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23 posts from June 2008

June 28, 2008

Q&A with Julian Gamble (Part II)

Two weeks ago, I caught up with University of Miami redshirt freshman big man Julian Gamble after he participated in a basketball/religious venture to Africa with Athletes in Action. On Wednesday, I posted the details of his 13-day trip overseas where Julian said he had a life-changing experience meeting orphans, a fun time playing international basketball and much more (Q&A Part I).

In this second part of my interview with Julian, we got a chance to talk about his rough upbringing in North Carolina. He told me how his single mother struggled to raise him and his older sister and brother and how he himself struggled, attending 14 different schools from the time he started kindergarten until he graduated. Gamble, who didn't really become a hot commodity until his junior year of high school, told me he was more than happy to accept a scholarship from Miami and says being a Cane is a dream come true. He said he passed on offers from Kentucky, Florida and Tennessee because of the bond he built with coach Frank Haith, another Carolina guy, who was able to convince him UM's basketball program was headed in the right direction. The following is the rest of what he and I talked about.

Q: Who was the first person to put a basketball in your hands and when did you first start playing?
A: When I was smaller, I’d have to say it was my father. Just watching TV and during the time Michael JgambleJordan and all those guys like that were playing. I just watched basketball, that’s pretty much how I spent all my time with my dad. He took me out to the court one day. He never seriously played basketball. He always would mess around though. And then I went out there shooting and I fell in love with the game. At first it was all about spending time with my father, but as time progressed I just really found the love for the game. I didn’t get serious or start thinking about going to college until around 10th grade maybe. I was a late bloomer. I really didn’t come around until my 11th grade year. That’s when I started getting my offers and things like that. In my 10th grade year, I had a lot of mid-major offers.

Q: When did you go through your big growth spurt?
A: In eighth grade I was 6-1. By the time I was in ninth I may have been 6-4. From the 9th to 10th, I grew up two more inches. I’ve grown up a little bit since I got here.

Q: How tall are you now?
A: I’m not even sure. The last time I measured I was 6-9. But just from talking to my teammates and stuff today they say I’ve grown. I might be 6-9 or 6-10.

FrankhaithQ: What have you learned about college basketball since you’ve been here?
A: My first impression of coming here and seeing practice and seeing the game, it’s much, much faster than in high school. That was my first adaptation to make. My first impression was the energy level. In high school, the best players would just take the game over. Some teams might play good defense. But in college, everybody can do every thing. It’s not like anybody can step in and average 20 points a game. I think I’ve improved majorly from just working with coach Mac and working with my teammates and talking to coach Haith and things like that.

Q: Where have you improved or need improvement?
A: One area I need to improve is my strength and my conditioning. Those are two areas I’m looking to improve on in this offseason right here. Also, my defense – its something that would keep me on the court and give me opportunities to play. I’m not the type of guy to get stats or whatever. I just want to help the team. I want to help the team win. That’s the role I play.

Q: I know coach said you’ve lost a lot of weight and toned up. Now, it’s time to brag about what you’ve done.
A: I’ve lost around 25 pounds since I got here. I was 265 when I came in. I was 239 when I weighed myself now. I’m definitely going to pick up some weight though, lifting in this offseason, muscle, things like that. But I lost a lot of fat, nearly 30 pounds of it. I feel like a new man. The biggest difference is my quickness, my jumping, my all around game is just a lot more easier when I’m lighter. Being as tall as I am, my knees hurt when I’m heavier. Now that I’m lighter my knee pains aren’t present or a major issue like I was before.

Q: A lot has obviously changed since the day you accepted a scholarship to Miami. This team has gone from last place in the ACC to the second round of the NCAA tournament in one year and now some experts are saying you guys are a Top 10 team. What’s changed from your perspective?
A: From my personal perspective when I was first getting recruiting, coach Haith was telling me he was Ummens_hoops going to change the face of the program. I had faith in him. I knew people who knew coach Haith being from Carolina and they said he was a man of his word. I didn’t need to hear much else because I believed in him. Being here and going through last season and seeing exactly what he said would happen, it was really good. It’s just making everyone around the nation see we’re trying to work toward being a force for a long time coming. It’s all about hardwork. It’s not as if somebody says were going to be good and its over. It always about hard work for us and progress.

Q: That being said, expectations are going to be different next season. The pressure is going to be different now that you guys are where you are. How do you think the guys are going to handle the preseason hype?
A: I don’t think its going to change at all. It just kind of shows our hardwork has paid off. But at the same time we’re a humble group of individuals. We’re not the type of people if the spotlight is on us we’re going to walk around and not see people for what they are. We’re people like everybody else. Just because we won 20 games doesn’t mean we’re going to walk around here like we don’t know anybody. We’re still going to be the same people and I feel we’re going to approach things like we did before with that hard work ethic and the desire to want to improve. I don’t think because the spotlight is on us, we’re going to relax. That’s all the more reason to work even harder because people are going to be coming at us even harder. That hardwork mentality is going to stick no matter how bright that light gets.

Q: Are the guys excited by those expectations? ESPN's Andy Katz has you guys ranked eighth in his preseason poll. Also, you’re playing at Kentucky and at home against Ohio State. Is there a lot more excitement in general?
Mcclintondribble A: Of course we’re excited because these are things outside of playing basketball these are things we dream of, playing in the big games, playing at Kentucky and things like that. So, there is a level of excitement. But at the same time, this is a very large task we have to tackle so we have to work that much harder to be able to accomplish that goal. We just don’t want to go to Kentucky to say we played them. We don’t want to play Ohio State to say we played them. We’re trying to win those games. So, in order to win those games, we got to work hard to put ourselves in position to do that.

Q: When is that you guys will start working with coaches again?
A: We’re not with the coaches, but I myself will call the coach and ask them what type of things I need to work on. They’ll describe the drill and I’ll go and work on it myself. It’s all about being with our strength coach, lifting weights. We’re trying to prepare ourselves as much as we can. I want to have myself ready so I won’t have to go back and do any work I should have done already. We haven’t had a workout where everybody was together. People have been going back home and things like that. We won’t really have our full workout until I think the 30th of June -- the Monday after Summer [Session 2]. I think its going to be a level of excitement. I mean the truth is, we’re all men, but we miss our boys. We have a lot of fun together. So, it’s not like when we see everybody , “OK, your back.’ That will be our prime moment to get together and work hard. When the whole team gets back together there is going to be focus because we know this is going to be a big year for us.

Q: Talk about your role this year. Ray Hicks, Anthony King are gone. Coach talked a lot about you being that reliable post option that Anthony was. How do you see yourself in the mix with Jimmy Graham, Dwayne Collins and Cyrus McGowan?
JimmygrahamA: I think for the most part it will be a rotation like it was last year. With Jimmy being a senior, Cyrus being a junior and Dwayne being a junior, I’m going to be learning from them more than anything else. If worse comes to worse, I’ll defer to them because it’s going to be my first turn around. I think the rotation will be in that two in and two out we did last year. It’s really going to be great because all four of us bring different things to the table that will be helpful to the team. I got full confidence in coach Haith. He knows what we do well and how we’ll play well together for the better of the team.

Q: I think most people would consider you more of a true center type prospect than those other guys who are more like natural power forward. Do you see yourself as a center?
A: I don’t want to say I’m going to be Anthony King’s replacement or I’m going to do what King did as a player over his career. It’s extremely difficult to replace a guy like him not only as a player, but off the court with his leadership and everything. My role this year will be trying to be as reliable a post player as possible, doing what I can do to help the team like grabbing rebounds, blocking shots and taking charges so we win. I know we have a tremendous talent level. I don’t have to be one of the people to score points. We got a lot of people that can score points. I know I can do the small things and try to help them out.

June 25, 2008

Q&A with Julian Gamble (Part I)

They say one way to lift the spirit of a kid is to give them a piece of candy. Imagine then what it's like to hand a pack of Skittles over to a sick 5-year old orphan who spends his entire life fighting off flies, malnourishment and 115-degree heat in the slums of Senegal?

University of Miami redshirt freshman Julian Gamble encountered that very situation Julian_gambleearlier this month when he participated in  a 13-day trip to Africa with Athletes in Action. Gamble, a 6-9, 240-pound center from Raleigh, N.C., experienced many things on his adventure to West Africa. He played in international games. He stood toe-to-toe against a 7-foot, 4-inch giant from Mali and got his shots swatted by Jared Carter, a 7-2 center from Kentucky. But nothing on his trip had quite as big of an impact as a visit to a local orphanage in Senegal.

"There were a lot of kids there and most of them were sick," Gamble told me when I spoke to him last week. "We were just trying to play with them and make them happy. Well, during one break, there was this one little boy who saw me eating this pack of Skittles. He had no idea what it was. So, I gave him one and he got so happy. We just started playing and running around, playing catch, making him happy. It warmed my heart a lot to give him that because it's not like he has a home, where he's going to get ready for school or something. All he does is stay in that orphanage. For us to be there for that small moment was really special."

