February 11, 2015

Wednesday night: Dolphins draft chatter; Heat-Cavs postscripts, reaction; Hurricanes

Notes on a Wednesday night:

### Drubbed 113-93 tonight in Cleveland, the Heat goes to the All-Star break at 22-30 and barely hanging onto the eighth and final playoff seed, one game ahead of 21-31 Brooklyn, 1.5 ahead of 20-31 Boston and two ahead of 21-33 Detroit and Indiana.

Charlotte also is 22-30 but owns the tiebreaker with Miami for seventh.

Catching Milwaukee, which is sixth at 30-23, seems highly unlikely.

So if Miami makes the playoffs, you’re looking at a first round series against likely top seed Atlanta or whoever is No. 2: Toronto (36-17), Chicago (33-20) or steamrolling Cleveland (33-21).

If the Heat can rise to seventh, the Raptors obviously would be preference.

Playing its seventh straight game without Dwyane Wade, the Heat wasn’t especially competitive tonight, never pulling closer than 10 in the second quarter or 12 in the second half.

“The game started with four or five turnovers, and some one pass shots, that led to easy opportunities for them,” Erik Spoelstra said.

The Heat had held 17 of its past 19 opponents to less than 50 percent shooting (43 percent overall).

But Cleveland shot 56 percent and scored 26 points off 17 turnovers, including four from Luol Deng and three from Mario Chalmers and Shabazz Napier, who had a career-high eight assists and some good moments early.

“He’s a heady player,” Spoelstra said. “He can still take another step in [where] he attacks.”

Chris Bosh (15 points) struggled through a 5 for 17 shooting night, and Norris Cole was an absurd -25 plus/minutes in 22 minutes

### As for Hassan Whiteside, he had 17 points and 14 boards in 28 minutes but no blocked shots, and Cleveland’s centers shot 16 for 19: Timofev Mozgov (20 points) going 9 for 11, and Tristan Thompson (17 points) 7 for 8. Whiteside said his ankle is still an issue and he needs to "get back to where I can jump high [to] block shots.... When everyone is healthy, you're going to see the real Miami Heat."

LeBron James filled the boxscore for the Cavaliers as he so often did for the Heat, with 18 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists.

### Bosh, who had just two rebounds in 36 minutes tonight, on the state of the Heat: "We can't do anything to change [the first half] but move forward. We can utilize this break to focus on these 30 games. We have a chance to move up or move down.

"In this 30-game sprint, we need to play more consistent defense and consistent offense. We need to work on having that mental toughness to move on and get to the next situation. We're still trying to find continuity, still don't have our big guy in there. We''ll figure it out eventually."

The Heat will have six days off before re-convening for practice next Wednesday, and Bosh --- who will play in Sunday's All-Star game --- conceded: "I need a break. It's been tough. It's been a struggle."

Bosh has struggled with his shot more than usual this season (46 percent from the field) and said this seaosn has been "an adjustment. Still getting used to how teams are reacting to me. It's a daily battle. They're really loading up on me, making it tough on me. If I'm not hitting easy ones, it makes it tougher. I know that shooting percentage will go up. When we get Dwyane up, that will help me out a lot."

### Both ESPN mock drafts are now in unison! Like Todd McShay, Mel Kiper now has the Dolphins taking Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes at No. 14.

“The Dolphins need to add some effective youth at cornerback, and Waynes is a well-coached cover man who comes in with the versatility to help in both man and zone and brings a physical presence,” Kiper wrote on ESPN.com. He's effective in taking on the big receivers who dot the league and  won't shy away from tackling duties and setting the edge as a run-defender.

“If you're going on pure upside, [Washington’s] Marcus Peters could gain a slight edge on Waynes, but Waynes gets the nod for reliability. The Combine can shift perceptions at this position, but I think Waynes is a safe bet to be one of the top two corners taken and it's a need area for the Dolphins, who need more playmakers in their secondary.

### NFL Network’s Mike Mayock told WQAM’s Joe Rose today that the top defensive linemen, USC’s Leonard Williams and Washington tackle Danny Shelton, will be gone by 14. But he said Texas d-tackle Malcom Brown and Oklahoma d-tackle Jordan Phillips (“a boom or bust guy”) could be options at 14.

And Mayock said “the receiver class is really good. Exciting class. At 14, there are three wideouts… Not everyone agrees what the order is: West Virginia’s Kevin White, Alabama’s Amari Cooper and Louisville’s Devante Parker. If any one of those was available at 14, that would be pretty exciting.”

Also, Mayock told Rose there are three receivers who “remind people of Mike Wallace” from a speed standpoint: UM’s Phillip Dorsett, Auburn’s Sammy Coates and Ohio State’s Devin Smith. “All three will go in second round,” he said.

### Another damaging loss for UM tonight, its third setback to a team below .500 in the ACC. UM rallied from nine down at halftime at Wake Forest, but fell 72-70 as Angel Rodriguez’s driving layup rimmed out at the buzzer, dropping Miami to 15-9 and 5-6.

Rodriguez drove to the basket more often, rather than settling for jumpers, on a 15-point night, and Davon Reed scored 17. But UM, which led narrowly before Tonye Jekiri fouled out late, squandered a very winnable game against a team that entered 11-13 and 3-8 in the conference.

Wake shot 12 for 23 on threes, compared with 7 of 26 for UM, and outrebounded Miami, 37-29. Jekiri, who entered as the ACC’s leading rebounder, has just three, and Wake had too many points off offensive rebounds.

We hesitate to use the term must-win, but a loss Sunday at Boston College (9-14) would be devastating. That would mean UM would need to sweep Virginia Tech, beat FSU at home, and win two of these three (at Louisville, at Pittsburgh, home to UNC) to finish over. 500 in the conference, a necessity for an NCAA Tournament bid unless Miami makes a long run in the conference tournament.

### UM backup quarterback Malik Rosier, who is playing on the Hurricanes baseball team, said he will be available for most spring practice sessions. UM’s first practice is a week from Saturday (Feb. 21).

### Sad news today about former Knicks forward Anthony Mason, who played one season for the Heat. Retired NBA writer Peter Vecsey said Mason, 48, has endured "congestive heart failure, a heart attack, and four surgeries, the last one nine hours.

The New York Daily News reported the heart attack was massive and his condition is grave.

Mason, a longtime close friend of former Dolphins quarterback Jay Fielder, averaged 14.3 points and 6.6 rebounds in 80 games for the Heat in 2000-01 before playing his final two seasons in Milwaukee.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

February 10, 2015

Larranaga, Morris talk UM hoops, baseball and their program's challenges; Heat buzz; Dolphins OL


The burden of unmet goals follows Al Golden everywhere he goes, but the weight of expectations also hangs over UM’s second- and third-highest profile programs, which have very good coaches with promising teams and unique challenges.

Considering how great Hurricanes basketball looked in wins at Duke and Syracuse and Florida, anything short of an NCAA Tournament bid would be a huge disappointment for a team squarely on the bubble. Meanwhile, UM baseball on Friday begins another season trying to end a six-year drought since its last College World Series appearance, its longest since the early 1970s.

Jim Morris made the CWS 11 of his first 15 seasons here, and won championships in 1999 and 2001, but hasn’t gone back to Omaha since 2008 and has only one super-regional appearance in that span, though he also has extended UM’s record of making the postseason to 42 in a row, longest active in college baseball.

“It weighs on me,” said Morris, whose team is ranked 9th to 15th in the preseason polls. “I want to get back to Omaha. I got very spoiled, this program is very spoiled, I went out Omaha 11 out of my first 15. We need to get back there.”

Of the past six years, last season’s 44-19 record (and an ACC championship) was UM’s best, but it ended with a thud, with Texas Tech shutting down UM 3-0 and 4-0 in the Coral Gables regional.

A month later, UM announced that Morris, who turns 65 on Feb. 20, will coach through the 2018 season, then be succeeded by longtime assistant Gino DiMare.  

“Four years is a long time. That the good news,” Morris said. “The bad news is it will be gone before you know it. I think about it once in a while for sure. I’ve been here a long time, and that will give me 45 years in coaching (including 12 as head coach at Georgia Tech). I’ll be 68 then. Then I’ll sit in the stands and ask Gino why he’s bunting.”

Morris, who has won as many national titles as the late great North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, cites valid explanations that have contributed to the program’s recent struggles reaching Omaha.

The biggest one: The total cost of tuition, room and board has risen at UM –- Morris said it is now $62,000 a year, including $42,000 tuition -- and the NCAA allows teams to split only 11.7 scholarships among 27 players. Morris said in the past few years he has lost out on a lot of good players whose families cannot afford to pay the difference.

“Most of the kids grew up in this park, watched the University of Miami play here and would like to play here and their family would like them to play,” Morris said Tuesday, standing above Mark Light Field. “But [they say] do I pay all this money and take loans or do I got to Florida State or Florida and it not cost me anything? It’s a tough thing.”

Also hurtful: UM has lost a lot of players to the pros, out of high school, and once they arrive, and tuition is a big factor in that.

