« Pour your hate mail this way... and when you are done, talk recruiting | Main | Coaching breakdown »

Feeling good for Frank, insights into Randy, and The Sweep

Covering the University of Miami is totally different than rooting for it. Born and raised in this city, I grew up dreaming of one day wearing the orange and green myself and playing for Ron Fraser. I obviously wasn't athletic enough to do it, but covering this university in a journalistic profession is still quite a thrill for me.

That being said, as a journalist we've got to be impartial. It's the requirement. As reporters we can't be cheerleaders and we can't be bashers. Columnists get paid to do that. We've got to be fair and balanced. And I've learned how to do that now after 10 years on the job training. The U wins I do my job. The U loses I do my job. Still, every once in a while we're all human, whether our editors and bosses want us to admit it or not.

SMcclintonlayupaturday's basketball victory for the Canes and coach Frank Haith brought a smile to my face. I couldn't help it. Seeing a team give all it has left and finally being rewarded for it felt good. This Hurricanes basketball team probably shouldn't have won another game this season, and to be honest most figured they wouldn't. But the fact Haith was able to get the seven scholarship players he has left, a senior walk-on, and quite a frankly a team that has six kids learning on the job to win an ACC basketball game is quite an accomplishment.

I know as Canes fans, the bar is always set high. And many may not care about these little moral victories in a 10-15 season. But wins like Saturday's against N.C. Frankhaith_2State are why fans shouldn't be so down on Haith or the program. If Pat Riley was asked to win in the NBA game with only one veteran guard, one legitimate big man and five other first or second year players do you think he could beat anyone? Not likely. This team hasn't given up and Haith and his players deserve credit for that. And they deserve better support. UM's student section was filled with 40 people Saturday. That's not a typo. I counted it. And the BankUnited Center itself looked a lot smaller than the announced crowd of 3,099. I know the team is 10-15. But if U fans honestly want to send a message of support to potential recruits, only showing up for big games and when the team is contending for conference titles sends the wrong message. Be a fan all the time, win or lose.

That's the way it is around the rest of the ACC. Win or lose, fans show up in force. Two weeks ago, the Dean Dome was packed to the gills for UM. That would be these same Hurricanes who ended up losing by 41 points. And it stayed that way until the end. Sunday, with Miami leading by double-digits late, the BankU center was clearing out. Could the traffic on San Amaro Blvd really be that bad at 6 p.m. on a Saturday? Good grief. 
----------------------------

Anyway, let's get back to football. After last week's big national signing day performance, coach Randy Shannon invited members of the newspaper and radio media out to a get to know each other lunch at Bernie's Steakhouse in South Miami. This is common practice by the way. The same happened with coach Frank Haith before basketball season when he took us to The Palms.

RandyshannonAnyway, as members of the media, we obviously have a different relationship with coaches than fans do. And Thursday's lunch was about how that relationship is going to develop with the new guy. For starters, I'll tell you that media access since I first starting covering The U in 2000 in a pinch hitting role has declined somewhat. We aren't allowed to watch practice beyond stretching anymore and we aren't allowed to walk onto the field again until after practice is over. So, if anyone is doing something great or if somebody gets hurt, or if somebody isn't out there because they've been suspended, we have no idea unless we do some creative digging with our questions.

Coach Shannon has always been the type of guy who regardless of how charming he seems on TV interviews, honestly didn't like to disclose too much information when he was the defensive coordinator. We asked him who he was going to start at middle linebacker and his response would be something along the lines of "I don't know yet or the guy who is ready." He told us Thursday he was like that because he didn't want to contradict what the head coach was telling us and what his position coaches told us. OK. That's fine. But that still doesn't make us (the media) feel too comfortable about him changing much now being the head man. And thus Thursday's lunch about that and what Randy's rules are.

For starters, don't expect him to be forthcoming about injuries. While coach Larry Coker at times would tell us specifics about injuries, Shannon cited HIPAA rules (the nationwide standards meant to protect the privacy of personal health information) Shannon_2will require him to not tell us specifics about player injuries. In other words, when we ask Coach Shannon about why a player was being carted off the field at the end of practice grabbing his knee, he'll tell us something like "He got a little nicked up on the bottom half of his body and we expect him to be out a while." Can't blame coach Shannon, after all there are rules and they are there to protect the future NFL draft stock of his players. But at least now if you see a quote like that in the paper you'll know why as well as why there are varied speculations as to how serious injuries are through various media reports. Shannon did, however, say when he finds out how long a player will be out, he will tell us about it.