Gamble, who made the trip with nearly a dozen other college basketball players from Julian_gamble_actionaround the country, had many special moments on his trip. It was the first time in his life he ever left the United States -- and the first time since he made the jump from high school to college he's been able to get into a game. Last season, he sat, learned, and watched UM go from preseason last pick in the ACC to the second round of the NCAA tournament. This season, with Anthony King and Ray Hicks gone, he will almost assuredly be a part of the new four-person, big-man rotation for coach Frank Haith. I caught up with Julian last week to discuss all that. But first, in this two-part Q&A series, I'll let him share his experiences from his adventure, which included an eight-point, 12-rebound effort in a 73-62 win against Mali.

Q: So, last year, I know Brian Asbury (China) and Jimmy Graham (Australia) got to do the same kind of trip? How did this trip come about for you?
A: Our team Chaplin, Pastor Steve, he works with Athletes in Action. Being around Jimmy and stuff like that, he’s big with Athletes in Action. It was a combination of talking to both of them. I told them I definitely wanted to take advantage of an opportunity if it came about and it did. I didn’t know I was going until about a week before I went. So, it was kind of tough securing my passport. Plus, I had to raise money for finances and things I would need over there. I wrote a letter asking for some donations. Luckily, there are a lot of donators to Athletes in Action in the Miami area. From there, I just went up to Ohio where they are based. We worked out for a couple days and then went to Africa and spent about two weeks over there.

Q: How was the flight?
A:The flight was long. We flew from Ohio to New York and from New York to Paris. That was about a seven and a half hour flight. We had a 6 hour layover. We didn’t go anywhere. We just chilled. Then we had another five hour flight to Senegal. And after we stayed in Senegal we had another two hour flight to Mali. Even though they’re connecting countries, you can’t drive from Senegal to Mali because of the different terrains and they’re aren’t even roads. On the way back it was a little shorter. It was about 5 ½ hours. The flights are long. But when your talking to your teammates and going to sleep it goes by fast.

Q: Who went on the trip with you?
A: It was an assortment of players throughout. Our coach was the assistant coach from Valparaiso. He had a couple players from his Valpo team out there. There were a couple players from the Kentucky team we are playing this year -- Jared Carter and Ramon Harris. They had a kid from Belmont, Shane Dansey, who played really well against Duke in the tournament. We had a guy from Murray State. We had St. Mary’s Ian O’Leary, who we played against in the tournament last year. So, really it was a wide assortment of players -- everybody from rising seniors to rising freshmen. We had a good team. I think I played well for the most part. I think out there its definitely a different game. The lanes are wider. The traveling is different. Our first game we probably had like 40 turnovers, just traveling. Once we starting playing I got used to it. Basically, it’s more of a physical game. I think maybe 75 percent of the things over there would be fouls over here. I played pretty well. We played five games and I think I had three double-doubles.

Q: Did you start any of the games?
Yes, I started. But we had a rotation. There were no set starters. One team would start one game and another the next. I started a couple. Everybody played equal time. It wasn’t a situation where it was a clear cut starting five. We were all kind of equal as players.

Jared_carterQ: What do you think you learned out there and who did you match up with?
A: I matched up with Jared Carter, who plays for Kentucky. He’s 7-2. And he plays center. It was good for me to play with somebody like that, to play against someone bigger than me. At first, he was blocking my shots because I wasn’t used to it. I had to use my body different ways, use different moves and things like that. There was another guy out there from Valpo. It was Urule Igbavboa [senior]. Playing against season vets, I learned a lot.

Q: Do you get a chance to see Africa?
A: We did a lot of different things. It wasn’t just a situation where we were going on safaris or anything. As a team, we went and visited orphanages and we went and saw different communities. We saw the market and saw the city and did a lot of community service while we were out there. We did basketball clinics for up-and-coming basketball players. I mean I feel like we’ve seen the better parts of Africa and saw everything that was going on over there. We weren’t just going to the zoo. We got a chance to see everyday life out there in Africa.

Q: What made the biggest impression on you from the trip?
A: The one thing I kind of told everyone about, I told Jimmy Graham about it, I told Coach Haith about is just how the demeanor of the people. They don’t have nearly as many privileges as they do over here and they are still always happy. You don’t see them complaining how most people do over here. It just kind of gives you a sense of sitting back and thinking why would I take things for granted? Why would I complain about the little things I do have when there are people over here who have nothing and they’re happy and they’re just living life. They have everyday struggles, but theirs are a hundred times worse than ours. Seeing how friendly they were and seeing the resources they have, they have very little, and they’re still friendly. They’re not walking around being mean spirited or mean-hearted like most people over here in America would do.

Q: What’s a typical home like in the neighborhoods you visited?
A: Typically what we saw over there in the ghettos in Mali were like cement houses with no doors. It was Mali_street_2very small, enclosed places. It was very hot. People washed their clothes outside. They cook their food with the little grease they could get and they just reused everything. You don’t see a lot of things around. I didn’t see many trash cans while I was over there. The landscape isn’t that of over here. There’s a lot of trash everywhere. The typical house didn’t have much. They didn’t have much, but they always offered their best when guests came through.

Q: Was it a life changing experience for you?
A: Definitely. It opened my eyes to many things. And now that I’m back I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences with my teammates so they can see how it is over there and how we took take things for granted over here when we have no reason to.

Coming Thursday: Part II, Gamble talks about the weight he's lost since arriving at UM last year at 6-8, 265, his progress on and off the court and what he hopes to provide the Canes this coming season.

June 20, 2008

DiMare steps down

The first member of UM's baseball team to announce he's leaving after the season isn't a player. In a bit of a surprising move, longtime assistant Gino DiMare told coach Jim Morris Friday he's stepping down.

DiMare just completed his 12th year on the Hurricane coaching staff where he served as the assistant head baseball coach, recruiting coordinator and coached the hitters and outfielders.

Gino_dimare“Gino has been a very important part of our Hurricane baseball program going back to his playing days,” Morris said in a statement released by the school. “He’s played a big part in our winning national titles during my time and our advancing to the College World Series. I can’t thank him enough for his tireless work on the recruiting trail in keeping Miami as one of the top programs. I was very saddened to hear that he wanted to step down. Family is important to Gino, and he wanted to spend more time with them. He will always be a Hurricane.”

DiMare said in the statement he's leaving the program to spend more time with his family.

“I have really enjoyed my 12 years on the Miami coaching staff,” DiMare said. “It’s been a tremendous opportunity being able to coach at my alma mater. I have a wonderful wife as well as young daughters, and I wanted to spend more time with them. College baseball is a great sport, but we as coaches have to make some sacrifices when it comes to traveling and being away from our loved ones. I felt like this was the right time to be more accessible to my family. Miami has a great baseball tradition. I have been honored to work with some of the best college baseball players in the country. I wish nothing but the best for the program and can’t wait to follow its success in the future.”

Miami has had some of the best offensive teams under DiMare’s direction. UM's offense has ranked among the top 10 in school history in seven of DiMare's nine seasons as the club's hitting instructor. His 2008 squad hit .320 and finished with the second-most home runs (106) in school history. The 711 hits were 10th all-time while the 2008 squad also ranked ninth in doubles (135), eighth in RBI (517), eighth in total bases (1,202) and fourth in slugging percentage (.541). It also featured first round selections Yonder Alonso, the seventh overall pick in the 2008 Major League Baseball Draft by the Cincinnati Reds, and Jemile Weeks, the 12th overall pick to the Oakland A’s. Alonso’s 24 homers fell just one shy of tying the school record. Three other Hurricane hitters went in the first four rounds of the 2008 MLB draft as Dennis Raben (second round to Seattle Mariners), Blake Tekotte (third round to the San Diego Padres) and Mark Sobolewski (fourth round to the Toronto Blue Jays) were selected.

DiMare’s accomplishments on the recruiting scene over the last eight seasons are as impressive as the Hurricanes’ annual postseason results. His 2001 class was rated among the top five nationally and his 2003 class was ranked among the top 15 nationally. DiMare’s 2007 class was ranked second by Collegiate Baseball and fifth by Baseball America. His 2008 class earned a No. 20 ranking by Collegiate Baseball.

His classes featured the 2005 ACC Player of the Year and ACC Pitcher of the Year, Ryan Braun (California) and Cesar Carrillo (Illinois). Braun and Carrillo were also Miami’s two first-round draft picks in 2005. Chris Hernandez was named the 2008 ACC Freshman of the Year while a total of eight Hurricanes were named to All-ACC teams in 2008. DiMare has also kept Florida’s top talent home, including 2006 first-round pick Chris Perez (Holmes Beach) and second-round pick, Jon Jay (Miami). He was instrumental in helping Miami to 12 NCAA postseason appearances, two national titles, eight College World Series appearances, 11 NCAA Regional championships and nine Super Regionals.

So how do you feel about the Canes losing DiMare?

June 18, 2008

College World Series - Day 5: UM loses to Stanford 8-3 and is eliminated from the CWS

What's up gang,

Back at Rosenblatt ready to cover this must-win game for the U against Stanford. Another pretty much sunny day in Omaha. I wish I could send it your way, I hear from Manny that it's been pouring all day in Miami.

I'll be here for the next 4 hours watching every pitch with you and ready to talk Canes, high schools, movies, Omaha, food, drinks, UM rivals, (OK DRE, FOCUS!)