“The problem we have is do you stay here, which means [if the player has half a scholarship, as most do], do you pay $30,000 and get $30,000 or do you sign? Let’s say a [MLB team] gives you $100,000, plus they will pay for your college when you come back. And we have a scholarship plan to pay for it. If I make it, I make it. And if I don’t, my school will pay for it in full when I come back…. We have a lot of guys in that category.

“So we out-recruit Florida and Florida State. Now we’ve got to out-recruit pro ball, which is impossible if they want somebody, unless somebody unique like Andy Suarez comes back.”

Staff ace Suarez, a second-round pick of the Washington Nationals last June, returned to UM this season. “By far the highest drafted player I’ve had returning to school,” Morris said.

The good news: Morris said he believes UM soon will make more financial aid available to baseball players, which will help supplement partial scholarships. This could be something of a game-changer.

“The fact we’ve gotten less financial aid has been tough,” he said. “It’s very important at a private school. We’ve lost that over the last 10 years. It’s been harder and harder to get. You’ve got schools like Virginia that know they’re going to get 10 financial aid scholarships. That doubles the scholarships.

“We used to have more when I first got here. Vanderbilt, the financial aid is unlimited. We need some of that back. It’s like being the Pittsburgh Pirates playing the New York Yankees. We’re lucky there’s a lot of
good players in South Florida, which helps us. If we were a private school in the middle of the state, we would have no chance. We need financial aid and we’re hoping we’re going to move back toward that. That’s huge."

As for UM hoops… The Hurricanes (15-8, 5-5), who twice have exited the Top 25 shortly after entering, needs to finish better than .500 in the ACC (including the conference tournament) to make the NCAA Tournament, ESPN’s Joe Lunardi said by phone Monday.

On paper, UM should be favored in five of its final eight regular-season games: Wednesday at Wake Forest (11-13) and Sunday at Boston College (9-13), twice against 9-14 Virginia Tech and home against FSU.

But none of those wins can be remotely assumed, because UM has lost several games it shouldn’t have, including that 20-point debacle to Georgia Tech. UM will be an underdog at Louisville and at Pittsburgh, and a CBS-televised home game Feb. 28 against North Carolina is a toss-up.

“Good wins help you more than bad losses hurt, but Miami is testing that,” Lunardi said. “They have bad losses. They are my last team in the tournament because they’re the only team that won at Duke.”

UM is now 55th in RPI rating. “If you’re in the top 40, you have a heck of a shot,” coach Jim Larranaga said.  “If you’re below 60, you don’t have a shot. Between 40 and 60 you better pray.”

Larranaga told me this week that this is the most unpredictable team he has ever coached, in terms of not knowing what to expect game to game, “because we have nine new guys. I talked to an NBA coach who said in the NBA it takes three to four years of keeping the same group together for them to really develop into a cohesive unit.”

UM’s reliance on the three-pointer --- Miami takes more threes than any other ACC team --- also can lead to wide swings in play.

“I would like us to have an inside presence,” Larranaga said. “Tonye Jekiri is a very important player in our program, [but] he is really not a back to the basket scorer like a lot of big guys are.”

Though Larranaga has recruited well, he admitted: “It’s always going to be very challenging for my staff and I to recruit against Carolina, Duke, Louisville, Syracuse because of their tradition. They have unbelievable facilities.

“One of the things people use against us is you go to Miami, it’s beautiful and everything but no crowds. We’re trying to change that. Duke, Carolina always sell out. That’s what kids want; they want the excitement of competing in the ACC but in a real basketball environment, a basketball community where basketball is the primary sport.

“Everybody sees Miami as a football and baseball town. It’s changing slightly toward being a town that will support the basketball program. We’ve had some great crowds here in the last four years. But we need to try to do that consistently. The only way is to get ourselves ranked and stay ranked where people think we have a shot at winning the ACC again and maybe even winning the national championship.”

UM has done an admirable job developing Jekiri but finding classic big men “is so hard,” he said. “Everyone in the country wants big guys.”

There are three Florida big men generating a ton of interest, but UM faces immense competition: Norland 6-10 junior power forward Dewan Huell (rivals.com’s No. 23 overall prospect), Tampa junior power forward Juwan Durham (22nd overall by rivals.com) and Miami Beach 7-1 sophomore center Zachariah Brown (rated the No. 5 sophomore in the country).

UM has offered all three, but heavyweight programs such as Duke, Kentucky and Kansas usually lure the top big men.

### Quick football note: Though Kevin Patrick and Kareem Brown would love the job and are possibilities, we confirmed Golden very much likes and is considering FIU defensive line coach Randy Melvin to replace Oakland Raiders-bound Jethro Franklin for the same job at UM. Melvin has more than 30 years coaching experience, including seven in the NFL (Tampa Bay, New England, Cleveland). And he worked for Golden at Temple. [Wednesday 4:30 update: UM has hired Melvin.]


### An Eastern Conference general manager said Tuesday the Heat likely lacks the assets to make a meaningful move before the Feb. 19 trade deadline. He said Norris Cole has been mentioned in trade talks “but what are you going to get for him? He’s a backup. They don’t have much to give up. Josh McRoberts would have value for a team out of the playoffs. Birdman [Chris Andersen] would have value for a playoff team but a playoff team is not trading you a quality [wing] for him.”

### The GM said Mo Williams --– traded from Minnesota to Charlotte on Tuesday --- was the only starting-caliber point guard he had heard was being shopped.

### A source in contact with Detroit confirmed the Pistons offered impending free agent power forward Jonas Jerebko to the Heat for Cole. But as MLLive.com reported, Detroit rejected Miami’s demand that the Pistons also take Danny Granger, who’s due $2.2 million next season.

### One limitation is the Heat cannot trade a first-round pick until 2017 because of league rules. Its 2015 first-rounder (top 10 protected) will be sent to Philadelphia through Cleveland.

### The Heat moved into seventh in the East tonight by virtue of Charlotte's 106-78 loss to Detroit.

### Dolphins lineman Nate Garner’s future is in question because of headache/migraine issues, and the Dolphins would save $1.6 million on the cap by cutting him… The Dolphins are projecting Billy Turner as one potential starting guard –-- the front office loves him --- and mulling their options at the other spot. Of course, Turner has to justify the staff's faith; he won't be handed the job if he doesn't show he's worthy... New Dolphins tight end Ryan Taylor, who signed today, has played in 50 NFL games for Green Bay (including two starts) and eight for Cleveland, which cut him in December. He has eight career receptions for 45 yards.

### Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

February 09, 2015

3 p.m. Tuesday: Wade to miss All-Star Game, Cleveland game; The ramifications of Tannehill extension; Marlins; Hurricanes notes

3 p.m. update: Heat guard Dwyane Wade, who has missed the past six games with a hamstring injury, said today that he will skip Sunday's All-Star Game in New York and that it wouldn't be smart for him to play Wednesday in Cleveland, the Heat's final game before the break.

"I felt like this was best," Wade said. "I wasn't going to play much either way. I think with the circumstances, the smartest thing to do is let someone else come in and really enjoy the All-Star experience. ... I think I owe it to the Heat fans to at least play in a Heat jersey first than go out there in the All-Star Game and play a couple minutes."

Commissioner Adam Silver will fill Wade's roster spot on the All-Star team. Atlanta's Kyle Korver and Milwaukee's Brandon Knight are among the possibilities.

Wednesday's game will be the Heat's 52nd game and the 17th Wade has missed. "It's going to be an interesting second half of the season for us, because we've got something to play for," Wade said. "We'll see how we respond."


11 p.m. Heat report: The night began inauspiciously, with the dreadful Knicks surging ahead by 14 and Chris Bosh missing five of his first six shots.

But Bosh then erupted, scoring 32 on Monday, and a Heat team that too often has faded in the second half of games did the opposite, outscoring the visiting Knicks by 18 after intermission in a 109-95 win, snapping a three-game losing streak.

And this was unusual for the Heat this season: All three of its point guards played well.

Mario Chalmers (18 points, six assists, five rebounds, three steals) played with an attacking mentality throughout.

Norris Cole had 12 points, making four of six shots, with eight assists.  

Shabazz Napier hit a three early in the second half, his only field goal of the game, and had three assists, three steals and no turnovers. Napier has 19 assists and two turnovers in his past four games, quite an improvement for a player who was among the league’s worst in assist-to-turnover ratio for most of the season.

“They were great in the second half,” coach Erik Spoelstra said of his point guards. “They set the tone for us defensively and made the right decisions at the other end, getting into the paint, making plays.”

Bosh put it this way: “The point guards were fantastic tonight. If they play well --- I don’t want to put pressure on them --- we’re tough to beat.”

The Heat made 12 of 22 three-pointers (including four by Bosh and three by Chalmers), shot 53 percent in its 57-point second half and 12 for 18 in the fourth quarter. In fact, this was the Heat’s biggest offensive output since scoring 114 in the second game of the season, at Philadelphia, and its largest comeback of the season in a victory. Miami entered averaging 92.4 points, 29th in the league.

With the score tied at 74 late in the third quarter, the Heat unleashed a 31-14 run to take control. The Knicks drew within 84-80 with 8:39 left but got no closer.

