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30 posts from July 2013

July 10, 2013

Dolphins players address fans; Canes, Heat, Marlins, radio tidbits

A few Wednesday night quick hits:

### Three Dolphins defensive players – Dannell Ellerbe, Philip Wheeler and Jimmy Wilson – answered fans' questions on a conference call tonight, and predictably, there was plenty of happy talk, not unlike what you hear from most teams this time of year. A few highlights from each of them:

Wheeler said there’s such an emphasis on securing more takeaways that “we’ve got balls set up where we can’t even walk into a meeting without stripping someone.”… He said: “We’ve got a complete team. I see a lot of good decisions by Ryan Tannehill, a lot of athleticism at receiver, running back, tight end.”

Ellerbe said: “If guys make plays they’re capable of making, we’ll have a top three defense. We’ve got a fast defense, we’ve got playmakers. It’s one of the fastest teams I’ve played on.”…. On Tannehill: “Our quarterback is playing like a veteran. It surprises me how quick he is. We can play the power game, we can spread them out. We have some of the best tight ends in the game.”

Wilson: “Being able to see Tannehill as a rookie and see him now – he’s increased his skill level leaps and bounds. You have to have more of brain capacity. That’s what he’s picked up. He’s handling the blitzes well.”... Please see my story on the sports home page for the Dolphins' full training camp schedule, announced today.

### Linebacker Devante Bond – a key piece of this UM recruiting class – will not know until after Aug. 2 whether he will qualify for UM, his coach at Sierra Community College said today. Bond is waiting on results of two classes he’s taking.

Coach Jeff Tisdale said he didn’t know Bond’s chances of qualifying but called him “as good a pass rusher as I’ve ever seen.” Bond had 17 sacks last season, and defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio has said he will be an immediate factor, should he qualify.

### The Heat would face a luxury tax bill of more than $33 million if it doesn’t use the amnesty clause in the next week. But consider that the Nets – after acquiring Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry – will face a tax of at least $70 million next season, topping the all-time record (Portland’s $52.9 million bill in 2003). And that bill is in addition to the $98 million the Nets must pay in player salaries.

That’s an absurd cost to finance what could be the fourth best team in the conference, behind the Heat, Bulls and Pacers.... (For more on the Heat's tax conundrum, please see my story on the sports home page.)

### So this is the team Cleveland has assembled to try to lure LeBron James back to Ohio next summer: Kyrie Irving, Anderson Varejao, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waters, Tyler Zeller, Alonzo Gee, rookie No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, free agent pickup Jarrett Jack, and Andrew Bynum and his nuclear knees (Bynum has a team option for 2014-15, as do most of these Cavaliers).

There’s definitely some good young talent on the Cavaliers' roster, and James’ associates don’t rule out a return to Cleveland because of his affinity for the region. But the Heat will clearly be the favorite to keep him next summer.

### Players selected in last month's MLB draft must have signed and passed a physical by 5 p.m. Friday. So realistically, the Marlins need to sign third baseman Colin Moran, the draft’s sixth overall pick, by Thursday afternoon to give him time to take the medical tests, and have the results processed. The Marlins remain optimistic it will get done. They view him as a potential longterm answer at third base. [UPDATE: Moran and the Marlins agreed to terms Thursday afternoon.]

### Steve Lapa, general manager of WMEN 640, has extended Dan Sileo’s on-air audition for two weeks, through the week of July 15. He said if the feedback is good, he will offer Sileo a full-time gig. “So far, it’s been even, pro and con,” Lapa said.        

July 09, 2013

Dolphins buzz on cornerback, quarterback, tight end, other issues; UM, Marlins, Heat

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

With the July 20 start of camp approaching, a sampling of the some feedback we've received from Dolphins players, coaches and others in touch with the team’s front office:

### The Dolphins enter camp feeling much better about cornerback than they did at the close of last season. Nobody was more impressive this spring than newcomer Brent Grimes, who showed no ill effects from last September’s Achilles injury.

Plus, Richard Marshall has moved past his back issues, Joe Philbin has been effusive about Nolan Carroll's offseason (we reserve judgment on Carroll until the games start) and rookies Jamar Taylor and Will Davis drew praise from coaches before Taylor’s sports hernia surgery in May. (Taylor will be ready for camp.) And Dimitri Patterson will be a factor in this competition.

But Grimes is the real story here. The super-athletic Grimes, 29, has surpassed the Dolphins’ expectations so far, displaying a knack for knocking away passes and not allowing Mike Wallace to dominate when they were matched up in May and June practices. “Very good instincts,” Joe Philbin said of Grimes, who made the Pro Bowl in 2010.

Grimes’ teammates rave about him. No predictions here, but he realistically has a chance to be Miami’s best, most consistent cornerback since Sam Madison or Patrick Surtain a decade ago. (Will Allen, Andre Goodman, Vontae Davis and Sean Smith all had their moments, at times, during the past decade.) If Grimes keeps this up once the games begin, re-signing him will become a top priority for 2014.

Grimes, 5-10, can compensate for his lack of height with impressive jumping ability. “I don’t look at corner as a big position,” he said. “I’m short, but I’m not 5-6!”

### Here’s the player feedback on Ryan Tannehill: He’s more instinctive, less mechanical, and less robotic in his reads. For those interested, ESPN’s Ron Jaworski rated Tannehill 24th in his ranking of starting quarterbacks, ahead of Michael Vick (25), Brandon Weeden (26), Christian Ponder, Mark Sanchez, Chad Henne, Kevin Kolb, Jake Locker and Matt Flynn.

### For all the accolades showered on Armon Binns, we hear general manager Jeff Ireland also was very pleased with Rishard Matthews’ offseason. Binns and Matthews enter camp as heavy favorites for the No. 4 and 5 receiver jobs.

### The Dolphins staff believes linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler will make more plays than Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett did. One player said he sees no difference in quality between the tandems so far, but it’s difficult to gauge in offseason work. And Wheeler improved after struggling in coverage earlier in the offseason. Philbin wants quiet conformists, and Dansby and Burnett were not that, though that’s not the reason they were jettisoned.

### Among those competing for the backup tight end job, we’ve heard positive feedback from players on rookie Dion Sims and some continued skepticism about whether Michael Egnew has improved enough to contribute significantly.

### It hasn’t been determined whether guard Lance Louis, off November’s major knee injury, will be ready to open camp, but he’s not far away. If he’s healthy, he has a good chance to beat out John Jerry.

### A Dolphins official on why the team is confident Jonathan Martin can capably handle left tackle: He’s bigger and stronger than a year ago; he wants to play on the left side; and he’s smart and makes adjustments so that he’s not beaten by the same move twice.

### ESPN Monday Night Football announcer Mike Tirico mentioned to me at the NBA Finals that receiver Brian Hartline stopped him in a chance encounter and said how much he loves the team’s culture. “It feels more like a team than it has in the past,” linebacker Austin Spitler told Dolphins fans on a conference call. “Nobody complains.”  

### FYI: Ex-Washburn receiver Joe Hastings, perhaps the most obscure player on the Dolphins roster for the past month, retired Tuesday because of knee problems.

CHATTER

### UM is cautiously optimistic about elite defensive end Alquadin Mohammad’s chances of clearing academic hurdles. “He’s real close to qualifying – I expect him to be at Miami [in August],” his New Jersey high school coach, Don Bosco’s Greg Toal, said Tuesday, adding he still needs decent grades in two summer schools classes….  

