept in storage in recent years.

“It’s a credit to [Erik Spoelstra],” said David Fizdale, one of the credit-worthy assistant coaches. “Instead of being random skill development, it’s focused development based on how they fit into our system. Spo is always forcing these guys, no matter what age they are, to grow. Don’t be happy where you are. We try not to put a limit on any of these guys at any age. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But I beg to differ.

“I mean, Juwan Howard has developed to where he can make a three-point shot. He’s 40 years old!”

Howard’s long-range shooting assuredly won’t be needed, but here’s a look at where key Heat players have added pieces to their game:

### Dwyane Wade: “He’s probably modified or evolved his game more than any of them, beginning with his post up game,” Fizdale said. “He’s as efficient as it gets. When I got here, he was a go-to-the-rim, hit bodies with everybody, go-to-the-floor guy. That was his reputation. They made commercials about it.

“I said, ‘Look: At some point, you’re going to get tired of it. You’ve got to develop something where you’re not getting beat up every play to score a basket or get a free throw.’ So we went to work on his floater, touch shots, using the glass, using different hands around the basket.”

Not only did Wade shoot a career-high 52.1 percent this season, but look how his game has diversified, despite having the ball a lot less: In the season before the Big Three, Wade had 48 field goals on cuts to the basket. This year? He had 100 (in eight fewer games), on 73 percent shooting.

His post-up baskets jumped from 44 that season to 57 this one, his runners from 13 to 52. He had two nifty runners/floaters to help close out the Bulls in Game 5.

### LeBron James: “When we first got LeBron, we tried to plug him into a system that we had in place already instead of evolving the system around him,” Fizdale said. That has changed.

The most obvious: the growth of his post game. Consider: He had 79 baskets on post-ups this season, compared with 53 his last season in Cleveland. “And we’re giving him a lot of space down there to work,” Fizdale said.

And there's this: He shot 40.6 percent on threes this season, well above his 33.7 career average. “He went back to the lab this summer, developed his three-point shot, which now makes people come out a little further on him, and that opens up his attack game more,” Fizdale said. When LeBron missed three-point shots alone in the gym last summer, he punished himself by running laps. 

And “we’ve made him a roller instead of always that guy that’s handling on the pick and roll. That’s an evolution of his game.”

### Chris Bosh: “Two things really took his game up a notch,” Fizdale said. “[Developing] the corner three, which forces a [center] to make a tougher decision. Most [centers] want to stay in the paint. We don’t beat Boston in the playoffs last year if Chris Bosh can’t make corner threes.

“The other thing we’ve tried to develop: When the ball swings to him, he catches it and goes right away, instead of catching and holding. When he was in Toronto, he got the ball so many times, it was always catch/hold, let me see what’s going on and then go. His advantage is always going to be speed over the power [centers].”

### Mario Chalmers: His on-the-ball defense has improved "quite a bit," Spoelstra said -- a byproduct of diligent film study and better footwork. Chalmers said losing six pounds this season also helped.

“We’ve always known he’s a playmaker defensively with long arms and instincts," Spoelstra said. "Now he’s reining it in with more discipline.”

### Norris Cole: Developing his three-point shot has been huge; he has made 29 of his past 50. And his decision-making has developed. “What [assistant Dan Craig] is doing with him now,” Fizdale said, “is taking his ability to make plays for himself into drawing the defense and making plays for others.”

### Ray Allen: Allen said “one of the things I enjoyed most about coming here” was doing more offensively than he did in Boston.

“His piece chart is awesome – he’s not just a stand still shooter,” Fizdale said. “What you’re seeing now is if he has a matchup [advantage] we’ll post him. We’re letting him run pick and rolls in transition. If guys are closing at him hard, he can put it on the floor quickly and we’ve given him the space to do that. We’ve really opened up his game. He’s not just pigeon-holed into one thing.

“We’re putting him in more playmaking situations. Not a knock on [Boston’s] system. We’re just doing different things. It’s getting him back to his Seattle days where, ‘I can do anything.’”

