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2 posts from June 7, 2014

June 07, 2014

3 p.m. Sunday UM commit; Pancakes, bald eagles and parking spaces: Inside Ray Allen's unique way of life; Fins, UM, Marlins chatter

Quick 3 p.m. Sunday news item: UM received an oral commitment just now from Texas-based Drew Galitz, rated by rivals.com as the No. 2 kicker in the 2015 class. Galitz, who announced his commitment on Twitter, also can punt. Galitz has a 65-yard field goal and 80-yard punt posted on Youtube.

Junior Matt Guodis will be UM's kicker this season; he made 13 of 17 field goals in 2013, missing three between 40 and 49 yards and also missing a 23-yarder. Guodis and Ricky Carroll are listed as an either/or at punter on UM's depth chart.

Galitz handled punts and kickoffs last season but not field goals, because he was playing behind a kicker who is headed to Ole Miss. He will handle field goals this season.

This is an important pickup, UM's 13th oral commitment in this class.

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SUNDAY BUZZ COLUMN     

The detailed routine can be so tiresome, so tedious, that Ray Allen admits he feels “like a prisoner to it.”

But there is never any internal questioning of it, no respites from a way of life that includes thousands of pregame shots every season, carefully watching calories, visualizing bald eagles and avoiding the midcourt line (more on this later).      

In his estimation, the commitment to the relentlessly repetitive regimen is a big reason why he’s still thriving at 38, why he still has signature moments like those in Game 1, when he produced 16 points, five steals, three rebounds, three assists and an electric out-of-nowhere dunk.

“He’s never deviated from the routine, and that’s what I find most astounding,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I sat him out a game last year against Charlotte right before the playoffs. His ankle was sore so I wasn’t going to play him that game. He still took a cab over to the arena. He couldn’t do his whole shooting routine but he still did his whole free-throw routine, still there four hours before the game. That’s why we call him Everyday Ray.”

Here’s what Everyday Ray looks like on game day:

Pancakes in the morning, followed by a team shoot-around, a banana and peanut butter or a turkey sandwich (if he burns calories at shoot-around), then a 90-minute nap, followed by a 2:30 p.m. meal featuring chicken or fish, a vegetable and a carb (preferably white rice).

He arrives at the arena 3 ½ hours before tip-off (long before most players), has his head shaved before every game; stretches and launches anywhere from 120 to 200-plus shots during a grueling session that he has done every game since 1997, his second season in the league. (He will take more shots if he’s missing many of them.)

“Before the [expletive] workers even get here, he’s at the gym getting shots up,” marvels Rashard Lewis, who values Allen’s mentoring dating to their years in Seattle together. “I don’t know how he does it. I’m taking a nap and he’s probably at the gym getting ready for the game. I don’t know that I could be as disciplined as he is. It’s unbelievable.”

Each session begins with a post-up, and “I have to make a basket touching every part of the floor.”

He believes the Cavaliers cheerleaders once tried to sabotage him during his pre-game shooting: “They littered the floor and started dancing. It was intentional. These are the distractions I deal with all the time. They turned the lights out in Sacramento but I kept shooting.”

Allen used to take a cab to the arena for road games, but the Heat last season began paying for a bus to drive Allen to the arena early, often with James Jones and then-Heat swingman Mike Miller, and occasionally others. Most of the players come to the arena on a later bus.

For Allen, there is also a psychological element to everything he does. During the National Anthem before games, he visualizes big baskets in his career, big games that he’s played in, even memorable moments in other sports. Essentially, “things that have inspired me to be better.”

One of those visuals that come to mind during the Anthem “is watching bald eagles fly. Eagles watch everyone from above.”

Allen believes he has a few behavioral tendencies associated with obsessive compulsive disorder but said he doesn't use that term “out of respect” to people diagnosed with the condition.

“I can’t touch certain lines on the floor,” he said. “If there’s a timeout, I won’t walk on the line across the middle of the floor. I will walk around it.”

He tries to clean up scuff marks on the court. If his children walk around a pole, Allen must walk the same way they did. They don't believe in splitting poles, so to speak. He weighs himself twice a day and adjusts his diet even if he gains half a pound.

The Boston Globe relayed a story several years ago about Allen walking on the airplane one night and telling Paul Pierce: “You’re in the wrong seat.”

Pierce responded: “Man, there’s a hundreds seats open. Leave me alone.” Pierce, good-naturedly, has called Allen crazy.

This season, Michael Beasley parked in the spot that Allen likes to use at AmericanAirlines Arena. “He had a fender bender and I said, ‘That’s what you get for parking in my spot,’” Allen said.

When he was child, Allen forced himself to make five right-handed layups and then five left-handed layups before he could leave the gym. If he ran out of time or was forced off the court by others, “I cried,” he told The Globe. “It messed up my day.”

In Boston, Allen would scold Eddie House for shooting half-court shots at the other team’s basket during halftime, saying it was bad luck.