Anyway, Miami is the designated road team. They are 3-0 in the playoffs as the visitors on the scoreboard.

Stanford pulls a switcheroo on who they start. The Cardinal will go with right-handed freshman Danny Sandbrink, who is 2-1, with a 2.85 ERA in 19 appearances, which includes 5 starts. His other numbers (1 CG, 53 2/3 IP, 54 H, 20 R, 17 ER, 18 BB, 27 Ks, .262 opp. avg.).

Miami, as expected, will counter with senior Enrique Garcia (7-2, 4.56 ERA, 15 starts, 81 IP, 89 H, 41 ER, 45 R, 34  BB, 64 K, .278 opp. avg.).

Stanford has four solid home run hitters (CF Sean Ratliff 21, C Jason Castro 14, 2B Cord Phelps 13, and 1B Brent Milleville 11). Garcia has given up the fewest of any UM starter with 2.

Changes in UM's lineup, Jason Hagerty will start as DH, after coming as a PH for struggling Dave DiNatale in the FSU win. Hagerty came through with a 2-run single that drove what ended up being the game-winning runs. The order: 1. Tekotte, 2. Weeks, 3. Alonso, 4. Sobolewski, 5. Jackson, 6. Severino, 7. Raben, 8. Hagerty, 9. Grandal.

Well, I'll be here and back after 1st pitch with updates. In the meantime, feel free to chat away. For continuous updates during the game, visit www.ncaasports.com.

1st inning - UM 1, Stanford 0: Tekotte and Weeks set the table again with infield singles (Weeks' a great bunt between 3rd and the mound), and Sobolewski drove in Tekotte on a sac fly. Inning could have been more productive had Alonso not struck out and Jackson lined out to left. Stanford threatened with singles by Cord Phelps and Jason Castro, but Garcia worked out of it with three fly ball outs, including another solid defensive play in right by Raben.

2nd inning - UM 1, Stanford 0: Hagerty drew a walk, but was left on as the Cardinal 2B Phelps made a tough play on a Grandal grounder. An error by Weeks did not prove costly as Garcia got Jones and Schlander to pop up.

3rd inning - Stanford 2, UM 1: UM blows an opportunity to tack on a run. Tekotte walked and reach third on sac bunt by Weeks and a wild pitch. But Alonso and Sobolewski struck out in succession. Phelps led off the bottom half with a double to left. August singled to center. Castro drove him in with an infield single to short. But more damage was saved by the Mohawk. Dennis Raben with another diving web gem in right field.

4th inning - Stanford 3, UM 1: UM is not hitting. Raben got hit by a pitch after a fly out by Jackson and a ground out by Severino. Hagerty then stranded him with another fly out. Cardinal added a run on a walk drawn by Zach Jones and a bloop single by Joey August. Garcia struck out Castro looking to end the inning.

5th inning - Stanford 7, UM 1: Yasmani Grandal and Tekotte each walked. Weeks, however, popped up a bunt attempt and Alonso struck out for the third time in the game. Sobolewski followed suit to kill UM's best scoring threat since the 1st. The big hits came from Sean Ratliff, who blasted a 2-run shot off Garcia. Anthony Nalepa entered the game. After an error and a single by Jake Schlander, Phelps hit a 2-run triple to center that Tekotte almost caught diving.

6th inning - Stanford 8, Miami 1: Raben hits into a double play. Stanford's Toby Gerhart doubled off Iden Nazario to extend the lead as UM empties its bullpen for the first time in the playoffs. Rene Guerra gets them out of the inning with a strikeout. Yasmani Grandal blasts a solo shot to center field.

7th inning - Stanford 8, Miami 2: Weeks got hit by a pitch and Alonso broke out of the funk with a single. But once again a golden opportunity wasted as Sobolewski flies out to right. After a leadoff walk, 3 up, 3 down for Guerra.

8th inning - Stanford 8, Miami 3: Three straight singles by Jackson, Severino and Raben got the UM fans here excited. But only one run scored on a sac fly by Hagerty. Grandal and Tekotte then struck out. 3 up, 3 down for Guerra, who's looked good for someone that hasn't pitched in a month.

Final - Stanford 8, Miami 3: Another promising inning ends like a promising season. Weeks walked, Alonso doubled, but closer Drew Storen got Sobolewski to pop up to first, Jackson to strike out and then snared a line drive from Severino (a play that should make Sportscenter) to end UM's season.

A little more about Stanford

Hey guys,

Andre Fernandez back here in my 5th day from Omaha.

Just got back to the hotel after driving around the city.

With a few hours left before Miami takes on Stanford, I just wanted to give you guys a little more info on the Cardinal for those that don't know much about what the U will have to deal with to keep the dream alive.

A pitching update, looks like Austin Yount will not be the starter today. Erik Davis continues to look like the best bet since he hasn't pitched yet. Left-hander Jeremy Bleich (3-2, 1.02 ERA) would be the other. He already threw an inning against FSU, but he was their ace at the start of the season before getting hurt and missing the majority of it. He came back in their regional.

The top guys Enrique Garcia will have to contend with are C Jason Castro (.379, 14 HR, 72 RBI), CF Sean Ratliff (.293, 21 HR, 69 RBI), 2B Cord Phelps (.345, 13 HR, 55 RBI).

I know everyone is wondering which Carlos Gutierrez will show up if he's called in to protect the lead. The one that was dominant most of the season, or this alter-ego that Canes fans want to burn at the steak...I mean stake. Sorry, clear sign I'm in Omaha.

But the true key to this game, in my opinion, is Garcia.

If he performs the way he has recently and shuts down this powerful lineup, I don't see why UM can't get the bats going and get just enough runs to advance.

UM's lone senior, as he said yesterday, needs to "get UM to Friday."

Jemile Weeks and Blake Tekotte have homered in each game so far, and Yonder can tie the UM single-season record for HRs if he hits one more. Sad part is he should already have it since 2 were wiped out in a rain out vs. Wake Forest.

June 17, 2008

The Omaha trip off the field so far, some updates on UM

UM spent its off day touring the Boys Town school here in Omaha, a school that gives troubled youths a second chance.

Before their practice, Miami toured the expansive campus that has at least three football fields and a baseball field that schools in Miami would kill for. One reporter from the Omaha World-Herald said to me that field is no big deal. I was like if any Dade school had it, they'd become the envy of the town.

The Hurricanes then visited the school's football team and spoke to them at their practice field.

For the fans faithfully following the Hurricanes' stay in Omaha back in Miami or other parts of the country, you do have to try the steaks.

There's a couple of really good places like Cassio's and a nice hang-out spot called Old Chicago where I've already eaten twice. The Little King sub chain has some pretty good sandwiches that have kept me going during game days.

The whole city is excited about this event. Everywhere you look there are signs and fans of all 8 teams walking around.

The team's with the top followings are LSU and Georgia. The Bulldog fans packed Rosenblatt both Saturday and last night vs. Stanford. I'm sure they'll be huge this weekend. It'll be fun if Miami's the one they have to root against.

And looks like the "Geaux Tigers" signs will be displayed a little longer after that comeback by LSU against Rice.

Does that team ever get tired of breaking other teams' hearts up here? GRRRRR!

Oh well, UM must worry about Stanford first.

Enrique Garcia will start for UM. He will go against either RHP senior Erik Davis (7-3, 4.71 ERA) or right-handed junior Austin Yount (6-4, 3.53 ERA), the nephew of Hall of Famer Robin Yount tomorrow. The Cardinal haven't decided yet.

David Gutierrez has what equates to bruised shoulder. He can't really lift his arm without pain from what J.D. Arteaga and Jim Morris told us at practice today. But Arteaga said they're hoping he'll be back for Saturday if they make it that far.

Looks like the potential plan would be Garcia, then come back with Chris Hernandez and him against Georgia, hoping to conserve Erickson if they pull off getting to the finals. Of course, I'm getting ahead of myself. It's all on Garcia and the bullpen to get them past Stanford.

UM-FSU follow-up reaction to the highly-discussed "non-handshake."

Hey guys, many of you have commented since yesterday about how ESPN pointed out FSU coach Mike Martin staying in the dugout after the game instead of shaking hands with UM coaches, including Jim Morris.

Here's a bit of reaction from each side:

After UM's win against FSU Monday, players
shook hands on the field. But ESPN announcers pointed out that
FSU coach Mike Martin chose to remain in the dugout and not
shake hands with UM coach Jim Morris.

   "I was just concerned about what we were doing," Morris
said. "If he decided to stay in the dugout, that's his
choice. That's fine."

   Martin issued a statement Tuesday in response to questions
regarding the decision.

   "I wasn’t expecting a handshake following Monday’s College
World Series game because the Florida State and Miami coaching
staffs have not shook hands for the last few seasons but have
always made sure our teams shook hands," Martin said. "It
certainly had nothing to do with the well-played game that was
just completed between two rivals. We regret that this has
taken attention away from our team’s accomplishments and
well-deserved accolades.

   "We certainly support our fellow members of the Atlantic
Coast Conference and wish continued success to Miami and North
Carolina during the rest of their time at the College World

Summer Check-In

With the baseball team enjoying a day off -- and me enjoying a few of my own too -- I figured I'd check in to say hello and share a few notes with you.

