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19 posts from March 2008

March 29, 2008

Spring game: Defense 32, Offense 29 (F)

Hello from Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale where I'll be taking in the Canes' spring game and providing you with live updates and stats when it ends.

Here is a breakdown of the scoring in this game since it is offense versus defense...
Offensive scoring... TD, 6 points; FG, 3 points; XP, 1 point; Crossing the 50-yard line, 1 point.
Defensive scoring... TD, 6 points; 3 and Out, 3 points; Stop before 50, 1 point; Interception, 2 points; Fumble, 2 points.

Starting lineup...
Offense:
Robert Marve at quarterback, Javarris James and Graig Cooper in the backfield, Khalil Jones, Aladarius Johnson and Leonard Hankerson at receiver; Jason Fox at left tackle, AJ Trump at left guard, Xavier Shannon at center, Joel Figueroa at right guard and Reggie Youngblood at right tackle.
Defense: Bruce Johnson and Chavez Grant at cornerback, Randy Phillips and Anthony Reddick at safety, Darryl Sharpton, Sean Spence and Glenn Cook at linebacker, Allen Bailey and Adewale Ojomo at end, Antonio Dixon and Joe Joseph at tackle.

FIRST SERIES... (Robert Marve at quarterback)
1-10-35O, Robert Marve pass to Javarris James, incomplete
2-10-35O, Javarris James runs off right tackle for 25 yards at 40-yard line (1 point offense)
1-10-40D, Marve scrambles for five yards before being pushed out of bounds by Sean Spence.
2-5-35D, Marve completes a 8-yard pass to Khalil Jones, who is pushed out of bounds
1-10-27D, Cooper runs off right tackle and down the sideline for a touchdown (6 points offense)
XP, Matt Bosher converts the extra point, Offense 8, Defense 0.

SECOND SERIES... (Jacory Harris at quarterback)
1-10-35O, Jacory Harris pass to Derron Thomas in the flat is dropped
2-10-35O, Thomas carries off left tackle for 2 yards. Thomas is injured on the play. It looks like his right ankle. Face mask on the play. (1 point offense)
1-10-48D, Shawnbrey McNeal takes a pitch to the right and loses six yards. Flag on the play (facemask).
1-10-38D, Harris fumbles the snap, Chaz Washington records the sack for minus four yards.
2-14-42D, Harris throws receiver sceen pass to Kayne Farquharson picks up five yards.
3-9-37D, Harris completes a short pass Chris Zellner for four yards
4-4-33D, Alex Uribe's field goal attempt is blocked by DeMarcus Van Dyke. Offense 9, Defense 0.

THIRD SERIES... (Robert Marve at quarterback)
1-10-35O,Cooper runs off the right side and is stopped for a 1-yard gain (Antonio Dixon on the stop).
2-9-36O, Marve's pass to Aldarius Johnson sails wide and incomplete.
3-9-36O, Darryl Sharpton sacks Marve for a 6-yard loss (2 points defense). Offense 9, Defense 3.

FOURTH SERIES... (Harris at quarterback)
1-10-35O, Harris completes a quick pass to Kayne Farquharson for a 6-yard gain.
2-4-41O, Lee Chambers carries and loses 1 yard.
3-5-40O, Harris completes a 10-yard pass to Farquharson (1 point offense).
1-10-50O, Chambers carries up the middle for 8 yards. END OF FIRST QUARTER - Offense 10, Defense 2-2-42D, Chambers catches a short screen pass for 1 yard before being blown up by Marcus Forston.
3-1-41D, Spencer Adkins sacks Harris back at 50 for a loss of 9 yards.

FIFTH SERIES... (Marve at quarterback)
1-10-35O, Cooper gets stuffed at the line of scrimmage by Antonio Dixon for a loss of 1-yard.
2-11-34O, Marve tries to pass the ball over the middle to Khalil Jones, but it is broken up by Glenn Cook.
3-11-34O, Marve completes a 9-yard pass to Khalil Jones (Bruce Johnson on the tackle). 3 points for defense, Offense 10, Defense 6.

SIXTH SERIES... (Cannon Smith at quarterback)
1-10-35O, False start
1-15-30O, McNeal runs up the middle for five yards (Allen Bailey on the tackle).
2-10-35O, Marcus Forston tackles Cannon Smith for a loss of 6 yards
3-16-29O, Smith throws a middle screen to McNeal, who makes a move up field for 66 yards. (1 point offense). Arthur Brown makes the tackle.
1-G-5, Delay of game
1-G-10, McNeal takes a pitch in the backfield and runs up the middle for 8 yards
2-G-2, McNeal runs left and is stopped for a 2 yard loss.
3-G-4, Tervaris Johnson breaks up a pass in the end zone intended for Farquharson.
4-G-4, Jake Wieclaw makes a 21-yard field goal. Offense 14, Defense 6 (2 minutes, 36 seconds left).

SEVENTH SERIES... (Marve at quarterback)
1-10-35O, Javarris James drops a pass from Marve. That's James' second dropped pass.
2-10-35O, Marve completes a pass in the flat to James for 9 yards (Chavez Grant tackle).
3-1-44O, Marve completes a short pass to Cooper for a 5-yard gain.
1-10-49O, Sean Spence intercepts a batted ball at the defense's 44 and makes a nice return up field to the offense's 20-yard line (3 points defense for interception and 3 for stopping the offense before the 50). Offense 14, Defense 12.

EIGHTH SERIES... (Harris at quarterback)
1-10-50, Harris pass to Dedrick Epps picks up four yards
2-6-46D, Harris pass to Farquharson for 8 yards. Time out, :59 left
1-10-38D, Harris pass to Farquharson is incomplete.
2-10-38D, Offensive holding on Ian Symmonette.
2-20-48D, Harris scrambles for 12 yards
3-8-36D, Harris completes a pass to Chris Zellner for 12 yards
1-10-24D, Ryan Hill drops a deep pass that might have gone for a touchdown.
2-10-24D, Harris' pass to Sam Shields in end zone sails incomplete
3-10-24D, Harris' pass to Leonard Hankerson in end zone is incomplete
4-10-24D, Matt Bosher's 41-yard field goal attempt sails wide right. Offense 15, Defense 12. HALFTIME

NINTH SERIES... (Smith at quarterback)
1-10-35O, Lee Chambers runs off the right sice for 3 yards (Randy Phillps tackle)
2-7-38O, Chambers runs right on a pitch for 4 yards (Dixon tackle)
3-3-42O, Smith's pass to Johnson is short and incomplete. Sharpton credited with a sack for a five yard loss (3 point defense). Offense 15, Defense 15.

10TH SERIES... (Marve at quarterback vs. Second Team defense)
1-10-35O, Marve completes a short pass to James, who breaks a few tackles for a 21-yard gain. (Offense 1 point)
1-10-44D, Gooper runs up the middle for 3 yards (Steven Wesley tackle)
2-7-41D, Marve's pass to Khalil Jones goes right through his fingers. Damien Berry was getting ready to lay him out
3-7-41D, Marve's pass over the middle goes for 21 yards (Berry on the tackle).
1-10-20D, Offsides
1-5-15D, Cooper runs up the middle for 6 yards (Brown and Tervaris Johnson tackle).
1-G-9D, Marve's pass intended for Farquharson is incomplete
2-G-9D, Marve's short pass to Cooper for 6 yards.
3-G-3D, False start
3-G-8D, Marve's short pass to Cooper gains 1 yard (Spencer Adkins on the tackle).
4-G-7G, Alex Uribe's 24-yard field goal is good (1:56 left). Offense 19, Defense 15.

11TH SERIES... (Harris at quarterback vs. First Team defense)
1-10-35O, Harris' pass to Aldarius Johnson is dropped.
2-10-35O, Chambers takes a pitch left and is tackled for no gain
3-10-35O, Harris' pass to Ryan Hill is complete for a 14-yard gain downfield.
1-10-49O, Chambers runs right for four yards (1 point offense)... END OF QUARTER
2-6-47D, Chambers runs up the middle for 3 yards
3-3-44D, Harris' pass is incomplete (batted by Forston)

12TH SERIES... (Marve at quarterback)
1-10-35O, Cooper runs left for four yards
2-6-39O, False start
2-11-34O, Cooper runs left for 7 yards (Tervaris Johnson tackle).
3-4-41O, Marve completes a 5-yard pass for five yards
1-10-46O, Marve attempts a deep pass to Farquharson, but it is batted away by safety Jojo Nicholas
2-10-46O, Marve attempts a deep pass to Khalil Jones, but sails long and wide and incomplete
3-10-46O, Marve scrambles for 10 yards (1 point offense)
1-10-44D, Cooper carries the ball off right tackle for a 44-yard touchdown run. Wieclaw makes the extra point (7 points). Offense 28, Defense 16.

13TH SERIES (Smith at quarterback)
1-10-35O, Chambers runs up the middle for 1 yard
2-9-36O, Chambers takes a pitch left and runs for 5 yards
3-4-41O, Smith's pass is batted away and incomplete (3 points defense). Offense 28, Defense 19.

14TH SERIES (Marve at quarterback)
1-10-35O, Chambers takes  pitch and runs right for 3 yards
2-7-38O, Marve's pass is batted incomplete by Marcus Forston
3-7-38O, Marve runs left nd slides down at 33 for a 5-yard loss (3 points defense). Offense 28, Defense 22.

15TH SERIES (Harris at quarterback)
1-10-35O, Harris' pass to Aldarius Johnson is dropped.
2-10-35O, Sharpton sacks Harris back at 23. A loss of 12 yards.
3-22-23O, Harris is sacked by Allen Bailey for a 4 yard loss (3 points defense). Offense 28, Defense 25.

16TH SERIES (Smith at quarterback)
1-10-35O, Smith's pass to Chambers is overthrown and incomplete
2-10-35O, Chambers runs right for a 6-yard gain (Arthur Brown on the tackle, his eighth of the game).
3-4-41O, Smith's pass to Hankerson is batted in the air and intercepted by Arthur Brown and returned for 11 yards (5 points for defense). Defense 30, Offense 28.