As for other basics, our access will remain the same as before. Players will not be allowed to do interviews after Wednesday on weeks there are games on Saturday and a select group will be made available as usual on media day Tuesdays. Those are all good signs for us and you as fans who want to know what's going on with the team. As for Shannon, we all just hope he doesn't get too pissed off at one of us. He's been known to clam up into the "Yes, No" Shannon when he gets angry or is bothered by questions. Which is not good for you as readers or us as reporters.

Anyway, there were other interesting tidbits from lunch, most interesting tidbits into the recent recruiting class. Since it was an open lunch and we weren't not directly quoting Randy, I'm not going to include specifics. But there were a few funny stories that kind of show you Shannon's recruiting practices.

We asked him how often he gets treated to meals on trips. He said not once. And he said if he was, his general rule of thumb anyway is to enter a house and ask for a glass of water. He said when he is asked if he would like anything to eat, he usually will tell them he had a big breakfast or lunch. Since most houses he enters are of low-incoming families, he says his policy is to never make the family feel obligated to feed anyone.

As for entering those low-income homes, we asked him if he ever encountered a situation that rattled him, bugs, rats, etc. He said he's trained himself to ignore them. He said you can't go into a home and freak out because a bug has crawled on you. He said you must simply brush it off. Shannon, we all know, came from a rough upbringing. So, it's not hard for him to play cool. Anyway, it was interesting to hear some of those little stories and the tricks of the trade in recruiting.
---------------------------------------------------

UmbaseLastly, I just wanted to give coach Jim Morris some praise and his team for the sweep of UCLA this past weekend. The Canes 0-2 start against Mercer last week was a bit startling. But the team responded this week the way most expect them to play all season.

That being said, I'll open up the floor to you. If you went to a baseball game this weekend, which players have impressed you the most thus far and what do you think is the key to the season and getting back to Omaha?

Fire away on those questions and these relating to basketball and football.

For basketball: How important is it for your support of coach Haith to see the team continue to remain competitive? Does the team need to win a few more games for you to be happy with the effort? Or, has this 10-15 season just made you lose faith in the program altogether?

For football: What are you looking forward to most this spring? What are your first impressions of coach Randy Shannon? And after hearing from his new assistants, which hire do you like most? 

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

What is the building by building, field by field status of the UM facilities that many were bashing last fall. And what are the plans to make it better?

Did Randy Shannon tell you how he felt about the recruiting class? How about the status of Kayne Farquharson (spelling?) and Chris Perry?

RIvals mentioned perrys papers completed thursday. ESPN gave us #9 overall. They had chambers, perry, and ojomo rated much higher than rivals. And also have Bailey as 1 of their top players. I heard northwestern was loaded but so far spence and forston lists miami as their top schools and I hear they could have as many as 10 of the top 100. Randy can have a top 15 just with them. And I believe we have 25 or so next year.

Anyone know the status of LB Darren Kinsey from GUlliver?? hes a 3 star on RIvals but was the #7 ILB overall in the country on espn. He mentioned the canes in December--Rivals and SCout and Espn show unsigned??? Randy said he kept some spots open?? I am wondering what happened with him??

on Miami Rivals site it moved us up ahead of FSU with perry. 17th I think. 13 on scout and 9 on espn./ Not bad.

Rivals.com however still lists us below fsu-- I guess just the cane site was updated. When JJ was the coach, we were not even in the top 15 ever from what I remember. he went after athletes---what randy said

Willie Williams signed with Louisville. He played at west LA last year. He was 5 star from carol city--you recall?? he was 3star this year. See about ratings
Graig cooper was a 3star last year out of Melrose High in Memphis-went to prep school--and now hes a 5 star

I guess rankings dont mean diddly. Look at texas--TOP 3 every year-----W/o Vince that 1 magical year and with him the other 2 and sims years, they seem to always have 2-4 losses. Texas lost 3 last year. No one clammors for his job after a title??

Dylan,

As he said on media, he told us he was very happy with the class. On the news front, Perry officially signed on Thursday and introduced as part of this class. Farquharson apparently has a problem with his transcripts and until he finishes those final two classes in April he won't be part of the class. But Kayne told me repeatedly he's doing great in his classes and expects to be on the team.