### UM’s Al Golden indicated he and new coordinator James Coley plan to stick with large doses of the no-huddle offense that was used last season under Jedd Fisch’s direction… A UM spokesperson said Tuesday, that contrary to Internet chatter, no football players have been suspended for the opener…. AmericanAirlines Arena’s bid to host the Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament in 2016 or 2017 was rejected, but UM is joining others in pushing for the event to be moved from Greensboro to Madison Square Garden in 2016 and beyond.

### Ex-Canes file: Former UM quarterback Jacory Harris failed to beat out three others for a spot on the Edmonton Eskimos’ active roster but landed a job on their practice squad. “I know I can still play – all the CFL teams and the Arena League called,” he said. Harris has been buoyed by encouragement from former NFL and CFL star Warren Moon: “He said he believes I’m a great quarterback.”

### Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez, elated about being an All-Star at 20, said he will bring a bat to the game “and have the whole team sign it. That would be amazing.” The player he’s most excited to meet and possibly face? Boston’s David Ortiz.… Fernandez broke the news to his mother only after pulling a prank and telling her he had been demoted to Double A.

### Though the Marlins would trade pitchers Chad Qualls and Ryan Webb (interest has been limited so far), they have told teams they would need to be overwhelmed to consider dealing Steve Cishek and Mike Dunn, because both are in the 2014 plans…. The Marlins expect to make a multiyear offer to Giancarlo Stanton at some point -- probably this winter -- and will await his response before considering a trade.

### With Chris Andersen re-signing, the Heat expects to wait for a few weeks to see if a young veteran slips through the cracks in free agency and is willing to sign for the minimum. So far, Miami hasn't aggressively pursued any outside free agent. Even several minimum-caliber players that have shown interest in the Heat -- such as Raja Bell - have not received a call from Miami. (Bell, the FIU alum, worked out for the Knicks this week, but the Heat doesn't need another veteran swingman.)

Aside from Jarvis Varnado (who still has trouble finishing around the basket), nobody on the Heat's summer league team has made an undisputed case that he's NBA-ready, though forward James Ennis (19 points Tuesday) and point guard Ian Clark (eight three-pointers in three games) have had their moments. Ennis could use polishing overseas.

### One reason the Panthers are spending not much above the $44 million NHL salary cap floor is they’re losing $15 million to $20 million a year, according to two people with direct knowledge. Plus, they have faith in their young players.

Birdman returning to Heat

The biggest unresolved key issue of the Heat’s offseason reached a favorable conclusion Tuesday, when Chris Andersen agreed to return to the Heat on a one-year deal, according to a person directly involved.

The Heat prefered Andersen re-sign for $1.7 million -– the minimum plus a 20 percent raise, but terms were still being finalized Tuesday. He had at least one offer that was more financially lucrative, according to a source. But Andersen decided to return largely because he enjoyed his Heat experience and wants to try to win another championship.

He also will receive nearly $4.4 million next season from Denver, which used the amnesty provision on him last summer to purge his contract from its salary cap.

Andersen’s decision leaves the Heat with 13 players under guaranteed contracts. Jarvis Varnado has a non-guaranteed deal. A young prospect and a veteran might fill the final two spots. Another roster spot could be created if the Heat uses the amnesty clause on Mike Miller or Joel Anthony.

After signing with the Heat in January, Andersen delivered a needed dose of rebounding and energy off the Heat’s bench, while also displaying a knack for finishing in the basket area, often the result of lobs from Heat teammates.

“We don’t win the championship without picking up Bird midway through the season,” Dwyane Wade said. “Bird was a key to our success.”

The Heat went 39-3 in regular season games in which Andersen played --- the highest winning percentage (92.9) in NBA history.

Andersen averaged 4.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 14.9 minutes per game during the regular season, while shooting 57.7 percent.

During the playoffs, he was especially impactful against Indiana and finished the postseason averaging 6.4 points, 3.8 points, 1.1 blocks and 15.2 minutes per game, while shooting a remarkable 80.7 percent from the field. At one point, he hit 18 shots in a row.

Andersen appreciates how Heat fans embraced him.

“It feels like as soon as I got into the city, I had nothing but big support for me,” he said. “Everywhere I was going, they were rooting me on. To be able to come in here midseason and collaborate with these guys and play for such an extraordinary, talented team and play with some of the best all-time players, it’s amazing.”

July 08, 2013

Heat summer league notes; Canes, Dolphins tidbits

Some quick notes on a Monday night:

### One of the questions entering Summer League was whether Heat center Jarvis Varnado had improved enough to factor into a decision about whether to use the amnesty clause on Joel Anthony, who is due $3.8 million each of the next two seasons.

So far, the results have been mixed. Varnado, the NCAA’s all-time leading shot blocker, has nine blocks in two games, including five in Monday’s 93-86 victory against Brooklyn in Orlando. 

He has expanded his offensive game, evident by his 19-foot jumper in Sunday’s loss to Utah, but also has had trouble finishing around the basket at times and shot 4 for 11 and 2 for 7 in the two games.

His rebounding numbers (13 in two games) have been decent but hardly extraordinary. He has been foul-prone, with six in each game. (Unlike normal NBA games, players are not disqualified from summer league play for collecting six fouls.)

And on Monday, Varnado was outplayed by Nets center Mason Plumlee, who had 9 rebounds and 23 points – including a follow-up dunk over Varnado late in the game. 

### Forward James Ennis, who struggled in the summer league opener, played better Monday, with 17 points (6 for 12 shooting), five rebounds and three steals. Former Belmont point guard Ian Clark replaced Myck Kabongo in the starting lineup and scored 19 points but also committed five turnovers. Kabongo had two points in 12 minutes on Monday.

The Heat’s biggest standout Monday was former Tennessee forward Scottie Hopson, who scored 22 points in 26 minutes on 8 for 13 shooting. He played in Greece and Israel the past two seasons. The Heat continues summer league play at 5 p.m. Tuesday against Orlando (NBA TV).

### There remains optimism about the Heat’s chances of re-signing Chris Andersen because of his stated desire to return and because the more he signs for, the more he's due from Denver (as a result of being amnestied) would be reduced. But eight days into free agency, Andersen still had not informed the Heat of a decision as of late Monday afternoon.

The Heat wants him back for $1.7 million, which is the NBA veteran’s minimum for players with his years of service, plus the maximum 20 percent raise. If Andersen got the $3.2 million mini-level exception that’s available to the Heat and other taxpaying teams, the $4.5 million he’s due next season from Denver would be reduced, by an amount believed to be $900,000. 

The offset would be much less, believed to be $150,000, if he signs for the minimum.

Andersen is expected to make a decision this week. Any decision on whether to amnesty Anthony would need to be made between Thursday and July 17.

### For those who have asked, Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach still had not decided as of Monday evening whether to join the Dolphins, who are interested in him on a low-money deal. Though he likes Miami, he has been waiting for a couple weeks to see if another team is willing to give him a more sizable contract.

The Dolphins remain the front-runner unless another team surprisingly wows him financially in the next two weeks.

### One other Heat note: Center Chris Bosh will visit India from July 16-19 to help promote the sport. He will be the 22nd NBA or WNBA player to visit there since 2006. 