Ask him if he has any friends in pro sports outside of the NBA, and he mentions one: Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. They text occasionally during their seasons and golf together during their offseasons.  

Allen knows he’s still plenty good enough but will decide in late June whether he has the desire not only to play next season, but to do everything in his routine that allows him to function with a clear mind. It would be surprising if he retires.

“It’s hard to do the same thing over and over and over before you get bored with it, tired of it, and he constantly has done it so many years,” Dwyane Wade said. “That’s impressive.”

### For a lot more Heat chatter from Saturday, please see the last post from a few hours ago.

CHATTER

### Contrary to a published report, the Dolphins' Koa Misi said he never complained about being asked to move to middle linebacker and is excited about it. “I’ve always told the coaches I’m open to trying new things and new positions,” he said.

Misi said he’s studying two to four hours every night and arrives at team headquarters around 5 a.m., before many other players.

What’s more, “I had my wife buy me some cones so I can line up the cones in my house and adjust to different formations. At first, I had a bunch of hats laid out on the ground. It’s a lot to learn. I have a lot more calls to make, a lot more reads. I’m already feeling a lot more comfortable.”

### Though rookie third-round pick Billy Turner shared first-team left guard snaps with Dallas Thomas on the first day of offseason practices, Thomas said he has received most of the reps since, and coaches are encouraged by how he has looked playing alongside Branden Albert.

He played just three offensive snaps last season --- despite the Dolphins’ offensive line deficiencies --- and says he struggled mentally learning multiple positions and also physically with his surgically-repaired shoulder, which “held me back. Last year, I was like, ‘What’s going on?’ I got rusty not playing, and you develop some bad habits. I played my senior year at guard [at Tennessee]. I’m very comfortable there. Starting is my goal.”

### Smart move by the Marlins to twice show patience with Marcell Ozuna by neither demoting him after a horrific spring nor demoting him after a major slump in early May.

Not only did he enter the weekend tied for first in RBI and second in homers among all MLB center fielders, but he’s tied for seventh overall in RBI in the National League and “quietly, he’s one of the best center fielders in the game” defensively, manager Mike Redmond said.

### Among those endorsing Marlins' first-round draft choice Tyler Kolek is legendary former pitcher Nolan Ryan, who now works for the Astros.

“The thing I like about him is when you watch him pitch he’s around the plate,” Ryan told MLB.com. “He’s not bouncing balls, throwing stuff up on the backstop and things of that nature. I predict he’s going to come quicker than people think.”

Kolek's fastball velocity has been timed as high as 102 mph. The Texas high-school right-hander was selected second overall in Thursday's draft.

### Last year’s Marlins first-round pick, third baseman Colin Moran, is hitting .272 with three homers, 17 RBI and four errors in 44 games at Single A Jupiter. He had one homer in his first 42 games before homering in each of his past two.

### Though Canesport.com reported Seffner Armwood defensive end Byron Cowart --- the nation's No. 1 Class of 2015 prospect --- will visit UM, Cowart indicated to other publications that UF and Oregon are his front-runners.

"With Oregon, you have the Nike backing," he said. "With Florida, you have the famility atmosphere. That's where I feel comfortable." 

### A rather jarring UM stat mentioned recently by ESPN: Over the past five seasons, UM is 25-24 against schools from the power five conferences, including its own. FSU, conversely, is 39-15.

### Please see the last post for lots of Heat and Spurs news and tidbits from Saturday... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Saturday evening Heat report: LeBron update, Amusing conspiracy talk, Popovich musings; and a media column

### LeBron James, sidelined by cramps during much of the fourth quarter in Game 1, said before practice today: "I'm doing well, doing a lot better. The soreness is starting to get out. I'm feeling better than I did yesterday and with another day, I should feel much better."

Still, James cautioned "there is no way to test my body for what I went through. The conditions are nowhere near extreme as they were. Unless I decide to run from here to the hotel, that's the only way I would be able to test my body out."

LeBron said he has had "a lot of treatment, icing and stretching."

### Erik Spoelstra said he has been assured that the air conditioning won't be an issue Sunday. "We anticipate we will play in a very cool gym," Spoelstra said. "We will have to deal with that now."

 

### In light of Mario Chalmers’ uneven play and occasional foul trouble this postseason, the Heat could use a lift from the other half of its point guard duo. But whereas Norris Cole consistently provides energy off the bench, he usually struggles with his shot against the Spurs.

Cole had good looks on three three-pointers in Game 1 but missed all of them on a 1-for-4 night and is now 7 for 26 from the field (27 percent) in eight career Finals games against the Spurs. In his regular-season career against San Antonio, he’s shooting 35.7 percent from the field (15 for 42), including 4 for 13 this season.

“You want to give them a little bit of credit, but [I’ve] missed shots,” he said. “When I get open looks, I’m going to continue to let it fly.”

Cole shook out of a two-month post All-Star break funk by making 16 of 30 shots in his first six playoff games. But he’s just 11 for 33 since then.

