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Dolphins free agency, Heat notes, Riley/Shula/LeBron moment, Marlins, UM chatter

Sunday morning tidbits:

### Keep this in mind about new Dolphins cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who was a very good player before declining and battling hamstring and orbital injuries the past two years:

One recurring issue is that he has allowed simply too high of a percentage of passes to be completed against him: 66.7 and 63 percent in 2010 and 2011 (his most recent very good season), 73 percent in 2012 and an absurd 76 percent last season (26 of 34).

By comparison, Nolan Carroll (who left for Philadelphia) allowed just 47.8 percent last season, and Dimitri Patterson (who was released) just 58.1.

The problem is Finnegan’s per-catch average has ballooned, from 8.8 in 2011 (fourth-best among all cornerbacks) to 13.6 last season. At his best, Finnegan, 30, is a feisty corner who gets under the opponent’s skin. But the Rams thought he had lost a step. “It’s the first job I’ve ever been fired from,” he said of the Rams cutting him recently. “I have a chip on my shoulder.”

### Here’s how Pro Football Focus evaluated new Dolphins guard Shelley Smith, who started only two games last season but played in 14: "In Smith’s 371 snaps this season he put up a run blocking grade of +12.3. He had the fifth-highest percentage of [running play] snaps graded positively among all guards. Those kinds of numbers are too impressive to just be a fluke. The Rams’ guard plays with great leverage at 6-foot-3 and was a terror pulling all year.

"The only problem is in Smith’s 731 career snaps he has a pass blocking grade of -10.1. A lot of teams aren’t willing to sacrifice that much pass protection for a good run blocker and Smith could have a tough time winning a starting job wherever he goes.”

### The Dolphins have been giving thought to having Koa Misi play middle linebacker, which would shift Dannell Ellerbe outside. But they’ve also toyed with that before.

### Though the Dolphins remain interested, right tackle Zach Strief's priority remains trying to get a deal done with New Orleans... 

Though the Dolphins could do worse than Bryant McKinnie as a veteran tackle backup – and he would welcome a return – Miami has not discussed that, according to his representation. Incidentally, McKinnie will host a celebrity basketball game at 7:30 Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena to benefit underprivileged students in the Miami area. Cost: $25 for adults, $15 for kids. (The arena will be cleared after the 3:30 p.m. Heat game).

### Pretty neat tonight to see Pat Riley and Don Shula on stage together at Heat announcers Eric Reid's and Tony Fiorentino's outstanding annual charity event, which benefit's Lauren's Kids. "There's nobody I respect more than coach Shula," Riley said, on stage at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood. "Don Shula for me is an all-time, all-time."

### Riley flew in from Atlanta, where he was scouting the SEC Tournament, to give a testimonial to LeBron James, who was honored at the event. "I just got off the plane from Atlanta; I was looking for somebody to help LeBron," Riley quipped.

Riley said there are ups and downs in his career but "with LeBron, it's been nothing but great. He's not just an incredible player. He does so much for other people." Riley called James "a person I admire and love." (Top that, Phil Jackson!; a New York Daily News column speculated today that Jackson will try to lure James to the Knicks, which is a major longshot.)

Riley said the arrival of LeBron in Miami in 2010 and the Heat's two subsequent championships "has changed the state. It has changed the city. I knew somewhere along the way, the impossible could really happen. And it did."

### James gave a classy speech. "So blessed and excited," he said. "I represent more than myself. I represent every single kid that looks up to me as a role model, a superhero... I take that role very seriously."

Then he said the "real superhero" is Lauren Book, who was the victim of sexual abuse by her nanny as a child and is the founder of an organization that educates kids and adults about sexual abuse and raises awareness. (She's the daughter of prominent lobbyist Ron Book, who also has been instrumental in helping his daughter's organization.)

 ### After showing promising signs earlier this month, Greg Oden's play has leveled off in recent appearances, raising questions about how much can be realistically expected as he works his way back from four years of injuries. In the last four games, spanning 20 minutes, Oden has four points, two rebounds, five fouls and three turnovers, and Miami has been outscored by 27 points during his time on the floor.

Overall, Miami has been outscored by 22 in Oden's 138 minutes. The other Heat players with a negative plus/minus: Michael Beasley (minus 9), Toney Douglas (minus 80) and Udonis Haslem (minus 106).  

### One Marlins official said if center fielder Marcell Ozuna continues to struggle offensively and doesn’t make the team out of spring training, one good possibility is moving Christian Yelich to center and have Brian Bogusevic and Reed Johnson platoon in left. The Marlins also could opt for defensively-gifted Jake Marisnick if he is absolutely exceptional offensively all spring, which they aren’t necessarily expecting. But they’re still hopeful Ozuna will turn it around.

### What led to UM offensive lineman Hunter Knighton losing consciousness earlier this month? According to multiple people, he had been sick for a few days, hadn’t eaten much and tried to participate in the U-tough training program before collapsing. It was very scary, “touch and go” for a few days, but he’s now out of the hospital and doing well.