Manny:

Great posts, information, and even a better job doing a follow-up at 7:07 pm.

Someone posted a link to your blog on the OKelly site, and I'm glad I followed it. I'm sure that there is "honor among thieves" and that a Herald plant wouldn't have done such a thing, so I say, "Great job."

I wish I were in Coral Gables to attend basketball games. You aren't the only one to note that people were leaving the Convocation Center before the final buzzer, and before NC State made it close. I'd be there for every minute. I know that Miami isn't a basketball town, but wow, only 40 students in the student section. Do students still get to go for free? Do they realize how fortunate they are to have a first class arena on campus.

When I was a student, the Athletic Department would stand at the Metro Rail and hand out free metro cards to get students to head to the Miami Arena.

I was in a few classes with Joe Wylie, (who remembers that name?) and he used to always say to me, "FirstCoastCane, thanks for coming! I heard you cheering the game."

As a 6'0" white boy whose claim to fame was being called "Bird" on the playground courts, I was happy that my presence at the games was acknowledged.

The fact that I could be recognized at a game was sad.

The MetroRail was more packed with students heading downtown the night the Grateful Dead played at the Miami Arena than it was when the hoops team played. (I enjoyed the Dead show by the way. Watching the lights of the metro rail reflect in the glass building on the way back from the concert was a riot.)

Until we can consistently find a way to put 6,000-7,000 people in the Convocation Center for basketball games, we will always have a hard time luring big time recruits.

And it will get even tougher retaining top tier coaching.

Manny,
I'm from Virginia, born and bred on ACC hoops. UM Graduate 04, moving back to Miami in May. I will go to every UM home game and stay from start to finish. It doesn't matter to me who the coach is, or who the players are, or how good or bad the team is. It's just all about the U, and seeing us compete against the best teams in the nation night in and night out. As a bball fan, what more could you want? Seeing the team perform well now is great, but it doesn't impact whether or not I show up in the future...

I was at the game Saturday, which was a thrilling 9th inning, come from behind win, and that was the problem. Miami should not have had to come from behind. The bullpen gave up five runs over the last three innings. The lineup is great and the starting pitchers seem to be doing well, but the if the bullpen does not get it together, Miami will be lucky to be in the Super Regional. As for individual players, Yonder Alonso had a great game Saturday night and I really like that new kid at Shortstop. For me, the highlight of the night was Raben throwing out a UCLA runner trying to stretch out a triple. In general, the defense seems pretty good, and smart. Hope they have more games like this weekend minus the bad bullpen.

Hey FirstCoast: Great Dark Star during Set II on the second night in '89. That set made up for the first noneventful night. I actually lived downstairs from Joe Wylie in the on-campus apartments on Dickinson Drive. I remember going to the Knight Center freshman and sophomore years for basketball with Bill Foster as coach.

Personally, I like that Randy Shannon doesn't talk much to the media. I'm not picking on local guys like you, but the national media should be IGNORED, especially ESPUKEN. They've never done anything but denigrate us and will continue to do so no matter WHAT happens. Shannon should just basically give them the back of his hand. We owe these CLOWNS nothing.

Also, I don't think we should be calling for Haith's head even though this has been a wretched season. This group of hoopsters is pretty green anyway, and with all the injuries, there's been little chance of doing much.

Hey Manny, great comprehensive blog there. That basketball game atmosphere truly was sad... I don't understand why people don't come out to the games, even when the team is winning. When we pulled off a major upset early in the year against Georgia Tech, there were still over a thousand empty seats. As the guy who tried to get everyone to wear orange to the Duke game, it's frustrating to see all those green empty chairs.

In the defense of the students, Saturday was SportsFest, which is kind of like the on-campus olympics. Lasting the entire weekend, it's usually the highlight of the year for the dorm kids, as each floor and each dorm overall compete against each other in events ranging from basketball to jenga. In the past, UM has made the basketball game on this weekend a part of SportsFest, giving out points to dorms that had lots of students attend. However, this year, they chose not to do that; while they left the 2 hours that the game was to take place in free of events, they were running late the entire day and many events ran until 5pm or later, not letting a lot of kids who wanted to go to the basketball game attend the 4pm game.

The comments to this entry are closed.