17th SERIES (Marve at quarterback)
1-10-35O, Marve's pass to Hankerson is behind the receiver and falls incomplete.
2-10-35O, Marve scrambles for 7 yards
3-3-42O, Marve completes a short pass to James for 9 yards (1 point offense)
1-10-49D, Marve's pass toward the end zone is batted up in the air and intercepted by Sean Spence (2 points for defense). END OF SCRIMMAGE

UNOFFICIAL STATISTICS (RELEASED BY UM)
First downs:
19 (Rushing 6, Passing 11, Penalty 2)
Rushing: 38 attempts, 141 total yards
Passing: 20 of 44 for 223 yards, 3 INTs
Total offense: 82 plays, 364 yards, 4.4 avg
Penalties: Offense, 4-25; Defense 3-35
Third down conversions: 9 of 21
Sacks: 5 for 37 yards

Passing: Robert Marve 10 of 22, 93 yards, 2 INTs; Jacory Harris 9 of 17 for 64 yards; Cannon Smith 1 of 5 for 66 yards, 1 INT.
Rushing: Graig Cooper 8 carries, 91 yards, 2 TDs; Lee Chambers 11-36; Javarris James 1-25; Marve 5-11; Shawnbrey McNeal 4-6; Derron Thomas 1-2; Cannon Smith 2-(-12); Harris 5-(-17).
Receiving: McNeal 1-66; James 4-60; Kayne Farquharson 4-29; Chris Zellner 2-16; Khalil Jones 2-16; Ryan Hill 1-14; Cooper 2-12; Gordon 1-5; Epps 1-4; Chambers 1-1.
Defensive statistics: Arthur Brown 6 solo tackles, 2 unassisted, 8 total, 1 INT, 1 pass breakup; Carlos Armour 6 solo tackles; Chavez Grant 3 solo tackles; Damien Berry 3 solo takles; Kylan Robinson 3 solo tackles; Spencer Adkins 3 solo tackles; Randy Phillips 3 solo tackles; Darryl Sharpton 4 solo tackles, 1 assist; Glenn Cook 1 solo tackle, 3 assists.
Sacks: Sharpton 3, Allen Bailey 1, Chaz Washington 1, Spencer Adkins 1.

March 27, 2008

McDonald's AA game coming to U in '09

Frank Haith is still working hard to bring his first McDonald's All-American to the University of Miami. After what the Canes accomplished this season in reaching the second round of the NCAA Tournament, you have to imagine he'll be even closer to reaching that goal soon. Well, even if he's unsuccessful (which I doubt he will be), Canes fans will at least be able to know they'll have a house full of McDonald's All-Americans soon enough.

Mcdonalds_ballThe school announced Thursday it will host the 2009 McDonald's High School All-American game on April 1st at BankUnited Center. Its the first time the game, which has been played since 1978 (the year I was born), will take place in Miami. New UM athletic director Kirby Hocutt, who will officially replace Paul Dee on June 1st, was in Milwaukee Wednesday night to represent The U when it was announced.

That's a great sign for Canes basketball fans, who have to like the fact the school's administration is pushing for big time basketball events. Think about the benefits of having the game at UM and what it could mean to the program. Haith, who is on the road this week recruiting, will be able to show off his relatively new basketball arena -- and the Canes' new basketball practice facility on national television. Miami, most likely, will be in the NCAA Tournament at that time -- or just coming off what should be another strong season. So, here's an early pat on the back for Hocutt and the new UM administration for looking to cash in on the momentum Haith and his team are creating.

DEVIN EBANKS UPDATE: Speaking of the Canes' recruiting front, it looks like that Devin_ebankslast scholarship Haith is looking to use will not end up in the hands of former Indiana signee Devin Ebanks. According to Scout.com, the nation's fourth best small forward said Wednesday didn't mention UM among the four schools he'll be considering and visiting soon. Instead, he listed Texas, Memphis, Rutgers and West Virginia. "Those are my top four and the only ones I’ll look at,” Ebanks told Scout.com. “I’m going to schedule visits to all four of them." I'm still trying to reach Ebanks' high school coach at St. Thomas More, Jere Quinn, to confirm that's the case.

MEIER'S MCDONALD'S ALL-AMERICAN: UM women's coach Katie Meier had to be all smiles Shenise_johnson yesterday. She got to watch her best signee in three seasons, 5-11 forward Shenise Johnson, play for the East in last night's Girls McDonald's All-American game. Johnson only had two points, but she had five assists and a handful of steals and showed Canes' women's basketball fans a positive sign for the future. Johnson, a senior at Rush-Henrietta School in New York, led her high school tem to three consectuive state championships while averaging 24 points, 17 rebounds, 7 assists and scoring 35 points in the stte championship game. I spoke to her high school coach for a few minutes Thursday and he said UM edged Syracuse for Johnson's services. Johnson becomes the first McDonald's All-American recruited to The U since Tamara James.

March 26, 2008

'Coach Cook' ready to lead

Go ahead and try to find one. Search UM's roster for defensive players and see if you can locate the go-to veteran, the man with the plan, the ace in defensive coordinator Bill Young's new deck? Is there a senior like Jonathan Vilma, Ed Reed or Sean Taylor to turn to? You probably found a few names you think you can toss out there, seniors like Lovon Ponder, Anthony Reddick or even a young guy with some experience like Colin McCarthy.

But the truth of the matter is when the Miami Hurricanes open their season against Charleston Southern on August 28th, they will not have a reliable, proven star to turn to. Will there be talent? Absolutely. Allen Bailey, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Sean Spence and cast of others could all turn out to be the next great stars at The U. But when it comes to veteran leadership, there is no doubt Miami will need someone from now until then to step forward. And my money is on sixth-year linebacker Glenn Cook to become that guy.

You remember Cook, the 6-foot, 235-pound kid from Hollywood Chaminade who came in with Jon Beason and Tavares Gooden in 2003 and was supposed to be part of that new linebacker trio that Glenn_cook was supposed to star at The U. Well, things -- like injuries -- happened. And just like Beason and Gooden before him, it seems like Cook will inherit the role of defensive leader next season. Coach Cook -- that's what his teammates actually call him -- was supposed to be the leader last year. But a foot injury followed by surgery cost him his senior year at Miami and it cost the Hurricanes too. UM sorely needed him last year and was left to survive with Gooden and a cast of inexperienced young guys. Well, Cook, coming off an 11 start season in 2006 in which he was named Linebacker of the Year on his team, finally got the good news he was looking for Tuesday when the NCAA granted him a sixth-year of eligibility. Consider it good news for the Canes too.

Cook, who spent last season coaching his teammates from the sideline, has probably been the smartest player coach Randy Shannon has had on his defense in the last four years. He picked up the defense quickly when he first arrived at The U. And now it appears he will not only be around to make plays in '08, but he'll also be able to mentor the next guy who looks ready to fill his shoes as resident smart guy on defense -- freshman Sean Spence. While Cook has seen time at outside linebacker this spring (Linebackers coach Michael Barrow likes to work his guys at all three spots just in case), Cook will most likely end up being the starting middle linebacker in the fall. I caught up with him Wednesday and spoke to him for about 10 minutes about his teammates, his role on the team next year and getting that all important letter from the NCAA this week.

“I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous,” Cook said. “I’m just thankful I have another year, that I’m not in the real world and I got another year of college."

Q: Do you feel like you are going to have to lead this defense this year because you have the most experience?
A: "I have the most experience – me and Daryl [Shaprton]. Between the two of us we really got to take the young guys and show them how its supposed to be done. From the film room to practice, everywhere we go, but it’s not going to be a problem with their talent. It’s more about instilling that work ethic to be a Miami linebacker. Between him and me we’ll take that role with the whole defense.”

Q: How did coaching go for you last year? Why did you want to do it? Did the guys actually call you Coach Cook?
A: “They clowned me a little bit about it. They used to call me coach a little bit before last year Glenn_cook_actionbecause I pretty much knew what was always going on. I picked up the defense pretty well. I just wanted to do what I could. I just wanted to be a part of it, help the guys out. Me knowing what’s going on, I just wanted to help the guys be successful. It was a different experience getting to see it from a different perspective, watching every game, just seeing, trying to help the guys from the sideline, giving the guys tips. I learned a lot.”

Q: How is the new defense coming along? Is it different than last year’s?
A: “Everybody has improved. You got a couple guys coming off injuries – me and Reddick. I think our secondary is improving a lot. They’re making interceptions. Chavez [Grant] is doing a lot. But [the defenses] are similar. It gives you an opportunity where you make it or take it. It’s a big risk defense. We’re trying to make big plays, cause big things to happen. We’re trying to dictate what the offense is doing. We’re not going to sit back.”

Q: So, it sounds different. Are you guys more aggressive, taking more chances than last year’s defense?
A: “I think we were aggressive [last year]. But I don’t think we were real confident as a group. I think we had a couple guys here and there that were confident in making plays. But I think overall as a group we weren’t confident with what we were doing. To me, any defense can be great. You can run three D-lineman. It’s just the players and just being comfortable with your group. I think this group we feel real comfortable. We flow off each other.”

Q: So are there different packages, three-down lineman?
A: “It’s variations. I wouldn’t call it a 3-4 package. A lot of things are different. We do a little more zone blitzing than in the past, that’s kind of the basis of it. We’ve put in so much stuff in these last couple of practices.”

Sean_spenceQ: A lot of people have been impressed by freshman Sean Spence and how quickly he’s picked up the defense. Do you see him maybe following in your footsteps, a guy who knows things so well coach will put him in the middle one day too?
"I definitely see Sean as that type of kid. He kind of reminds me of myself when I came in. You are going to make your mistakes because its something new or maybe a little more detailed. But he’s a very smart kid. He picks it up. He understands football, which is key. That’s something you can’t really teach. He picks up little things. I think he’s going to be a great one.”

Q: You said during the first spring practice that Arthur Brown had to work on his fundamentals. Is he improving?
A: “He’s getting better. It’s just a work in progress. I mean he’s definitely improved. He had a good practice today. I think its going to take time with him. Once he understands all the concepts and what we’re doing, he’ll be fine. It’s just a different world from what he’s been doing. I think he’s going to be fine."