Bosh scored 16 in the first half, four in the third and 12 in the fourth, finishing 12 for 23 from the field. He said he enjoyed his six assists more than the 32 points. Both were needed on a night Dwyane Wade missed his sixth game in a row with a hamstring injury.

"It was a good night; we really started to play our style,” Bosh said. “As tough as it’s been this year, we always come to play…. That’s what I’ve loved about this group.”

Nursing a sprained ankle, Hassan Whiteside said before Monday’s game that he couldn’t jump as high as usual but still high enough “to dunk on people.” It took Whiteside slightly more than a half to put his imprint on this game.

Whiteside went to halftime scoreless and with three rebounds and three fouls in 11 minutes. He began the third with a dunk and had seven points, six rebounds and a block in 8:08 of the third before picking up his fourth foul (and a technical foul for complaining). He never returned, playing only 19 minutes, closing with seven points, nine rebounds and two blocks.

“It took me a while to get used to being back out there with the guys,” said Whiteside, who missed the previous game.

Chris Andersen delivered a jolt when Whiteside left, finishing with 10 points, four rebounds and three blocks, with all the blocks coming in the fourth quarter.

“Both are supporting each other; both are emotionally stable enough now to know it’s a collective… productivity that we need [at center],” Spoelstra said.

With Brooklyn losing to Milwaukee, the Heat moved a game ahead of the Nets for eighth in the East. At 22-29, Miami is tied with No. 7 Charlotte, which owns the tiebreaker at the moment.

While Bosh sizzled after a slow start, Carmelo Anthony cooled. He opened five for five, including four three-pointers, and scored 14 points in the game’s first nine minutes. He then missed 8 of his next 10 shots and later left for good with a sore knee with the Knicks down seven and 7:30 left. He finished with 26.

The Heat, on the wrong end of a 22-4 first-quarter run, avoided the embarrassment of losing to a team that entered 3-22 on the road and had lost 26 of 27 overall at one point this season.

### Wade worked out three hours before the game but Spoelstra said Wade is “not planning” to travel to Cleveland for Wednesday’s final game before the All-Star break, though Spoelstra didn’t completely rule it out.

### Besides Wade, the Heat also played without James Ennis (knee issue) and Shawne Williams (hip).


Because Ryan Tannehill has been operating under a rookie contract, the Dolphins have been able to make personnel mistakes the past few years (and they’ve certainly made more than their fair share) without being banished to salary cap hell.

That will change in the next year or two and it will make it far more difficult for the Dolphins to stomach the type of dead money they’ve had in recent years from premature divorces with Brandon Marshall, Karlos Dansby, Kevin Burnett and many others. In other words, the pain and consequences of making salary cap missteps will be heightened once Tannehill becomes a lot more costly. And that day is coming soon.

As The Herald has reported, the Dolphins are open to striking a long-term deal with Tannehill this offseason. The Sentinel’s Dave Hyde mentioned seven years, $105 million as possible contract terms, but not a certainty by any means. An offer hasn’t been made, but the issue is being discussed inside the Dolphins front office.

A few points to consider:

### Tannehill’s cap hit was $3.4 million last season and at the moment is set to be $4 million in 2015. It will jump dramatically either when a new contract kicks in or in 2016, when his salary is assured of jumping exponentially. The Dolphins intend to pick up his 2016 option (which would pay him north of $15 million that season) by the early May deadline if they cannot reach a longterm deal before then.

For perspective, Cincinnati's Andy Dalton, who last August signed a six-year contract that could be worth as much as $115 million, will have the following cap numbers over the next six seasons: $9.6 million, $13.1, $15.7, $16.3, $16.2 and $17.7. (This, providing he remains on the Bengals under terms of the current contract.)

San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick, who last June signed a six-year deal that could be worth as much as $126 million, will have cap hits of $15.3 million, $16.8, $19.3, $19.8, $19.2 and $21.4.

### Whatever Tannehill signs for, it won’t necessarily be as much as reported. For perspective, Dalton’s contract is basically a two-year, $25 million deal with a bunch of one-year options, as Pro Football Talk explained it. It would be worth $35.7 million over three years, $49 million over four years and $62.9 million over five years.

Kaepernick’s deal could be two years and $28 million in the unlikely event the 49ers part with him. It would be $82 million over five years.

### Keep in mind that Tannehill had a higher quarterback rating this past season (92.8) than Kaepernick (86.4) or Dalton (83.3). Tannehill was 14th, Kaepernick 20th and Dalton 25th.

Couple other quick notes:

### Marlins GM Dan Jennings told Sirius XM Radio’s Jim Bowden that the target date for Jose Fernandez’s return from Tommy John surgery is between June 15 and July 15.

### So UM today lost both its receiver coach Brennan Carroll (to his father’s Seattle Seahawks staff) and former oral commitment Terrell Chatman (who chose Arizona State).

So where does that leave UM? With former Hurricane Kevin Beard as its receiver coach and nine scholarship receivers, headlined by Stacy Coley (23 catches for 184 yards in a disappointing sophomore season), Rashawn Scott (sat out last season with an injury), Herb Waters (20 for 277 last season), Malcolm Lewis (25 for 248) and Braxton Berrios (21-232).  That’s the likely top five.

Four looking to crack that group: Darrell Langham, Tyre Brady, D’Mauri Jones (one catch, 13 yards last season) and freshman Lawrence Cager. Brady is 6-3, Langham and Jones 6-4 and Cager 6-5. So one of those four could emerge as a red zone threat.

Of Beard's promotion to receiver coach, former UM great Reggie Wayne said: "I believe they have found the right guy to finally get us back to Receiver U."

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz... Please check back in a couple of hours for Heat notes.

February 07, 2015

2 p.m. Sunday Heat injury, signing news; Coaches, analysts explain reasons for UM's recruiting difficulties in South Florida; Dolphins meet with Wallace; Call for change at FIU

Quick Sunday afternoon note: Dwyane Wade, who has missed five games with a hamstring injury, did not participate in the contact portion of practice today and Luol Deng said he doubts Wade will play Monday against the Knicks. Erik Spoelstra said he's not even thinking about the final two games before the All-Star break with regard to Wade.... Hassan Whiteside (ankle) said he didn't practice at all, making his return unlikely for Monday.... Udonis Haslem said he will play through a wrist injury... Tyler Johnson's new contract includes a non-guaranteed second season, which will become partially guaranteed before the start of the 2015-16 regular season, Johnson said.... Haslem predicted today that the team will make the playoffs. Miami is tied with Brooklyn for the eighth spot at the moment.

Quick Sunday morning note: With his second 10-day contract expiring, the Heat has decided to sign guard Tyler Johnson for the rest of the season. Johnson has played well, averaging 7.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.2 assists and shooting 50 percent in six games (16 for 32).


It’s unrealistic to expect UM to land every top local high school recruit. But this Hurricanes staff hasn’t landed enough of the best ones, and the final numbers from this year’s class were sobering:

Of the 16 Dade/Broward players among ESPN’s top 300 prospects, only two signed with Miami: running back Mark Walton (sixth) and safety Jaquan Johnson (11th). Walton (69th overall) was UM’s only “get” among the nine Dade/Broward players in Rivals’s top 250.

Most of the top local players are heading elsewhere: five-star Plantation American Heritage cornerback Tarvarus McFadden and Miami Central four-star receiver Da’Vante Phillips to FSU and Coconut Creek Monarch stars Calvin Ridley and Shawn Burgess Becker to Alabama, among others.

The wall around South Florida that Howard Schnellenberger once spoke of is now aluminum foil full of holes. This UM class has more players from New Jersey (two) than Broward (one).

So why is this happening? For input, we spoke to six local high-school coaches and others involved in local recruiting. Some of the feedback:

### Ultimately, mediocrity seems to be hurting UM more than anything.

“These kids want to win,” Central coach Roland Smith said.

Westminster Christian coach Sedrick Irvin said: “Before, Miami recruited itself. Going 6-7 hurts. You’ve got other teams selling, ‘We have more people in the stands, our facilities are better, and we’re winning now.’ And Miami isn’t winning. If Alabama is telling me I’m going to be the next Amari Cooper, why would I go to UM?”

Coconut Creek Monarch coach Calvin Davis said his two Alabama-bound blue chippers --- Ridley (rated the nation’s top receiver) and four-star safety Becker --- originally “were both leaning toward Miami. Then they went to Alabama and it opened their eyes. They want to win a championship.”

### Analyst Larry Blustein said local coaches have expressed concern to him about player development at UM.

“Between coaches and players, they all agree they’re not seeing a lot of development,” Blustein said. “If the average person looks at it that way, it’s a valid concern. They feel there’s not a lot of progress. You can say maybe some kids came in overrated. But you can’t use that explanation on everybody. A coach said the proof is there, that some of these are NFL-caliber guys" but are not playing up to their potential at UM.

Quick aside: Blustein says he’s merely conveying what coaches and players tell him. And in fairness, whereas some players haven’t lived up to their lofty recruiting status once they arrived on campus (Tracy Howard, Jelani Hamilton, since-transferred Jalen Grimble, among others), several have improved while at UM (Ereck Flowers, Phillip Dorsett, Clive Walford, among others).

