Quick Thursday update: UM has lost out on another defensive tackle that it coveted. Delvon Simmons, who is transferring from Texas Tech (where he was a quality starter), announced this afternoon he has picked USC over UM. Simmons visited here over Memorial Day weekend. He would not have been eligible until the 2014 season. DT remains a UM priority, especially with Curtis Porter entering his senior season.
WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN
For insight on the Heat-Spurs NBA Finals matchup, we solicited input from two former coaches (Jeff Van Gundy and NBA TV’s Sam Mitchell), two Eastern Conference scouts and four Indiana Pacers players. Some highlights:
### Pacers forward Danny Granger and one of the scouts picked Miami; the others called it a toss-up excluding Van Gundy, who wasn’t asked to pick because he’s announcing the games for ABC.
“The Spurs are absolutely a bigger challenge to Miami than Indiana –- they’re not going to turn the ball over like Indiana did, and they’re a better shooting team than Indiana," Mitchell said. (The Spurs were second in field-goal percentage this season to the Pacers’ 26th.)
What's more, Mitchell said, “The Heat has no deterrent to keep Tony Parker out of the lane. And you have a coach with four championships and he’s had 12 days to prepare. Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter aren’t as physical as Roy Hibbert and David West, but they will give them problems because they are just as big and better athletes than Hibbert.”
Mitchell, who coached Chris Bosh in Toronto, added: “I’ve never seen Bosh struggle like this. And if Bosh and Dwyane Wade play the way they’ve played, how can you not pick San Antonio?”
So why does Mitchell hesitate? “If LeBron James was Paul George or just a regular All-Star, it would be San Antonio hands down. But LeBron makes it a tossup. If I had to bet, I would probably go 51/49 Spurs.”
### Granger said “as much as people talk” about Miami’s struggles against bigger teams, “they still keep beating teams with size. We’re probably the biggest team where we have a tandem of Hibbert and West and they beat us. So despite what people say, I don’t see it hurting them in the Finals.”
Granger picks Miami “because of LeBron. He can turn it on when he wants, can create when he wants. He’s making threes now and that was his weakness.”
### But Indiana’s Paul George cautioned: “Tim Duncan is one of those guys you can’t game plan [against] and it will be tough for Miami…. It’s a tossup.”
Pacers and ex-Spurs guard George Hill said Miami “is going to have problems with the whole team. Kawhi Leonard is one of the top defenders in the league.”
### Pacers guard D.J. Augustin said what should most concern the Heat is the Spurs “are just so smart and they’re not going to let great plays rattle them. They’re going to stay composed because they’ve been there before. It’s going to go down to a Game 7.”
### The scouts said they would open with Udonis Haslem defending Tim Duncan. “Haslem’s a better defender on him and it keeps Bosh out of foul trouble,” one scout said.
That scout said though Splitter isn’t as productive offensively as Duncan or West, “Splitter is more willing to go to the perimeter and guard Bosh than West was.” And “Splitter is more mobile than Hibbert,” the other scout said.
### Granger called Tony Parker “an unwinnable matchup” for Miami –-- “he’s playing out of his mind,” Granger said--- and the scouts couldn’t envision James guarding him for more than a few minutes a game.
“I don’t even know if LeBron can keep up with him,” one scout said. “Maybe Norris Cole could bother him a little.”
### On the James/Leonard matchup, Van Gundy said on a conference call: “I love Leonard –- he’s the human mute button. He doesn’t say a lot, but his game talks very loudly. He has improved dramatically offensively. He came into the league an aggressive defender. You aren’t stopping LeBron, but you want to at least reduce his efficiency somewhat. They have a matchup that gives them a chance.”
### One scout said his biggest concern for the Spurs would be who will guard James when Leonard is on the bench: “Maybe Danny Green, but he’s too small. Manu Ginobili is too small. I would put Matt Bonner on him because he’s the same size, but he’ll be exposed by LeBron in isolation.”
### Though Green starts, Ginobili will finish games in a compelling shooting guard matchup with Wade. One scout said he would rather have Ginobili over the diminished Wade “because he’s a much better shooter from distance and just as good going to the rim.”
But the other scout said: “Wade’s the better player, even in this state. Ginobili has lost a little. He’s not as consistently effective.”
### The Spurs have an answer for the Heat’s small lineup because, as Van Gundy said, “the beauty of San Antonio is they can play big with Splitter and Duncan or they can downsize with four [on the perimeter, including] Matt Bonner or Boris Diaw. That flexibility gives them the ability to adapt to whatever the game situation calls for.”
### Please see the last post for my position-by-position breakdown of Heat-Spurs.
### How good was the 37.1 local TV rating for Game 7 of Heat-Pacers – equaling 37.1 percent of Dade/Broward homes with TV sets? Not only did it smash the local rating for Game 7 of the Heat-Celtics Eastern finals last June (a 25.0), but it wasn’t far off from CBS-4’s 40.7 rating for this year’s Super Bowl.
By contrast, the rating was much smaller in Indianapolis for Monday's game (a 21.9). Nationally, the game was seen in 7.1 percent of U.S. homes - the most watched NBA game ever on TNT.
### Two Dolphins free agent pickups -- linebacker Philip Wheeler and receiver Brandon Gibson -- are going through growing pains. Tight ends often have gotten open against Wheeler and other linebackers in practice and Wheeler said he has to “learn the defense, stop making mistakes… so I can cover tight ends like I did last year” with Oakland.
Gibson, adjusting to playing the slot, dropped a pass Monday and has been outplayed by Armon Binns.
### After filing a complaint with the Coral Gables police alleging that an NCAA investigator “coerced" him to provide answers to aid the NCAA’s investigation, UM defensive end Dyron Dye on Tuesday was referred to the state attorney’s office, to whom he will present his case later this week. The state attorney's office then would decide whether to consider filing charges.
### UM remains optimistic about luring Texas guard Sheldon McClellan, who visited last week, but he might check out LSU or Oregon.
### Ballyhooed UM quarterback commitment Kevin Olsen was charged with leaving the scene of an accident after he crashed his car first into a tree, and then shortly after that, into another car, according to a Wayne Hills, N.J. police report. It shouldn't affect his status at UM. Olsen expects to redshirt this season.
### The ACC on Tuesday announced UM's crossover games from 2014 through 2024. UM plays at Louisville in 2014, but many expect Cardinals junior-to-be quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to turn pro after the 2013 season, with Mel Kiper ranking him the No. 2 overall prospect, behind South Carolina end Jadeveon Clowney.
For longterm planners, here are the other nine UM crossover games, in order starting with 2015 through 2024: at NC State, Syracuse, at Boston College, Louisville, at Wake Forest, NC State, at Clemson, Boston College and at Syracuse.
### ESPN has the Marlins picking Nevada right-hander Braden Shipley (7-2, 2.77 ERA) sixth overall in Thursday’s draft, but they also would be happy with right-handers Jonathan Gray (Oklahoma/ 10-2, 1.59) or Mark Appel (Stanford/ 10-4, 2.12) if they surprisingly slip.
They would love to take college third basemen Colin Moran (North Carolina/ .351, 13 HR, 85 RBI) and Kris Bryant (San Diego/ .329, 13, 62) – who might not be far off from the majors - but both could be gone by No. 6. The top high-school players in Miami’s range are both Georgia outfielders – Austin Meadows and Clint Frazier.