1. I officially feel old. I turned 30 on Saturday and had a great time. We partied at Opa -- that Greek restaurant -- on South Beach. I danced on tables with some really hot chicks. Later, we had a real nice time at a restaurant/club in the Grove called Christabell's Quarters. The place has the look and feel of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Drinks can be pricey ($7 beers?). But I still recommend it if you want to try something different in South Florida.

2. Expectations are continuing to climb for Frank Haith's basketball team. ESPN analyst Andy Katz Frankhaith recently moved the Canes up from 12th in his preseason rankings to 8th with this disclaimer... "The Hurricanes should be a top-10 team in the country and a top-three squad in the ACC. There really is no excuse if they're not. Jack McClinton might be one of the top guards in the nation next season. Dwayne Collins is a legit scorer in the post. The role players were all solid last season. And Miami has the experience of going to the NCAA tournament and winning a game." I'd love to think the Canes are ready to be a Top 10 team in the country. But they got to show me they have a consistent No. 2 weapon behind J-Mac first.

3. Speaking of McClinton, he reportedly balled out according to InsideTheU at Chris Paul's Backcourt Skills Camp two weekends ago. McClinton earned MVP honors among a group that featured Davidson's Stephen Curry, Florida's Nick Calathes, Boston College's Tyreese Rice and a group of about a dozen others. That's a great sign to see No. 33 not only enjoying his summer workouts, but outshining some of the other stars in college basketball. I'm hoping to catch up with Jack myself before the end of the summer. But tomorrow, I have an interview set with freshman Julian Gamble, who spent the first half of his offseason traveling with Athletes in Action in West Africa. I'll share the interview with Gamble, who is expected to play a pivotal role in the paint behind Jimmy Graham and Dwayne Collins next season, when I finish it later this week.

4. As for the football team, look for some movement on the recruiting front over the next couple of weeks. Coach Randy Shannon hosted a three-day camp over the weekend and had a number of high Randyshannon profile 2009 out of town recruits in town for unofficial visits to the campus (That's how they do it in college football these days). One recruit, Jacksonville Raines defensive end Lawrence Henderson, reportedly committed to UM Monday and then backtracked according to Canesport.com. Most of the guys who visited aren't anybody you've really heard of yet. But rest assured you will. I get the sense Miami coaches are really making a push out this year to nab out-of-town recruits. Truth is the 2009 class locally is not as strong as '08 was and Miami coaches are looking elsewhere to fill their primary needs at corner and along the offensive and defensive lines. I think ultimately the only local kids Miami is truly after are Killian running back Lamar Miller, Columbus defensive tackle Antwan Lowery, American defensive end Olivier Vernon and Plantation cornerback Brandon McGee. That's fine -- as long as the out-of-towners get locked in.

5. As for the remaining '08 signees who are still having issue getting into Miami with grades and test scores, look for an update my friend Barry Jackson tomorrow. BJ has news on that as well as some other eye-opening notes that have only been rumored topics on message boards up to now.

As for me, I'm supposed to be on vacation until the middle of July. And I plan to rest, relax and reinvigorate myself until then. But I'll still be around providing updates when I can. Until the next time, peace out!

June 16, 2008

Day 3 - College World Series, UM eliminates FSU 7-5

Hey gang,

Ready for the big must-win showdown between UM and FSU at 2 p.m. here at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha. The winner moves on to play the loser of the Stanford-Georgia game later on. That game would be Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

I'll be here live again during the game, available to chat about the game or anything in general as we both watch Miami try to keep its memorable season from ending sour.

UM is trying to avoid going 0-2 for only the second time in 23 appearances at the CWS. More importantly, it is trying to avoid the added insult of being eliminated from Omaha by their arch rivals from Tallahassee.

UM is trying to rally to win the national title after losing Game 1 for the first time ever. It's a hard task, but it has been done recently as Oregon State did it in 2006 after coincidentally UM beat them in the first game. The hardest one is the first one today. A win and you start believing again, everything feels a little better, and you start picking up momentum.

Plus, if the move by Jim Morris to start David Gutierrez pays off, he'll have his usual 2nd and 3rd starters - Eric Erickson and Enrique Garcia - ready for the next game, and so on.

In six starts this season, Gutierrez is 4-0 with a 3.48 ERA. He's won his past 3 starts (Georgia Tech, North Florida, Virginia), albeit spread out, and has a 3.18 ERA in those games. That's better than Erickson's 6.58 ERA his last 3 starts, but a little worse than Garcia's 2.41 ERA.

Gutierrez, however, has not given up more than 3 earned runs in any of his five starts this season.

Bottom line, Miami needs to hit consistently like they did in Game 2 against Arizona. That and game 3 of the Regional against Ole Miss are the only games where they consistently hammered the ball.

This team hasn't caught fire at the plate for more than one game yet in the playoffs. If they do, suddenly coming back looks a lot more realistic. All the best teams over the years I've watched this event have certainly had good pitching, but they've also had at least a couple of games where they've lit up another team the way Stanford and Fresno State have so far.

It should be a fun game. Jemile Weeks said it would be intense. We'll see soon. I'll be back at game time to follow it with you. For continuous game updates, also check www.ncaasports.com.

1st inning - FSU 1, UM 0: Jason Stidham was caught stealing at 2nd, after a base hit. But Buster Posey singled, Jack Rye walked, and Dennis Guinn hit a double to give the Noles the lead. Yonder doubled with two outs for UM, but Sobo popped up to strand him.

2nd inning - FSU 1, UM 0: David Gutierrez exited after a Tommy Oravetz line drive hit him just below his throwing shoulder. Erickson came in and gave up a single, but no runs. Adan Severino singled for Miami with one out, but Raben and DiNatale each hit liners right at people for outs.

3rd inning - UM 4, FSU 1: Nice glovework by Ryan Jackson on a grounder to short and a clutch strikeout by Erickson of Stuart Tapley got Miami out of a bases loaded jam.  Then Jemile Weeks hit his 2nd HR of the young tourney to put UM up after Grandal walked and Tekotte bunted him over. After a fly out by Alonso, Sobo walked, Jackson reached on an infield single to short and Severino walked to load the bases. Mohawk Man...I mean, Dennis Raben, singled in two runs.

4th inning - UM 4, FSU 2: Buster Posey delivered on an RBI double that scored Mike McGee from first base. A walk to Tekotte and a single by Alonso meant the end of the day for FSU starter Elih Villanueva. Ryan Strauss came in and induced Sobolewski to fly out to left.

5th inning - UM 4, FSU 2: A rare error by Ryan Jackson and a bloop single by Oravetz put 2 runners on for FSU. They executed a double steal to each move into scoring position. But Erickson worked his way out of it by striking out Tapley and inducing McGee to ground out to Sobolewski. Jackson led off with a single, but was stranded.

6th inning - UM 4, FSU 2: Great play by  Dennis Raben, who made his second tough catch in right field on a liner by Jason Stidham and then he doubled up Tyler Holt at 1st.  UM was retired in order in the bottom half.

7th inning - UM 6, FSU 2: Kyle Bellamy came in to relieve Erickson after a leadoff walk to Dennis Guinn. He struck out Delmonico, then gave up a single to Oravetz. Then, he struck out Tapley and got pinch hitter Ohmed Danesh to fly out to deep left. Sobolewski and Jackson singled, prompting an FSU pitching change to righty John Gast. Gast walked Severino to load them up. Jason Hagerty delivered a 2-run single to right that scored Sobolewski and Jackson, barely beating the throw from Rye.

8th inning - UM 7, FSU 2: Tekotte hit a solo shot to right field to extend the lead after FSU stranded its 14th baserunner in the top half of the inning. UM going to Carlos Gutierrez in the 9th.

Final - UM 7, FSU 5: Another scary ninth inning as FSU bats around, scores 3 runs off Carlos Gutierrez, but leaves the bases loaded. FSU left 17 runners on base.

June 14, 2008

Day 1 of the College World Series - UM upset by Georgia 7-4

What's up, Eye on the U faithful!

It's Andre Fernandez back for some more UM college baseball.

Manny Navarro is celebrating the big 3-0 back in the MIA today, so I'll be here blogging live from the College World Series in Omaha at Rosenblatt Stadium. This is a real treat for me as someone who has been watching this event annually since 1992 when Pepperdine won (I was 12 years old!)

I saw the heartbreaker in 1996 and the triumphs in '99 and 2001, as well as the other trips in between. But being here live is an experience. Everything in this town is centering on this event...and it's only day 1.

At the airport in Miami and Chicago on my way in, I saw several UM fans, as well as UNC, FSU, Georgia, LSU and Stanford faithful that were making the trek to the Heartland.

The parking lot is packed with tailgaters, some from teams that aren't even playing today.

Anyway, once again I will be here to chat during the Canes game and I'll be giving you some updates as the game goes along. The NCAA will have its gametracker going all day at www.ncaasports.com

We're starting now at 7:15 EST, National Freshman Pitcher of the Year Chris Hernandez on the mound for UM (11-0, 2.62 ERA, 112 Ks, 17 BB, .218 opp. avg.) vs. Georgia's Trevor Holder (8-4, 4.34 ERA, 59 Ks, 24 BBs, .293 opp. avg.)