Former UM player Donnell Bennett, who was a head coach for five years at two Broward schools and is now director of player development at Cardinal Gibbons, said the development of players at UM “could be working against them. They have to look at that, have to see if they’re cultivating fruit as well as they should be.”

### One highly successful coach of a Miami-Dade high school, who requested anonymity because he doesn’t want UM to shun his players, raised concerns about several members of UM’s staff.

“You get what you pay for and with some exceptions, this is a Temple coaching staff at a program that considers itself a national championship program,” the coach said. “The bottom third of that staff is coaching out of position --- Brennan Carroll coaching receivers, Tim Harris running backs, Hurlie Brown linebackers.”

### A second successful Miami-Dade coach, who also asked not to be quoted by name, said several local coaches aren't fans of defensive backs coach Paul Williams --- a topic that has been discussed among them, according to the coach.

To his credit, Williams has helped land several prominent four- and five-star recruits; early enrollee Johnson, the Killian safety, praised him.

But one reason why four-star Westminster Christian safety Tim Irvin (Michael Irvin’s nephew) chose Auburn over Miami is that “he didn’t have a good relationship with the defensive backs coach at UM,” said Sedrick Irvin, Tim Irvin’s uncle and head coach.

“Tim had a good relationship with Hurlie Brown, but Hurlie wasn’t going to be his position coach," Sedrick Irvin said. "The other DB coaches did a better job of telling him what he does [well] and what he needs to work on.”

### Sedrick Irvin said UM’s tradition doesn’t help as much in recruiting as it once did.

“This new generation doesn’t know the history of The U and isn’t about the history of a school,” he said. “Now they’re picking based on the color of the uniform. They’re going to Oregon because of the uniform. That and facilities is what gets kids’ attention.”

### And on that facilities front, UM --- while much improved over five years ago --- doesn’t measure up to the top SEC schools and FSU and Oregon and others, several local coaches said.

“They’ve closed the gap a bit with facilities, but it’s still nowhere near Alabama and Texas,” said Columbus High coach Chris Merritt, who said the NCAA cloud over UM was the biggest hindrance to UM recruiting before this year.

Said Irvin: “If I’m a recruit, I’m looking at 100,000 people at a game in Alabama, and 30,000 at a game here. And there’s not an on-campus facility here.”

### Coral Gables coach Roger Pollard said this also works against UM in recruiting: “Look at the coaches recruiting this area: Randy Shannon [at Florida], Mario Cristobal at Alabama. A lot are Miami-bred coaches or have connections to Miami coaches like [Texas and former Louisville coach] Charlie Strong.”

(Strong isn't from South Florida but is close with his former assistant Clint Hurtt, a former UM assistant who helped recruit South Florida for Strong at Louisville and now works for the Chicago Bears. Louisville remains a formidable factor in South Florida recruiting even with both Hurtt and Strong having moved on.)

### Blustein and others wonder why Miami didn’t pursue several players who generated interest from other major programs.

Pollard said Miami’s decision not recruit his three-star safety/receiver Shaquery Wilson --- who signed with Georgia --- “makes me scratch my head.”

Blustein said UM will regret not pursuing Doral Ronald Reagan linebacker Shawn Curtis (signed with Mississippi) and that Miami should have offered Coconut Creek Monarch safety Ronnie Hoggins (USF-bound; led the state in interceptions). He said he mentioned Curtis to UM staffers Kevin Beard and Jorge Baez but UM never called Curtis.

Of the four elite local players snagged by FSU, UM curiously didn’t offer one of them (Central defensive back Calvin Brewton, according to his coach) and was late in offering both McFadden and Hallandale linebacker Sh’Mar Kilby-Lane, according to the players. At least one four-star recruit that UM coveted, Booker T. Washington safety DaVante Davis, wanted to leave South Florida for college and signed with Texas.

“What Butch Davis and Jimmy Johnson did,” Blustein said, “was look at what top players schools had coming in two or three years” and recruit lesser players from those schools before that "to cultivate relationships.” He said UM needs to do that.

As recruiting analyst Ryan Bartow told our Manny Navarro: UM coaches “make the job harder than it needs to be” by going outside South Florida to recruit players "who are no better than players they’re passing on here. It’s kind of defeating the purpose of the job and location.”

### Plantation American Heritage coach and former UM player Mike Rumph, who had two elite recruits (FSU-bound McFadden and Ohio State-bound Torrance Gibson) told WQAM's Adam Kuperstein on Friday that UM has to “come out” to his school more and send coordinators or “staples in the community,”  such as assistant Tim Harris.

He says SEC schools “are doing their homework, showing up for every little thing like basketball games. I want [UM] to be similar to that.” He said he met with Golden recently “and told him my concerns.”

Rumph said recruiting would be easier for UM if it blitzed more on defense and played an up-tempo spread offense --- “similar things to what kids are doing at the high school level.”

### On the topic of schemes, keep in mind that one reason why defensive tackle Travonte Valentine, a top 2014 recruit, opted for LSU over Miami is he preferred a 4-3. Some prefer a more attacking style or more man coverage. “Style plays a part, but winning is everything,” Bennett said.

### Bennett makes a point similar to Rumph's, asserting that UM needs “to be more visible” and creatively market the program to recruits: “Rutgers had a billboard here off I-95.”

UM has eight South Florida oral commitments for 2016 but assuredly will need to win more games in 2015 to hold onto to some of them. One of those commitments, four-star St. Thomas Aquinas receiver Sam Bruce, has openly yearned for Oregon to offer him.


### Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey recently had a meal with Mike Wallace, according to a source with direct knowledge, and the Dolphins continue to mull what to do with their star receiver.

The fact Hickey wanted to meet with Wallace suggests the Dolphins are open-minded about his situation and aren't going to automatically cut him without first exploring if the situation is salvagable.

The Dolphins have been non-committal publicly about whether Wallace, who’s under contract through 2017, will be back.

Though his late-season behavior during games disappointed them, the Dolphins like his production and work ethic.

A close friend of Wallace said he “loves Miami,” would absolutely be OK with returning and that he just “wants an opportunity to make a difference” here.

The Dolphins have a $12.1 million cap hit if he's on the team, $9.6 million if he's cut without a post-June 1 designation, $6.6 million if he's traded (which doesn't seem especially likely because of the size of his contract) and $5.2 million if he's cut with a post-June 1 designation (which also would entail a 2016 cap hit).

### Though doctors are optimistic, Dolphins tackle Branden Albert said Friday he’s uncertain if he will ready for the regular-season opener after major knee surgery in November. "I hope I'll be able to play the first game; I just don't know," he said. "We'll see."

Albert, who was limping but walking without assistance, was among several players at a Dolphins event on the eve of the team's annual Cyling Challenge that raises a ton of money for innovative cancer research.

### The Heat has interest in Minnesota point guard Mo Williams if the Wolves move him before the Feb. 19 trade deadline, according to a person who has spoken to the Heat's front office.

### During a recent board meeting, Frank Pena, president of FIU’s 22,000-member Alumni Association, called for athletic director Pete Garcia to be replaced. “We have failed in academic performance of our student athletes, wins and losses, fundraising and fan support,” Pena said.

Pena said he will meet this week with FIU president Mark Rosenberg to discuss the matter. Pena said that 30 minutes before the board meeting, he called Garcia to tell him that he would be calling for his ouster: “I told him it’s not personal; it’s performance.”

Garcia declined to comment. For more details on this story, check out David J. Neal's FIU blog.

### A broadcast item for the several of you who have asked me: ESPN says Colin Cowherd was not suspended for his harsh criticism of Dan Patrick that we detailed in the previous blog. ESPN said Cowherd wasn't on the air late this past week because he had scheduled days off.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

Friday night: Heat postscripts, reaction as Miami falls out of playoff seeding; Canes; Broadcast squabble

A six pack of notes early on a Saturday morning:

### The Heat reached the 50-game mark tonight by reaching a new low this season: They’re eight games under .500 for the first time since finishing 15-67 in 2007-08.

And more significantly, they’re now out of playoff seeding, having fallen ½ game behind No. 8 Brooklyn in the East by virtue of the Nets’ win against the Knicks and Miami’s 98-85 loss in San Antonio.

Without Dwyane Wade (who was missing his 15th game) and Hassan Whiteside (ankle), this outcome was predictable. The Heat starting backcourt was again deficient, Mario Chalmers finishing 2 for 8 (7 points) and Shabazz Napier 2 for 7 (four points).

Napier has now shot 9 for 29 in five starts since Wade was sidelined by a hamstring injury. His defense remains a shortcoming, but at least he had no turnovers tonight, and just two (compared with 16 assists) in his past three games. But he did have one absurd moment, when he dribbled out the shot clock without shooting; that was charged as a team turnover.

The Spurs scored 24 points off 17 Heat turnovers --- four by James Ennis.

This was a night more was needed from Chris Bosh, who had a pedestrian 14 points (7 for 18 shooting) and seven rebounds.

There were too many open Spurs threes, a painful flashback to last year’s Finals.

Tyler Johnson led Miami with 18 points, making a case to be signed for the rest of the season. The Heat must make a decision on Johnson before its next game, Monday against the Knicks. He needed an IV for dehydration after the game.