Q: Colin McCarthy has missed the spring with an injury. Does it look like when he comes back in the fall, he’ll be ready to roll and where do you think he’ll end up on the weakside or the strongside?
A: “Colin wants to come back and play. We joke around and he’s like man I want to practice. He has a good attitude. I just tell him, get your shoulder stronger. To, me he can [play] both [strongside and weakside]. He’s another good cover guy. He’s also good on the run. For him, it doesn’t really matter. He’ll be somewhere on the outside.”

Q: How is Darryl Sharpton coming along? Where have you seen his improvement?
A: “He’s probably having the best spring I’ve seen him have. He’s flying around, making a whole bunch of plays. I expect him to have a great season. I think his [improvement] has been mental. That’s always been his thing. He’s always been a great player physically. But I think with the new defense he’s worked hard to get it down pact. He’s like another Beason. He gets to the ball. He’s going to fight to get to the ball. He’s just a natural linebacker.”

JUST SO YOU KNOW... HERE'S A LIST OF DEFENSIVE PLAYERS AT UM WITH CAREER STARTS -- Cook has 14 starts, followed by fellow linebacker Romeo Davis with 13. Who is next? Defensive end Eric Moncur has 12. Cornerback Bruce Johnson and safety Lovon Ponder have 11. Safety Randy Phillips has 10. Linebacker Colin McCarthy has nine, Darryl Shaprton has eight and linebacker Spencer Adkins has five as does defensive tackle Antonio Dixon.

** I'll have more from what I gathered from Wednesday's practice later Thursday.

March 23, 2008

Courtside blog: Texas 75, UM 72 (F)

We're back for Round 2 of the NCAA Tournament today with a huge game against the Texas Longhorns. As usual, I'll be here to provide updates as the game progresses and to talk hoops with you below as Miami tries to pull off one of its biggest wins in program history.

Here are my keys to today's game...
Djaugustin- Slow down Texas' dangerous backcourt combination of D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams. You aren't going to stop these guys cold, but if you can force them to work hard for their points that probably means you are in the game.
- Dominate the boards. Texas leads the nation with the fewest turnovers -- which means they aren't going to make a whole lot of mistakes. You can't let them get too many extra chances.
- Find someone to help Jack. Dwayne Collins has been MIA for three weeks. Whether its him or not, Miami needs someone in the post to take some pressure Jack_mcclinton_action off Jack McClinton, who will be closely guarded by Jason Mason, one of the best defensive guards in the country.
- Make those free throws. Jack hasn't missed one in March, but his teammates have been a little sluggish lately.
- Do not start off slow. Miami is famous for its slow starts. But that has to stop today. Texas' defense is one of the best in the country. The Longhorns have won 13 of their last 15 with great defense. In Texas' six losses, UT has allowed 81.5 ppg and 49% field goal shooting. In their wins, 607. ppg on 37% field goal shooting.

If you guys need a warm up for the game and want to hear what both teams were saying yesterday, here is a link to our audio section. Click on the link to listen on what each guy was saying. Here's also a friendly reminder to check out NCAA Sports.com (I'm required to do so).

I'll be back once the game gets underway.

FIRST HALF...
- 13:51 left, Texas 19, UM 8: The Longhorns have turned into the bombers. Texas has five three-pointers early on here as Frank Haith has gone with the zone defense.  He might want to rethink that. Anthony King scored six points for UM early and his jumper with 16:32 tied the score at 8. But the Longhorns have gone on a 11-0 run and when we come back Dwayne Collins will be at the line shooting two. Jack McClinton is 0 for 2.
- 10:55 left, Texas 26, UM 14: I hope as you are watching this game you can appreciate how hard it is to be good in college basketball. The Canes pulled to within 21-14 on a Ray Hicks drive, but the lead quickly stretched back out to double digits on a Dexter Pittman stickback and Justin Mason three-pointer.
- 6:38 left, Texas 35, UM 26: The Canes are still fighting hard here. McClinton has hit a pair of threes. Heck, even Eddie Rios got into the act. Miami still has to clamp down defensively if it wants to win today.
- 3:52 left, Texas 41, UM 28: Miami had a chance moments ago to trim its deficit to five after a Jimmy Graham steal. But the Canes turned it over and Texas hit its eighth and ninth three-pointers of the half to go up 13 again.
- 1:01 left, Texas 41, UM 30: Looks like the offenses got tired. Jimmy Graham has the only point in the last few minutes. Let's start talking about what UM has to do to come back in this... play defense? Get McClinton going? Take advantage of its bigs abilities to score in the post?

SECOND HALF...
- 15:33 left, Texas 49, UM 36:
Texas opened the second half on a 6-1 run to stretch its lead to 16 before James Dews answered with a three-pointer with 15:51 left. This isn't what Miami has to do to win this game. Will we even see a UM run? How about McClinton?
- 11:52 left, Texas 58, UM 43: Longhorns are now 13 of 22 from three-point range.

March 22, 2008

Where does Jack rank?

I know he's only played one game in the NCAA Tournament. I know he only been at UM for two seasons. But after Rick Barry, is Jack McClinton the second best basketball player in UM history?

His 38-point performance Friday was phenomenal, sure. But the fact we're not sure where it ranks (the UM media guide doesn't include information on Miami's previous seven NCAA Jackmcclintontournament games) gives this question wheels. Yes, Miami had Tim James, the co-Big East Player of the Year. Darius Rice's freshman season was spectacular. And Guillermo Diaz and Rob Hite were very good players. But this guy, McMoney, McClutch, McMan, where does he rank in your mind? I'm not a Canes historian. I don't pretend to be. But I don't think this program has ever had a player who could put a team on his back the way McClinton does regularly. Where would this team (23-10) honestly be without him? Think hard. Would Miami have come back to beat Clemson at home without his three-pointers? Would the Canes have beaten Virginia if Jack didn't score 22 points in 4 minutes, 37 seconds? The answer is simple: No. Could you say the same about the other Canes' greats? Were they as valuable as Jack?

So, take a second to share your thoughts below and to vote in our online poll.

HE'S A PTP'er BABY!: Jack McClinton's big day got him a lot of national pub on Friday. CBS Sportsline's Mike Freeman opined on McClutch. So did ESPN's Pat Forde. And then, there is Dickie V take -- below.

March 21, 2008

Courtside blog: UM 78, St. Mary's 64 (F)

Welcome to the NCAA Tournament Canes fans! Where nobody is picking UM to win. Are you? I'll be here at Alltel Arena in North Little Rock to follow all the action during the first Ncaalogoround game. I'll provide you with updates and analysis as the game progresses.

Any predictions? I've got UM escaping with a 76-73 win in probably one of the best first round games of the tournament. I'm picking James Dews as the surprise MVP.

By the way, since this is the NCAA Tournament, I have to provide a link to NCAASports.com and the other blogs across the country. I'm also limited with the number of updates I can provide. Since most of you will be watching anyway, I figure most of the fun -- Q&A and what not -- can happen below in the response category. Also, be sure to check out my buddy Greg Cote over at his blog, Random Evidence of a Cluttered Blog. Enjoy the game.

By the way, there is a group of about 50 UM fans sitting behind the Canes' bench. So, there are some Canes fans here. There are few I see sprinkled around the arena in other spots. Also, looks like a few guys could have lost bets -- Jimmy Graham and Jonathan Stratton both shaved their heads for the game.

FIRST HALF...
- 15:22 left, St. Mary's 9, UM 2:
That's how you do not want to start an NCAA Tournament game. After Anthony King scored on Miami's opening possession with 19:40 to play in the first half, the Gaels have scored 9 straight points. Miami has completed a pass to Gaels coach Randy Bennett, Jimmy Graham has traveled and the Canes have looked god awful.
- 11:21 left, UM 9, St. Mary's 9: Canes have gotten their act together to tie the score, but are still only 3 of 12 from the field. And they already have six turnovers... not good.
- 7:57 left, St. Mary's 14, UM 13: It's just been an ugly game riddled with turnovers and missed shots. This wasn't the sharp brand of basketball Miami played in February. This is the type of ball UM played in Charlotte last week. Maybe its rust. But the Hurricanes are certainly lucky St. Mary's hasn't come out playing better. They could be down big otherwise.
- 3:24 left, St. Mary's 25, UM 21: Jack McClinton makes an appearance with 3:35 left when he grabs an offensive rebound and scores to make it 25-21. The Canes took a 19-18 lead with 4:38 left when James Dews scored on a runner. But the Gaels hit back-to-back threes behind Patty Mills and Todd Golden to take a 6-point lead. The story here is simple... Miami's offense is still playing poorly. The Canes are missing some shots deep inside the paint and haven't been able to hit a shot from outside the paint yet.
Halftime: St. Mary's 32, UM 27: Miami shot 39 percent in the first half, split the rebounding battle (18), the turnover battle (8). The difference? Three-pointers. St. Mary's is 5 of 11. UM is 0 for 6. Mills leads all scorers with 11 points.

SECOND HALF...
- 18:12 left, St. Mary's 33, UM 32:
Progress! Anthony King scores on a three-point play and when we come back from the break, Jack McClinton will be at the line trying to convert another to tie the score at 33. The big play of the game so far is that Gaels 6-11, 265-pound center Omar Samhan just picked up his third foul on King's dunk. Let's see if Miami can expose the middle now that he's out and find baskets in the paint.
- 15:22 left, UM 42, St. Mary's 35: Well what do you know -- Jack McClinton shows up and Miami goes on a run. Canes have gone on a 15-2 run over the first five minutes of the second half and took their biggest lead when Lance Hurdle stole a pass at midcourt and jammed it to make it 42-35. Can UM maintain this?
- 11:52 left, UM 52, St. Mary's 38: The speed and athleticism Miami has is finally coming into play. That 15-2 run we were talking about earlier has been followed up with another 10-3 run. Lance Hurdle and James Dews highlighted it with back-to-back three pointers. St. Mary's looks rattled. Diamon Simpson just got called for traveling, the fifth such call against the Gaels today. How about Jimmy Graham? That volleyball spike -- aka block -- he had with 13:52 left and Miami up eight was emphatic!
- 7:37 left, UM 62, St. Mary's 49: The Canes scoring run appears to be over, now it appears the rest of this game is going to be a maintenance job. A 13-point cushion with 7:37 remaining should be enough for this team to move on in this tournament.
- 3:14 left, UM 69, St. Mary's 61: Well, the last couple of UM baskets all belong to Jack McClinton. Miami is going to need someone else to help him here down the stretch.