### Udonis Haslem and Shane Battier: “U.D. can put the ball down now and take it to the rim," Fizdale said. "He’s now understanding how to make plays instead of being a robot that catches it and always tries to score and gets his shot blocked or whatever.

“Now he’s got it to where he can score or make someone better. Same with Shane. If a guy closes out on Shane in the corner, he can do his little move and get by people.”

CHATTER

Though neither is accused of wrongdoing in the Notice of Allegations, Al Golden and Jim Larranaga --- eager to defend and represent their programs – will join UM’s contingent at the June 13-15 Indianapolis hearings before the NCAA's infractions committee. UM’s response to the NCAA’s allegations are due Monday. So are the responses of the implicated former Hurricanes coaches. 

### At a Board of Trustees meeting Friday, UM president Donna Shalala expressed optimism that UM would not receive significant additional penalties. But modest scholarship reductions would not be surprising.

### One former UM coach accused of wrongdoings complained privately that what the ex-UM coaches allegedly did paled in comparison to unreported violations committed in the SEC.

### Nevin Shapiro, serving a 20-year sentence for a Ponzi scheme, is being transferred from Louisiana and expects to end up in a Butner, N.C. prison where the nation's most famous Ponzi schemer, Bernie Madoff, is serving time.

### Dolphins tight end Michael Egnew has been training in mixed martial arts three days a week: “Doing that, You learn how to compete. “I expect to play this year. I’ve gotten stronger. I’m absolutely ready.” But Dion Sims is the better blocker to complement starter Dustin Keller. Egnew has more stretch-the-field skills than Sims but has a long way to go.

### A few undrafted rookies who have impressed, according to a Dolphins official: Arizona State running back Cameron Marshall, Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs and Mount Union receiver Jasper Collins.

### The Dolphins are optimistic Brent Grimes will be an upgrade over cornerback Sean Smith, who signed with Kansas City. 

Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons used the same word to describe Grimes: “explosive.” Tackle Tyson Clabo, his Dolphins and former Falcons teammate, said: “He’s the most athletic person I’ve ever seen in my life. He can do amazing things – leaping ability, bouncing off one leg.”

### Incidentally, Jones, a 2014 unrestricted free agent, said he’s hoping for a contract extension but Miami hasn’t discussed it.

### The Marlins would not even listen to names of players that teams might be willing to offer for Giancarlo Stanton before his injury. And though he would have considerable trade value when healthy, “he wasn’t helping himself with his lackadaisical play before his injury,” one National League scout said. “He looked like he wants to play there like I want to be at a dentist having a root canal.”

Even before his injury, Stanton did not intend to ask for a trade during the season. The Marlins still haven't put a timetable on his return from his hamstring problem; it could be sometime in June.

May 18, 2013

Saturday night Heat update

Quick Saturday night Heat update (we'll post the Sunday buzz column, with Heat, Dolphins, Canes and Marlins later tonight):

The Heat now knows who will it play in the Eastern Conference Finals and it knows that opponent quite well.

The Heat and Indiana Pacers have met nine times in the past 13 months. Miami rallied from a 2-1 series deficit to beat the Pacers in six games in last year’s conference semifinals, with Chris Bosh playing only 16 minutes in that series because of an injury.

The Pacers beat the Heat in the two games in Indianapolis this season: 87-77 on Jan. 8 (behind 29 points from Paul George) and 102-89 on Feb. 1 (behind David West’s 30 points). That was the Heat’s last loss before a 27-game winning streak that ended March 27 in Chicago.

The Heat won the one meeting in Miami this season: 105-91 on March 10.  Mario Chalmers scored 26 points in that game, which was one of only two that he led the Heat in scoring this season.

Indiana out-rebounded the Heat by 11 per game in the three games this season but had only a seven rebound edge in last season’s playoff series despite Bosh’s absence for most of it. The Pacers led the league in rebounds this season, while the Heat was last.