"You love the way he competes," Erik Spoelstra said afterward. "He leaves it all out there."

At 21-29, the Heat fell 1 ½ games behind No. 7 Charlotte (22-27).

### Reaction afterward: Spoelstra: "This loss was disappointing. This road trip was disappointing. We have an ambitious young group of players and when we get fully healthy with our veterans, it's a nice balance of youth and veterans. We'll get to Miami, hopefully get healthy, and get to work on Monday."

On falling out of playoff seeding, Spoelstra said: "We're not going to get overwhelmed with that right now. We were defending well until the middle of the road trip. We need to get back to that, get guys healthy. Even with this disappointing road trip, I still see hope and optimism with this team. But we do need to put together a better result."

Spoelstra had no update on Udonis Haslem's wrist injury. "He could barely move it but said, 'If you need me, I'm available.' Shows what kind of warrior he is."...

Bosh, on falling out of playoff seeding: "I'm looking for anything, any kind of motivation you can get. Use it, take it. We're going to be in a dogfight after the All-Star break. It's going to be difficult. Six through nine, we're all going to be competing. We have to keep our heads, make sure we're trying to improve." ...

Luol Deng, who scored 17, on falling out of playoff seeding: "It's no time to drop your head or feel sorry for yourself. You have to show a strong character." 

### Count Gino Torretta among those advocating UM hire former Canes All-American defensive end Kevin Patrick to replace defensive line coach Jethro Franklin, who left for the same job with the Oakland Raiders.

Patrick was d-line coach at USF from 2008 to 2012 and at North Texas last season.

### It’s already UM baseball season; the Hurricanes will hold Fanfest at 4 p.m. Saturday and its alumni game at 6 p.m. at Mark Light Field. (Admission is free.) UM baseball opens a week from tonight (Friday) against Rutgers, then plays at the Gators the following weekend.

“All the polls have us in the top 15, ranked 9 to 15,” Jim Morris said at the team banquet Thursday night. “I feel our hitters are experienced. You will see us score some runs. The ball is jumping a little more. I am really looking forward to what [we can do offensively]. We may have the best bullpen in the country. We are going to play good defense. I’m excited about this club.”

UM staff ace Andrew Suarez is the highest-drafted player to eschew the pros and return to college this season. Suarez was drafted in the second round by the Washington Nationals in June.


### In case you missed it, Rece Davis is replacing Chris Fowler as the host of ESPN’s popular College GameDay. Fowler will focus on his job as ABC/ESPN’s lead college football play-by-play announcer. Davis will give up calling Thursday night games.

### Media squabble of the week: ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd’s unsolicited, unwarranted attack on NBC and former ESPN sportscaster Dan Patrick, who also hosts a national radio host.

Cowherd, in defending colleague Skip Bayless and Jim Rome for their work ethic, said this: “I’ve worked in this business for 35 years. Skip outworks all of us. The hardest working guy when I got into this business was Jim Rome. … That guy grinds it every day. You don’t know anybody that works like him. This radio business I’m in is full of guys who read the sports page and rip crap off. I’m here three hours a day. So is Romey. Dan Patrick doesn’t work as hard as Rome — not even close. That’s why I’ve always respected Romey. He puts the time in. Patrick needs 35 producers to fill a segment.”

Patrick said this in response: “I don’t have 35 producers. I don’t work at the Worldwide Leader. I do have two producers here who did work on Colin’s show, and the one thing that I do is I give credit to my producers on the air. It’s not a one-man show. All the people behind the scenes who help out on Colin’s show — they don’t get any recognition....

"Colin should understand two people who worked with me on SportsCenter and are in management at ESPN actually emailed me yesterday to apologize, saying they were embarrassed that Colin would bring up something like that....

"If you’re criticizing me because of the Rob Gronkowski moment on the podium [when Patrick incorrectly said Sunday that this was Gronk’s second Super Bowl win], you have every right to do it. Guilty as charged. I criticized myself. But you know what Colin, I’m good enough to be able to make a mistake in front of 100 million people. Are you?

“We don’t have ESPN muscles. I had them for 18 years. Leave ESPN. Get out and do what I do. Try it. Try a radio network, maybe a simulcast, maybe a column for Sports Illustrated. Host the Olympics, Football Night in America, and Sports Jeopardy. Try that, and then we can discuss work ethic."

Later in the week, Patrick continued his lengthy response.

“I want to move on from it," Patrick said. "I shouldn’t have even lowered myself to it. Somehow he’s complimenting Skip Bayless and Jim Rome, and he brought me in, and I thought he did a disservice to them. You want to compliment them for their work ethic? Feel free. But it felt like he used them to denigrate me and this show, and I wouldn’t stand for it, and certainly the guys working for me."

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

February 05, 2015

Five analysts assess UM recruiting class; UM adds QB; Heat, Dolphins, Marlins personnel nuggets


Final word on this UM recruiting class that was ranked 23rd by ESPN and 26th by Rivals? We reached out to five analysts for their thoughts:

### Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell: “It’s a disappointment. Al Golden is a terrific recruiter, but this is a disappointing class. Outside the top 25, no five-star prospects. Out of 20 kids, they have seven that are four-star. It’s not a Miami-caliber class.

“I like what they did at running back with Mark Walton; he’s a dynamic back and the best player in this class. I like their offensive line recruiting. But they missed out on the skill kids, and linebacker is a concern…. Charles Perry is the best of their linebackers, rangy kid. Jamie Gordinier is a big linebacker but they can get kids like that in Florida who are faster. The biggest criticism of Golden is he has left the state to get kids he can get in Florida. Jamie is an example of that….

“They did well at cornerback --- [Alabama-based] Michael Jackson and [Miami Killian’s] Sheldrick Redwine are good players --- but there were guys in South Florida that were more highly-touted that decided to go elsewhere…

“Most underrated guy in this class is [Miami Edison’s] Robert Knowles. He can be a safety or corner… Jerome Washington has a chance to be a Jimmy Graham type tight end, one of those guys nobody knew about and turns into a star…  Their biggest challenge is keeping [the 13 oral commitments] they have next year. Early commitments mean nothing.”

### Larry Blustein: “It’s not that bad. It was very decent, third-best in the ACC behind Florida State and Clemson. My only criticism is they let a lot of kids go that wanted to come here, including [linebacker] Shawn Curtis, who signed with Mississippi….

[Jacksonville defensive tackle] Kendrick Norton can make a difference… They didn’t get the marquee linebacker but they got athletic kids. James King never became a force at Booker T. but could be a Thurston Armbrister type. Charles Perry is solid; not elite but right under that… It’s a top-tier offensive line class…. Sheldrick Redwine was underrated; he’s long and quick and instinctive and he can get to balls most people can’t…. [Safety] Jaquan Johnson is a freak; he has dominated from youth football on….

“They may have the strongest running game in the nation. You have three very good backs in Joe Yearby, Gus Edwards and Walton, plus Trayone Gray. In Walton, you have a home-run hitter that can pulverize linebackers.

“At receiver, I wish they could have gotten [Florida-bound] Antonio Callaway…. They have to win eight, nine games next year. If not, Al Golden will be gone. Can they? Yes. Will they? I’m not real sure. They have to beat Pitt on the road, have to beat Nebraska at home. They should have won nine games last year.”

### Charles Fishbein: Considering “the barrage they’ve been under with people attacking the staff, they pulled through and did fairly well. You would have liked a second back and second receiver. I like the fact they were able to get on Redwine late and sign him. Redwine and Charles Perry are the most underrated players in this class; they have all-conference potential.

“I looked at [defensive end] Richard McIntosh’s senior film and he can make an impact. Finishing 6-7 really hurt them in recruiting. And they are getting beat up down here. Other schools don’t have to negative recruit against them. People down here are doing it for them.”

### Rivals.com’s Jeremy Crabtree: “You could make a very good argument that Miami has the best offensive line class in the ACC and possibly one of the best in the country. My favorite is tackle Tyree St. Louis. He's still physically raw in many ways, but he's also so athletically gifted and has a tremendous football IQ; you could see him being a franchise type of tackle prospect. His film was tremendous, but seeing him in person at the Under Armour Game sold me. He's got the potential to be a great one.”

The most underrated UM addition is offensive lineman “Hayden Mahoney. While he's only a three-star offensive tackle and doesn't crack the top 50 in the positional rankings, there's a lot to like about his upside.

But… “If you're a Miami fan, you definitely have to be concerned that none of the top 10 players in the Sunshine State ended up picking the Canes. In a year where there was coaching change with one of your biggest recruiting rivals [UF], you would have to hope you can maybe use that to your advantage and Miami really didn't.

“Then again, it's really tough to recruit against FSU now with what it has going on, but still there is an expectation for Miami to do a better job with elite talent in Florida, and that just didn't happen this season.”

### CBS’ Tom Lemming: He says UM’s gem in the class is Walton: “Great vision, balance and burst and gets stronger as the game goes on.”

He says UM’s most underrated addition is Gordinier, and that he’s similar to former Boston College and Carolina Panthers standout Luke Keuchly. “Remember, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Michigan turned down Keuchly. Gordinier is quick to the ball, in on every play.” (Keuchly was a three-star player, rated by Rivals as the 44th-best linebacker. Gordinier is a three-star and No. 60.)