1st inning - UM 1, Georgia 0: Jemille Weeks gets Miami started with a towering solo shot to right field. Chris Hernandez looks good so far, 3 up, 3 down with 2 Ks.

2nd inning - UM 1, Georgia 0: Hernandez struck out the side. Severino stranded after solid hit up middle due to DiNatale double play grounder.

3rd inning - UM 3, Georgia 1: Freakish line drive that went off the glove of Hernandez and Weeks allowed Ryan Peisel to drive in Joey Lewis with the tying run. Lewis roped a double off the left field wall to lead off the inning. Hernandez was pitching phenomenal before that. Blake Tekotte picked his team up with a 2-run shot to right that went farther than Weeks' blast in the 1st.

6th inning - UM 3, Georgia 3: Bulldogs tie it on a  2-run shot by Ryan Peisel off Hernandez. Miami leaves two runners on base after DiNatale and Grandal strike out back-to-back courtesy of reliever Alex McRee.

7th inning - UM 4, Georgia 3: Mr. Clutch does it again for Miami. Yonder Alonso hits an over 400-foot shot to left center to give the Canes the lead in the bottom of the seventh. The Bulldogs had a serious threat in the top of the inning with runners on second and third. But Kyle Bellamy got a big strike out of pinch hitter David Thoms on a called strike three by third base umpire.

June 13, 2008

Relief in sight?

Jimmorris_2University of Miami coach Jim Morris, a College World Series veteran, described the two days between the team's departure from Coral Gables to Game 1 in Omaha as overwhelming. And this is coming from a guy taking UM to the CWS for the 11th time in 15 seasons.

"It's almost a relief when you get to play the first game because that first couple of days is full of meetings and interviews and everything else," Morris said. "After that it calms down for the players a little. It's much, much, much more attention given to them than any other time of the year. That 48 hours you're bombarded."

The Hurricanes departed Coral Gables Thursday at 9 a.m. for a charter flight to Omaha.

Morris said the team had quite a to-do list before Saturday's CWS opener against eighth-seeded Georgia at 7 p.m (ESPN).

-Visiting Boys Town, the home to more than 550 at-risk kids and teens


-Practice (which he said would be an hour but wind up lasting three because of interviews with ESPN and getting their headshots taken)

The Hurricanes are starting ace Chris Hernandez, but Morris said he could end up changing the order of his rotation after that based on matchups.

"You've got to win one game at a time and the more you win, the more days you have off and the more your pitchers are rested," he said. "You may pitch guys a different way to win those games."

Colleague Andre Fernandez will be in Omaha covering the CWS, so check back Saturday for updates.

June 09, 2008

Canes play Saturday night

The No. 1-ranked Hurricanes baseball team will begin its drive for five -- a fifth national title -- at 7 p.m. Saturday against SEC regular season champion Georgia (41-23-1) on ESPN. The game times were finally announced this afternoon. Stanford and FSU meet in the other game inside the bracket at 2 p.m.

UmiamiibisGeorgia_bulldogs Miami (52-9) will meet with the media Tuesday and Wednesday before heading off to Omaha Thursday morning. The first guy I want to talk to is closer Carlos Gutierrez. Talk about a guy who went from goat in Game 1 to hero in Game 3. I know he got a lot of pub for his spectacular defensive play to end the eighth inning. But talk about the guts it took to keep his head on straight after hitting the first batter he faced Sunday. Did we forget Arizona started its rally Friday night after Goot hit a batter with two outs in the eleventh? He showed his brass all series and deserves a lot of credit for the win.

As for Georgia, they've got two stud, first round picks -- shortstop Gordon Beckham (8th overall to White Sox) and closer Josh Fields (20th by Mariners) -- and a team that can hit the long ball. But their starting pitching isn't spectacular. The team ERA is 4.82 and all three starters have at least three losses this season and an ERA over 4.

** Defensive tackle Luqman Abdullah was quoted telling InsideTheU.com he has Luqman_abdullahdecided to transfer to Hofstra. I spoke to a source at UM who confirmed the news by saying "he should have never been here in the first place." Abdullah, 6-3, 310, played in six games last season and had five tackles. He didn't participate in the spring. He becomes the fifth player to transfer since the end of last season joining a couple other guys who didn't do much at The U -- quarterback Kirby Freeman (Baylor), tight end Dajleon Farr (Memphis), Chris Perry (Texas Tech) and Doug Wiggins (Western Michigan).

** I spent the morning today at Columbus HigColumbus_dt_antwan_loweryh School where I interviewed highly touted defensive tackle Antwan Lowery, who a few weeks ago told some internet sites he didn't have UM in his top five. Hogwash. Once you talk to the kid for an hour like I did you realize he loves the Canes and this has become a case where he's romancing other schools. The 6-4, 315-pounder basically made me come away like this is a two-horse race between UM and Florida. I wrote a feature on him this afternoon. You can find it in our recruiting section soon.

Postscript of UM baseball advancing to College World Series

It's Sarah Rothschild again from Mark Light Field. UM beat Arizona 4-2 to advance to the College World Series in Omaha. The Hurricanes' first opponent: Georgia.

Umbaseball As you would expect, a very happy scene at the Light. This game went down to the final out, capping a thrilling series with the Wildcats. A solid performance by starter Enrique Garcia followed by a great performance by the relievers.

As UM coach Jim Morris said, this really was a team effort. Plenty of highlights from Sunday night from the pitching to first baseman Yonder Alonso's two-run home run in the 1st and a multi-hit game from Jemile Weeks to shortstop Ryan Jackson and closer Carlos Gutierrez's spectacular defensive plays. I'm sure I'm leaving people out but you get the point.

A few highlights of the postgame news conference:

Coach Morris on why this UM squad is so special: "This team is special because it's a team--different people every night, one through nine. Different people on the pitching staff, it's not just one guy or one thing. It's the total team.

Alonso on returning to Omaha: "A lot of work goes through it, in the fall and the summer. All you think about is Omaha. Once you get there it's nice but now we need to take care of business. It's not just a vacation over there."

Weeks on the CWS berth: "All year that's been the goal. Every year I've been here it's been the goal. Not everybody gets the chance to go there, but we have a special team. We've been saying that all year and I think we proved it day in and day out, against any team, any pitching staff. We got the job done."

The Canes emerge from the Coral Gables Super Regional as happy victors, but the job is not done yet. Now they're headed to one of Morris' favorite cities. Check back this week for more updates as the Hurricanes prepare for Omaha.

June 08, 2008

Super Regional Game 3: UM advances to World Series, beats Arizona 4-2

Welcome Canes fans! It's Sarah Rothschild at Mark Light Field. UM plays Arizona in the third and decisive Super Regional game.

UM is seeking its 23rd trip to the College World Series in Omaha and a fifth national title.

Reminder that the game starts at 7 p.m. and is on ESPN 2. I'll be providing you play-by-play each inning, but it can't be live per NCAA rules. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section. I'll try to answer your questions during the game, whether you want to talk Canes baseball or the Miami Heat (my usual beat).

First, some news:  Hurricanes' lefthander pitcher Chris Hernandez was named the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's National Freshman Pitcher of the Year. He also earned Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America honors. He is the first freshman in UM history to garner a national pitcher of player award. He is 11-0  with a 2.65 ERA. He was named one of the four finalists for The Roger Clemens Award, given to the nation's top pitcher. He is the first ever freshman to be named a finalist for the award.

Starting lineups:

Miami (51-9): The designated visiting team for a second straight night

1. Blake Tekotte, CF

2. Jemile Weeks, 2B

3. Yonder Alonso, 1B

4. Mark Sobolewski, 3B

5. Ryan Jackson, SS

6. Dennis Raben, RF

7. Jason Hagerty, DH

8. Dave DiNatale, LF

9. Yasmani Grandal, C

Pitcher: Enrique Garcia, RHP, 6-2, 4.80 ERA

Arizona (42-18)

1. Rafael Valenzuela, LF

2. Colt Sedbrook, 2B

3. Brad Glenn, 3B

4. Jon Gaston, RF

5. C.J. Ziegler, 1B

6. T.J. Steele, CF

7. Bobby Coyle, DH

8. Dwight Childs, C

9. Bryce Ortega, SS

Pitcher: Eric Berger, LHP, 8-3, 4.43 ERA

Top 1st: Tekotte singled to left field. Weeks doubled to deep left field (his 17th of the season) and Tekotte motors around the bases and easily scores. UM 1, Arizona 0. Alonso hit his 21st home run (tied for second most homers by a UM player in a season), a two-run shot that scored Weeks. UM 3, Arizona  0. Sobolewski struck out. Jackson flew out to left-center. Raben flew out to left field and Arizona's Valenzuela makes a great catch and then flips over the fence beyond the stands.

UM 3, Arizona 0.

Bottom 1st: Valenzuela infield single. Sedbrook grounds out to third, advancing Valenzuela to second. Glenn hit an RBI single to center, scoring Valenzuela. UM 3, Arizona 1. Glenn advances to second on a balk by Garcia. Gaston struck out swinging. Ziegler popped up to first.