### There was no surprise at UM on Monday when two-sport star Derrick Griffin announced he’s going to prep school for three months. UM was never very optimistic that he would qualify academically this year. He still hasn’t met the necessary ACT requirements.

Griffin told stateoftheu.com that he will enroll at UM in December and play basketball this season, then play football, as well, next season. But he still needs to qualify before any of that becomes a reality. Griffin is a receiver in football, a forward in basketball.

### UM never vigorously pursued Booker T. Washington quarterback Treon Harris and never had interest in him as a quarterback. So there was no great disappointment at UM when Harris announced Monday that he is orally committing to FSU. “That’s the school I’ve liked ever since I was a young kid,” he told rivals.com.

### Hialeah quarterback Alin Edouard’s commitment to UM remains shaky. He re-tweeted a 247sports.com story on Monday that said it seems only a matter of time before he de-commits. He said he plans to visit other schools and that Tennessee, Louisville, Arizona, Cincinnati and Marshall have been pursuing him the most aggressively.

July 06, 2013

Heat loses recuit Monday; Updating UM's 2014 recruiting and local class; Dolphins, Marlins

Two quick notes:

1) Monday 3 p.m. Derrick Griffin, a top UM commitment as a wide receiver and as a basketball forward, told stateoftheu.com that he's enrolling at prep school for three months but plans to enroll at UM in December and play basketball this season.

But Griffin still needs to improve his ACT score, so the basketball staff can't be certain he will enroll in December. If Griffin gets into UM this winter, he plans to play football, as well, beginning in the 2014 season.

2) Rookie forward James Ennis, acquired by the Heat on draft night, and well-regarded point guard Myck Kabongo struggled in the Heat's 69-59 loss to Utah in Miami's opener at the Orlando Summer League on Sunday. Ennis (11 points) shot 2 for 7 and said he was nervous early - which was obvious when he shot an airball on a three-pointer to start the game. Kabongo (3 points) shot 0 for 4 but played well defensively.
Center Jarvis Varnado scored 10 points, on 4 for 11 shooting, making a 19-foot jumper but had difficulty finishing in the basket area at times. He added six rebounds and was a presence defensively, with four blocks. Former Belmont guard Ian Clark led Miami with 15 points, including three three-pointers, and will play for Golden State in the Las Vegas Summer League. The Heat next plays Brooklyn at 5 p.m. Monday on NBA TV.

####################################################################################

SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN

With college coaches circling South Florida, hoping to snag gems from a talent-rich Miami-Dade/Broward 2014 recruiting class, here’s a request: No more absurd drama, please.

Whether it was Alex Collins’ mother taking his unsigned letter of intent and running away with it (briefly), or the Matthew Thomas fiasco, or Denver Kirkland stringing UM along, UM rescinding his offer and then making another one that was rejected, South Florida recruiting has served up more soap operas than daytime television this year.

The peculiar recruiting tale of Collins -- who signed with Arkansas against the wishes of his mother, who preferred he attend UM -- quietly ended for good recently, when the attorney hired by his mother to investigate Arkansas’ recruitment of her son was unable to find any wrongdoing.

“I have no evidence,” attorney Jack Paris said. He said the mother planned to file a complaint with the Broward School Board but decided against it.

Thomas, the nation’s No. 2 linebacker prospect, signed with FSU but said in April he would not report and wanted to attend Georgia or USC instead. But FSU coach Jimbo Fisher wouldn’t grant his release, USC’s calls went unreturned by FSU, and Thomas agreed to remain a Seminole.

A UM official said Thomas told UM he would sign with Miami on National Signing Day, so changing his mind was nothing new for him.

UM coach Al Golden said the 2014 South Florida recruiting class is outstanding, and UM is capitalizing: Ten of the Hurricanes' 20 oral commitments so far are from Miami-Dade and Broward.

Four of those 10 are especially highly rated: Central's Joseph Yearby (rivals.com's No. 7 running back); Central’s Trevor Darling (the No. 17 offensive tackle prospect); Hialeah Champgnat's Travonte Valentine (rated the fourth, 11th or 20th best defensive tackle, depending on whether you believe 347sports.com, ESPN or Rivals); and Northwestern’s Mike Smith (18 sacks last season/No. 21 ranked defensive end by rivals.com).

UM's other non-binding pledges from Dade or Broward: Hialeah three-star quarterback Alin Edouard (his coach said UM has told him it wants him, and he remains committed for now, but I wouldn't bet the mortgage)… St. Thomas Aquinas’ Nick Linder (brother of UM’s Brandon and the No. 10 center)…

Carol City’s Trayone Gray, who runs 4.4 in the 40 and figures to end up at receiver at UM, though he is set to play quarterback this season…. Booker T. Washington’s Demetrius Jackson, who has never played in a high-school football game (he was focusing on basketball) but had five sacks in a spring scrimmage and drew interest from Arkansas and others… And finally, two under-the-radar cornerbacks: Dillard’s Dennis Turner and Miami Northwestern’s Ryan Mayes (formerly of Krop).

So far, ESPN rates UM’s 2014 class 11th overall (FSU is fifth, UF 8th), and Miami’s top four commitments are from South Florida: Yearby (20th among all prospects), Wellington offensive tackle Kc McDermott (45th), Darling (133rd) and Valentine (150th). The UM class also has a few players that didn't receive offers from other major BCS-level schools, but the Canes coaching staff felt they were worth taking a chance on. Only time will tell whether those were good evaluations.

And there’s still work to be done for UM. Here’s the buzz on recruiting analyst Larry Blustein’s top half dozen Dade/Broward recruits – and others – and where UM stands:

1. Plantation American Heritage running back Sonny Michel. Picked Georgia over UM, but UM hasn’t given up on landing a player who spent considerable time around the Miami campus the past few years.

2. Homestead receiver Ermon Lane. He previously told rivals.com (which ranks him second among all receivers) that UM is his “dream school.” But he said last week: “It’s real frustrating. I don’t have a leader.” Alabama and UF are also major contenders for him.

3. Miami Central running back Dalvin Cook. Told rivals.com (which ranks him sixth among running backs) that his oral commitment to UF “is pretty solid – 90 percent - but I’ll let everyone recruit me.” UM is making a hard push; his brother is UM freshman basketball player DeAndre Burnett.

4. Central’s Yearby. He switched from FSU to UM in March and said a few weeks ago: “I’m pretty solid to Miami, but I’ll keep USF in mind” because his former high school coach, Telly Lockette, is now running backs coach there.

UM “tells me I’m not the only [running back] they’re bringing in,” Yearby said. “They always try to keep it straight. That’s what I like about Al Golden and his staff.”

Yearby is trying to get Cook to join him at UM, while Cook is trying to lure Yearby to UF. One associate told me he expects Yearby to end at UM. But asked recently by rivals.com how much he’s listening to other schools, Yearby said: “A lot.”

5. Hollywood Chaminade Madonna’s Khairi Clark -- ranked ninth among defensive tackles – orally committed to UF. And UF also beat out UM, so far, for St. Thomas Aquinas’ Anthony Moten, the nation’s No. 12 defensive tackle. But Moten said he hasn’t ruled out Miami, and UM will continue efforts to flip both. Valentine's commitment somewhat reduces UM's disappointment of losing out on Clark and Moten. But Valentine is no sure thing to qualify, so UM must keep pushing for high-end defensive tackles.