“Indiana is going to do what they do – they’re a bigger team, classic style basketball,” Bosh said. “They’re going to want to just throw it up off the backboard and go get it.”

Game 1 of Heat-Pacers is Wednesday in Miami, and the teams will play every other day, with all games starting at 8:30 p.m.

George said the effort it took to beat New York will need to be multiplied by two to beat Miami: "We know how tough they are and how well they play in their building."

WADE UPDATE

Dwyane Wade said the extended time off before the Eastern Conference Finals will not necessarily help his bruised right knee.

“I had 10 days off last time," he said of missing Miami’s Game 4 win against Milwaukee in the first round. "It really doesn't matter."

The Heat had Saturday off but will resume practice Sunday.

"I've got to practice with it and play with it so I can know how I feel,” Wade said. “I'm mentally strong enough to be able to still be effective. I'm going to continue to play until my body says, 'All right. You've got to go.' "

THIS AND THAT

Though the Heat lost Game 1 to the Bulls after a week-long layoff, Wade said there’s nothing the Heat can do differently with another lengthy break.

“I think physically we did everything we could last time,” he said. “We practiced hard, we prepared. It’s nothing you can do to prepare for game action. We hope to come out with a different approach.”

Chris Bosh said after a lengthy break, “You just feel a little off. I wouldn't say rusty. You're rusty when you're coming back from the offseason.”

### So what goes through LeBron James’ mind when he’s on a fast break now?

“Somebody's about to come foul me.”

Then, in a clear reference to Nate Robinson’s foul on him in Game 5 of the Bulls series, James added: "They don't let me even get past half-court these days. They just come and punch me in the face, and it's a common foul."

### James said there’s still another level the Heat can reach. “That’s the best thing about our team… We don’t dwell on the things we do well. We hate the things we did bad and try to get better…. We will continue to rise to the occasion.”

### Teammates are amused by Chris Andersen’s rising popularity in South Florida. “He’s a character of his own,” James said. “Anytime you have people off the floor who want to look like you, dress like you, have a haircut like you, means you have a great personality and a swag about you. It’s pretty cool.”

### The Heat has gone 8-1 in postseason even though several players – with the glaring exception of Bosh and Norris Cole – haven’t shot to their standards from three-point range.

Shane Battier has shot 12 for 46 on threes in the playoffs (26.1 percent), Mario Chalmers 5 for 21 (23.8 percent), James 9 for 28 (32.1 percent), Ray Allen 17 for 45 (37.8 percent), and Mike Miller 2 for 12 (16.7 percent).

May 16, 2013

Heat schedule announced; Media column: News, views on sports talk radio in South Florida

Quick Heat schedule update before we get to the weekly media column: The Heat will open the Eastern Conference Finals next Wednesday at home against the Knicks or Pacers. Games will be played every other day, with all games starting at 8:30 p.m. TNT gets the Eastern Conference Finals this year. The full schedule:

## Game 1 Wednesday, May 22 at Miami

### Game 2 Friday, May 24 at Miami

### Game 3 Sunday, May 26 at NY or Indy

### Game 4 Tuesday, May 28 at NY or Indy

### Game 5 Thursday, May 30 at Miami

### Game 6 Saturday, June 1 at NY or Indy

### Game 7 Monday, June 3 at Miami

FYI:. The NBA Finals will begin June 6, with all games on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sunday.

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FRIDAY MEDIA COLUMN

Industry leaders gathered at the historic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables this week for the first-ever “Sports Radio Conference,” and the vice president of programming at CBS Radio sat on the dais and said something that should surprise no one:

“Sports radio isn’t journalism,” Chris Oliviero, a former intern on the Howard Stern Show, declared to an audience of a few dozen.

“It’s entertainment. It’s not journalism! Some of the best sports talk shows get their facts wrong,” and as Oliviero suggested, people generally don’t seem to mind. (Well, some listeners – including this one – mind, but that’s another story.)