Lemming has concerns at defensive tackle: “There haven’t been many in [Miami’s] area, but next year is one of best I’ve seen in 37 years for defensive tackles nationally. Miami will get a couple for sure.” Lemming said defensive tackle Rashan Gary is the No. 1 overall player in next year’s class: “He’s from Paramus Catholic in New Jersey and Golden has New Jersey ties.”

### UM today added Georgia-based quarterback Evan Shirreffs to this recruiting class. The 6-5 Shirreffs was lightly-recruited by major programs; he had offers from Old Dominion, Eastern Michigan, Columbia and Virginia Military. Shirreffs, who visited UM recently, threw for 2693 yards, 23 touchdowns and four interceptions last season. He gives UM four scholarship quarterbacks, joining starter Brad Kaaya, Malik Rosier and Gray Crow.


### The Heat is next-to-last in the league in points per game (92.6, ahead of only Philadelphia) but continues to pass on several available proven scorers who are interested in signing here, starting with veteran 6-4 guard Jordan Crawford, who’s back from China. The Heat has stayed in occasional contact with Crawford’s camp over the past several months but never summoned him for a workout in the past year. Crawford (12.2 career scoring average) would be a clear upgrade, but inside the Heat, there was concern that several teams have parted with him. But he is said to have matured.

Too often, the Heat has had to play Norris Cole and Mario Chalmers together; Miami has been outscored by 111 in their 394 minutes (by far the worst two-man pairing on the team)…. Michael Beasley is back from China after averaging 30 points and 10 rebounds there, but the Heat has shown zero interest.

### The Heat hasn’t told Tyler Johnson, who has impressed, if he will be signed for balance of the season when his second 10-day expires Monday.

### Over the past 11 games, the Heat has outscored teams by 35 with Hassan Whiteside on the court and been outscored by 55 without him.

### Dolphins executive Mike Tannenbaum said Olivier Vernon is underrated, and Vernon said he would welcome an extension beyond next season. But there haven’t been talks. The Dolphins appear to be waiting a while before engaging in substantive talks with anybody about anything.

### ESPN’s Todd McShay has Miami picking Michigan State cornerback Trae Waynes at No. 14 in his mock draft.

McShay writes: “Two of Miami's top needs are inside linebacker and wide receiver, but it's too early to take an ILB here and all three of the WRs worth drafting at No. 14 overall are already off the board in this scenario (Amari Cooper, Kevin White, Devante Parker). Cornerback is another need area, and while [Washington’s] Marcus Peters has better tape, he brings with him some baggage after being kicked off of the Washington team last season. The Dolphins aren't in the business of taking chances on character risks right now, so Waynes might make more sense. He's a playmaker with very good ball skills and has the length and athleticism to hold up as a cover corner, and he shows good recognition skills and can help in run support. His biggest weakness is technique, but that's coachable.”

### Under new Dolphins defensive line coach Terrell Williams, the Raiders were 18th, 13th and 22nd against the run with Williams in the same position with Oakland the past three seasons. Williams is well-regarded.

### Highly-regarded pitcher Mat Latos, a free agent after 2015, lost his arbitration case Thursday and will make $9.4 million, not the $10.4 million he asked for. Though he would have been interested in a multiyear deal, the Marlins never offered one.

If he stays healthy (he was limited to 16 starts last season) and pitches like he usually has in his career, he would be very costly to keep. “We love what he brings to the table and we’re happy he’s with us and we’ll just see how things progress having him in house,” Marlins executive Michael Hill said.

### As our Clark Spencer noted, the Marlins are not seriously in the mix to sign free agent pitcher James Shields, whose name has been linked to the team from time to time this winter, though they have been monitoring the situation. There's no room in the budget for Shields, barring a dramatic change of heart by ownership.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

February 04, 2015

Bosh fed up after Minnesota loss; More Whiteside feats; Golden addresses UM's recruiting class

Please see the last post for Al Golden's comments on UM's recruiting class.

Meanwhile, here's what an angry Chris Bosh said after the Heat blew another 10-point fourth quarter lead in a loss to dreadful Minnesota tonight:

"Upteenth time. Gave up a 10-point lead like it wasn't anything. For some reason, a 10-point lead is nothing for this team. It doesn't matter who we play."

"Hell, yeah, it's a missed opportunity and we're not going to get it back. You're in a situation where you can't afford to lose any games. Things are slipping away from us. We're about to be out of the playoff seeding. We're not concentrating and I don't understand that. It's a game we could have got. All we had to do was concentrate. We're shooting ourselves in the foot by not focusing on the game. I don't even know what we're focusing on, but it's not the game."

At 21-28, the Heat leads No. 9 Brooklyn (20-28) by just 1/2 half.

"Not a cushion anymore, is it?" Bosh said. "Detroit is playing well and kicked our ass. We're making it more interesting than it has to be. We're not that good to just show up and win."

### Hassan Whiteside (24 points, 20 rebounds, two blocks, 12 for 13 shooting) became only the fourth player in the last 30 years to produce a game with 20 points, 20 rebounds and at least 90 percent shooting, joining Dwight Howard, Dikembe Mutombo and Charles Barkley... Whiteside posted the Heat's first 20/20 since Shaquille O'Neal in 2004....

Whiteside has 101 points, 92 rebounds and 23 blocks over six games. According to Elias, only one other Heat player has had a six-game stretch with those numbers: Alonzo Mourning. The last NBA player to do it? Dwight Howard in 2013.

Again, please see the last post for Golden's comments from today.... Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

What Golden had to say at his press conference today; UM adds Gators defensive lineman

Snippets from Al Golden’s press conference a few minutes ago and some other notes from National Signing Day:

### UM’s class as of this hour includes 20 players. The nine on offense break down this way: six linemen, one running back, one tight end, one receiver. The 11 on defense include four defensive backs, four defensive linemen and three linebackers.

Six of the 20 players are in ESPN’s top 300, with three apiece on both sides of the ball… UM had 13 recruits from Florida, two from New Jersey and one each from Alabama, California, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania…. Five of the 20 are from Miami-Dade, one from Broward and one from Palm Beach.

### Golden announced UM has added Gerald Willis, a defensive end/tackle who was dismissed from the University of Florida football team last month, but that he will not be eligible to play in 2015. Willis was a four-star defensive end out of New Orleans last year, rated by Rivals.com as the sixth-best strongside defensive end.

Willis played limited snaps this past season, finishing with 10 tackles.

He had several off-field incidents, including getting into a fight with Gators quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg in October. During the UF-FSU game in November, Willis shoved Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston in the face while he was standing on the sideline. The Florida staff sent him to the locker room for the rest of the game.

“If I was still the head coach, he’d be kicked off the team,” Will Muchamp told our Jesse Simonton after the incident. “Ridiculous.”

“Great motor; guy we coveted a year ago,” Golden said of Willis, adding his issues at UF were "things we didn’t think were to the point they would discourage us. It was stuff; a lot of immaturity, nothing that with the right mentor [can't be avoided].”

Golden said UM tight end Standish Dobard, Willis’ former high-school teammate, has offered to be his mentor. 

### Golden’s class overview: “This was a group heavy on offensive line. Averages 6-5, 312. We’re excited about that. We’re pleased to bring in [running back] Mark Walton from Booker T.; had a prolific career there… Lawrence Cager –-- great length, excellent ball skills… We lost a productive tight end in Clive Walford and are replacing him with the No. 1 junior college [tight end] prospect in the country, Jerome Washington. He’s already [enrolled], has four years of eligibility…

"Defensively, we wanted two guys with length at corner; we’re excited about Michael Jackson and Sheldrick Redwine. Jackson comes to us as at least 6-1. Redwine gives us length and speed…

“I thought Daquan Johnson was the best safety down here. Great young man. He’s enrolled. He’s humble… Robert Knowles, at 6-1 ½, 6-2, very physical player. Really matured this year.

"We needed to get three linebackers. We offered four in the three counties and got two. [Besides Charles Perry], James King is 203 pounds; was 186 at our camp. Watched him grow and develop. Jamie Gordinier from a state champion in Red Bank Catholic in New Jersey.

"[Defensive end] R.J. McIntosh might be the most underrated player down here. Basketball player, athletic… [Jacksonville defensive tackle] Kendrick Norton, we’re excited about the size that he brings. Brings us strength, brings us power. We added Gerald Willis to that mix."

### Golden said: "The one position we had to overcompensate for was offensive line… When you take six, that shows we were not really where we need to be."

### Golden said UM is fine at running back, even after adding just one in this class. (Dexter Williams chose Notre Dame over UM; Jordan Scarlett flipped to UF.)

"We have Joe Yearby, Gus Edwards, Trayone Gray, [Mark Walton] and Walter Tucker will do what he continued to do for us --- he will be a fullback when we need him, but he’s a really good one-back runner."

### Golden said "all the report" on defensive end Scott Patchan, who's recovering from an ACL injury, are good. "He's already 245 pounds; already wanted to go full speed. Preventative measure standpoint we will hold him out until spring break. He’s got a relentless motor."