6. Booker T. Washington’s Treon Harris. UM has some interest in Harris as a defensive back (he’s rated the No. 4 athlete by rivals.com) but not as a quarterback. Harris, brother of former UM standout Brandon Harris, told rivals.com he wants to visit UM but prefers to play quarterback. He threw for 25 touchdowns and ran for 15 in 2012.

### Elsewhere: Booker T. Washington’s Chad Thomas, the nation’s No. 11 defensive end who held his own against McDermott at a recent camp, said UM has a “decent” shot…. Curiously, UM has not offered two four-star Fort Lauderdale University School players: cornerback Quincy Wilson (Gators, USC among 40-plus offers) and linebacker Richard Yeargin III (UF, Clemson among 30-plus offers). Wilson told me they’re very surprised by that.

### An associate expects the decision for Plantation’s Chris Lammons (the 26th ranked corner) to come down to UM, UF or South Carolina. “I know I could go [to UM] and start as a freshman, looking at the corners they have,” Lammons told rivals.com. “That’s a big thing I want.”… Booker T. cornerback Nigel Bethel II, the No. 28 cornerback, said he will pick soon from among UM, FSU, Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky and Texas Tech.

### Two Miami-Dade receivers that are orally committed to FSU say they haven’t ruled out UM: Northwestern’s JoJo Robinson and South Dade’s C.J. Worton. And North Miami Beach three-star receiver Steve Ishmael said he’s also considering UM.

### Here are UM’s 10 oral commitments that aren’t from Dade or Broward: Wellington’s McDermott (UM center Shane’s brother and the No. 5 offensive tackle prospect); St. Petersburg four-star offensive tackle Reilly Gibbons (rated 216th among all prospects by ESPN); California-based four-star quarterback Brad Kaaya (rated 253rd overall by ESPN); and Alabama three-star QB Malik Rosier

Georgia-based two-star tight end Christopher Herndon; Orange Park linebacker Darrion Owens (a rising prospect still being pursued by Georgia, Michigan and others); Georgia three-star linebacker Juwon Young (stops short of saying he's 100 percent committed to UM)...

Rangy 6-5 Lantana receiver Darrell Langham (rated 289th overall in ESPN's top 300); and defensive tackles Courtel Jenkins (11 sacks last season at a New Jersey high school; chose UM over Maryland and Pittsburgh) and Dalvon Stuckey, a former FSU commit who had 15 sacks at Pearl River Community College last season. Stuckey will arrive in January and should help immediately at a huge position of need. 

CHATTER

### During the holiday weekend, Golden told syndicated radio host Bill King that UM expects "closure" on the NCAA case "within a month." It could stretch many months longer if UM appeals its sanctions, which is possible if UM deems them unreasonable.... Golden said incoming freshman Corn Elder, who was Mr. Tennessee as a running back the past two years, will be used as a cornerback initially because of need but also will have the option of playing some at slot receiver and could end up there eventually if he chooses.

### A critical summer for center Jarvis Varnado begins Sunday in the Orlando Summer League, with the NCAA’s all-time leading shot-blocker conceding he must show the Heat that he can shoot a 15-footer “consistently and be a Birdman, an energy guy. If I’m active, I’ll be in this league a long time.” As for the more pressing matter of Andersen, a decision is expected shortly; he has been weighing offers from the Heat and other teams.

### Dolphins No. 2 quarterback Matt Moore conceded during a quiet moment recently: “Some might think it’s shocking I didn’t leave for a starting job. A lot of people find that confusing. But I didn’t feel good with the situations” where he could have competed to start. Plus, “I have a nice home here, friends, a great organization. I believe I’m a key component here.”

### Odd story of the holiday weekend: Pictures of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick wearing a Dolphins hat surfaced on the Internet, creating a minor stir. Kaepernick, irritated by the reaction, posted an Instragram picture of himself holding the Dolphins cap with this message: "This is the hat y'all mad at? I'm going to wear what I want regardless of what you think. All you need to worry about is that I grind for my teammates and the 49ers....#ridiculous #ya'll must be bored."

### The three pitching prospects that the Marlins got from the Dodgers for Ricky Nolasco are marginal: starter Angel Sanchez (2-7, 4.88 ERA but 70 strikeouts in 72 innings in low-level A ball); Triple A reliever Steve Ames (2-2, 3.67 ERA but .317 batting average against), and Triple A reliever Josh Wall (1-2, 5.60 ERA, three saves, .270 average against at Triple A). Wall has had two short stints with the Dodgers the past two years and allowed 17 runs in 12 2/3 innings. Yikes!

### Though his defense has been outstanding and his bat has picked up a bit recently, the Marlins expected shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria to hit better than this (.223), considering he batted .273 in the minors and .254 in 41 games for Toronto. “He can hit .250, but he has to make his swing shorter,” Marlins executive Andre Dawson said.

### Marlins officials were told that like FIU and Sun Life Stadium, Marlins Park also will be considered by David Beckham if he picks Miami for an MLS expansion team. Beckham has visited FIU and Sun Life but not Marlins Park and his people have not given the local contenders an update on this thinking.

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Saturday notes: Ennis, Kabongo among those worth watching in Heat summer league

With very few roster spots available, the Heat will search for fresh young talent worth developing when it begins summer league play Sunday against Utah in Orlando (1 p.m., NBA TV). And among the 23 players set to play for the Heat in either Orlando or Las Vegas or both, forward James Ennis and point guard Myck Kabongo bear careful monitoring, with each possessing an appealing skill set.

Kabongo, who went undrafted, was considered a possible first-round pick out of Texas before last season's 23-game NCAA suspension.

Ennis, selected 50th by Atlanta and traded to the Heat on draft night, offers the type of athleticism and position versatility that the Heat likes.

“When we watched James on film, he jumped off the screen with his athleticism and length,” coach Erik Spoelstra said Saturday. “He’s long, has a defensive background. He’s got very good potential in terms of his three-point shooting, especially from the corners. These things all need to be developed. You never know when you get into the second round. You’re just trying to find somebody that fits your philosophy.”

Ennis, 6-7, averaged 16.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks at Long Beach State last season but struggled with his floor game (99 turnovers, 70 assists). He said he’s best suited to play small forward but also can play shooting guard.

When Spoelstra called him at 8 in the morning the day after the draft, “I was surprised. I didn’t recognize his voice. He said, ‘Congratulations and give it your all.’”

Ennis, who said he had no idea the Heat was interested in him before the draft, said he needs to “work on ball-handling and getting my shot off faster.”

Center Jarvis Varnado, the only Heat veteran participating in summer league, said Ennis “is going to be a good player. Coach likes the long, wiry guys. He defends, he’s a slasher, gets into the lane.”

Meanwhile, Spoelstra said the 6-1 Kabongo “has big upside. Our organization has a history of uncovering guys that needed the right fit.”

He piqued the interest of scouts with a dynamic freshman season at Texas (9.6 points, 5.2 assists, 1.3 steals).

But last fall, he began his sophomore season on suspension after the NCAA ruled he accepted personal training instruction from Jerry Powell, a trainer for Rich Paul, who represents LeBron James and now Kabongo, among others.

The NCAA also punished Kabongo for accepting airfare from Cleveland Cavaliers forward Tristan Thompson to attend that workout and also said Kabongo provided “false and misleading information” during two interviews with university officials. Kabongo was forced to repay the airfare.

“It was a minor setback,” Kabongo said Saturday. “The whole thing was me just trying to be a better player. It was never to break any rules.”