Sports radio in our market has changed so profoundly in recent years that if erstwhile late-night host Ed Kaplan returned to the genre – with all the pop culture talk and debate about irrelevant issues such as Dwyane Wade’s wardrobe selection – he would feel as out of place as a monk at Club Mansion.

Dan Le Batard, who has the market’s highest sports-talk ratings, says he has taken three listener calls – three! - in the past couple of months, though he reads select e-mails and texts.

Le Batard and Jon Weiner can go days without mentioning the Dolphins, and the audience doesn’t seem to mind in the least. (That would have been unfathomable a decade ago in this market.) Pop culture has become a vital component of most of the market’s sports shows, with Le Batard routinely opining on everything from race to hatchet-wielding hitchhikers.

“Sports-talk radio has evolved from the curmudgeonly God-like radio figure and his subservient radio listeners to creating a community where the host is surrounded by members of his audience,” said WQAM program director Jorge Sedano, noting that WQAM did “very little” pop culture talk when he arrived last year, but “now there’s more of a balance – probably 70 to 80 percent sports, 20 to 30 percent pop culture. Men have other interests, too.”

A dozen notes and thoughts on sports talk radio in our market:

### An executive with one of the local sports stations said there are clearly too many all-sports stations in the market and that it has splintered the audience and hurt all of them, to the point where none of the five (WQAM-560, WMEN-640, WINZ-940 and sister stations 790 The Ticket and 104.3 FM) ranked in the top 10 last month among men 25 to 54, their target audience.

WQAM was 22nd, WINZ 32nd and WMEN 37th. The combined audiences of 790 The Ticket and 104.3 FM – which simulcast most but not all of their programming – would place them 11th, but individually, they are 18th and 26th respectively. So nobody is dominating, though the Ticket --- which has a marketing partnership with The Miami Herald - assuredly would dispute that.

### The difference between the morning shows has been pretty stark recently. In recent months (at least before the NFL draft), WQAM’s Joe Rose offered clearly more Dolphins, draft and UM conversation --- mixed with Heat --- than The Ticket’s Marc Hochman, Jonathan Zaslow and Joy Taylor (Jason’s sister), who have prioritized Heat and pop culture stories recently while also going heavy on the Dolphins stadium story.

So which approach works?

If you combine the simulcast audiences of 790 and 104.3 FM – which the Ticket vehemently insists everyone should do – then the Hochman/Zaslow show handily beat Rose, 3.6 to 1.7, in the last ratings book among men 25 to 54 (March 28-April 24).

If you separate the sister stations – as WQAM insists everyone should do – then Rose (with a 1.7) was very competitive with 790’s 1.6 and 104.3-FM’s 2.0.

The Ticket’s morning numbers, incidentally, have been exceptional among young males age 18 to 34. And Taylor has blended in far better than some of the women hosts injected into morning shows in our market in the past decade.

### Because WMEN’s signal is weak in parts of Dade, Sid Rosenberg’s impact has been modest; his 0.4 share in Miami-Fort Lauderdale was well behind Rose’s and 790’s competing morning shows. Most of his listenership comes from north Broward and Palm Beach. The other morning-drive sports show (on WINZ) has two hosts with long histories in the market: Steve Goldstein and Jeff DeForrest.

### Here’s how the afternoon drive battle has evolved: Le Batard’s combined 4.6 share in April was seventh in the market, beating Sedano. But WQAM would counter that Sedano’s 3.0 (the highest in that time slot on the station in more than three years) beats the individual Le Batard audiences on 790-AM (a 2.8) and 104.3 FM (a 1.9).

### One more ratings note, for those who have either station in their sports radio fantasy league: The Ticket - both on its own, and combined with 104.3 FM -- beat WQAM in the ratings the past four months. WQAM beat the Ticket, on its own, three of the previous four months.

### WQAM made a smart move pairing Adam Kuperstein and Channing Crowder, who have achieved strong chemistry and sustain lively dialogue.