March 20, 2008

Challenges await Canes

LITTLE ROCK -- How do you put a chip back on someone's shoulder? How do you put an edge back on a team that hit a wall? University of Miami coach Frank Haith has that task this week in the NCAA Tournament. Haith pulled off one of the best razzle-dazzles in all of college basketball this season, morphing UM from last-place preseason ACC team to NCAA Tournament qualifier for the first time in six seasons. But this task, making Miami a tough team in March, is level two. It's what separates good coaches from great ones.

Make no mistake about it -- this matchup with Saint Mary's (25-6) Friday will not be easy for the Hurricanes. Even if you've never seen the Gaels play or have any idea what the West Coast Conference is, know this: Saint Mary's can ball. Their point guard, Patty Mills, is one of the best players in all of Australia. At 19, he helped "The Boomers" qualify for next year's Olympics. "He compares to Sean Singletary," said UM power forward Jimmy Graham, who watched Mills drop 26 in an Olympic qualifier. "He can finish around the basket and he can shoot. He’s a little smaller than him. He’s not as built as he is. But as far as the quickness and finishing aspect, it’s Sean Singletary. He’s fast. I’m telling you. When I saw him play in August, my man was fast. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us to keep him in front. We all got to play hell defense tomorrow."

Power forward Diamon Simpson was the Defensive Player of the Year in the WCC. "He’s been great for us this year, especially down the stretch," said St. Mary's guard Todd Golden, the only player on either team with NCAA Tournament experience. "He’s just been unbelievable. He very easily could have been the player in our league. He scored 20 down the stretch in the last couple games. He just blocks everything down low. He’s a great guy to funnel to defensively. He challenges every shot. And he’s just been so consistent and really just carried those last few games."

Center Omar Samhan, a 6-11, 265-pound sophomore, will be the biggest guy Anthony King (6-9, 248) will have had to guard all season, other than few minutes Duke had its 7-footer against King earlier this season. "I can just tell you man it’s going to be a challenge. We’re just going to have play hard and do our best against him. He is a good player and you just got to respect someone that size that finishes around the basket the way he does. It’s very tough to guard a guy in the post that can pass the ball well. There’s not to many guys in the ACC we’ve really gone up against that can pass it like that. Duke's got [Kyle] Singler. That’s something we’re really have to work on. We're going to have to stay down on the ball and really try to make it difficult for them to see their other teammates open."

But Saint Mary's, which can shoot the three well, will not be the only challenge alone. Haith has his own guys he needs to get amped up. He told us earlier this week his team "hit a wall" after rallying from a 2-6 hole in the conference to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. And he needs to put a chip back on their shoulder. But how? We'll find out soon enough.

OVER THE FLU BUG -- FINALLY: Graham told me he is finally over the flu bug, which also hit Jack McClinton and James Dews this week. Graham said he was bed-ridden on Monday and Tuesday. He finally practiced Thursday, but Haith said he looked a little winded. Miami certainly needs its Liger, who provides that emotional lift off the bench.

GAELS DID THEIR HOMEWORK: The one thing I learned about Saint Mary's is these guys know how to scout a team. In my conversations with guards Todd Golden and Tron Smith, I came away feeling like these guys had picked up a manual on the Canes. Golden, a basketball junkie, said he has actually been following the Canes for weeks.

"I watch a lot of college basketball. So, I saw them on ESPN a couple times and I saw them against Virginia Tech in the ACC Tournament. It was interesting we got to picked them since I watched them some. They’re obviously a really good team. They’re really athletic. They got McClinton on the perimeter that can really score. He can shoot the three. He averages like three a game. And just how good Collins could be. When they played against Duke, he had 26 points against them. I think their whole starting five is good. Hurdle is a good point guard. He took the third most shots on the team. Dews is just a real good small forward for them. King is a solid fifth-year center. You got to know your opponent. Never fear, but respect your opponent. It’s what they do if you want to make sure you’re ready to play them."

Smith, a 6-2 senior who will guard McClinton, wasn't far behind. "I watched him play a couple games this year. I watched like 2-3 games earlier in the year. It’s going to be a tough assignment. He’s a real good player. He’s a shooter. My job is really to make everything as tough as possible. Basically I’m just going to try and deny him the ball, take the ball out of his hands. Those type of players you just try to keep the ball out of their hands as much as possible."

I can't necessarily say the Canes sounded as smart about the Gaels. UM players weren't throwing around stats or first names when I asked them to talk about Saint Mary's.

THE BALL IS KEY: In today's paper, I wrote a story about how the use of different balls in college basketball can affect shooters. McClinton made me laugh Thursday when he pointed out how I pointed out his shooting woes. "Manny was reminding me how bad my percentages were, so I had to step it up for him," McClinton told another reporter Thursday. "Manny called me about it and talked about what my percentages were and since then I’ve had to pick it up. I'm just messing."

Seriously speaking, though: "Yeah it does," McClinton said when asked if the ball change at the ACC Tournament affected him. "I don’t like to make excuses, that’s why I never said anything about the ball. But it definitely makes a difference. It’s like going to play on an outdoor court with a rubber ball. You should be. But when lights is on and your sweating. The ball is slipping. There’s nothing you can do about it."

Here's some good news for Canes fans -- McClinton likes the Wilson ball used in the NCAA Tournament. It's the same one, he says, the Hurricanes used in its win at Mississippi State when McClinton rang off 29 points.

March 19, 2008

My bracket

It took 6 1/2 hours, but I finally got from Fort Lauderdale International Airport to Little Rock, Arkansas for this weekend's NCAA Tournament. Tomorrow, I'll get a chance to talk players and coaches here at the tournament.

But for now, I wanted to share with you my bracket -- my picks for the Final Four, my surprise upsets and more. Tell me who you got in the Final Four and winning it all?

FIRST ROUND UPSETS (I got the higher seeds advancing everywhere else)
East: No. 11 St. Joseph's over No. 6 Oklahoma.
Midwest: No. 14 Cal-State Fullerton over No. 3 Wisconsin
South: No. 11 Kentucky over No. 6 Marquette.
West: No. 9 Texas A&M over No. 8 BYU; No. 11 Baylor over No. 6 Purdue
SECOND ROUND UPSETS
East: No. 5 Notre Dame over No. 4 Washington State
Midwest: No. 5 Clemson over No. 4 Vanderbilt
South: No. 5 Michigan State over No. 4 Pittsburgh.
West: No. 7 West Virginia over No. 2 Duke.
SWEET 16 UPSETS
East: No. 6 USC over No. 2 Georgetown
South: No. 3 Stanford over No. 2 Texas
West: No. 4 Connecticut over No. 1 UCLA; No. 7 West Virginia over No. 3 Xavier
ELITE EIGHT UPSETS
None
FINAL FOUR
North Carolina beats Kansas
Memphis beats Connecticut
Championship: North Carolina beats Memphis

March 18, 2008

Come and get it

I almost feel like I need to ring a bell before writing this next sentence: Come and get it boys, spring football is back in session.

* After 12 whole days -- man that's crazy -- without football at The U, coach Randy Shannon held his 030408_rshannon first practice since March 6th's scrimmage at Traz Powell Stadium. And guess what? It took less than five minutes for him to get pissed off at the media! Shannon ended his press conference Tuesday by walking away from reporters after demanding to know which internet site (I'm not saying) had posted video of the team's entire scrimmage on its website. When those responsible stepped up to the charges, Shannon asked them why they did it. The media member responded: "Because people want to see it." Ding, wrong answer! Shannon stormed off with this last thought... "That's it, the scrimmage is closed." We'll have to find out just how serious he was and if reporters will now not be allowed to watch Canesfest on March 29th.

As for the previous scrimmage, we did finally get a chance to talk to players about it. And in the following footnotes, I'll share what I learned from talking to some of the standouts and those who struggled. Be prepared... it's a lot of football fodder to swallow and it is all you are going to get until I return from Little Rock with the Canes basketball team this weekend.

* THE QB-CENTER EXCHANGE: Before he got mad at us, Shannon told us he and his staff were able to target the problems Miami had with its quarterback-center exchange during the scrimmage and "fix it easily." So what was the problem? Call it a combination of things. Matt Pipho, who said he, Xavier Shannon and Tyler Horn are still rotating on the first team, said it was a matter of hand placement. Quarterback Cannon Smith, who fumbled a snap in the scrimmage and lost it to Ojomo, said the quarterbacks had problems lining up in the same place in the shotgun. "We did a few things in the scrimmage that didn’t help them out much," Smith said. "We got to stay constant in our depth in the gun. We can’t be a little too deep on the few, if we hadn’t the snaps might have been better. There were a few others we could have handled cleaner."

* SMITTY SPEAKS ON BEING SHORT: Speaking of Smith, he was finally asked the height question -- as in: Are you going to have trouble Cannon_smith seeing over the line of scrimmage because you are 5-11. He handled it with class: "Not really. How ever tall you are, you still got linemen that are 6-8. You’re still going to have to find your throwing lanes. You’re not going to throw it over a 6-8 tackle, you’re going to hit him right in the head. You still got to find your lanes. I don’t think it hurts me or Marve very much." Smith said he wasn't bothered by the fact he only threw the ball four times in the scrimmage and said he doesn't need to be promised any more throws to stay happy.