### UM is no longer pursuing four-star football/basketball standout Derrick Griffin, who couldn’t make it academically. 

 

Comments

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Phil Jackson

That Oden signing will end up as an epic failure...and ultimately contribute to ending the "Bought Title" run.

johnnie j

Well it is disheartening of late watching Oden s play the past few games.He seemed like he might add a few excellent minutes.Time will tell but it s looking rough at this point I d say.Heat hopefully get back to their winning ways this afternoon against Houston.Regarding UM baseball again Coach Jim Morris MAY have crowed too early about his outstanding pitching and strength of his team this year.Their record now is 11-9.Ouch.Losing 9 this early doesn t seem like a team has very good pitching.They have time to improve but developing their young players seems to still be a major project.The Heat players do seem to really reach out and give back to the community.Most NFL teams and Pro teams everywhere too.Thankfully so many young kids and underprivileged kids benefit with those mostly very positive role models.

Jeff

Bryant McKinnie? Really? You can't be serious! He graded out as one of the worst tackles last season. He and the rest of the O-Line almost got Tannehill killed! Any tackle the Dolphins select in round one of the NFL Draft will be a substantial upgrade.

jmike

Phil Jackson, epic failure, a minimum contract player who was expected to play 10 min a game, Really Really.

g8rseetmya55

tannehill got himself almost killed because of tannehill. He holds on to the ball too longand he never knows when he should run or sit in thepcoket. Gimme a break.,

As far as Derrick Griffin is concerened- Watch he'll end up in tallhasee, LSU or Georgia.

green

Long ACC diatribe by lil green pea
Go ACC!

Posted by: Reality Bites | 03/14/2014 at 12:15 PM

Sources also say that the ACC is prepared, starting next season, to shift the tournament to a Saturday, prime-time championship game that would serve television (ESPN) interests and please coaches wanting more time to prepare for the NCAA tournament.

The move would entail a Tuesday tournament start, inconvenient for some fans, and Friday night semifinals. But the pluses outweigh the negatives, and all indications are this is going to happen.
-- david teel

SATURDAY NIGHT'S ALRIGHT FOR FIGHTING

green

Long ACC diatribe by lil green pea
Go ACC!

Posted by: Reality Bites | 03/14/2014 at 12:15 PM

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jesselawrence/2014/03/14/barclays-center-would-make-acc-tournament-tickets-most-expensive-in-college-basketball/

"Barclays Center Would Make ACC Tournament Tickets Most Expensive In College Basketball"

FLATBUSH AVENUE

green

Lil green pea
Now I know you like to wallow in trivial things but this time you've gone too far.
you call the dream of a cane on campus stadium an "eyesore"
You got to be kidding
May I say you have moved from triviality to insanity.
Say it aint so

Posted by: Reality Bites | 02/27/2014 at 12:45 PM

http://www.dailypress.com/sports/teel-blog/dp-teel-time-vt-indoor-facility-acc,0,4696060.post

How about agitating for an indoor practice facility. That won't be easy, or cheap, but it's much more realistic and much more helpful in recruiting.
-- HurricaneMBA

“Oh my gosh,” Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said Wednesday when I asked about the benefits. “It’s paid for itself three times over. It really has. Talk about picking … the perfect year to build an indoor facility. We picked it. We were able to practice in it about five times before our bowl game last year, which was huge for us, because the weather was terrible, and to be able to continue to practice full speed, especially when you’re trying to prepare for a physical team like LSU was, it was huge.

“This spring and this summer, we’ve had a world record of rain around here, but we never missed a day. We don’t even have to think about it. Prior to having an indoor, we didn’t have anywhere to go where we could practice full speed. You can go inside somewhere and walk through but … you don’t get better at this game walking through. You gotta practice full speed to really improve.”

Bless his high-motor heart, Dabo was just getting cranked up.

“Then you get into summer, when the skills and drills are going on with your players. And what people don’t realize is, it’s not like you can say, ‘OK, let’s come back in three hours.’ These guys’ schedules are so structured, and there’s very little flexibility. So you have a window of time when you can practice and they can do their skills and drills in the summer. All of a sudden you have lightning or whatever, you just miss it. I think we were averaging about 14 days a year that we were missing training or whatever. So we don’t worry about that anymore. …

“I’ll tell you another effect of it is, we take them out of the heat sometimes. Sometimes on Thursdays you’re trying to bring their legs back, so to be able to take them out of that direct sun and be able to help them with that recovery process and get them ready for that game, it’s been a real blessing.

“Also for our fields. We do our walk throughs, we do our flex every single day (inside). To take that off of our grass fields helps us maintain those surfaces. Towards the end of the season, we've got great practice surfaces still.”

And recruiting?

“When you’re at our level and competing with the upper-tier (Bowl Championship Series) programs from a recruiting standpoint, those things matter,” Swinney said.
-- dabo swinney via david teel

COME IN HANDY

Russell

1) Best of luck to Derrick Griffin, I will always want to see someone succeed.

2) How many platoons does one team need; first base, the forever audition at 3B, and now LF? I'll take the QB cliche here, if you have 2 you don't have any. Joke franchise.

mayberd

It seems Miami is the site of two of the best Sports Coaches ever in Don Shula and Pat Riley but also has the most clownish Team Owners in Jeffrey Loria and Stephen Ross.

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