### The Ticket is still mulling what to do in the 1 to 3 p.m. slot; Eric Reed remains the favorite but he must stop interrupting his part-time co-hosts, Ethan Skolnick, Leroy Hoard and Brian London. And he must immediately cease those Stuart Scott-like breathless teases about how we cannot miss, or will not believe, what’s coming up after the break. (Reed, as many of you know, should not be confused with Heat announcer Eric Reid.)

### So what’s the long-term plan with 790-AM and 104.3-FM? Program director Tod Castleberry said the local shows and games that air on both stations will remain on 104.3 permanently.

He isn’t sure what the format ultimately will be on 790. It could be national programming (perhaps ESPN Radio) or possibly non-sports fare. The stations will simulcast programming for at least the next several months.

### The Ticket and 104.3 FM cannot carry ESPN Radio programming at the same time, which is why Colin Cowherd’s 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekday show continues to air only on 790.

Marlins games are airing only on 104.3 FM, and Heat games only on 790, when there are direct conflicts.

### Why do two shows on The Ticket take either no calls or very few? “Anybody can take phone calls,” Castleberry said.

“If you are going to be all caller-driven, you are turning over the airwaves to incessant calls and what are you really learning? Is it entertaining? [Heavy calls] tend to work in blue-collar sports towns: Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston.”

But Sedano said: “My philosophy is interaction is paramount, whether it’s calls or texts or [any] social media. That’s what the shows should be about.”

### ESPN Radio Group vice president Tim McCarthy said on one of the Biltmore panels this week: “Are we developing enough talent? I worry about that.” That has been a challenge in this market, too.

Some of the young hosts, including Zaslow and WQAM’s bright, level-headed Greg Likens, have proved worthy of a larger forum. WQAM’s Brandon Guzio has cultivated a following by becoming the Voice of The Angry Fan II, a role perfected by WMEN’s Orlando Alzugaray.

But our caution to the young hosts would be this: Keep perspective. Don’t overreact to one game. And offer context, something sorely lacking with some hosts.

### One positive about our market: Talk show hosts on WQAM and 790 generally haven’t curtailed criticism of teams whose games air on their station. The one glaring exception is the team-owned Dolphins radio show on WINZ, where the analysts were not as critical as they could or, in some cases, should have been in previous years.

WINZ’s “Finsiders,” by the way, had a 1.3 share last month among men 25 to 54, compared to a 5.5 for Le Batard and 4.3 for Sedano during those two hours.

CBS' Oliviero said if stations allow teams to control their hosts – and if the hosts curb their candor – then they will be exposed as “phony” and the audience “will turn on the talent, and the ratings will go down.” On his WQAM show, Rose – the team’s color analyst on WINZ – wisely has continued to criticize the Dolphins when appropriate.

QUICK HITS

The U.S. Open tennis tournament is leaving CBS - which shared the tournament with ESPN - and moving exclusively to ESPN beginning in 2015.... ESPN rolls out a new series of films Oct. 1, with the first chronicling the Roberto Duran/Sugar Ray Leonard rivalry.

May 15, 2013

Notes, quotes, postscripts after Heat's Game 5 win; Fins add receiver

Postscripts from the Heat’s series-clinching 94-91 Game 5 win against Chicago on Wednesday night:

### Good to see Dwyane Wade come alive with three baskets in the fourth, including two nifty floaters and a dunk.  

“This was the best I felt in all of the playoffs,” Wade said, noting the importance of taking “a mental day yesterday” when he didn't think about basketball.

Wade said of the doubters: “That’s my life. That has always been what I’ve tried to overcome. I understand certain things said. I’m harder on myself than anybody. I would love to be one of those guys that was never injured…. But that’s not in the cards for me. Hopefully, when I walk away from this game, I’ll get the respect my game deserves.”

Said LeBron: “He’s a Hall of Famer. He has two rings. He doesn’t have to prove himself to anybody. When he’s out on the floor, no matter what the stat sheet says, he’s a threat… What he did in the fourth quarter, to come in with two Euro steps and a tip dunk…. I could go on and on about how great he is. I don’t care for the trash talk he receives.”