He returned for the final 11 games, averaging 14.6 points, 5.5 assists and 2.2 steals and shooting 41.8 percent before deciding to turn pro.

He said not being drafted was “a blessing in disguise. For me to be here in a great organization, they do everything in a first class way. I’m happy to be around something like that.”

Kabongo, a skilled defender who is considered especially effective off the dribble, said he has a “great basketball IQ, can pass pretty well.  I can affect the game at both ends of the court, and I’m a leader. I know I’m not a polished player. I’m going to get there one day.”

He said he has known James since high school and “we’ve been close ever since. He’s always been there for me.”  

LeBron’s only message to his friend after going undrafted? “To work hard wherever you go.”

### Spoelstra said Udonis Haslem will undergo knee surgery on his torn meniscus in the next two weeks and likely will be available for the start of training camp. Haslem played with the injury since February, and Spoelstra said he also played through shoulder, hip and ankle problems.

“The thing about U.D. is he will never, ever talk about it,” Spoelstra said. “It shows you his level of toughness and commitment.”

### The Heat, still awaiting a decision from free agent center Chris Andersen, will have a seven-day window to use the one-time amnesty provision beginning July 11. If it’s used, the likely candidates would be Mike Miller, due $12.8 million over the next two seasons, or Joel Anthony, due $7.6 million over the next two.

The Heat would be required to pay an amnestied player’s salary, but it would not count against Miami’s cap or luxury tax obligations. If the Heat decides to part ways with Miller or Anthony, a better scenario financially would be finding a team willing to absorb either player’s contract in a trade.

### Center Justin Hamilton, the Heat’s 2012 second-round pick, is doing light shooting with the team but isn’t playing in the summer leagues because of a hamstring injury.

### Check back later for the Sunday buzz with Canes, Dolphins, Marlins and Heat.

July 05, 2013

Media column: Marlins ratings plunge; NFL/Fins TV changes; radio news; new ESPN movies

FRIDAY MEDIA COLUMN

Asking and answering media queries from the couch:

### How precipitously have Marlins’ TV ratings plunged?

Even more than the drop in attendance. Last season, through late June, 2.3 percent of Miami-Fort Lauderdale homes with TV sets had tuned into Marlins games, on average, on Fox Sports Florida.

This season, through late June, it was less than half that: 1.1 percent per cablecast, equal to a 1.1 rating and 17,832 homes.

Conversely, regular-season Heat games on Sun Sports averaged a 7.14 rating in Dade/Broward this past season, or 115,747 homes per cablecast. That's more than three times the 2.0 average Marlins rating for all of last season.

The good news for Fox on the Marlins' front? Tuesday's Braves game produced a 2.2 -- the highest Marlins rating this season. So the team's recent surge --- and the end of the Heat's playoff run --- are helping lure at least some viewers back. And Rich Waltz and Tommy Hutton continue to do good work.

### Who’s replacing fired Dan Sileo on WQAM’s UM football postgame show?

Former Hurricanes and Ravens cornerback Duane Starks, who assuredly will not spew the type of venomous rants that cost Sileo his UM gig.

Sileo, meanwhile, continues his on-air audition on WMEN-640 this week. General manager Steve Lapa said he will create a weekday slot for Sileo if there’s positive feedback to his work.

### What NFL broadcast changes can we expect this season?

Fox won’t name a No. 2 announcing team behind Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, but look for the network to give marquee games to a new broadcast pairing: play-by-player Kevin Burkhardt, a New York Mets TV reporter who has called NFL games on radio and former NFL safety John Lynch, who teamed with Dick Stockton last season on Fox. They often will be joined by Erin Andrews, who will do NFL sideline reporting regularly for the first time, in addition to anchoring Fox’s college football studio show.

After the regular season, Fox will decide which broadcast team will work the playoff game that Buck and Aikman do not. Burkhardt and Lynch have a good shot if they’re as good as Fox expects.

Last year, Fox – for the first time in many years – didn’t give a playoff game to Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa, instead choosing Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick.

But Billick unraveled late in that assignment, first by oddly and illogically suggesting that Seattle – at the Atlanta 28 and down by six with 44 seconds left – might consider kicking a field goal and then trying an onside kick. After the game ended, Billick said Seattle won. (Uh, no, Atlanta did.)

CBS has better depth among NFL game analysts: Phil Simms, Dan Dierdorf, Dan Fouts and Rich Gannon, in particular.

But Lynch has potential. Working with Stockton, he displayed a willingness to criticize and a more pleasant delivery than Johnston’s repetitive, humorless, cliché-ridden approach.

Other changes: Ray Lewis joins ESPN's studio....Ronde Barber is in line to replace Lynch as Stockton’s partner on regional games… Scott Pioli, dumped as Kansas City Chiefs general manager, joins the cast of NBC’s Sunday night studio show.

### With Stockton unable to do the Dolphins’ preseason TV package this year, what do you think of Jesse Agler getting the gig?

I like the move. Agler, who anchors the Dolphins’ weeknight radio show on 940-WINZ, was alert and detailed in his call while filling in for Jimmy Cefalo on a few preseason games on radio. He’s viewed as a potential long-term option to succeed Cefalo, but he needs to ace this assignment to remain so.

### What’s going on with Fox’s search to replace Tim McCarver, who is leaving the job after the World Series?

No front-runner has emerged, but Harold Reynolds and Eric Karros will be among those considered. Reynolds has revived his career at MLB Network after being fired by ESPN for sexual harassment in 2006. Two former Braves – John Smoltz and Chipper Jones – also would be worth auditioning.

Smoltz, whose commentary is cogent but a bit wordy, recently was demoted from TBS’ lead team to its No. 2 team. (Ron Darling was promoted to Fox’s lead group, with Cal Ripken and Ernie Johnson Jr.)

### Speaking of TBS, will the Keith Olbermann/Turner marriage last longer than some of his other jobs?

The talented but temperamental Olbermann has a history of burning bridges --– he left ESPN, Fox, MSNBC and Current on less than good terms.

But he might be able to stick around for awhile as TBS’ new playoff baseball host because the gig consumes less than 30 days a year – Olbermann cracked that all of his jobs have lasted at least that long – and, frankly, he’s running out of networks that will hire him.

“This is perfect for me on many different levels,” he said. “Baseball is my passion. Last season, I did this at home to the TV by myself. Now there will be people watching.”

### What does ESPN’s decision to eliminate its 3-D network mean about the platform’s future?

It could spell the end – at least for the foreseeable future – for use of the technology on televised sports. 3-D remains popular in theatres; 36 movies were released in 3-D last year, with revenues flat. But with the evolution of high definition television, TV viewers have shown little appetite to wear special glasses to watch sports.

### What are some of the movies ESPN plans to roll out in its newest “30 for 30” installment?

The Roberto Duran/Sugar Ray Leonard rivalry will be chronicled Oct. 1, and a November debut is scheduled for “The Whack Heard Round The World” – retelling the story of Tonya Harding arranging to have rival figure skater Nancy Kerrigan clubbed in the knee during a practice session before the 1994 Olympics. “The Bad Boys,” reflecting on the Isiah Thomas/Bill Laimbeer/Rick Mahorn Detroit Pistons, is due out next spring.

Two others ESPN films in production that intrigue us: On former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett, who served prison time for robbery; and John Spano, who somehow gained control of the New York Islanders in 1996 before being exposed as a con man who grossly exaggerated his net worth, then served two prison sentences for fraud.