* HARRIS' HAPPINESS: The one quarterback I know Canes fans are worried about when it comes to happiness, though, isn't necessariyl Smith. It's Jacory Harris, who could potentially find himself sitting behind Robert Jacory_harris Marve at quarterback for three seasons if Marve becomes the starter and is successful. So, I played hypothetical with Jacory on Tuesday and asked him what we all really want to know... would he stick around if he has to be No. 2 behind Marve? "I’m not going to even lie. Before I came out here, that was something I was saying," Harris said. "If he’s starting or whatever I might not have a chance because he learned everything. But then when I look at it, UM is the place I want to be. And I’m a competitor and I like to compete. It’ll be real stupid to go somewhere I don’t have to do nothing. I’m not getting better that way if I go somewhere I don’t have to compete and I’m not learning anything either. So, that’s why I’m glad I came to Miami to compete."
- Yes, Jacory, but what if you are stuck behind him? Would the competitor in you tell you to move on? "Sometimes it does pop into my head," Harris admitted. "But I always think I can get the job and if I keep saying it to myself then eventually one day I’ll get the job."
- When it comes to the current quarterback arrangement at least, it appears there is mutual Robert_marve respect between the competitors. Robert Marve reiterated Tuesday he would not have a problem if he had to share time. "It does not matter if all three play, I promise you," Marve said. "We just want to have fun and win games." Said Harris: "All of us are fighting for the position. But it’s a good battle because none of us are being selfish. When coach tells us to get out, we get out. When it’s the next person’s time, it’s the next person’s time. And when you in, you just do what you have to do. We’re doing good. We’re doing pretty good doing that."
- Harris said the No. 1 thing Patrick Nix told him not do after the scrimmage is "drift out of the pocket." Harris said when he took some bad snaps, he either drifted to his left or right instead of dropping straight back. That led to sacks.
- Harris also dispelled any thoughts he might have a shotgun only package in place for him. After playing in the shotgun his entire career at Northwestern, he said the only reason he was in the shotgun a lot during the scrimmage was because that's the plays Nix was calling for. He said he is comfortable under center and working on it a lot more.

* THE BAILEY BEAT: Defensive end Allen Bailey had a strong showing in the scrimmage with two sacks and a huge hit on running back Shawnbrey McNeal in the backfield. My favorite response of Allen_baileythe day on how they thought Bailey had played came from freshman linebacker Sean Spence: "The first thing I said after I saw him play was: Is he human?"
- Tuesday, I asked Mr. Superhuman how he felt he played and the first comments out of his mouth were about the mental mistakes he made. That's a good sign for Canes fans. You never want a guy as talented as Bailey to be satisfied, even if he had a good first showing. As for his comfort level, Bailey said he's about 85 to 90 percent comfortable with his new spot. He said he's picking up some of the defensive line moves "rip, shoulder lean and counter" faster than he was before and is now working on his "bull rush."

* MARVELOUS MARCUS: Freshman defensive tackle Marcus Forston said he was happy he and his three Northwestern Marcus_forstonteammates -- Spence, quarterback Jacory Harris and receiver Aldarius Johnson -- had a strong showing at the scrimmage at Traz Powell Stadium, the place where they became stars as Bulls. Forston, who said he took a trip with his parents to Busch Garden over the weekend, said the Northwestern foursome spent Monday, Wednesday and Friday working out at their old high school over spring break. I'm sure they were treated as celebrities.
- Forston said he is very proud of his new eating habits since he's been at UM. He said when he first got to UM, he jumped up to 315 pounds, but is now down to 303. Forston's diet plan: "Omlette, two pieces of toast and some fruit for breakfast. For lunch, I’ll eat two sandwiches and some Lays potato chips. Then for dinner, I’ll eat some pasta or Teriyaki Chicken and pasta. All I drink is water now, too." Forston said he's been doing so well, he even passed up his mother's cooking. "I’m still mad now. My mom cooked some baby back ribs and some macaroni, shrimp fried rice. I didn’t even want it. Is that crazy?"
- What's not crazy is the bond Forston said he, Bailey and redshirt freshmen Adewale Ojomo are building on the defensive line. Forston said he and Bailey are having fun together. "When he’s on my side, me and him are always talking and communicating to each other. I tell him to push himself and keep that contain and I’ll make the quarterback flush out to him or he’ll make him step up to me. It’s either or. We’re working together. And then we got to build that bond like I had with my defensive end in high school."
- As for what Forston said he needs to work on -- its handling more complex blocking schemes. "In high school, I didn’t get too many blocks. You got double teamed or had guys pulling. Right now, they’re doing pulling, double-teamming, they're going out and doubling the linebackers, they're doing all type of blocks I’ve never seen before. Coach Hurtt told me I’m doing a hell of a job with it. I’m doing better with my hands too coming off the ball, too."

* SUPER SEAN SPENCE: Spence, who is still playing with the first team at strongside, said linebackers coach Michael Barrow has begun "moving guys around" at linebacker. Tuesday, Spence said he played on the weakside. I'm still a firm believer Spence will end up being the starting middle linebacker in a few seasons -- and so does he. "When I was getting recruited they said I might move to the middle because of how smart I am. But I haven’t made the transition yet."

* THE SWASEY WORKOUT PLAN: Running back Javarris James had two big runs and the only touchdown in the scrimmage. During the team's week off he said he spent a lot of time working out at UM, playing catch with players on campus before hitting the beach with his teammates. It's part of the growing process of friendship Miami players are building. "We had a chance to get away from football," James said. "When we were out there, [DeMarcus] Van Dyke went out showing his little muscle shirt. We wanted to show off the Swasey workout program we got going. It was all fun. We had a good time."

March 16, 2008

Canes are going dancing!

The University of Miami men's basketball team will be going to Little Rock, Arkansas and will meet St. Mary's Friday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Gaels (25-6) were the runner-up in the West Coast Conference. It's a good matchup for UM considering they went 1-1 in the ACC Tournament. If Miami wins, they'll likely get Frank Haith's old team -- Texas -- in the second round.

Still in Charlotte

When the University of Miami exited the ACC Tournament on Friday with a loss to Virginia Tech I was kind of bummed The Herald wanted me to to stick around and cover the rest of the tournament. I was looking forward to returning home and being with the Canes later today when they find out where they are headed on Selection Sunday.

But being the only remaining South Florida reporter in Charlotte for the final two days of the tournament, I've come to appreciate and learn a few things here in ACC country. I've really come to appreciate the beauty of playing in this conference. I'm sitting here at Charlotte Bobcats Arena watching the championship game between North Carolina and Clemson with 20,000 fans. And they all aren't wearing Carolina blue or Clemson's orange and purple. I see Maryland fans. North Carolina State fans. Wake Forest fans. Georgia Tech fans. Boston College fans. Virginia Tech fans. I'm still looking for green and orange. I'm sure there has to be at least one UM fan who decided to stick around for the rest of the weekend. UM's radio crew of Joe Zagacki and Josh Darrow are here, broadcasting the games back home. But I really wonder who is listening. Does anybody back in Miami really care the ACC Championship game is being played? Will they ever?

Look, I know college basketball will always play third fiddle to college football and college baseball in South Florida. The fact UM won five national titles in football and four more in baseball are good enough reasons why those two sports are higher up on South Florida fans' radars. Furthermore, throw in the fact that the majority of South Florida born sports stars like Jacory Harris and Yonder Alonso come out of the womb carrying footballs and beisbols and the picture becomes even clearer why basketball is naturally cared for by so few back home.

But the day it changes -- if it ever does -- we South Floridians may finally come to no longer feel bored during the months of January, February and March. You know, that period most of us have come to learn as the end of the football season, the wait before the start of spring football, those boring months before pitchers and catchers report and you fill out those brackets and try to win those $500 office pools. I'm not going to lie. I was one of those people. Watching the Canes struggle after Leonard Hamilton left and Miami stopped being a Sweet 16 team, I could have cared less about college basketball.

But in my two seasons covering Frank Haith's basketball team, I've come to appreciate this sport and this conference more than I could have imagined. It's more than just those special nights when UM beats Duke or when Carolina comes to town with future NBA stars. It's the grind, the ride through the conference year to year. It's the struggle Frank Haith's team endured during it's 2-6 start -- the tough losses on the road at N.C. State and Wake Forest -- and seeing Jack McClinton will Miami to a 6-2 finish thereafter. It's going into Cameron and trying to pull off the impossible and laughing everytime Duke fans come up with some new creative way to make fun of their opponent. It's going to Maryland on a Tuesday night and seeing the way the students pay homage to Gary Williams when he walks onto the court. It's watching Tyler Hansbrough dive for a loose ball. Or DeMarcus Nelson play defense. Or Deron Washington sky for an alley-oop dunk. Or Sean Singletary and McClinton go at each other for 40 minutes and drain big shot after big shot.

I know these things might sound foreign to most of you. After all, the University of Miami doesn't have much history when it comes to playing in a conference. The rivalries Canes revel in are when the Gators or Seminoles or Golden Panthers are the opponent or if No. 1 -- be it Ohio State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame -- are next on the schedule. I can understand why. UM has never really had time to develop much else. The Canes played as independent before it joined the Big East in 1991. And this is just the fourth season Miami has played since it moved to the ACC.

But maybe one day, South Floridians will come to appreciate what the rest of ACC country has been enjoying for more than 50 years. Maybe they'll care about these rivalries and be as excited as Clemson fans are to be playing in today's ACC championship game. Who knows, maybe January, February and March won't feel so boring anymore.

* By the way, ESPN's Joe Lunardi predicts Miami playing as a 10th seed against OJ Mayo and USC in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. We'll find out at 6 if he's right.

* Got to experience something pretty special Saturday -- an interview with former North Carolina coach Dean Smith. The inteview didn't last very long. But the fact I got to speak to one of the legends in all of sports was pretty cool.

* I also got a chance to speak to former Cane Tim James, who was honored as one of a dozen ACC Legends. The 31-year old former Northwestern Bulls star, Miami-Dade Herald Athlete of the Year, co-Big East Player of the Year and Heat draft choice said he finally decided to end his career a few months ago. He was playing out it Israel after a tour that included stops in Israel and Japan. James told me he's now living "a normal life" in Atlanta working for a document printing company. He said he hasn't had much contact with the folks at UM since he's been overseas. But I can't imagine a better guy for Coach Frank Haith to bring in to talk to players this postseason or even next year. James was a huge part of Miami's rise in the mid to late 1990s. I'm sure he'd have something to say Haith's team would listen to.

* Among the other legends honored this weekend was Florida State Heisman winner Charlie Ward. We talked for nearly 10 minutes and I got to say it was pretty cool to interview an athlete like Ward who was so good at two sports. He's now going to be a first-year head coach at a high school in Houston. The thing I came away impressed with was how small Ward was. If this guy (who couldn't have been taller than 6-1) was able to lead FSU to a national title and win the Heisman, Miami fans should not be worried about freshman Robert Marve's height issues.