Said Chris Bosh: “Dwyane is incredible, the way he finished that game. I know a lot of people were giving him that question mark. Even if he was going to play, they weren't really sure what he would bring.”

### LeBron – who closed with 23 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists – said:  “This was a tough series. I have no energy left. We understand how tough the playoffs are. It’s tough to beat a team four times."

### Norris Cole hit a big three in the fourth and ended up shooting 9 for 11 on threes in this series. His fourth-quarter dunk erased the Bulls' final lead of the game with 5:51 left.

### Shane Battier hit just 8 of 28 shots in this series -- all of his attempts were three-pointers -- but he hit two big ones to fuel the Heat's rally from eight down early in the fourth.

### Joakim Noah can’t wait to play the Heat again in postseason, but with Derrick Rose and Luol Deng and Kirk Hinrich available, unlike this series. “We are going to come back healthy and be able to compete with these guys for a long time,” Noah said. “One day, we’ll get our shot.”

### Carlos Boozer – who had game highs in points (26) and rebounds (14) – said if the Bulls are healthy in next year’s playoffs, “We’ll be scary.”

### The Heat has lost Game 1 of a playoff series three times in the Big Three era. They’ve come back to win the next four games all three times.

### The Heat is the first team to advance to three consecutive conference finals since the Lakers (2008-10) and the first Eastern Conference team to do it since the Pistons went six seasons in a row (2003-08).

### Just as it did after dispatching the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, the Heat could be facing another long layoff before its next playoff series.

If the Knicks stave off elimination by beating the Pacers on Thursday night, then the Eastern Conference Finals would not begin until Wednesday, with games to be played every other day.

But if the Pacers beat the Knicks to close out their series on Thursday, the Heat-Pacers Eastern Conference Finals would start Monday. There likely would be several days off between Games 2 and 3 of the series.

The Heat had an eight-day layoff after beating Milwaukee and wasn’t sharp in a Game 1 loss to Chicago.

### This was Miami's first single digit win this postseason. They won the other seven games by an average of 18.4 points per game.... The Heat is now 74-17 this season, including postseason.

### Sports Illustrated’s list of the highest-paid U.S. athletes includes James at No. 2 ($56.5 million), Wade 11th (at $28.6 million) and Bosh 47th (at $18.5 million). Those figures are obviously supplemented by endorsements. As far as salary, James and Bosh are earning $17.5 million this season, Wade $17 million.

### Bosh said James’ new free throw technique makes him look “like a 6-8 version” of Ray Allen. “That’s the only difference.” James has tried to emulate Allen’s technique on free throws and made 19 of 20 in Games 3 and 4. He was 12 for 15 in Game 5.

“They spend a lot of time together after practice,” Spoelstra said. “Free throw shooting is an area he wants to improve. There’s no better person to go to than Ray Allen.”

 FINS NOTE

Besides signing quarterback Aaron Corp on Wednesday (see our last post), the Dolphins also claimed receiver Marvin McNutt off waivers from Philadelphia.

The Eagles' sixth-round pick last season, McNutt spent most of last season on the practice squad but was active for four games but did not catch a pass.

As a senior at Iowa in 2011, he caught 82 passes for 1315 yards and 12 touchdowns. His offensive coordinator at Iowa was Ken O'Keefe, now the Dolphins' receivers coach.

McNutt will compete with Armon Binns, Rishard Matthews and four undrafted rookies for the Dolphins' No. 4 and No. 5 receiver jobs.

 

May 14, 2013

Noon Wed. update: Wade; Fins QB signing; Fins notes: Wallace's views, RBs battle and more; Canes

The Wednesday buzz column is below. First, a Wednesday noon update:

The Dolphins signed former USC and Richmond QB Aaron Corp to compete with heavy front-runner Pat Devlin for the No. 3 job. Agent Joe Linta said the Dolphins summoned Corp to Miami for a workout on Monday and signed him to a one-year deal (non-guaranteed).