As in past years, UM will split up spring practice --- some practices before spring break, some after.

### Golden was asked about UM not luring more of the high-caliber cornerbacks in South Florida. (UM signed Sheldrick Redwine and Robert Knowles, who are three-star prospects.)

Golden said it’s partly because UM wanted only big corners. “It was just what we needed this year. Michael Jackson has Florida ties. His dad lives here. He’s 6-1, we wanted to get length at corner. There are two guys, three, we offered with that kind of length. Sheldrick is one of the three.

"We think we know [who are the best prospects]. Everybody thinks they know. [Some of the other cornerback prospects are] not 6-1; we just needed length at that spot. Robert Knowles 6 ½, he’s going to be big. You turn on the film and [see] the physicalness. Robert Knowles wanted to be here.”

### He said he’s still looking to add a quarterback. Newcomer Vincent Testaverde is a walk-on.

### How has Golden done recruiting South Florida? “I don’t know overall," he said. "Last year was clearly our best year. Chad Thomas, Joe Yearby, McDermott, Nick Linder, Trevor Darling, Demetrius Jackson.

“I don’t think we would drive past any kid in South Florida to get somewhere else. We had to go to Venice and Bradenton [for offensive linemen]. We were lucky with Bar Milo, form Brad Kaaya’s school [in California]. The number is a little skewed because of the offensive linemen."

### Golden was asked how good a job UM did landing local skill players this year.

“It wasn’t a big skill year. We needed two corners and two safeties. We probably would have taken one more receiver but we only lost one receiver. You can’t lose one receiver in Phillip Dorsett and replace him with three. Next year, we’ll probably take five wideouts.”

### He said “we’re still in a cap deal” because UM cannot use all 85 scholarships because of NCAA sanctions. Golden expects to have 79 on scholarship this year but 85 next year.

### On 14 players de-committing from UM over the past few months, Golden said: "Maybe that’s just the direction we’re going. We don’t want to get into that business. It’s a variety of reasons. It’s individually based. Moving forward, we’re excited about this group.”

### For 2016, UM already has 13 oral commitments, all from Florida. He said the key to hold onto those players is “just keeping moving the program forward; just continuing to show them the impact they can have.

"We’re excited because it’s a skill laden group. There is going to be a lot of receivers in the group, two tight ends, two running backs, multiple corners, multiple safeties. I don’t think there will be a lot of offensive linemen in the class. I expect our South Florida numbers to be really high next year. We’re gaining a little traction in Jacksonville. I like that. We’re getting a little more in Bradenton, in Venice.”

### Golden was non-committal about whether there would be any coaching staff changes.

### Punter Justin Vogel is now on scholarship, Golden said.


February 03, 2015

Troubling development for UM as Signing Day looms; UM, Heat Tuesday night postscripts, reaction; Broadcast note

This was posted Tuesday night at 10:16 p.m. Please scroll down one paragraph, to the 11:16 AM Wednessday update in bold:

UM enters National Signing Day on Wednesday waiting for answers from at least 12 players, including one soft Canes oral commitment (receiver Terrell Chatman), two defensive tackles (one from Jacksonville, one from L.A.), a three-star defensive end from Michigan (Joshua Alabi) that UM is trying to flip from Ohio State; four-star Tallahassee "athlete" D'Anfernee McGriff (down to UM and UF, according to Canesport) and two local players they pursued late: three-star Killian cornerback Sheldrick Redwine and two-star Booker T. Washington linebacker James King, an FAU oral commitment. (See Manny’s blog for a list of what time most of these players will announce on Wednesday.)

11:16 a.m. Wednesday update: As of this hour, UM was able to flip King from FAU and Redwine from Louisville but lost to UF in the battle for four-star Booker T. Washington receiver Antonio Callaway, lost to FSU (a late-entrant into the race) for four-star Washington D.C. defensive back Marcus Lewis, lost to Notre Dame in battle for four-star running back Dexter Williams, and fell short in a battle to snag Plantation American Heritage quarterback Torrance Gibson from Ohio State. UM is in the mix for several others who will announce in the next six hours.

It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that UM, as of this hour, has only one committed defensive tackle, Ryan Fines, who analysts regard as a longterm backup.

But it’s both disappointing and surprising that UM enters NSD with no cornerback commitments from South Florida, considering how deep and strong the position was in Dade/Broward high schools this past season.


### Five-star American Heritage prospect Tarvarus McFadden, rated the nation’s No. 2 corner by Rivals.com, is FSU-bound and bemoaned to The Herald early last year that UM didn’t initially pursue him. “They don’t ever contact me,” he said a year ago. UM subsequently offered, but it was too late.

### Auburn is reportedly the favorite for four-star Norland cornerback Carlton Davis, a former Ohio State oral commit. Miami was never able to make inroads with Davis, rated the nation’s No. 17 cornerback.

### Miramar’s Tyrek Cole, the No. 18 cornerback, opted for West Virginia over Miami and others largely because his former high-school coach, Damon Cogdell, is now on the Mountaineers’ staff.

### Booker T. Washington’s DaVante Davis, the nation’s No. 24 safety who can also play cornerback, is Texas-bound partly because he wanted to leave town for college.

### Westminster Christian’s Tim Irvin, the No. 29 safety who also can play cornerback, has enrolled at Auburn and never felt a deep connection with the Miami staff, according to an associate.

### St. Thomas’ Rashard Causey, the No. 42 cornerback, opted for UCF over offers from UM and others.

### St. Thomas’ Damon Arnette, the No. 51 cornerback, is committed to Ohio State. Miami never made an offer.

### UM made a late run at Carol City cornerback three-star Rashad Fenton, but it was too late. He’s considering UF, Louisville and South Carolina.

### UM never offered Northwestern’s DeAndre Baker, the No. 72 cornerback according to Rivals. He’s committed to Georgia.

Perhaps UM will snag Redwine, the No. 62-rated cornerback who grew up a Canes fan. He’s a soft Louisville commitment. [Redwine flipped to UM this morning.]

UM has only one oral commitment at cornerback as of this hour: four-star Alabama based prospect Michael Jackson, rated the nation’s 31st-best cornerback by Rivals. By all indications, he's a good get. But you would have expected more considering how many good cornerbacks there are in this area.


Postscripts from an eventful night of Heat and Hurricanes hoops Tuesday:

### The Heat has now managed to be on the wrong end of runs of 37-2 and 25-1 in the past four days. The 37-2 run was in the second half of Friday’s loss to Dallas. The 25-1 run closed the first quarter of Tuesday’s game at Detroit. Most of that run (22-1) came after Hassan Whiteside went to the bench with his second foul.

Chris Bosh (34 points) and Whiteside (11 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks in just 24 minutes) played well, but the Heat could never fully overcome a 33-12 first-quarter deficit and was again hurt by dreadful guard play. With Dwyane Wade still sidelined, Pistons guards outscored Heat guards by the embarrassing margin of 56-8. (The margin was 43-1 for the starting guards.)

D.J. Augustin exposed Shabazz Napier defensively and outscored him 25-0. “Augustin was going wherever he wanted to go; pretty much dominated the game,” Erik Spoelstra said. “We never got a handle on that.”

At shooting guard, Kontavious Caldwell Pope outscored Mario Chalmers, 18-2, with Chalmers scoring one point and missing both his shots from the field.

“We need to get the ball where it needs to go; make sure we’re executing details of our offense,” Spoelstra said. Defensively “third highest field goal percentage we’ve given up in a month [48 percent]. One of our guys [Bosh] can have a great game and if we don’t defend, we don’t have a chance to win. We can’t win like this.”

Tyler Johnson led all Heat guards with five – five! – points.

### Before Tuesday, the Heat was 17-0 in the regular season when Bosh scored at least 30 points in his Heat career. Bosh had 30 in a playoff loss to Chicago.

### Luol Deng (10 points) shot just 3 for 9 after returning from a calf injury… The Heat was outscored by 26 points in James Ennis’ 10 scoreless minutes. According to basketballreference.com, that ties Travis Outlaw for the worst plus/minus in 10 minutes or less of playing time in the past 12 years.

### The Heat felt to eighth in the conference at 21-27, tied with No. 7 Charlotte, which owns the tiebreaker.

### UM closed to within three of No. 9 Louisville several times in the second half, including with 53-50 with just under two minutes left but ultimately succumbed, 63-55, to drop its third in a row. At 14-8 and 4-5, UM is very much on the NCAA bubble, probably on the outside at this point.

The Canes got a huge lift from Davon Reed, who shot 7 for 8 on a 19-point night. Tonye Jekiri had 10 points and 10 boards.

But Angel Rodriguez (six points) shot 2 for 9 and is now 10 for 57 over his past six games. "We needed Angel and Sheldon McClellan to have big-time games, and unfortunately between the two of them they are a combined 4 for 14 and 0 for 4 from three," Jim Larranaga said. "We need to shoot the ball better."

Jim Larranaga went back to a starting lineup that had been successful, with Manu Lecomte at guard and Joe Thomas at power forward. But Miami’s starting unit opened 1 for 10 from the field. And Lecomte didn’t score until the game’s final minute.

