9 a.m. Tuesday update: Guard/tackle Malcolm Bunche, who had a decent chance to win a starting job next season, has decided to transfer. Bunche has been given permission to contact other schools, according to UM.
It's a peculiar decision because Bunche will be a senior next season, and because Al Golden recently named him as a potential starter in 2014. UM did not offer a reason for Bunche's departure, and Bunche was not immediately available for comment.
Bunche started only one game in 2013 (the opener, at left guard) but played in all but one. He figured to earn substantial playing time next season, because two starters on the line --- Brandon Linder and Seantrel Henderson --- are moving on to the NFL. Jared Wheeler also is graduating.
But Jon Feliciano, who started the final six games at left guard, is returning. So is left tackle Ereck Flowers, who has become a very good player, and center Shane McDermott. UM has high hopes for 6-8 freshman tackle Sunny Odogwu as well as guard Danny Isidora. And Hunter Wells, Hunter Knighton, Alex Gall and Taylor Gadbois also return.
What's more, UM's recruiting class has three highly-regarded four-star tackles: KC McDermott (Shane's brother), Trevor Darling and Reilly Gibbons. Guard/center Nick Linder, Brandon's brother, is also orally committed.
### Lions senior personnel director Brian Xanders, the Broncos' former general manager, is the latest person added to the list of candidates who will speak to the Dolphins about their general manager job, according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen. Xanders is the eighth confirmed person that the Dolphins either have spoken to, or plan to speak to. Five already have interviewed.
Xanders, who played linebacker on Bobby Bowden-coached teams at FSU, was Denver's GM from 2009 through 2012 and previously worked in the Falcons' personnel department. This was his first season with Detroit.
### Joy Taylor, Jason's sister, has decided to stay at 790/104.3 The Ticket instead of joining former colleague Marc Hochman on his new WQAM show that debuts April 1, according to Ticket general manager Maureen LeSourd.
LeSourd said Taylor has been "underutilized" and will have an expanded role on the morning show, alongside Jonathan Zaslow. She declined to say if a third permanent member of the cast will be added.
### Outfielder Delmon Young, who had drawn interest from the Marlins, signed with Baltimore.
Some Monday Heat and Canes items:
### If there’s anything that can interrupt the monotony of a regular season that doesn’t carry all that much weight for the Heat, it’s a White House visit.
For the second consecutive year, the Heat will enter the President’s residence on Tuesday, a commemoration of its 2013 championship.
“It’s a very special day,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You get to be a kid again. When you have an opportunity to visit the White House and spend some time with the President, when our families are so excited to go, you realize that most people never have this opportunity in their lifetime. It's a continued celebration for what we accomplished last year."
Norris Cole captured the sentiment of teammates when he noted: “It’s never going to get old for me.”
Or, as Chris Bosh said: “It’s a fortress. To be in the most powerful building in the world is pretty cool.”
Tuesday’s visit will be the highlight of an unusual six-game road stretch that began with losses in New York and Brooklyn, included a three-day detour back in South Florida, and resumes Wednesday in Washington before games in Philadelphia, Charlotte and Atlanta.
"Whenever you go to the White House, it's special. I don't care how many times," Dwyane Wade said. "Our president is a very personable guy. He loves the sport that we play.”
For some Heat players, one of the most meaningful moments during last year’s visit was the 30 minutes spent alone with the President, away from the cameras, before the public ceremony.
“He spent 30 seconds to a minute with every one of us, which I thought was an incredible touch,” Spoelstra said. “He has an incredible feel with people. He mentioned one of his favorite players was [Heat assistant coach Bob] McAdoo.”
Wade said that private time with Obama is “a cool moment and you really get to relax and be yourself."
Unlike some of his teammates, Wade was able to poke his head in the Oval Office during last year’s visit.
"The Oval Office is one of those things that on TV looks huge," Wade said, "and then when you get in there, you're like, 'This is where all that magic goes down?' "
Bosh said during those few private moments with the President, “you never really get to talk about what you want to talk about. He’s going to ask you something, you [answer] and that’s it. He asked me about my kids [last year] and that was it.”