A former Parade All-American in high school, Corp entered 2009 as the starter at USC but suffered a broken bone is his left leg and lost the job to Matt Barkley. His final numbers in two years at USC: 19 for 30, 168 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception.

He transferred to Richmond, started five games in 2010 before an ACL injury and threw 17 TDs and 13 picks as a senior in 2011. He set the NCAA FCS record for completing percentage by completing 31 of 34 in a game against Towson. He went undrafted and has been cut three times since - twice by Buffalo and once by Dallas.

Pro Football Weekly's take: "Tough, smart, competitive up and down performer. Could be groomed as back in dink-and-dunk, West Coast offense." The Dolphins like Devlin, so it would be a big surprise if Corp beats him out. But he gives the Dolphins a fourth QB arm during its summer program.... 

### Dwyane Wade did not speak to reporters this morning, but Chris Bosh said he expects Wade will play tonight in Game 5 against Chicago. Erik Spoelstra said Wade had a good shootaround this morning and will be re-evaluated before the game.... Luol Deng did not travel to Miami and is out for Chicago. Kirk Hinrich is unlikely to play. And yes, Derrick Rose is out again.... If the Heat wins tonight and the Pacers beat the Knicks on Thursday, then the Eastern Conference Finals will begin Monday in Miami. Otherwise, the Eastern Finals would begin next Wednesday.

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WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Dolphins tidbits culled from Tuesday’s well-done community event in which each Dolphins player joined one elementary school student for a couple of hours at Dave and Busters:

### Receiver Mike Wallace really, really likes his new quarterback’s skills and potential.

Asked if Ryan Tannehill can become as good as Ben Roethlisberger, Wallace said, “Definitely. It’s funny; they both played receiver at the beginning of college. They both know what we [receivers] like to do out there, so the chemistry is there already. Both have strong arms. Ryan has a cannon, can really fling it.

“Ryan may be able to throw the ball a little farther than Ben. Obviously, Ben is more experienced in game time experience. The way it’s going, it won’t take long for Ryan to be one of the great quarterbacks. I feel like we can make a lot of big plays.”

He said developing chemistry with Tannehill “will not take as much time as people think. By the time we get to training camp, we’ll be fine. We throw two to three times after practice every day.”

It helps that Tannehill “always wants to work, never wants to take a second off,” Wallace said. “….I like this team. I like how everybody works. Not much talking, just grinding. That’s the way it should be. I’m one of the older guys on this team, so it’s different than being in Pittsburgh.”

Brian Hartline does much of the talking in receivers meetings because “I don’t know anything,” Wallace said. “So I’m quiet in the room. So is Brandon Gibson. Brian takes the edge off the room. He’s a cool dude.”

### Jonathan Martin is relieved that he finally knows what side he will be playing on. “It’s exciting to play left tackle in the NFL – that has been a dream my whole life,” he said. “And it’s nice knowing what your position is.”

Martin -- who played left tackle at Stanford and right tackle for 12 games for the Dolphins before Jake Long's injury forced him to move to the left side to close last season -- said has been devouring four meals a day, plus snacks. to put on 20 pounds, to 318. That's the weight he wants to play at. He said he’s not only bigger but also “stronger and tougher.”

The Dolphins are privately very optimistic about his chances of becoming a good left tackle.

"He’s going to do a great job," Mike Pouncey said. "He’s more fluid over there.”

### Jared Odrick said he doesn’t view the selection of Dion Jordan as a threat to his job: “None whatsoever,” Odrick said. "I plan on being a solid, consistent contributor to this defense for many years to come.

“People keep asking me, because my position on paper says right defensive end, am I worried about it? No. We have a few things up our sleeve for this season in terms of my role. It’s exciting.”

The Dolphins can play Odrick and Jordan together (with Cam Wake, Randy Starks and Olivier Vernon) on some passing downs. Jordan can play linebacker, too. And Odrick, of course, can also play defensive tackle and moves inside on passing downs.