March 14, 2008

Courtside blog: Virginia Tech 63, UM 49 (F)

Checking in from Charlotte Bobcats Arena where the Canes will try to do something it has never done -- win two games in the ACC Tournament. It's a battle between the Coach of the Year, Tech's Seth Greenberg and the runner-up, UM's Frank Haith.

Speaking of Haith, a report out of The Rock Herald in South Carolina linked him as a possible frontrunning candidate to replace the retiring Dave Odom after this season. Can't say it makes a whole lot of sense. While Haith is close with Odom, who brought him to over to South Carolina from Wake Forest, Haith only spent four weeks at South Carolina before bolting for Texas with Rick Barnes.

When I've spoken to Haith about his future at Miami, which still includes three years on his current contract, he's always talked about how much he enjoys being in the ACC. The fact the Hurricanes are bringing back the chunk of their team next season (and likely an even better team than this one that is going to make the NCAA Tournament) I highly doubt he would choose leave after putting in four years of hardwork to lay the foundation down. Still, this could be a great opportunity for him to seek a raise and I expect him to receive one. I'm sure of all the coaches at Miami new athletic director Kirby Hocutt is going to want to keep Haith around. Haith had no comment in the South Carolina article. We'll be sure to ask him about it after this afternoon's game.

By the way, I'm not sure if Joe Lunardi's brackets were updated or not (they are supposed to be on Mondays and Fridays) but he's still got UM as a 9th seed playing in the Midwest against 8th-seeded Davidson.

FIRST HALF...
15:53 left, Virginia Tech 10, UM 5: Freshman Malcolm Delaney has eight early points for the Hokies, who have hit a pair of threes to put a little distance between themselves and The U early. UM has had a little trouble getting rolling here offensively. Another slow, typical start. Delaney by the way grew up with Jack McClinton in Baltimore. He text messaged McClinton last week after UM lost to FSU with: "Thanks for the Bye." Jack told me he wanted to get some revenge. So far, Delaney has been holding his own.
10:45 left, Virginia Tech 17, UM 11: McClinton converted one of the rarest plays in basketball -- the four-point play -- when he drained a three and a drew contact with 15:22 left to pull UM within 10-9. But since Jimmy Graham's hook shot with 14:22 left, Tech has gone on a 5-0 run and has received seven consecutive points from guard A.D. Vassallo.
7:51 left, Virginia Tech 21, UM 16: James Dews hit a big-three-pointer with 9:17 to turn an eight point deficit back into a five-point deficit. So far, its been the AD Vassalo show. He's got 9 points as Tech's bigger guards are scoring over UM's smaller guards. Freshman Eddie Rios has had to play a ton of minutes after Lance Hurdle drew his second foul three minutes into the game.
3:53 left, Virginia Tech 21, UM 21: While Tech has gone flat out cold, Canes have gone a 5-0 run to tie things up. James Dews hit about a 28-foot three-pointer as the shot clock was winding down before Brian Asbury hitting the tying jumper with 5:41 to go. The teams haven't been able to do much since.
1:12 left, Virginia Tech 25, UM 23: Brian Asbury made a nice play with a steal and jumper to give Miami the lead with 3:14 left. But the Canes have gone cold since. They had a missed layup by McClinton in transition that led to a open dunk downcourt for Tech which gave the Hokies the lead with 1:38 left.

SECOND HALF...
15:55 left, Virginia Tech 33, UM 33:
Canes fell behind by 6 and went to work. Anthony King scored on a pretty drive ot the hoop before Jimmy Graham hit one of two at the line and Jack McClinton buried a three-pointer to tie the game. Key stat of the first half was rebounds. Tech had eight offensive boards and outrebounded UM 22-13. Both teams shot the ball poorly in the first half. UM shot 33 percent. Tech shot 37.
11:33 left, Virginia Tech 38, UM 38: Brian Asbury's stickback with 11:59 left has tied this game again for the upteenth time.
7:43 left, Virginia Tech 46, UM 42: There have been 10 lead changes in this game so far. Malcolm Delaney's three-pointer with 8:37 gave the Hokies the lead again. Anthony King has played well this afternoon for the Canes and has 9 points and three boards. Problem is Miami is giving up away too many offensive rebounds and second chance points. The last two Hokies three-pointers have come after battles under the glass and offensive rebounds.
2:54 left, Virginia Tech 58, UM 44: A 17-2 Hokies run has all but ended UM's tournament run here. Canes are now going to have to wait until Selection Sunday to find out where we're going next week.

March 13, 2008

Observations from Charlotte

Jack McClinton could have handled his frustrating afternoon much differently Thursday. McClinton, who was held to a season-low 8 points for the fourth time this season in Miami's 63-50 win over N.C. State, could have started chucking them up in the second half. But that's just not him.

Miami's leading scorer really doesn't care what his final stats are as long as his team wins. I know its cliche. We've heard this from other stars before. But how many times do you see the star of a team, a First Team All-ACC selection settle with only taking six shots in an important game? The truth is, McClinton's attitude is about as important to this team as the three-point shots he buries late in games.

"I think the key is Jack knew they were on him and Jack isn’t a selfish player," James Dews told me in happy, yet calm UM lockerroom after the game. "Jack knew they were on him tough so he tried to get the ball in the post, pass the ball around. I think we’re a deep enough team he doesn’t have to worry about that."

Look for McClinton to bounce back tomorrow. He told me he was happy he could "take a break" from carrying the scoring load Thursday. Virginia Tech has already given some good motivation. Freshman guard Malcolm Delaney, who grew up in the same neighborhood with McClinton in Baltimore, texted him shortly after UM lost to Florida State Saturday. "He said 'Thanks for the bye,'" McClinton said. "I guess you could say I really want to beat Virginia Tech."

There's no question the Hurricanes are sort of the media darlings here in Charlotte -- especially after being picked by the same group to finish last in the conference. They've been getting plenty of attention up here from the press -- especially Jack, who I overhead lay this gem of a quote on how he draws his motivation.

"Everyday I’m still trying to prove somebody wrong," McClinton told a reporter who then asked him which critics he's trying prove wrong. "Somebody is that guy standing in the corner. The peanut guy. Somebody is saying something, about the team. They’re probably saying something about me too. But as long as we win they can’t say anything about us. I love playing with a chip on my shoulder."

ON ANOTHER NOTE... Got to say I was a bit disappointed with some of the treatment I received down here in Charlotte. I went out with a couple of other reporters wearing jeans, a hooded sweat shirt and some sneakers and was almost denied access to a regular restaurant. The bouncer told me he would "cut me a break" and allow me in with a hoodie. Then, in the middle of dinner, I noticed three other guys wearing a hooded sweat shirt. That wasn't the worst part though. We hit a bar downtown and were forced to pay a $5 cover where we found out 10 minutes later a yodeler -- yes this dude was yodeling -- would get on stage and drive us out. Here's to hoping tonight goes better!

Courtside blog: UM 63, N.C. State 50 (F)

I'm here in Charlotte for today's first round ACC Tournament game between UM-N.C. State. As usual, I'll provide you my thoughts as the game goes on.

The Seminoles knocked off Wake Forest 70-60 in today's first game. That's not necessarily good news for UM considering the 'Noles have two wins over the Canes this season and are still technically in the hunt for an NCAA tournament berth. The only way I think it hurts UM is if FSU does well in the tournament -- that includes upsetting UNC -- and if the Canes lose today.

The arena by the way is packed to the gills. We are definitely in ACC country. I expect the Wolfpack to get plenty of loud support. By the way, since this is part of the NCAA postseason, I'm required to provide a link for the NCAA when I conduct live blogs. I'm also limited in the number of entries I'm allowed to make. For those of you looking for the game on TV, it is on FSN-Florida. The Canes' radio broadcast is at WQAM.com.

* Just wanted to give the baseball team some props for their great 11-1 start. Mark Sobolweski had a big night last night with 5 RBI in a 7-4 win over Maine. UM has had at least 10 hits in eight games this season. But the story so far this season has been Yonder Alonso and his .450 average. He's got 14 RBI and four homers. He's one of three guys hitting over .400 and just tearing the cover off the ball. Jemile Weeks is hitting .409 with 3 homers and 12 RBI. Jason Hagerty is hitting .407 with four homers and 9 RBI. That's a scary lineup coach Jim Morris has.

FIRST HALF...
15:40 left, UM 4, N.C. State 2: Another ugly start for UM. Miami's offense looks out of sync. Lucky for them N.C. State is a bad offensive team.
12:20 left, UM 11, N.C. State 2: Since it was 2-2 with 18:52 to play in the half, UM has gone on a 9-0 run. It hasn't been pretty. But the Canes have themselves a 9-point lead and N.C. State still does not have a field goal.
10:18 left, UM 13, N.C. State 6: Wolfpack finally get their first field goal from sophomore Trevor Ferguson with 10:35 left in the half.
7:32 left, UM 14, N.C. State 13: It's turned into the J.J. Hickson show. The freshman has seven straight points and will go to the line now to try and put State up. So far its been a real sloppy day for the Canes. Brian Asbury missed an alley-oop with 8:37. UM is also 2 of 4 from the line.
3:32 left, UM 22, N.C. State 14: The Canes have gone on 8-0 run since Hickson tied the game at 14-14. But I just saw probably one of the worst sequences I've seen all season. I'll spare you the details. Lance Hurdle has 6 points for UM.
Halftime, UM 24, N.C. State 17: I'll get the gory halftime stats in a few and provide them for you soon. Miami shot 32 percent in the first half. N.C. State shot 22 percent.

SECOND HALF...
15:35 left, UM 32, N.C. State 23: James Dews has Miami's last 6 points in a half that has started out with a lot of back and fourth. At least the teams are shooting a little better.
12:24 left, UM 38, N.C. State 23: Who needs Jack McClinton anyway? He's scoreless and the Canes have a 15 point lead. UM has scored the last eight points since J.J. Hickson knocked down the J for the Wolfpack with 16:09 left. If UM plays any other team today, they're probably going home early.
7:27 left, UM 44, N.C. State 29: Jack McClinton finally gets on the scoreboard with a pair of free throws with 9:41 left. Who would have ever imagined McClinton would have 2 points at this point in the game and Miami would have a 15-point lead.
3:48 left, UM 52, N.C. State 38: The Wolfpack put on a little 11-4 run to get back within 10 with 6:06 left. But Miami appears to have weathered the storm.