For some non-media, on-field news items, please see the last post.

July 04, 2013

Thursday report: UM recruiting; Dolphins' cap; Heat, NBA free agency; Marlins debut

Happy Independence Day! Some Thursday news and notes:

### UM’s non-binding pledge from Hialeah Champagnat Catholic four-star defensive tackle Travonte Valentine moved the Hurricanes up to third in 247sports.com’s ranking of the top classes, so far, for 2014.

What’s more, UM’s 20 oral commitments are among the most in the country. Among the programs rated in ESPN’s top 30 recruiting classes for 2014, only North Carolina State (22) and Texas (21) have more. Yes, a few of UM’s commitments are unheralded developmental projects, but UM also has four players in ESPN’s top 150.

As for Valentine, he’s ranked fourth among defensive tackles by 247sports.com, 11th by ESPN and 20th by rivals.com. ESPN ranks him the 150th best prospect nationally.

Valentine had 35 scholarship offers and chose UM over Alabama, Tennessee and Louisville. Florida, FSU, Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma were among his other offers. Valentine at one time was orally committed to Louisville, and later to UF, before changing his mind. He de-committed from the Gators in February.

He played at Palm Bay Bayside before transferring this year to Champagnat. “He’s great – one of the top five run stuffers in the country,” Champagnat coach Mike Tunsil said. “And he’s actually a better pass rusher. I’ve never seen a kid with a first step like that. He’s a workaholic.”

Valentine committed during an unofficial visit to UM on Wednesday, Tunsil said. He originally planned to pick a school on his birthday, Nov. 15, but moved up his timetable.

According to Canesport.com, he still has ground to make up to qualify academically. Tunsil said “he is doing great in the class room” at his new school. But he reportedly struggled academically at Palm Bay.

Al Golden -- who turns 44 today -- has to feel very good about what he and his staff have done, considering the NCAA cloud still hanging over the program.

### As of late Wednesday night, Chris Andersen wasn’t quite yet ready to commit for another season with the Heat, but it would be surprising to many if he doesn’t at some point in the next week or so because he has said he wants to return and the Heat wants him back.

So far, at least 17 free agents have committed to new teams --- contracts cannot be signed until July 10 – but well over 100 have not made a decision.

So what have the other Eastern Conference playoff teams been doing in the first week of free agency?

Brooklyn, of course, set itself up to challenge the Heat for a year or two by acquiring Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry from the Celtics for Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Kris Joseph, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans and three future first-round picks. That trade cannot become official for another week.

A Nets starting lineup of Garnett, Pierce, Brook Lopez, Deron Williams and Joe Johnson will certainly command the Heat’s attention. And Brooklyn kept a key bench piece by agreeing to a new deal with Andray Blatche.

But none of the other Eastern playoff teams has made a hugely impactful move. Chicago re-signed Nazr Mohammed and upgraded slightly at shooting guard by signing Mike Dunleavy (10.5 points, 44.2 percent shooting last season) to replace Marco Belinelli (9.6, 39.5).

The Pacers, determined not to pay a luxury tax, rescinded their qualifying offer to Tyler Hansbrough (which hurts their frontcourt depth) but re-signed essential piece David West (three years, $36 million) and upgraded at backup point guard by replacing DJ Augustin (35 percent shooter last season) with CJ Watson (41.8 percent).

The Knicks improved somewhat by dealing Steve Novak, Marcus Camby, Quentin Richardson, a 2016 first-rounder and two second-round picks to Toronto for 7-foot finesse, three-point shooting big man Andrea Bargnani, who’s coming off a disappointing, injury-shortened season (12.7 points, 3.7 rebounds). The Knicks also are reportedly close to re-signing J.R. Smith to a four-year deal.

In a three-team sign-and-trade, the Bucks dealt free agent J.J. Reddick, who had no intention of re-signing, to the Clippers and are trying to sign O.J. Mayo to replace him. The Hawks re-signed Kyle Korver (four years, $24 million) and await word from Josh Smith, who is being wooed by Detroit and others.

### The Dolphins, who already have $13 million in cap space that can be carried over to next year, can add another $7.3 million by cutting cornerback Dimitri Patterson ($4.6 million) and Dan Carpenter ($2.7 million). Those are the two veterans clearly most at risk of being released before the season starts; nobody else is close.

We’re not predicting any of these players will be released, but here would be the cap savings if the Dolphins cut a few others: John Jerry ($1.3 million); Nate Garner (only $566,000; that’s not enough of an incentive to cut a versatile, capable reserve); Austin Spitler ($1.32 million; battling for a backup linebacker job). Curious about anybody else? Drop us a line.

### When 23-year-old right-hander Henderson Alvarez makes his 2013 Marlins debut tonight after missing the first three months with shoulder inflammation, we will begin to see if his performance catches up to the quality of his stuff.

“He has explosive stuff at times and a complete repertoire,” Marlins executive Larry Beinfest said earlier this year.

But that hasn’t translated into results. In finishing 9-14 with a 4.85 ERA, Alvarez allowed an absurd 270 base-runners in 187 innings for Toronto last season, including 29 homers and a .290 average against. Cleanup batters hit a ridiculous .342 against him.

“Alvarez is a better pitcher than he showed in Toronto,” one scout told us this spring. “The key for him is getting good sink on his fastball.”    

July 02, 2013

Several UM 2013 recruits in jeopardy; Tidbits on UM's arriving class; Dolphins, Heat, Marlins

Quick 6 p.m. Wednesday update: UM got a big oral commitment today from Hialeah Champagnat's Travonte Valentine, rated among the nation's top 20 senior-to-be defensive tackles. Check back later for more on this.

WEDNESDAY BUZZ COLUMN

Most of the incoming UM football class – the one that started with 16 players and just kept growing after Signing Day --- has arrived on campus. That’s the good news.

The discouraging news: Four key pieces to this class aren’t here because they have not qualified academically: highly-regarded tight end/receiver/basketball player Derrick Griffin and three defensive players needed to bolster a shaky pass rush: Defensive end Alquadin Muhammad, end/tackle Ufomba Kamalu and end/linebacker Devante Bond.

A UM official said Tuesday that though it’s still possible Griffin might qualify, it’s not looking promising and he still has a lot of ground to make up academically. Muhammad and Kamalu also are in jeopardy --- their former coaches declined to discuss their predicament --- and an academic official at Bond’s school said on the record that it’s very much unclear if he will make it to UM this year.

On the record, UM declined to speculate on the chances of any of the four, so this will remain unresolved for several more weeks, at least.

Receiver/tight end Ryheem Lockley didn’t achieve the needed test score and will attend Fork Union Military Academy this fall, then hopes to enroll at UM this spring.

On the flip side, several players who should help immediately have already enrolled. Looking at where the incoming class stands:

### Defensive line: With Muhammad and Kamalu in limbo, it’s a good thing former Wisconsin starting defensive end David Gilbert (42 tackles, four sacks last season) is planning to enroll at UM, pending finalizing of paperwork. He would be eligible to play immediately, and certainly talented enough to start ahead of Shayon Green, but his history of foot injuries is worrisome.

UM has been counting on Muhammad, Kamalu and Bond --- or at least one or two of them --- to provide immediate pass rush help, coordinator Mark D’Onofrio has said repeatedly, because “all three have shown they can rush the quarterback.”