Odrick said the Dolphins “let me know what they were thinking” before adding a pass-rusher.

### Though Lamar Miller is considered the front-runner for the starting running back job, Daniel Thomas said he shouldn’t be overlooked.

“I don’t know why [Miller] would have the inside track,” Thomas said. “It’s an open competition. Everybody has a fair shot. The best player is going to get the job. Nobody has a leg up. I’m looking to be that guy…. That’s why I put the work in.”

He said he trained in Arizona with other players including Tim Tebow, Terrell Suggs, LaRon Landry and James Harrison: “I wanted to get my legs back stronger [after knee surgery],” he said. “I’ve been very inconsistent. I’ve had a lot of injures. This is the year I’ve got to put everything together. When I’m healthy and on top of my game, I feel like I can play with the best of them.”

Thomas averaged 3.6 yards on 91 carries last season. Miller averaged 4.9 on 51.

### Miller, meanwhile, reiterated “my goal is to become a starter” and has set lofty goals: 1500 yards and 5.0 per carry. “I’m trying to get bigger and faster, improve my explosiveness so I can break more tackles, make guys miss. Trying to become a great back in this league.”

Miller, who said he is staying at 215 pounds but adding more muscle mass, has been working out with 49ers running back and fellow UM alum Frank Gore, who counseled him on lessons learned in the NFL.

### After initial discussions with the Dolphins, Koa Misi said they will not be switching him to middle linebacker and he expects Dannell Ellerbe to play the position.

“Just watching Ellerbe and [Philip] Wheeler, they seem pretty fast,” Misi said. “We’ll be making a lot of plays this year.”

### Cornerback Richard Marshall, limited to four games last season because of back problems, said he was cleared Monday for on-field work. Cornerback Brent Grimes (off an Achilles' injury) and guard Lance Louis (knee) also expect to be fine for training camp.

CHATTER

### Derrick Griffin, rivals.com’s No. 3 receiver prospect and No. 81 hoops prospect in this class, must still pass a Texas-required “exit test” to be eligible to attend UM and play football and basketball, his Terry (Tx.)-based high school athletic director said, adding resolution is expected within a couple weeks. The athletic director said junior colleges have been in contact with Griffin in case he doesn't qualify. The athletic director, Mike Rice, said he could not speculate on the chances of Griffin passing the test, though everyone is hopeful.

UM's basketball team is really counting on him to contribute significantly this season. Rice said his GPA and ACT score have met requirements.

### Analyst Tom Lemming on UM’s new oral commitment, quarterback Brad Kaaya: “Good arm strength, poise, leadership, good size [6-4]. Very good prospect. USC and UCLA were looking at him."

### Multi-position Ray Lewis III and cornerback Artie Burns were among UM players expected to enroll this week. Lewis will play either running back or defensive back.

### Former UM and ex-UF assistant Aubrey Hill, whose college career has been sidetracked by the UM/NCAA investigation, is one of seven people interviewing for the head coaching job at his alma mater, Carol City High, according to the school's principal.

### Dreams-on-hold file Seattle: cut ex-Cane Ramon Buchanan after rookie minicamp, and Tampa did not sign ex-Canes Robert Marve, Dalton Botts and Jeremy Lewis after tryouts. Marve, of course, played at Purdue after transferring. His former competition at UM, Jacory Harris, will be competing to make the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos.

### FSU coach Jimbo Fisher isn’t allowing elite Booker T. Washington linebacker Matthew Thomas to void/escape his FSU letter of intent to sign with Georgia or Southern California instead. Fisher will meet soon with Thomas and his mother to try to persuade them to stick with his FSU commitment. But Thomas has said he won’t report to FSU this summer, unless he changes his mind.

### Even before blocking four shots Monday – bringing his playoff total to 16 - Chris Bosh told us this is the best he has played defense in his life: “I was an average defender in Toronto, not very good. It’s about the culture here, not wanting to my teammates down. You hear what great defenders LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are. I want that.”

### Please see our last post for more Heat news from Tuesday.