UM shot just 34 percent and 6 for 19 on threes.

"We're on a rollercoaster," Larranaga said. "We have ups and downs. We've lost three games in a week, so we're a little down. The ACC is very unforgiving."

### Louisville coach Rick Pitino ended his press conference by saying he's a "diehard Marlins fan" and that "I like what they're doing." He said he has four season tickets behind the visiting dugout. 


As we broke earlier today on Twitter, CBS/Turner have decided to pair Bill Raftery and Grant Hill with Jim Nantz on their lead NCAA basketball announcing team, including the Final Four.

Raftery and Hill replace Steve Kerr (who left to coach the Golden State Warriors) and Greg Anthony (who was suspended by CBS and TNT following his arrest last month on solicitation of a prostitute).

Nice to see the likable 71-year-old Raftery get a chance to work his first Final Four after 33 years an analyst. And Hill, who won two championships at Duke, has impressed Turner with his NBA work this season.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz 

February 02, 2015

The impact of Whiteside's emergence on Heat's cap, priorities moving forward; UM recruiting; Dolphins, Marlins


If Hassan Whiteside continues to show he’s a quality starting center, it will significantly impact Heat personnel moves and Miami’s allocation of cap space over the next few years.

A few points to consider:

### Whiteside --– who is first in the NBA in blocks and second in rebounds (both per 48 minutes) and fifth in field-goal percentage --- is making $769,881 this season and $981,348 next season.

He will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016, when the Heat could have anywhere from $47 million to $62 million in cap space, depending on how dramatically the cap jumps when the new TV contract takes effect that year.

According to different media reports, the cap is expected to rise from a projected $66 million next season to $80 million to $87 million the following year.

Whiteside will have Early Bird rights, meaning the Heat can exceed the salary cap to re-sign him to a two-or three- or four-year deal, but only if it’s with a starting salary of no more than 108 percent of the NBA’s average salary in 2015-16, with annual raises of 7.5 percent. But that would mean a new contract for Whiteside would start in the range of $6.5 million or so, which would not be enough to re-sign him using Early Bird rights if he continues to perform at this level.

So the Heat likely would need to use some of its ample cap space to sign him, rather than being able to exceed the cap to re-sign him. That would eat into Miami's cap space, though it's well worth it if Whiteside continues to play like this.

### If Whiteside keeps this up, the Heat figures to consider moving Josh McRoberts’ four-year, $23 million contract, which pays him $5.8 million in 2016-17 and $6.02 million in 2017-18 (player option). McRoberts already has been dangled in a rejected proposal for Nets center Brook Lopez, according to Yahoo!

There’s also the very unlikely option of dealing Chris Bosh if Pat Riley concludes this nucleus, with additions, isn’t good enough and decides to blow it all up eventually. (No, we don't expect that to happen. But can anything completely be ruled out with Riley?)

### If Whiteside keeps flourishing, the Heat’s focus in free agency this summer and 2016 will likely be perimeter players --- shooters and point guards.

Even if Luol Deng opts out of the $10.1 million due him next season in the second year of a two-year deal (which seems unlikely) and if the Heat moves on from Norris Cole (which seems likely), Miami still wouldn’t have big cap space this summer, unless it also trades McRoberts or Chris Andersen.

The likelihood is that the Heat's best chance to upgrade this summer is through trades and using its $6 million mid-level exception. (Miami should be well enough below the tax threshold to be able to use the full mid-level, not the smaller taxpayer's midlevel.)

If Miami uses its midlevel on a point guard, options would include 6-0 Aaron Brooks (averaging 11.4 points and shooting 45.7 percent on threes for Chicago); J.J. Barea or Jameer Nelson (size an issue for both 6-0 guards), 6-2 CJ Watson (10.3 points, 38.2 percent on threes); 6-1 Mo Williams (12.5 points, 6.4 assists for Minnesota) or the Lakers’ 6-3 Jeremy Lin (10.4 points, 4.7 assists).

The Heat also could use its mid-level to try to lure a combo guard who can provide scoring punch (Lou Williams, Jason Terry or Rodney Stuckey) or a wing player such as Corey Brewer (player option), Gerald Green, Wesley Johnson, Marco Belinelli, Mike Dunleavy or cheaper options Gary Neal, Wayne Ellington and Marcus Thornton.

Talented Thunder backup point guard Reggie Jackson, who wants to be a starter and now backs up Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, will be a restricted free agent this summer, and OKC presumably would match an offer at the midlevel.

But he could sign a one-year, $3.2 million qualifying offer with the Thunder this summer and then become an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016, when the Heat and others could try to lure him with a big contract. That same option also is available to two other impending restricted free agents: Milwaukee’s Brandon Knight (from Fort Lauderdale Pinecrest) and Houston’s Patrick Beverley.

Beyond those three, there are three starting point guards set for unrestricted free agency in 2016: Mike Conley, Brandon Jennings and George Hill, with Conley obviously the most appealing of that group if the Heat is still searching for a top point guard at that time. Damian Lillard will be restricted in 2016 and Portland presumably would match any offer.

Phoenix's Goran Dragic can be an unrestricted free agent this summer but he's out of the Heat's price range unless Miami drastically sheds salaries.

### If Whiteside keeps playing at this level, the other Heat priority (besides point guard) will be small forward, with Deng’s deal expiring after next season.

After Kevin Durant (whom the Heat and many others figure to target) and potentially LeBron James (who says he isn’t leaving Cleveland), there’s a big drop-off among potentially available small forwards in the 2016 free agent pool, to Chandler Parsons (player option), Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Nic Batum and restricted free agent Harrison Barnes.

Kawhi Leonard, Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, Tobias Harris and Khris Middleton could end up available in 2016, depending on what they do as restricted free agents this summer.

So is the sample size big enough for the Heat to know what it has in Whiteside?

Not yet, ESPN’s Hubie Brown said off the air. “We can’t look into the future to see the work ethic, the maturity of dealing with pressure, the coachability,” Brown said.

“He’s in the early stages of catching a pass with his back to the basket. That has to be refined. [But] he’s blessed with great timing, [great] length of arms, great hands. His athletic quickness from side to side is incredible. I’ve been around since 1973 and what he did [against Chicago] was a happening. He’s a diamond in the rough with major upside.”


### Tough few days for UM, which not only lost former oral commitment Jordan Scarlett to UF, but also lost out in battles for Royal Palm Beach offensive tackle Fredrick Johnson (to UF) and four-star St. Thomas Aquinas receiver Devante Peete to Louisville. Peete didn't have UM as a finalist.

### UM’s priorities Wednesday: beating out Kentucky for four-star Washington D.C. based defensive back Marcus Lewis (FSU and Texas are now also in the mix, according to Rivals.com); landing a quality defensive tackle --- either Jacksonville’s Kendrick Norton (UM and Auburn neck-and-neck) or Los Angeles-based Kevin Scott (down to UM, Mississippi, Southern California)... snagging Louisiana-based receiver Terrell Chatman (UM, Arizona State, TCU) and/or luring Booker T. Washington four-receiver Antonio Callaway (will pick UM or UF at 9 a.m. Wednesday)... and luring one of two defensive ends: Delray Beach Atlantic’s Shelton Johnson (UM, FSU, Virginia Tech, Michigan) or New York-based Austrian Robinson (UM, Maryland, Mississippi even).

Also, Orlando four-star running back Dexter Williams will choose between Miami and Notre Dame.

Most, if not all of these players, are expected to announce on Wednesday.

Incidentally, Carol City three-star cornerback Rashad Fenton eliminated UM from consideration; he's down to UF. Louisville and South Carolina.

### Jim Larranaga, on his UM basketball team, which has plunged out of the top 25 after losing two in a row, said: "The difference between this team and a lot of teams I coached in the past is we don't have a low-post threat. [Seven-foot center] Tonye Jekiri is more comfortable shooting the face-up jump shot. It allows opponents to focus on defending strictly the perimeter. They don't have to worry about someone going inside. We don't create enough opportunities out of our defense to create layups."

He says it's hard to find low-post players "when you're being investigated by the NCAA."

UM plays host to Louisville on Tuesday night.

### The Dolphins haven’t told defensive end Dion Jordan if he will move to linebacker, and the front office has decided not to get involved and instruct the coaching staff what to do with him. But Jordan said he can play at 265 pounds regardless of position.

“I just want to be used,” he said. Teammate Jason Trusnik said Jordan “is athletic and smart enough” to be a 4-3 strongside linebacker but “you won’t know until he does it.”

### The Marlins have two players in MLB.com’s top 100 prospects: pitcher Tyler Kolek (27th) and catcher JT Realmuto (70th).

### Quick TV note: With 114.4 million viewers, Super Bowl 49 on NBC was the most-watched program in U.S. TV history, beating the 112.2 million for last year's Super Bowl. Among 56 major markets, Boston had the highest rating (a 61.0) and Miami-Fort Lauderdale the lowest (38.7). Seattle, curiously, was 18th of the 56, with a 52.1. New Orleans was second.... The 47.5 rating for the game (equaling 47.5 percent of U.S. homes with TV sets) was fourth-highest among 49 Super Bowls, according to NBC. 

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz