PLEASE SEE THE LAST TWO POSTS FOR HEAT UPDATES ON THE EVE OF GAME 6
FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN
The UM football and basketball programs have made and acted on significant and justified philosophical changes in non-conference scheduling.
The UM football coaches did not agree with playing as grueling a non-ACC slate as it did in 2012 (Notre Dame, Kansas State, USF, plus overmatched Bethune Cookman), and here’s the new preferred approach: one marquee game, two games in which Miami will typically be favored, and one versus a lower-division school.
For the 2014 season, UM will play at Nebraska and home against Florida A&M and is working to finalize home games against Southern Mississippi and Arkansas State, both part of a home-and-home series. Also booked:
For 2015: Nebraska, at FAU… 2016: at Notre Dame, FAU, and Florida A&M… 2017: Notre Dame… 2018 and 2019: home-and-home with Rutgers… Also, UM will play a home-and-home with Toledo between 2015 and ’18… 2020 and 2021: home-and-home with Michigan State. Many games will be added, with advanced talks progressing on a home-and-home with Penn State.
Meanwhile, UF athletic director Jeremy Foley indicated at the SEC meetings this week that any future UM-UF games beyond their Sept. 7 meeting in Miami is “really unlikely,… not high on the agenda.”
This coming season, UM plays host to FAU, UF and Savannah State and visits USF.
Conversely, UM hoops wisely has gone the other direction under this staff, booking a non-conference schedule that was ranked fourth-toughest last season and will be difficult again this winter, with home games against four teams well above .500 last season (LaSalle, Loyola of Maryland, Central Florida and Norfolk State) and road games at College of Charleston, Nebraska and three undetermined games in a loaded Anaheim Thanksgiving tournament featuring Marquette, San Diego State, Arizona State, among others.
"There’s a lot of evidence that if you don’t challenge yourself in non-conference and are around .500 in a BCS league, they don’t [invite] you” to the NCAA Tournament,” UM assistant coach Eric Konkol said.
Recovered from back surgery, Richard Marshall remains the Dolphins’ first team cornerback, opposite Brent Grimes. But his position looms as one of camp’s best battles, with challenges expected from Dimitri Patterson and potentially rookies Jamar Taylor (out until training camp/sports hernia) and Will Davis, who has impressed with several deflections and a pick.
“I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent yet, but it feels good running around pain free,” said Marshall, who had ruptured disks in his back. “I was in so much pain [last season] I wasn’t eating. I couldn’t walk. I lost 30 pounds…. Starting is the least of my concerns. My concern is getting my feet back under me.”
The Dolphins hope Marshall, who regained the 30 pounds he lost, is the player that allowed a 64.9 quarterback rating and two touchdowns in his coverage area in 16 games (nine starts) for Arizona in 2011, not the one that allowed a 101 rating and two scores in four games (all starts) in 2012.
### The Dolphins are using receiver Brandon Gibson mostly in the slot (in Davone Bess’ old role), even though a Rams source said he is a better player lining up outside. Gibson said it’s not an issue because “I can run any route. I can separate. [And] I can get open.”
### A week after saying on air that Miami does not deserve an NBA team, Pacers radio announcer Mark Boyle hasn’t changed his mind.
Late in Game 2, Boyle said: “These losers are leaving. They’re flocking to the exits with their team down three. This city not only does not deserve this team, they don’t deserve any team.”
Boyle, addressing the comments for the final time, told WQAM’s Adam Kuperstein and Channing Crowder on Wednesday: “I stand behind the general sentiment. My feelings about the fan base were accurately depicted. I regret using the term losers.”
Memo to Boyle: The Heat has sold out 149 consecutive games (regular season and playoffs) and 76 playoff games in a row.
### Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon predicted Thursday the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez “could be the top pitcher in baseball in two or three years.”… Though shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (.187) and catcher Rob Brantly (.228) have hit well below expectations and Brantly has had defensive miscues, manager Mike Redmond said Thursday “keeping them here [as opposed to sending them to the minors] is the best approach. I feel good about those guys and believe in them.”
### UM baseball has made two slight adjustments to try to boost a program that hasn’t made the College World Series since 2008.
UM is recruiting a few less players who are very likely to go pro because “it doesn’t do us any good if they sign and don’t show up on campus,” assistant coach Gino DiMare said. Also, UM is now recruiting more nationally --- it has commitments from the top players in Colorado (a hitter) and Illinois (a pitcher). “We probably focused too much on this area,” DiMare said.
### Again, please see the post below this one for plenty of tidbits from the Heat's Game 5 win.