A White House visit comes with many decisions. For Cole, it’s mulling whether to muster the courage to ask for a picture of himself and the President – just the two of them.
For Beasley, it’s what to wear, a decision he was still considering late last week. “I don’t want to be too over the top,” he said. “But I don’t want to be too down. Whenever you get a chance to shake hands with one of the coolest people in the world, it’s definitely exciting.”
Several have had personal exchanges with the President, even before last year’s visit.
“We have that Chicago connection, and all the times I have been able to talk to him, that connection comes out,” Wade said. “First time meeting him was one of the coolest things ever. He came right in and said, ‘Where’s D-Wade?’”
Obama spoke at Cleveland State when Cole was a student: “He said something about my high top, said, ‘That kid can play.’”
Beasley met Obama at a campaign event before Beasley’s rookie season. “He shouted out my college stats,” Beasley said. “That was pretty cool.”
Bosh’s goal for this trip? “Go in the Oval Office, see some top secret stuff or something.”
### The Heat said team president Pat Riley, who missed last year’s White House visit because of flu symptoms, is planning to attend Tuesday.
### Ray Allen has arranged for Heat players to visit the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington.
“It’s important; it’s a matter of humanity,” he said. “Anytime I’ve had time in D.C., I’ve taken my teams to the museum. When you see that, it gives you more compassion.”
### Shane Battier, who has missed five games with a quadriceps injury, returned to practice and expects to play Wednesday. But Mario Chalmers remains limited by a strained Achilles that has sidelined him for three games.
### Having already met President Obama, James was asked if there’s anyone else he would like to meet. “Jennifer Lawrence and Jennifer Aniston – my two Jennifers,” he said of the actresses. “My wife knows about it, too,” he said, smiling. “It’s not a secret.”
### The Heat’s defensive numbers are all down from last season. Miami is allowing 98.2 points, which is ninth-best, compared with 95 (fifth-best) last season.
Teams are shooting 45.9 percent against Miami, which ranks 20th, compared with 44 percent (sixth) last season.
And Miami’s three-point field goal defense has plunged from 11th to 26th.
“We’ve had some slippage the last 10 games,” Spoelstra said. “We need to get back on it. It’s a myriad of things. We were humbled [against the Knicks and Nets].”
This is what good coaching looks like: Because Jim Larranaga’s team was struggling playing man to man defense, he decided in the past couple of weeks to switch to a matchup zone, an approach he hadn’t used much in his coaching career.
So he asked former Pittsburgh coach Ralph Willard and former Syracuse assistant Bernie Fine to come to South Florida to visit with his staff about the nuances of playing that defense.
Larranaga implemented it, and the change has had immediate results. Miami held No. 2 Syracuse to 44 points and 36.2 percent shooting in a five-point loss, then held North Carolina to 30.8 percent shooting in a 63-57 win.
The UNC game marked the first time Larranaga had been part of a game when a matchup zone was used the entire game. Overall, UM ranks 28th in the country in points allowed per possession.
Despite a very limited roster without much depth, UM (9-6, 1-2) has been very competitive in three ACC games, with FloridaState visiting Wednesday.
Larranaga also credits Garrius Adams overcoming rust and a big contribution from forward Erik Swoope.
### Fort Worth-based Daniel Gresham, rated the nation’s 38th-best running back by rivals.com, was told by Louisville’s new coaching staff on Sunday night that he’s not in their plans. Gresham has visited UM and was interested in the Canes before committing to Louisville.
His coach said Monday that he would again be interested in UM (along with Arkansas and Texas) if Miami reaches out.
Meanwhile, Canesport.com reported that the coach at Salinas (Cal.) Hartwell Community College was told that running back Deandre Mann can expect a Miami offer. Mann, who backed up Lamar Miller at Killian, ran for 1706 yards and 30 touchdowns last season and has nine offers, including Kansas and Purdue.
With Brandon Powell flipping to UF, Miami Central High’s four-star prospect Joseph Yearby is the only running back in UM’s class.