UM 3, Arizona 1.

Top 2nd: Hagerty grounded out to shortstop. DiNatale struck out looking. Grandal walked. Tekotte flew out to left.

UM 3, Arizona 1.

Bottom 2nd: Steele struck out swinging. Coyle infield single. UM fans are chanting "Oma-ha, Oma-ha." Coyle steals second. Childs flew out to right. Ortega flew out to center.

UM 3, Arizona 1.

Top 3rd: Weeks led off with a single up the middle and reached second on an error by Wildcats center fielder T.J. Steele (who bobbled the ball). Alonso hits a sac-fly to left, and Weeks advances to third. Sobolewski grounded out to shortstop, and drove in Weeks. UM 4, Arizona 1. Jackson grounded out to second.

UM 4, Arizona 1.

Bottom 3rd: Valenzuela hits a leadoff double to left field. Sedbrook grounded out to second, advancing Valenzuela to third. Glenn popped up to first. Gaston flew out to left center field.

UM 4, Arizona 1.

Top 4th: Raben grounded out to first. Hagerty grounded to first. DiNatale flew out to left.

UM 4, Arizona 1.

Bottom 4th: Ziegler flew out to center. Steele flew out to center. Coyle singled to right. Coyle advanced to second on Garcia's balk. Childs got his first base hit of the season, an infield single that Sobolewski fielded before making an errant throw to first. Coyle scored on the error. UM 4, Arizona 2. Ortega struck out swinging.

UM 4, Arizona 2.

Top 5th: Grandal struck out swinging. Tekotte walked. Weeks flew out to right-center. Alonso grounded out to first.

UM 4, Arizona 2.

Bottom 5th: Valenzuela popped up to third. Sedbrook hit a hard grounder to Garcia for the out. Glenn struck out swingin.

UM 4, Arizona 2.

Top 6th: Sobolewski flew out to shallow right. Jackson grounded out to first. Raben grounded out to first.

UM 4, Arizona 2.

Bottom 6th: Gaston grounded out to second. Ziegler hit a double to the right-center gap. Steele hit a sac-fly deep to center that allowed Ziegler to easily reach third. Coyle walked. J.D. Arteaga and the infielders convene at the mound. Reliever David Gutierrez who got the win last night began warming up. Garcia induced Ortega into an inning ending grounder to third.

UM 4, Arizona 2.

Top 7th: Hagerty struck out. DiNatale singled to right center. Grandal flew out to center. DiNatale stole second. Tekotte grounded out to pitcher.

UM 4, Arizona 2.

Bottom 7th: Reliever Kyle Bellamy replaces Garcia. Adan Severino replaces DiNatale in left. Ortega walked. Valenzuela struck out. Ortega stole second. Sedbrook flew out to right on a 3-2 pitch. Ortega advances to third on a wild pitch, the first pitch from Bellamy to Glenn. Glenn walked. Chris Hernandez, freshman pitcher of the year, enters the game for his first relief appearance of the year. Hernandez enters the game with two outs and runners on the corners in the 7th. Hernandez induced Gaston into an inning ending grounder to second base (shortstop Jackson covering the bag).

UM 4, Arizona 2. 

Top 8th: Weeks pops up to shortstop. Sobolewski hit his 16th double of the season, this time to right-center. Berger is replaced by reliever Ryan Perry. Jackson hit an inning ending grounder to third.

UM 4, Arizona 2.

Bottom 8th: Ziegler struck out. Steele singled to center. Pinch hitter Mike Weldon has 2-0 count when Steele stole second. Weldon walked. Arteaga and Canes meet with Hernandez at mound. Daniel Butler pinch hit and with the count 2-2 Grandal visits Hernandez at the mound. Butler grounded out to third, but Weldon advances to second and Steele to third. Hernandez is replaced by closer Carlos Gutierrez. He entered with runners on second and third and two out. Dillon Baird pinch hit and is hit by pitch. Hunter Pace pinch ran for Baird. Bases loaded  with two outs. Valenzuela 1-1 count, next pitch a ball that almost bounced out of Grandal's glove, on 2-1 pitch. Valenzuela grounded to Gutierrez whose throw to Alonso barely beat runner to the bag.

UM 4, Arizona 2.

Top 9th: Raben grounded out to second. Hagerty doubled to right. Severino walked. Arizona closer Jason Stoffel replaced Perry. Hagerty advanced to third and Severino to second on a wild pitch.

Bottom 9th: Sedbrook reached on a fielding error by Weeks. Glenn struck out swinging. Gaston popped up to first. Ziegler fell behind 0-1 but then Gutierrez threw a wild pitch and Sedbrook advanced to second. Ziegler grounded out deep to Jackson at shortstop. Jackson threw to Alonso for the final out. Canes celebrate and the crowd goes wild.

FINAL: UM 4, Arizona 2.

Aftermath of UM baseball's Game 2 win

It's Sarah Rothschild again from Mark Light Field. I got back a few minutes ago from the Game 2 postgame press conference. (I'll be live blogging again Sunday night from the game here).

First, an update for all of you Canes fans wanting to purchase tickets to Sunday's winner-take-all Game 3 at the Light. You can get tickets now at hurricanesports.com, the All Canes sporting goods store on 5831 Ponce de Leon Blvd. beginning at noon and if any remain will be on sale at 5 p.m. at the stadium. (Tickets did not go on sale until after the game). The 7 p.m. game will be televised on ESPN2.

*The Hurricanes seemed relieved and happy in their postgame news conference, and said they didn't really feel like they had the game won until the 9th inning.

*Catcher Yasmani Grandal and first baseman Yonder Alonso, who each had three-run home runs, said the team didn't panic after facing a 4-0 deficit in the first inning. Alonso, a junior, talked about how all good teams have to be able to come back from deficits and that the Canes showed they weren't going to quit throughout the game.

*UM's 14-10 victory snapped Arizona's six-game winning streak

*Winning pitcher: David Gutierrez, younger brother of junior and UM closer Carlos Gutierrez (who was drafted in the first round of the MLB draft by the Minnesota Twins Thursday). David Gutierrez pitched four innings in relief, giving up four hits, three runs and threw 68 pitches. Arizona reliever Mike Colla took the loss.   

*Rightfielder Dennis Raben's six walks Saturday tied a NCAA record set by Oklahoma State's May 29, 1999.

June 07, 2008

Super Regional Game 2: UM wins 14-10 against Arizona

Welcome Canes fans. This is Sarah Rothschild at Mark Light Field for Game 2 of the NCAA Super Regional between UM and University of Arizona. First pitch is at 7:30 p.m. (for those of you watching on TV, it's on ESPN). I'll be updating you throughout the game and chatting with you in the comments section. Feel free to talk baseball or even Heat (my usual beat). Per NCAA policy I will only be able to post one update per inning with play-by-play.

This is a must-win game for UM to continue its quest for a College World Series berth, after losing last night to Arizona 6-3 in 11 innings. UM is the visiting team tonight.

Starting lineups:

Hurricanes (50-9)

1. Blake Tekotte, CF

2. Jemile Weeks, 2B

3. Yonder Alonso, 1B

4. Mark Sobolewski, 3B

5. Ryan Jackson, SS

6. Dennis Raben, RF

7. Jason Hagerty, DH

8. Dave DiNatale, LF

9. Yasmani Grandal, C

Pitching: Eric Erickson 8-1, 4.13 ERA

Wildcats (42-17)

1. Rafael Valenzeula, LF

2. Colt Sedbrook, 2B

3. Brad Glenn, 3B

4. Jon Gaston, RF

5. C.J. Ziegler, 1B

6. T.J. Steele, CF

7. Mike Weldon, DH

8. Dwight Childs, C

9. Bryce Ortega, SS

Pitching: David Coulon: 8-3, 3.54 ERA

TOP 1ST: Tekotte hits the ball between the catcher and pitcher and Wildcats catcher Childs easily makes the throw to first. Weeks walks (Coulon has been a bit wild the first two batters). Alonso singles to right and Weeks advances to second. Sobolewski flew out to right field. Jackson flew out to right. The Canes stranded nine runners in Game 1, so it'll be interesting to see how they fare tonight.

UM 0, Arizona 0.

BOTTOM 1st: Weeks committed an error deep in the infield to the right of second base, allowing leadoff hitter Valenzeula to reach 1st. The inning almost got tougher with Sedbrook who was trying to bunt getting hit in the hand but according to rules it was ruled a strike. Sedbrook bunted and Erickson bobbled the ball before throwing to first and getting Sebrook out. Valenzuela advanced to second. Glenn struck out swinging. Gaston is up to bat and the fans are understandably booing as he hit the game-winning three-run home run in the 11th last night. He does more damage, hitting a double off the right field wall, scoring Valenzeula. Ziegler follows with his 20th home run of the season, a two-run shot that easily cleared the left field wall. The Wildcats mob him at home plate. The sold-out crowd falls silent. Canes pitching coach J.D. Arteaga is visiting Erickson on the mound.  Steele lines a single to shallow center field. The Wildcats are teeing off Erickson. Steele steals and has no trouble beating Grandal's throw. Weldon hits a single to center (fourth straight hit off Erickson). Childs lines out to right field--for the third out.