March 10, 2008

McClinton picked All-ACC 1st team

Jack McClinton made plenty of big shots this season to help UM, picked to finish last in the ACC, put themselves in position for the NCAA Tournament. He's been rewarded for it now.

The ACC's leading three-pointer shooter and fifth-leading scorer was selected to the All-ACC First Team Monday alongside Boston College's Tyrese Rice, North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough, Virginia's Sean Singletary and Duke's DeMarcus Nelson.

Jack_mcclintonIt's a big honor for Mr. Big Mac Attack as he becomes the first UM player to earn First Team honors in the ACC and only the third player to be selected all-conference first team. He joins Tim James who did it twice (97-98, 98-99) and Johnny Hemsley (1998-99).

The Hurricanes will play as the fifth seed and open the ACC Tournament at 2:30 p.m. Thursday against North Carolina State (15-15). We all remember what happened last time UM played the Wolfpack. Anthony King's errant pass under the basket led to a heartbreaking overtime loss.

According to ESPN.com bracketologists Miami will still likely get into the NCAA Tournament whether it wins Thursday or not. But I'm sure the Canes would prefer to "guarantee" themselves a spot with a win Thursday. Right now, Joe Lunardi projects UM as a 10th seed in the South bracket with a first round match-up with Davidson (24-7) in Omaha, Nebraska.

March 06, 2008

Scrimmage night

Just got back home from watching the Canes scrimmage for the first time this spring. My first thought: I hadn't realized I'd forgotten what it is like to watch a good quarterback lead The U.

For those of you worried about how freshmen Robert Marve and Jacory Harris looked, let me just preface this by saying they looked better already than anything you've seen in quite some time. Both were sharp, poised, and deadly accurate in Patrick Nix's offense. And here's the best part if you are a Canes fan -- their receivers only made a handful of drops.

All in all, it was a very impressive night for UM's young quarterbacks -- even if the scoreboard doesn't reflect it. Miami's offense only put up 10 points on 13 possessions. But between Harris, Marve and Cannon Smith, Miami's pass offense went a combined 26 of 36 for 236 yards, 0 TDs and 0 INTs. No, there was no official statistician. But like many other writers on the sidelines, I took stats and account of the play by play.

Coach Randy Shannon was the only person available to speak with reporters after the scrimmage. (HIS AUDIO). Here are some highlights, lowlights and notes on who else was impressive...

* Running back Javarris James scored the scrimmage's only touchdown on a 7-yard run on the opening possession. James only had two carries for 11 yards, but he made a pretty move on the TD run, cutting back across the grain and breaking a pair of tackles on his way in for the score. He also caught 2 passes for 15 yards.

* Defensive end Allen Bailey made quite the impression when he leveled Shawnbrey McNeal in the backfield for a 4-yard loss. On the ensuing series, Bailey destroyed Reggie Youngblood off the ball and chased down Jacory Harris for a 14-yard loss. He also was on another half sack with linebacker Daryl Sharpton moments later.

* The centers -- Xavier Shannon, Tyler Horne and Matt Pipho -- all struggled with their snaps. I counted four bad snaps in all, two high, one short and another that Cannon Smith bobbled, then fumbled and defensive end Adewale Ojomo pounced on for a fumble recovery inside the defense's 20-yard line.

* Senior Kayne Farquharson led all receivers with five catches for 51 yards. But he also dropped a potential touchdown pass on a perfect pass from Marve on a deep route. Farquharson had burned Chavez Grant downfield. The drop was inexcusable.

* Sophomore Leonard Hankerson had the tough run of the night when he caught a short pass from Marve on 3rd and 15 and rumbled 14 yards and just short of the marker. Hankerson had 3 catches for 32 yards by my count. Freshman Aldarius Johnson caught four passes -- all short routes -- for 11 yards.

* Freshman kicker Jake Wieclaw ended the scrimmage by drilling a 44-yard field goal. Randy Shannon told reporters Miami kicked three field goals, but it was actually two. Junior walk-on Alex Uribe, the son of famed UM doctor John Uribe, missed a 41-yarder off the post on UM's second possession.

* I was impressed by the play of cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke. On one deep Marve pass, he ran stride for stride with Sam Shields downfield before knocking the pinpoint pass away cleanly. He definitely looks like UM's best coverman.

* Freshman linebacker Sean Spence is without question talented and smart enough to be a starter on this defense (that includes if Colin McCarthy is healthy and available). Spence made several nice open field tackles and made a huge hit on Graig Cooper for a 5-yard loss, reading the play perfectly. Fellow freshman Arthur Brown made a nice play too, when he brought down receiver Ryan Hill in the middle of the field with one hand. Brown grabbed Hill by the shoulder pads and threw him to the ground.

* Coach Randy Shannon said he's not sure if receiver Jermaine McKenzie (who had a boot on his left foot) would return this spring. It definitely doesn't look good for sophomore defensive tackle Josh Holmes (he had a full cast on his left leg).

PASSING STATS
Marve:
13 of 18, 104 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs. His longest pass was a 15-yard completion to Khalil Jones. He had two passes dropped downfield -- one by Shields and one by Farquharson. Marve also made a pair of nice runs to pick up first downs.
J. Harris: 11 of 14, 78 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs. His longest pass was a 17-yard completion downfield to Kayne Farquharson. Jacory was sacked twice, but all in all proved to be not too far behind Marve in terms of touch, accuracy and poise in the pocket.
C. Smith: 2 of 4, 54 yards, 0 TDs, 0 INTs. Smith only played in three series -- so much for equal snaps. He hit a wide open Richard Gordon on a blown coverage for a 50-yard gain. He then bobbled and fumbled a bad snap inside the red zone.

RUSHING STATS: G. Cooper 6-15; J. James 2-11, TD; S. McNeal 4-0; Marve 3-12; D. Thomas 2-6; J. Harris 4-(-23); L. Chambers 8-8; C. Smith 1-0.

RECEIVING STATS: Farquharson 5-51, Shields 1-5, Cooper 1-6, A. Johnson 4-11; L. Hankerson 3-32; R. Hill 2-13; D. Thomas 1-13; K. Jones 2-22; L. Chambers 2-11; R. Gordon 2-53; J. Calhoun 1-4.

March 05, 2008

Courtside blog: UM 74, Boston College 61 (F)

I'm here at BankUnited Center for the regular season home finale. I've got some football practice notes I'm compiling as well as audio interviews I'm in the process of uploading to Herald.com.

As usual, I'll be here to give you my thoughts throughout the game. Stay tuned for updates from pratice. Today I spoke with defensive coordinator Bill Young, receivers coach Aubrey Hill, safety Lovon Ponder, coach Randy Shannon, defensive line coach Clint Hurtt, running back Graig Cooper and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland. Once the audio is up, I'll post links.

FIRST HALF...
15:55 left, UM 2, Boston College 2: Nothing more than some ugly basketball early. Canes have about three early turnovers and can't hit the wide side of a barn. Lucky for them, they are playing some good D.
11:50 left, Boston College 11, UM 4: Well, Miami must have a thing for starting slow against BC. Earlier this year, UM missed 18 of its first 20 shots. So far, the numbers have to be comparable. Tyrese Rice has nine points and the Eagles have taken advantage of some sloppy early play by the Canes to open up an early lead following an 8-0 run.
7:36 left, Boston College 16, UM 11: It's just been an ugly first half for the Canes between missed shots and turnovers. Lucky for them and unlike when they played at BC earlier this year, they haven't found themselves down by 23. Rice by the way has 14 points and is starting to get rattled a little bit by the hometown fans, who have been picking on him since he shot an airball earlier in the half.
4:38 left, Boston College 22, UM 18: UM fell behind by 9, but mounted a quick 5-0 run after Jack McClinton drained three free throws and Jimmy Graham stole an inbounds pass and laid it up.
Halftime, Boston College 27, UM 20: Miami shot a season-low 23 percent in the first half, going 0-7 from three-point range with 10 turnovers. Here's the good news -- they are only down 7. Rice has 18 at the break.

SECOND HALF...
15:46 left, Boston College 33, UM 28: Boston College scored the first four points of the half to open up an 11-point lead, but UM has since responded with a James Dews' three-pointer, Lance Hurdle three-point play and Jimmy Graham score in the post to compile an 8-2 run and get back into the game.
11:15 left, Boston College 41, UM 36: Everytime Miami has had a chance to trim it within five points, BC has expanded its lead back up. Rice still only has 18 points. Graham and Hurdle lead UM with 8 points each. Looks like this is going to have to be another Jack McClinton night if UM wants to pull this one out. And as usual, Jack is hiding pretty good right now.
7:12 left, UM 50, Boston College 47: On cue... Jack McClinton hits a three-pointer to pull UM within 41-40, then hits a jumper before Lance Hurdle steals a ball in the backcourt and lays it and gets fouled to give UM the lead at 45-43. McClinton hits another 3-pointer to put UM up again 48-45.
3:52 left, UM 57, Boston College 53: Tyrese Rice finally hit another basket with 5:12 left to go, his first points of the second half. It looks like it is going to be nip-tuck the rest of the way. McClinton has 18 points for Miami. Rice has 22.
1:53 left, UM 67, BC 57: We might have just seen the play of the game as Lance Hurdle spun away from Tyrese Rice on an attempted steal, dribbled up court and hit a runner in the lane to give UM a 10-point lead. Maybe its the signature play of UM clinching an NCAA Tournament berth. Hurdle has been huge today -- 15 points and a great game defensively against Rice.
:56.2 left, UM 72, BC 61: Put on your dancing shoes Canes fans.