But Gilbert’s arrival, health provided, would lessen the need for Muhammad --- whom Al Golden calls “one of the premier pass rushers in the country” –-- to play right away, IF he qualifies. Gilbert, Anthony Chickillo, Green, Kelvin Cain, Tyriq McCord, Dyron Dye (if eligible), Jelani Hamilton and new arrival Julio Derosier would be available at defensive end regardless of whether Muhammad gets into school this fall.

Kamalu, if he makes it, could play end and also tackle,where nobody has seized the No. 4 job behind Curtis Porter, Olsen Pierre and Luther Robinson.

### Linebacker: January arrival Alex Figueroa was the most pleasant surprise of spring ball and is a heavy favorite to start. Golden said he expected him to hit a wall at some point during spring practice, but it never happened.  

Jermaine Grace, ESPN’s 11th-best linebacker in this class, arrived in May and has a decent chance to earn time at a position depleted when UM parted ways with Eddie Johnson and Gionni Paul.

Grace -– whom Golden called “one of the two best linebackers in the state” -- had 140 tackles (20 for loss), nine sacks and two interceptions at Miramar High last season, and assistant coach Micheal Barrow calls him a “combination of Sean Spence and Denzel Perryman.” What's more, UM people have been raving about his character and leadership.

And don’t forget late addition Walter Tucker – a football and track standout at Plantation American Heritage. He’s a high-energy linebacker with superior speed to chase down ball-carriers. But not having Bond, who had 17 sacks in junior college last year, would be a big loss if he doesn’t qualify. Bond and McCord are ideal for the hybrid rush end/linebacker role.

### Cornerback: Artie Burns, rated ESPN’s 10th-best corner, arrived in May and will try to beat out Nate Dortch for the No. 4 job behind Ladarius Gunter, Antonio Crawford and Tracy Howard. “Burns is a superstar, a tremendous talent,” Golden said.

Northwestern coach Stephen Field said of Burns: “For a guy with all the speed he has, to be able to be physical at the same time is very impressive.”

### Safety: Jamal Carter, rated the No. 21 safety by rivals.com, arrived in May and likely will begin camp behind at least four veterans: potential starters Deon Bush and Rayshawn Jenkins and seniors A.J. Highsmith and Kacy Rodgers.

Former UM assistant coach Don Soldinger, who knows Carter well, said he has the potential to be “a great one.”

### Receiver: Stacy Coley, who enrolled last week, might be UM’s best recruit – he was ESPN’s fourth-rated receiver – but will be hard-pressed initially to crack a top five of Allen Hurns, Phillip Dorsett, Herb Waters, Rashawn Scott and Malcolm Lewis. But he could return kicks immediately, and his time at receiver will come eventually.

“Stacy is a No. 1 receiver,” UM receivers coach Brennan Carroll said. “He’s got ridiculous transition ability, great hands. We’re going to throw balls to him in the end zone and he’s going to score touchdowns and he’s going to tell you about it.”

### Tight end: Beau Sandland and Standish Dobard arrived in January. Sandland, a one of the top junior college tight ends in the country last year, is ahead of Dobard, and will enter camp trying to hold off Jake O’Donnell and Dobard for the No. 3 job, with the hope of overtaking Asante Cleveland, who finished the spring ahead of likely starter Clive Walford.

“I was impressed with Beau because of his natural talent,” tight ends coach Larry Scott said earlier this offseason. “There’s still an adjustment for him. You’ve got to be able to handle being moved around.”

Before leaving for Alabama’s staff, Mario Cristobal dubbed Sandland “the Shock-Meister” because of his similarities to former Canes great Jeremy Shockey. “Every time he has a chance, he’s looking to run somebody over,” Cristobal said.

UM loves Dobard, because of his speed and how difficult he is to bring down. But UM’s depth at tight end will give him time to develop.

### Running back: UM is eager to see Gus Edwards, who enrolled last week, and will compete with Dallas Crawford and Eduardo Clements (if cleared medically) for carries behind Duke Johnson. Former UM running backs coach Terry Richardson, who left for the Jacksonville Jaguars in February, said Edwards reminds him of former NFL standout Eddie George.

UM coaches love that Edwards barrels over defenders and doesn’t run out of bounds.

One of UM’s post Signing Day additions, Corn Elder, arrived last week and will play basketball, too. He was Tennessee’s Mr. Football in 2011 and 2012 and is quick, shifty and can also play in the slot, where UM will consider using him at times.

UM is listing Ray Lewis III as a running back, but he can also play defensive back if needed. The Canes will decide within the coming months where he best fits.

### Quarterback: Kevin Olsen figures to redshirt and some around the program make him the favorite to beat out Ryan Williams for the starting job in 2014, with Gray Crow and 2014 recruits Brad Kaaya, Alin Edouard (if he sticks) and Malik Rosier also challenging. Preston Dewey is still on the roster, too, but unlikely to get on the field.

### Offensive lineman: Tackle Sonny Odogwu arrived in January and impressed coaches but is still viewed as a developmental project. At least two of the young tackles --- Odogwu, Alex Gall and Hunter Knighton -- could end up redshirting.

### Punter: Pat O’Donnell, a May arrival, will replace Dalton Botts after ranking 57th among 118 in puting average for the University of Cincinnati last season, at 41.8.

CHATTER

### To his surprise, the Dolphins haven’t made a multiyear offer to defensive tackle Randy Starks since slapping him with the $8.45 million franchise tag – which happened after Starks rejected a multiyear offer that wasn’t remotely close to his asking price. But we hear Starks, who sat out most of the offseason program, has a good attitude going into camp and won't complain about his contract.

The Dolphins also haven't talked to 2014 free agent Paul Soliai about an extension. Miami likely will choose between Starks and Soliai next spring. 

### The MGM Grand and 11 other Nevada casinos have changed the Dolphins odds’ from winning the Super Bowl from 50 to 1 to 60 to 1; only 11 teams have longer odds. So the enthusiasm about the team locally isn't necessarily mirrored in betting trends in Las Vegas.

And despite losing Aaron Hernandez, the Patriots’ odds were changed from 10 to 1 to 8 to 1 this week because there was so still much money coming in on New England. As one MGM sports book official said, people are still convinced the Patriots will be Super Bowl-quality because of Brady/Belichick.

### The Heat showed zero interest in UM’s Kenny Kadji, who joined Cleveland’s summer league team and also passed on Reggie Johnson, Julian Gamble and Trey McKinney Jones, who are still looking for jobs.... Undrafted Gators guard Kenny Boynton joined the Lakers’ Summer League team.

### Among the players on the Heat's summer league team is forward Ricky Sanchez, a Puerto Rico national team member that Miami received in the Dexter Pittman trade with Memphis. Sanchez, who was in Argentina this past season, has played overseas, in the NBDL and in the CBA since Portland drafted him 35th in 2005. Though he has never played in the NBA, he has the distinction of being traded for three players who have (Pittman, Jarrett Jack and Sam Young)... Tough break for center Justin Hamilton, the Heat's second-round pick out of LSU in 2012. After leaving a foreign team earlier this season because he wasn't paid, Hamilton now will miss summer league because of a hamstring injury... Please see the last post for Miami's full summer league roster.

### The Padres left town raving about the Marlins’ pitching staff. “It reminds me of the Josh Beckett, A.J. Burnett staff,” catcher Yasmani Grandal said.