UM 0, Arizona 4.

Top 2nd: Coulhon walks Raben. Hagerty struck out swinging. DiNatale struck out swinging. Grandal struck out swinging. UM has left three runners on base so far.

UM 0, Arizona 4. 

Bottom 2nd: Erickson walks Ortega after the count was 3-2 and is frustrated so Grandal comes to the mound. He then got leadoff hitter Valenzuela to hit a very short dribbler to Grandal, who tagged him out and threw to Jackson for the double play. Sedbrook grounded out to second base.

UM 0, Arizona 4.

Top 3rd: Tekotte grounded out to first. Weeks walked and stole second. Alonso struck out and is shaking his head. Sobolewski hit a double down that went roaring down the third baseman line (Wildcats third baseman Brad Glenn had no chance at getting it), scoring Weeks. The crowd comes back to life, at least for a moment. Ryan Jackson hit an inning-ending ground out to second.

UM 1, Arizona 4.

Bottom 3rd: Huge inning for Erickson, his first 1-2-3 inning of the night. Glenn flew out to right field. Gaston flew out to center, but not before giving Erickson a major scare because he hit the ball pretty deep to right but it was foul and then he hit it deep to center and from the look on Erickson's face he thought it was gone. Ziegler flew out to left.

UM 1, Arizona 4. 

Top 4th: Raben walked. Hagerty smashed a two-run home run to left field. The Canes mob Hagerty at home and the crowd is chanting "Let's go Canes!" It was Hagerty's eighth homer of the season. Coulon falls behind 2-0, leading to a Wildcats meeting at the mound. Coulon walks DiNatale. Grandal hits a sac bunt and is out but it allows DiNatale to advance to second. Tekotte hit a deep bunt to second base, Sedbrook tried to field and throw the ball in one motion but Tekotte was safe. It was scored as an infield single. Arizona first baseman Ziegler dropped the ball. DiNatale reached third on the play (two on, one out). Weeks hit an RBI single to left field, scoring DiNatale and we have a 4-4 tie (Tekotte advanced to second on the play). Yonder hit's his 22nd homer of the season, a three-run shot that bounced off the top of the right field wall. Yonder pumps his fist as he rounds first base and the Canes celebrate at home. Coulon's night is over, leaving with a 7-4 deficit after surrendering six runs in the fourth and only one out. Righthanded reliever Mike Colla replaces Coulon. Colla enters with a 4-2 record and 4.79 ERA in 56.1 innings. Coulon's final line is 3.1 IP, 6H, 7R, 7ER, 5BB, 4K, 90 pitches. Sobolewski, the first batter to face Colla, hits a double to deep left field, his second double of the night. Colla falls behind Jackson 2-0 leading to another Wildcats meeting at the mound, but Jackson flies out to right for the Canes' second out. Raben is up, the 10th batter of the inning, and walked (also the second time for him this inning). Hagerty is walked, so the bases are loaded with Sobolewski on third and Raben on second. DiNatale strikes out, so the inning is over with 3 left on base.

UM 7, Arizona 4.

Bottom 4th: Steele walks. With the count 2-2 on Weldon, Steele walks, taking advantage of Erickson's slow delivery. Weldon singles to right and Steele reaches third. It's now pouring and fans are trying to find cover. Erickson balks with Childs up, scoring Steele. Childs hits a sacrifice to third and is out but Weldon moves to third with one out. Ortega walks. UM reliever David Gutierrez enters with two runners on (and the rain persisting). Valenzuela has an 0-2 count and hits a chopper to third that Sobolewski fields and gets him out. Valenzuela's RBI scores Weldon and it's 7-6 Arizona.  The rain has stopped. Sedbrook's RBI single ties the game at 7, and scores Ortega. Tekotte tried to throw home on the play, allowing Sedbrook to advance to second. Glenn hits inning ending grounder to Weeks.

UM 7, Arizona 7.

Top 5th: Grandal grounded out to first. Tekotte grounded to second. Weeks walked (his third of the night and he ties a career-high). Alonso hit the ball deep to left but it was in foul territory and on a 3-2 pitch he flies out to center.

UM 7, Arizona 7.

Bottom 5th: Gutierrez strikes out Gaston and Ziegler follows by grounded out to shortstop. Steele hits a pop up to very shallow center field, which Weeks catches.

UM 7, Arizona 7. 

Top 6th: Sobolewski hits a leadoff homer off to left off of Colla to give UM an 8-7 lead. Jackson grounded to third. Raben gets his fourth walk of the night. Hagerty struck out. Raben steals second, his fifth of the season.  DiNatale walked. Grandal hit a three-run home run that scored Raben and DiNatale and gives UM an 11-7 lead. Tekotte hit a sharp grounder to first base to end the inning.

UM 11, Arizona 7.

Bottom 6th: Pinch-hitter Bobby Coyle grounded out to Gutierrez, Childs flew out to right field and Ortega ended the inning by grounding to short.

UM 11, Arizona 7.

Top 7th: Weeks grounded out to Colla. Wildcats reliever Grayson Adams enters and walks Alonso. Sobolewski lines out to right. Jackson hits a single to left-center, advancing Alonso to third. Wildcats shortstop Bryce Ortega dove and tried to get the ball hit by Jackson but it was hit too hard and he had no chance. Raben walks a fifth time, and ties a UM record set by Mike Fiore set in 1988 and breaks a NCAA super regional record. Hagerty has 3-0 count and is walked, walking in Alonso (Jackson moves to third and Raben to second). Adams is done, replaced by righthander Cory Burns. DiNatale hit an inning-ending fielder's choice to third base with the basesloaded.

UM 12, Arizona 7.

Bottom 7th: Valenzuela struck out. Sedbrook flew out to right field. Glenn singled to left field.Gaston homered to right field, a two-run shot, cutting the lead to 12-9. Gutierrez walked Ziegler (Kyle Bellamy is warming up). Steele struck out.

UM 12, Arizona 9.

Top 8th: Grandal grounded out to second. Tekotte flew out to center. Weeks grounded out to second.

UM 12, Arizona 9.

Bottom 8th: UM's Adnan Severino replaces DiNatale in left field. It proved to be a smart move because Coyle hit a deep fly ball and Severino made a great catch. Pinch hitter Dillon Baird singled to center. Ortega struck out. Valenzuela doubled to right, driving in Baird and making it 12-10. Sedbrook had an inning ending strike out.

UM 12, Arizona 10.

Top 9th: Alonso draws a leadoff walk on Burns. Sobolewski grounded out to second. Jackson hit a double to left field. Raben gets his sixth walk of the night, a new UM record and ties an NCAA record.     

June 06, 2008

SuperRegional: Arizona 6, UM 3 (F-11)

Hello Miami fans I'm out at The Light tonight for some live blogging during tonight's Super Regional showdown between your No. 1-ranked Hurricanes and Arizona. I'll be here live to provide updates as the game goes along once an inning (per NCAA rules).

Arizona_logoUm_logo But I'll also be chatting with any visitors during the game. We can talk about whatever you want -- Canes football, basketball, recruiting -- even summer movies, Family Guy and Lost. I don't care. Let's just have fun watching the game tonight (me in person) and you from home on ESPN. Game time is 7 p.m.

Interesting pregame notes... Miami is 21-5 versus the NCAA tournament field this year. Arizona relief pitcher Ryan Perry (drafted 21st overall on Thursday) has hit speeds of 100 miles per hour on his fastball this season... the Super Regional appearance is Arizona's first since 2004.

Just got a visit from the famous 86Cane and OcalaCane who made their way over to me to say hello. Great guys. Both had a great time at Titanic with a few other Canes fans before tonight's game. Be sure to check out Canespace after tonight's game for more chatting.

Tonight's starting pitchers: Miami - LHP Chris Hernandez (11-0, 2.55 ERA, 105 Ks, 15 BBs); Arizona - RHP Preston Guilmet (6-4, .429 ERA, 89 Ks, 20 BBs).

TOP 1st: Hernandez gave up a one-out single to Colt Sedbrook, but got two of the first three batters swinging before Jon Gaston smashed a long fly ball down the right field line that drifted foul that got the crowd here a little scared for a second. Two pitches later, Hernandez caught Sedbrook in a rundown at second for the final out of the inning.

BOTTOM 1st: After Blake Tekotte grounded out to second, Jemile Weeks broke out of his funk with a single up the middle. He then stole second before Guilmet got Yonder Alonso swinging at strike three. Mark Sobolewski then laced what looked like a double down the right field line. But it was half a foot foul. Sobolewski then struckout two pitches later. UM 0, Arizona 0.

TOP 2nd: Gaston drew a leadoff walk and was forced out at second on C.J. Ziegler's grounder to short. The relay throw for a double play by Ryan Jackson skipped in front of first baseman Yonder Alonso. But the scary moment was when Alonso was hit on the bridge of his nose with the ball. He was checked out by trainers and coach Jim Morris before remaining in the game. Three pitchers later, T.J. Steele blasts his 11th home run of the season way over the wall in left field to give Arizona a 2-0 lead. Hernandez gets out of the inning with a groundout and strikeout of the next two hitters.

