FRIDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Mike Wallace, wearing a broad smile, had just spent more than an hour –- and thousands of his own dollars -- giving eighth-graders computer tablets and treating them to an afternoon of games in Sunrise on Thursday. And in a quiet moment afterward, Wallace reflected on a somewhat uncomfortable first regular-season week as a Dolphin.
In spite of being visibly angry and not talking to reporters after the fifth one-catch game of his career Sunday, Wallace very much hopes nobody lumps him among those stereotypical diva receivers who place stats ahead of all else on their priority list.
"That would [bother] me," he said. He says he's not one of those receivers.
And as much as he wants to do more than he achieved in his Dolphins debut, he conceded: “You don’t want to just force me the ball, because that’s not good. I need to get the ball. Everybody knows I need to get the ball.
“But when you have two or three people on me, you don’t want to force me the ball. We have great receivers, that if you cover them one-on-one, will make plays.” (He said Cleveland’s Joe Haden did a good job against him Sunday, and Haden often got help from a safety.)
He spoke to coordinator Mike Sherman this week, and “I am pretty sure I will have more than my share of opportunities to make plays” going forward.
But did anyone tell Wallace this week that he cannot appear unhappy after a win like that, that it simply doesn’t look good?
“Yeah,” he said. “My mom. She knows me. She says, ‘You have to always smile, baby boy.’ She knows I’m really emotional about the game.
“For the last year and a half, I heard a lot of different things [about myself] that weren’t true. But my teammates know me. Ask any one of them about how I go about my business. After a game, it’s just a reaction of what happened in the game. Next day, it’s over.
"I don't jump around whether we win or lose." He said that's simply not his personality, so people shouldn't read anything into any lack of effusiveness after victories.
But he also adds this: "Winning is the thing that really matters to me. I just want to help my team. When you make plays, you feel like you help your team. I play this game for one reason: to be a great player.”
There is no friction between Wallace with Ryan Tannehill, who came to Wallace’s charity event Thursday (along with the quarterback’s wife) and warmly embraced him.
Wallace had 144 yards in receptions in his only previous game against the Colts (in 2011), and the Dolphins assuredly will look for him more early in Sunday's game than they did a week ago.
The Heat’s signing of Michael Beasley to a non-guaranteed deal was low risk. But the broadcaster who analyzed his work for the Phoenix Suns last season isn’t optimistic about Beasley’s future and wonders why the Heat would inject a “knucklehead” into a locker-room filled with serious, respected professionals.
“If he stops smoking marijuana and stops ‘hanging out,’ the talent is there. But I don’t see it [happening] after all these chances,” Suns radio analyst and former NBA center Tim Kempton told us. “It’s difficult to believe he will change his stripes at this point.
“People have gone out of their way to make Michael Beasley successful, but he hasn’t accepted it. He spent time in Los Angeles with [former Lakers guard] Norm Nixon. You would think that would have helped him. The Suns had a life coach that traveled with us the entire season. But he slipped three times when he was here” -- an arrest on suspicion of drug possession, an ongoing investigation into a sexual assault allegation, and charges of vehicular violations, including driving with a suspended license.
On the court, Kempton said Beasley could exasperate teammates and coaches – both Alvin Gentry, before his dismissal, and interim coach Lindsey Hunter.
“The question was which Michael Beasley would show up,” Kempton said. “There were some nights sporadically you would see why people were still willing to take a chance. Some nights, he was caught in the AAU syndrome of, ‘Give me the ball, get out of the way and let me do it myself.’ Sometimes, he would be a ball stopper and everyone would stand around watching him make a play. That would frustrate his teammates and the coaching staff.”
Kempton found it troubling that Beasley couldn’t make it work on a bad team that needed offense.
“For someone that can score, it was the perfect scenario for him here,” he said. “But he doesn't understand positioning. He doesn’t understand, ‘I don't need to take 15 dribbles to take a shot. If I could get it closer to the basket, I could get an easier shot.’”
And Kempton said his defense remains deficient. “He's one of those AAU kids of the system - much more talented than other players - so there wasn't a defensive system he had to think about,” he said. “[His inability to] grasp team concepts frustrated the Suns staff. If teams wanted a basket, they would go right at Beasley. He didn’t understand what was going on, didn't understand scouting reports, didn't understand team concepts.”
Kempton added that Beasley “is a good kid. He obviously has all the talent in the world to be in the NBA, but will his brain and maturity catch up to that talent, with all the chances he has already had? I don’t know if he can get away from those demons.”
### While David Beckham considers bringing an expansion Major League Soccer team to South Florida, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross revealed this week he’s also trying to lure one to Sun Life Stadium. Ross might retain some role in ownership but would welcome a primary investor; Beckham’s group and others have been in contact. Though MLS generally wants new stadiums, Ross’ pitch to MLS is he would leverage Sun Life’s role as an international soccer hub to help build a fan base.
### Marlins manager Mike Redmond said he believes Chris Coghlan is good enough defensively to play a lot of third base if the Marlins opt for that in 2014. Impending free agent Placido Polanco, 37, said if he plays next season, it would be for the Marlins, who haven't told him if they want him back.
### With the defensive line far more stout at the point of attack than last year, UM has risen to 40th in total defense, from 116th last season. And its seven sacks are just six fewer than all of 2012.… But this must change: UM is 117th in time of possession, at just 24:11 --- largely a function of UM converting just 5 of 25 third-downs this season…. UM coaches really like freshman Corn Elder and believe he’s going to be a big help down the road, at cornerback or perhaps eventually at slot receiver.
### Among major markets, the UM-UF game oddly produced a higher rating in Birmingham, Ala. (15 percent of homes with TV sets) than Miami-Fort Lauderdale (13.4), with Jacksonville (14.8) No. 2.