Padres manager Bud Black said Jose Fernandez has “one of the best breaking balls I’ve seen all year.” Outfielder Mark Kotsay raved about the movement in Jacob Turner's pitches -- “he commands all four of them” and said Nathan Eovaldi is unique in that “not many starters can stay above 95 miles per hour six innings" into a game. 

Batters are hitting .177 off Eovaldi, .193 against Fernandez and .229 off Turner.

   

July 01, 2013

Heat announces Summer League team; Dan Sileo is back; Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, Canes quick hits

The Heat today announced rosters for its summer league teams, which will play games in the Orlando and Las Vegas summer leagues. Players who will play in only one of the two leagues are marked accordingly. Some players on this list might be cut before summer league starts. Of the 20 players, only Jarvis Varnado played for the Heat this past season.

Dwight Buycks (LV)                  G              6-3              Marquette 

Jackie Carmichael                    F               6-9              240               Illinois State

Ian Clark (ORL)                            G              6-2              173            Belmont

Vincent Council                       G              6-2              180             Providence                                         

Dwayne Dedmon (ORL)        C               7-0              255                 Southern California                       

LeRon Dendy                            C               6-9              230              Middle Tennessee State

Larry Drew                                G              6-2      180          UCLA                                             

Michael Dunigan                     C               6-10            238        Oregon

James Ennis                            G/F            6-7              210      Long Beach State 

J.R. Giddens (LV)                       G              6-5              210       New Mexico                                     

Eric Griffin                                  F               6-8         189                   Campbell                           

Jamelle Hagins (LV)                   F               6-9              240            Delaware                                         

Scotty Hopson                         G              6-6 ½          204        Tennessee                                       

Cedric Jackson                G              6-3              200                     Cleveland State

Damion James (LV)                   F               6-7 1/2  224  Texas                                                  

Myck Kabongo                        G              6-1              180                       Texas

D.J. Kennedy                          G/F            6-6              215           St.  John’s                                          

Travis Leslie (LV)                        G              6-4 ½          205          Georgia

Anthony Marshall (LV)            G              6-3              200                 UNLV

James Nunnally                       G              6-7              205             Santa Barbara                                 

Ricky Sanchez (LV)                    F               6-11            220         IMG Academy                 

D.J. Stephens (ORL)                G/F            6-5              188              Memphis

Tony Taylor (LV)                        G              6-1              192             George Washington

 Jarvis Varnado                       F/C            6-9              210               Mississippi State

 Heat assistant coach/video coordinator Dan Craig will coach the teams.

 

###########################################################################################

Some notes on a Monday night:

### Former UM defensive lineman Dan Sileo, who lost his job at WQAM in March after making an anti-Semitic remark on the air, is back on the local airwaves – at least for a few days, potentially much longer.

Steve Lapa, general manager of WMEN-640 AM, said he’s giving Sileo an on-air audition this week while regular afternoon drive host Orlando Alzugaray vacations. Lapa said if “the feedback is good, we will rejigger the lineup” to give him a regular weekday slot.

Lapa previously hired another former WQAM host – Sid Rosenberg, who was dumped by ‘QAM after a DUI arrest.

Sileo was fired by WQAM after making a reference to money and saying “that’s the half Hebrew in me.”

The Anti-Defamation League wrote to WQAM after he made the remark in January and said: “This comment is troubling as it perpetuates offensive and bigoted anti-Jewish stereotypes about money that have for centuries served to incite anti-Semitism.”

After his dismissal, Sileo said on Twitter that his grandmother is Jewish and “my NFL friends lose all their money. I said I save [every] nickel that I have and that’s the Hebrew.”

For WQAM, that was the last straw, because Sileo created plenty of controversy even before that comment. Some UM fans resented his angry rants against the Hurricanes, including one last September that ended up on YouTube. UM didn’t want him to return as Hurricanes postgame analyst, and WQAM agreed.

And earlier this year, also before his firing, Sileo apologized to sportscaster Erin Andrews after he attacked her with sexist insults on Twitter.

### On the first day of NBA free agency, the Heat conveyed to Chris Andersen that it wants to re-sign him, and Birdman also wants to return. Both sides are hopeful a deal will get done soon, but as of late afternoon, there hadn’t been serious discussions about whether Andersen would accept the $1.7 million minimum (including a 20 percent raise) or whether he would express a strong preference for the Heat’s $3.2 million midlevel exception. Those discussions could happen very shortly, with both sides eager to move the process along.

With the Heat well above the luxury tax threshold, Pat Riley has been non-committal about whether the Heat will even use that exception money on anyone.

On the first day of free agency, the Heat also was reportedly among several teams to express interest in point guard Sebastian Telfair. That would be surprising, because Riley has said repeatedly that he has no interest in adding a veteran No. 3 point guard. 

### Illinois State power forward Jackie Carmichael is the latest player to join the Heat's summer league team, as announced by his college.

### To those who have asked, the fact Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach hasn’t signed with the Dolphins yet doesn’t mean the deal won’t get done. His agent said last week that Miami is the favorite and the most logical team for him, with Houston and the Giants also in the mix. He said Monday that nothing has changed. Jeff Ireland has been on vacation but is expected to return this week, and that could push the process along.

Leach, apparently hoping the Dolphins raise their offer, said on a radio interview last week that he’s willing to be patient about selecting a new team and didn't rule a return to Ravens. Miami wants him, but Ireland has a price in mind and to this point, hasn’t been willing to exceed it. That price ultimately might be enough to get Leach in the fold.

### Heard at Marlins Park earlier today that at least one Marlins coach was furious with reliever Chad Qualls after his agent called MLB to essentially ask shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria be charged with an error on a play that happened June 23 against the Giants – so that Qualls wouldn’t be charged with allowing a hit.

Joe Torre, vice president of baseball operations, changed the call to an error, giving Hechavarria four this season. On the play, Hechavarria short-hopped a throw on what was ruled at the time to be an infield hit by Gregor Blanco. But several writers in the press box that night thought it was an error.

The message that was relayed to Qualls, by a Marlins on-field person, was that this made him look selfish. The Marlins did not give up a run in that inning, but Qualls’ WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) was affected slightly by how the play was scored. That's why his agent called MLB to appeal the call.

### Who should be the Marlins’ representative in the All-Star Game? Manager Mike Redmond on Monday mentioned two rookies – pitcher Jose Fernandez and outfielder Marcell Ozuna – and closer Steve Cishek as the most logical candidates.

### Besides the overall case against UM – which now being reviewed by the infractions committee -- the NCAA hasn’t given UM two other answers it’s waiting on: 1) whether defensive end Dyron Dye will be charged with unethical conduct and ruled ineligible or suspended; and 2) whether the NCAA will approve former Kansas State point guard Angel Rodriguez’s hardship request and allow him to be eligible this season, instead of in 2014-15. UM isn’t optimistic about having him this season.

Dye met with the NCAA last month amid the NCAA’s assertion that he changed his story regarding alleged recruiting violations involving former UM assistant Aubrey Hill. Dye claimed he was coerced during one of his first two interviews with the NCAA. 

### Defensive end Fadol Brown, who played at FIU last season, told Canesport.com that he will announce Friday whether he will enroll at UM, Mississippi or Tennessee. Brown, who would redshirt this season, was initially told by FIU that he could not go to UM. But FIU eventually relented.