### One day after Dwyane Wade said the Heat should have gone deeper into its bench in Game 1 --- when Erik Spoelstra used nine players --- LeBron James expressed similar sentiments.

“Obviously, we could have used that in Game 1,” James said. “I thought at times maybe Toney [Douglas], JJ [James Jones], UD [Udonis Haslem] could have gotten some minutes. Take the load off some of us…. Spo is going to coach the game the way he sees the game going.”

James, who called for more minutes for Jones earlier in the playoffs, said during an NBA-organized Facebook chat on Saturday that Jones is “the most underrated player on our team. He doesn’t get a lot of playing time. I wish he did get a lot more playing time. He’s such a leader. Unbelievable shooter.”

Jones has played just seven minutes since the start of the Eastern Conference Finals.

### Also on that Facebook chat, James said of Game 2: “We have to make adjustments. That’s what good teams do. You will see a different team on Sunday.”… James said on that Facebook chat that his rooting interests in football extend to the Dallas Cowboys, Ohio State Buckeyes, FloridaState and Cleveland Browns rookie Johnny Manziel.

### Asked why he told ESPN’s Michael Wilbon that he’s the easiest target in sports, James said: “Because I’ve been in front of the camera… since I was 15 years old. You guys have seen everything from me, from being an adolescent kid just playing the game because he loves it… to playing as a professional, to succeeding, to falling off the mountain,… to going up to the top again.”

###  Asked why the Heat has been able to win its last 12 playoff games after losses, James said that stems from taking accountability and “not just bypassing the mistakes we had in the previous game.”

Chris Bosh added: “Being in this situation so many times before, it brings out the best…. We’ve run out of excuses.”

### Wade said if the Heat loses Sunday, “I’m sure the series would be over from the [view of the] outside.”

### Though Michael Beasley has played sparingly in postseason and wasn’t active for Game 1, Spoelstra said Saturday: “I’ve seen him grow immensely, maturity-wise, on and off the court. It’s been cool to see.”

### One of the takeaways watching the Spurs is how crisply they move the ball in a free-flowing, aesthetically-pleasing offense.

That offense has changed significantly during Tim Duncan’s career, from a low-post oriented attack built around Duncan to one that emphasizes quick passes and finding the open man.

“You watch tape of how we played before – we are very different,” Spurs guard Manu Ginobili said Saturday. “Now we’re more mobile, move the ball much better, more passes. Everyone is feeling important. It’s more fun, more unpredictable.”

Coach Gregg Popovich said over the past couple of years, “we’ve changed our pace and the way we approach things at the other end of the floor to make up for what we’re going to lose defensively.”

Despite relying a lot on the three-point shot, Popovich said: “I hate it. To me, it’s not basketball, but you’ve got to use it. If you don’t use it, you’re in big trouble. But you sort of feel like it’s cheating.”

### Asked about Popovich’s dislike of the three-point shot, Heat guard Dwyane Wade said: “I’m sure [Erik Spoelstra] has things he doesn’t like. He doesn’t like it when me and LeBron [James] go one-on-one. He wants team basketball, but sometimes one-on-one is successful when you have players capable of doing that.”

### Guard Danny Green used the word “remarkable” to describe the Spurs’ ongoing streak of eight consecutive home playoff wins by margins of at least 15 points – two more than the previous record, set by the 1985 Lakers. “At home, we’re more comfortable,” he said. “It helps us make shots and shoot more confidently.”

### Popovich insisted Saturday that Duncan has inquired in the past about playing point guard, and Duncan asked a reporter to help convince Popovich to allow him to play there at times. “I’ve been arguing that point for years now,” Duncan said.

### Popovich’s Game 2 prediction: “I don’t think either one of us will turn it over as much as we did” in Game 1, when the Spurs had 23 turnovers and the Heat 18.

### Popovich monitors the minutes of his veterans during the regular season, and he admitted Saturday: “I’ve often felt guilty because their lifetime stats are going to be worse than everybody else’s, because of the way I’ve sat them over the years. But it does develop the bench.”

### Sacramento guard Jason Terry suggested on the ESPN Radio affiliate in Dallas that AT&TCenter’s malfunctioning air conditioning  during Game 1 was orchestrated by the Spurs, something the team has denied.

“Pop has done that so many times. I don’t know if it’s a conspiracy, but I’m telling you, going into San Antonio is a tough place to play,” Terry said. “And I can remember very well one time where it was cold showers, there were about a thousand flies in the locker room. This year, there was a snake in the locker room.

“So, they’re going to pull out all the stops to get into your head. When you go to San Antonio, expect something like that. And Miami fell victim to it. For an event of that magnitude, to say that the AT&T Center’s air-conditioning is not working — there’s definitely something wrong with that.”

### Duncan is trying to join John Salley as the second NBA player in history to win a Finals in three different decades.  

Please see the last post for the weekly media column, including data analyzing whether the Dolphins or Heat is more popular locallyAnd please check back later for a lot more Heat --- plus Dolphins, Marlins and Hurricanes in the Sunday buzz column.