WEDNESDAY'S FOOTBALL NOTES...
* I asked new receivers coach Aubrey Hill to give me an idea of who has shown flashes of being the playmaker in the open field coach Randy Shannon has long coveted. His response: "There are some Aubrey_hill guys that come to mind really quickly. Leonard Hankerson, Ryan Hill, Kayne Farquharson and Aldarius Johnson. Those are guys that kind of separate themselves. We’ll have some more guys that step up. Jermaine McKenzie will be in there. He’s been injured a couple days. But just as you have to make plays with the ball in your hands, I’m expecting them to make plays without the ball in their hands. Making sure they run the right route structure when they are told to. Making sure they do their blocks. Making sure they run down field, have good habits. It’s as much as we’re talking about and charting everything they do as far as catches and drops, mental mistakes, doing it just right and big plays, we’re charting effort. We’re trying to find out how guys are going to be consistent and accountable in everything they do."

Hill went onto say what every Canes fan wants to hear him say about Sam Shields. "We want consistency from Sam. We want consistency from all of our receivers but one of the things we want from Sam is make sure he’s consistent, he’s accountable in everything he does. We want to make sure he’s consistent. Right now, he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. But right now, we got a long way to go."

* New defensive coordinator Bill Young said he wants to see "great effort" and "forced turnovers" during UM's scrimmage Thursday at Traz Powell Stadium. As for the amount of his new defense, he's installed... "We’ve put in a ton. We’ve put in a bunch – probably more than we should have. Some of the concept things are in so the players can learn them. And I think they are picking it up quickly."

* Shannon said the team worked on the two-minute drill Wednesday -- the last part of the offense Randy_shannon he said needed to be installed before Thursday's scrimmage. Shannon said he never considered taking over the defense himself before hiring Young. "I never considered running the defense. I think sometimes when you get involved in that, you become more of a defensive coach and you split your team up that way. A lot of coaches have done and then eventually most coaches relinquish it. A lot of guys relinquish it." Shannon instead has remained involved in special teams, something he picked up last season. "I’m still with special teams. I think that’s how you can win the game, assisting coach Pannunzio. He’s the special teams coordinator. I’m just there to help him get whatever needs to get done, get done."

* Defensive line coach Clint Hurt said new defensive end Allen Bailey is playing his new position Allen_bailey "like he’s been playing it here for the last three or four years. The biggest thing is he has to continue to progress and make sure he doesn’t hit that wall. There is going to be some tough times. He needs to pick up the little nuances. He is such a physically gifted kid. Lot of things come very easily and very naturally to him. The biggest thing is with those big arms he has is working on guys outside shoulders, chopping offensive lineman’s outside arms. As strong as his hands are, he’s really good on working outside shoulders, snatching on guys jerseys. Feeling pressure is the hard thing on the movement part. He’s slowly getting it, but at a faster rate than I expected it."

As for freshman Marcus Forston, Hurtt said "He’s doing well. He’s very natural to the position. The biggest thing is just learning how to finish. When you’re in high school and you’re so much better than everybody else there are somethings you can get away with being very fundamentally sound. But when you get to this level, those are things you can’t get away with. He’s strong enough. He’s a guy that’s extremely strong. Strength isn’t going to be the problem. It’s a matter of a consistent pounding and your body getting used to that. In high school, you go up against a 220 pound guard and the tackle might be 260. No big deal, he’ll split that. But when Figueroa is 340 pounds and Symonnette is 350 pounds, it’s a bit different. That’s something he’s getting used to. He’s got to be able to consistently handle that all the time."

* Running back Graig Cooper said his legs still feel heavy after returning from the track team to Graig_cooper football practice this week. Cooper, who picked up 10 pounds (going from 192 to 202) after the end of the football season, said he remained in his playbook during his time with track. "I feel faster, but my legs are still heavy though. I can’t just say I’m fresh like for a game. Lately I’ve been feeling heavy. I haven’t tested out my speed yet. But I feel comfortable now. I feel like I can take those licks on better than I did last year. Last year, I couldn’t. I don’t want to feel like no little boy out there. I know I had to put on some pounds to play D-I ball."

* Safety Lovon Ponder said he feels back at full strength following his injuries last season. He also said he's been impressed with freshman Aldarius Johnson. "I can see why that guy is rated one of the top receivers in the country in high school," Ponder said. "He’s a guy who has transformed his game from high school to the college level. He plays real tough. Physical guy, that can catch the ball. He’s a good possession receiver and he can go over the top too. His playmaking ability is up there with Sam when Sam came in. He’s not as fast. He’s the toughest guy we got to cover. He runs the routes real well for a guy just coming in."

* Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland doesn't want to field any questions about left tackle Jason Fox 030408_jfox possibly being a first round pick after this coming season. "I don’t even go there," Stoutland told me when I asked him if he thought Fox, who is now up to 305, could go in the first round. "Don’t ask me that question. The last thing I want to have happen with any of these guys. And I’ve seen it happen when a guy starts thinking about the first round because you guys are writing it. It’s the last thing a guy needs to be thinking about. And I’ve seen it go like that [thumbs down] a lot. That part I won’t even go near that. And I won’t discuss it with him until he’s done."

March 04, 2008

Live Q&A tonight at 8 p.m.

I know it has been awhile since we've had a live Q&A session. But seeing as how spring football has now completed a week's worth of action and the basketball team is on the verge of wrapping up an NCAA Tournament bid, I figured it would be a good time to share some time answering some questions tonight.

Feel free to start leaving me some here as I write my advance for the UM-Boston College game on Wednesday. When I'm done, I figure around 8'ish, I'll come back on for some live Q&A. For now, enjoy some of the photos I shot from earlier today at practice. Check out the cool sequence I shot of the three quarterbacks taking a snap and then turning and handing the ball off.030408_marve_warmup
030408_qbs_1030408_qbs_2030408_qbs_3030408_qbs_4 

030408_qbs_5030408_qbs_6030408_qbs_7

030408_olineman030408_dline030408_receivers 030408_runningbacks 030408_abrown_barrow

March 01, 2008

Courtside blog: UM 95, Virginia 93 (F)

I'm here at BankUnited Center for today's important ACC showdown between the Canes and Virgnia. I'll be here as usual to provide my thoughts on the game as it progresses. We were delayed for a little more than half hour because of a problem with one of the baskets. The game is supposed to get started without a national anthem or player intros around 2:35 p.m.

In the meantime, I'll start compiling my notes from today's football practice. I got a chance to speak with receiver Leonard Hankerson, offensive guard Chris Barney, fullback Patrick Hill, cornerback Chavez Grant and of course coach Randy Shannon. I'm in the process of uploading the audio interviews now. I'll let you know once it is up. Remember to check out all of the audio I collect on our UM audio page (it is the complete, unedited, raw interview I conduct with players and coaches).

FIRST HALF...
- 15:00 left, UM 11, Virginia 8: Well, Frank Haith told us yesterday he wanted Dwayne Collins to get more touches. So far, he's been on the money. Collins has six points on 3-of-4 shooting and Miami has offset a pair of three-pointers by Sean Singletary to take an early 11-8 lead.
- 11:38 left, UM 14, Virginia 12: Haith switched four starters out except Jack McClinton after the last time out. Miami struggled offensively a bit before Eddie Rios drove the lane and found an open Jimmy Graham for a dunk.
- 7:53 left, UM 20, Virginia 15: Virginia has set it sights on stopping Collins in the paint, but he's found a running mate -- Jimmy Graham. Graham has a dunk and a driving layup and will go to the free throw line now after the time out.
- 3:05 left, Virginia 31, UM 30: The Cavaliers have started to drain threes. Jamil Tucker's third of the half has given Virginia a 1-point lead here with 3:21 to play. It's been a tough day so far for Jack McClinton and Brian Asbury shooting the basketball.
- 51.4 left, Virginia 39, UM 35: Tucker has gone from three-point shooter to official pain in the neck for the Canes. His dunk just gave the Cavs their biggest lead of the game at 4 points.
- Halftime, Virginia 39, UM 35: The key to the Cavaliers first half success -- 2nd chance points and bench points. Virginia has outscored UM 8-1 in 2nd chances and has 23 points off its bench compared to UM's 17. 13 of those bench points came from sophomore forward Jamil Tucker, who has already matched his career high in points. UM got 10 points from Jimmy Graham, 8 from McClinton, 6 from Collins and 5 from Eddie Rios.

SECOND HALF...
- 14:56 left, Virginia 47, UM 46: Miami trailed by as many as six points before Eddie Rios jump started UM's offense with a couple of nice passes for baskets. But Sean Singletary, who has 16 points, will go to the line with a chance to put Virginia up 2 after this timeout.
- 12:06 left, UM 60, Virginia 55: Hello and welcome to the Jack McClinton show. After scoring just 6 points in the first half -- McClinton has turned into McClutch again. Starting with a left handed layup with 15:14 to go, he scored 14 consecutive points -- including hit three three-pointers to give UM the lead. Singletary counterbalanced it with his own run of points. So far, Jack 22, Sean 21. |
- 10:34 left, UM 72, Virginia 57: I've seen guys get hot before. But this is ridiculous. McClinton has now scored 22 points in a span of less than five minutes. He's got 30 points and Miami has an impressive lead.
- 7:53 left, UM 75, Virginia 64: Virginia went on a 7-0 run before Lance Hurdle answered with a three-pointer as the shot clock was expiring with 8:19 left to play.
- 2:58 left, UM 84, Virginia 77: Miami has managed to hit a couple of big threes during the latest span at the buzzer. Dews hit one as the shot clock expired with 6:58 to go. Singletary, meanwhile, has kept the Cavs close. He's got 30 points now. McClinton has 31.
- 1:23 left, UM 91, Virginia 87: The Hurricanes just had a 10-point lead 23 seconds ago. But Singletary, who now has 38 points, has hit back-to-back three-pointers to give the Cavs a shot here late.
- :4.3 left, UM 94, Virginia 92: This place got real quiet after Laurynas Mikalauskas completed a three-point play to pull Virginia within 91-90 moments ago. Then Lance Hurdle hit a three-pointer from the left win to give Miami a four-point cushion before Singletary hit a layup with 4.3 seconds left. Now, its about hitting free throws and holding on for this win.
- :3.3 left, UM 95, Virginia 92: McClinton was only able to convert 1-of-2 from the line. Yikes!