BOTTOM 2nd: Guilmet maintains his early mastery -- getting Ryan Jackson to ground out to second, Dennis Raben on strikes and Dave DiNatale to ground out to third. Arizona 2, UM 0.

TOP 3rd: The first 1-2-3 inning for Hernandez, who gets Ortega to groundout to third, Valenzuela to fly out to center and Sedbrook to groundout to first.

BOTTOM 3rd: Adan Severino opens the inning with a line drive down the right field that gets scooped up by a fan near the bullpen for a ground rule double. Severino eventual moves to third and home on groundouts by Yasmani Grandal and Tekotte. The inning ends with a Weeks' failed bunt attempt. Arizona 2, UM 1.

TOP 4th: Another 1-2-3 inning for Hernandez, this time 2 Ks and a ground out of the 3-4-5 Zona hitters.

BOTTOM 4th: Yonder walks to start the inning. After Sobolewski laces another shot down the line that drifts foul, he flies out to right for the first out of the inning. Alonso eventually moves to third on a Jackson groundout to third when he hustles around second on a fielder's choice. All the hustle didn't matter. Three pitchers later, Dennis Raben smacked his 10th home run of the season to left field to put the Canes up 3-2. The inning ends with a lot more noise when DiNatale's long fly to left is tracked down at the warning track. UM 3, Arizona 2.

TOP 5th: How about Captain Chris? Another 1-2-3 inning. He's settled down. 11 retired in a row for Hernandez.

BOTTOM 5th: Severino and the Canes catch a break when strike three turns into a 'Zona throwing error that leaves Severino standing on second. Following a sacrifice bunt by Yasmani Grandal that moved Severino to third, Tekotte drew a four pitch walk bringing Weeks to the plate. That's when Arizona coach Andy Lopez went to the mound and brought in Ryan Perry. After Weeks struckout swinging, the hard-throwing right hander intentionally walked Alonso to load the bases. But the Canes fail to score when Perry blows a fastball past Sobolewski to end the inning. UM 3, Arizona 2.

TOP 6th: Make that 14 in a row for Hernandez, who despite several called time outs by Zona hitters to break up his rhythm retired Ortega, Valenzuela and Sedbrook in order.

BOTTOM 6th: After Ryan bounced out to second to start the inning, Raben Mohawk Mojo produced a double to the center field wall. DiNatale then walks to bring Severino up with one out and runners on first and second. Both runners then advance on a long fly ball to right field. But once again the Canes leave runners in scoring position when Alonso flies out to right to end the inning. UM 3, Arizona 2.

TOP 7th: The streak ends for Hernandez when Glenn reaches on a slow dribbler down the third base line. Glenn then advances to second on a passed ball with nobody out. Hernandez faces a tough at-bat with Gaston, before finally striking him out swinging for the first out. That's when Morris takes him out and brings in reliever Kyle Bellamy. One pitch later there are two outs when Ziegler flies out to left. It brings Steele (the guy who belted the two run homer off Hernandez) up. Bellamy starts him off with two strikes before a wild pitch allows Glenn to advance to third. With the tying run 90 feet away, Bellamy can't get of the jam. Steele singles to left to bring the tying run home. Pinch hitter Bobby Coyle then ends the inning by bouncing out to shortstop.

BOTTOM 7th: Tekotte draws a leadoff walk and gets bunted over on a sacrifice by Weeks. Alonso then gets intentionally walked for third time, bringing Sobolewski to the plate. He flies out to right bringing Jackson the dish. A passed ball moves the runners over and brings the count to 2-2. But the inning ends when Jackson grounds out to first base. UM 3, Arizona 3.

TOP 8th: Bellamy starts the eighth by striking out Childs looking and getting Ortega to swing and miss at strike three. And then he ends by getting Valenzuela to swing at junk in the dirt before Grandal applies the tag.

BOTTOM 8th: Raben starts the bottom of the eighth by driving a 3-2 pitch 399 feet to centerfield. The problem is he needed two more feet. Instead, Steele settled under it for the first out of the inning. DiNatale then struckout and Severino popped out to short to end the inning. UM 3, Arizona 3.

TOP 9th: Bellamy starts the ninth by fanning Sedbrook and Glenn. Then, he brings the crowd to his feet when he gets Gaston to an 0-2 count. But Gaston battles back and singles off the glove of Alonso at first to keep the inning alive. Ziegler then falls behind 0-2 and the Miami crowd once again stands. Five foul balls, four throws to first, three balls, one passed ball and one called strike later, Ziegler finally ends the inning by standing and watching strike three blow by him.

BOTTOM 9th: Grandal opens the ninth with a double to center. Jonathan Weislow comes in to pinch run for him and Arizona coach Andy Lopez goes to his bullpen again, bringing in right-hander Jason Stoffel. Tekotte tries to lay down a bunt and it goes airborne -- but foul. Tekotte then gets called out on strikes for a check swing, drawing boos from the crowd. Jemile Weeks then gets hit by a 1-1 fastball, bringing Alonso to the plate. Alonso drills a line drive to the gap in right center field. But it gets snared by Steele. Weislow, who was rounding third when the ball is caught, gets doubled up at second to end the inning. UM 3, Arizona 3.

TOP 10th: Miami brings in Carlos Gutierrez to pitch and Jason Hagerty to catch. Gutierrez strikes out Steele then gets Coyle to fly out to left before striking out Childs swinging. Miami's pitching staff has done a great job tonight.

BOTTOM 10th: Canes go down 1-2-3 with Sobolewski lining out to first, Jackson striking out looking and Raben swinging. UM 3, Arizona 3.

TOP 11th: Ortega and Fon go down on strikes before Sedbrook reaches when he gets in the back with a fastball. That brings up No. 3 hitter Brad Glenn who singles to left. Before Gaston comes up, pitching coach JD Arteaga goes to the mound. Gaston then sends a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right field that bounces off the light post and gives Arizona a 6-3 lead. Miami's bullpen has 10 strikeouts tonight. But maybe its not enough. Ziegler grounds out to shortstop to end the inning.

BOTTOM 11th: DiNatale and Severino strike out. Haggerty ends the game with a groundout to the mound. Arizona 6, UM 3.

June 05, 2008

Three First Round picks for UM

Congratulations to the three Hurricanes taken in the first round of the major league draft this afternoon -- first baseman Yonder Alonso went 7th overall to Cincinnati, second baseman Jemile Weeks went 12th to Oakland and closer Carlos Gutierrez went 27th to Minnesota.

Earlier this week, Sarah Rothschild caught up with Yonder to talk about the draft and this is what he had to say. Miami, by the way, will open its Super Regional Friday against Arizona. For those of you wanting the experts take on the draft, check out Keith Law at ESPN.

Sarah: You were projected in some mock drafts to be picked No. 6 by Marlins. How would you feel being taken by them?
Yonder: It would be great - a dream come true. If I can play for the Marlins it would be great and if not then I'll play somewhere else, and visit the marlins when we play them.

Q: What are thoughts on the draft? What's your mindset?
A: Stressful. It' s getting down to that time where I can' t even sleep. It's crazy. It's a once in a lifetime Yonder_alonso thing. Last night I didn' t go to sleep until like 1:30 just thinking about it. You're like man it' s going to be nice, it's all the things you've worked for. We go through a lot here. A lot of people don't understand what we go through. We wake up at 4:30 in the morning to work out. There' s a lot that goes into it other than just playing games. You guys see us Friday, Saturday, Sunday and that's it, but there's a lot of effort and time that goes in it.

Q: What's it been like sharing the pre-draft nerves with fellow prospects who are expected to be drafted like Jemile Weeks, Dennis Raben and Carlos Gutierrez?
Jemile, Dennis and Carlos, we just talk. You want to stay as humble as possible and soak everything up and stay quiet. It' s weird. It's like hey man the draft is in three days. I'm nervous, anxious, I don't know.

Q: You were taken by the Twins in the 15th round coming out of high school? Why did you decide to go to UM?
A: I was very disappointed. After that I said, 'Forget it I'm going to school and I'm going to get it done there.'"

Q: So what is it like knowing you could be a millionaire soon, especially since you come from a working class family?
You don't really think about that. You played the game when you were little not for that.

Q: So what is the first thing you'll do with the money?
A: I have a list. Definitely go out to dinner with my parents and enjoy it. From there on I don't know. Wherever they want to go. They're the ones that brought me to this country to begin with (from Cuba).

Q: Baseball America had you 7th in one mock draft, would that satisfy you?
A: You want to go No.1 right? But there' s a lot of work to do if I go seventh. I (would) know there's six other guys that went before me. I want to try to be the best.

June 04, 2008

Hanging with The Harrises (Part 2)

OK, here's my interview with future Canes cornerback Brandon Harris, who capped his senior season at Booker T. Washington by winning The Miami Herald's Male Athlete of the Year award. I spoke to his older brother Tim Jr., a national finalist in the 800 meters, earlier this week.

Q: You won the Male Athlete of the Year Award in Miami-Dade last week to become only the second athlete to repeat as a winner -- Carol City and LSU defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois was the other. Did you think you should have won?
A: Manny -- you know I'm not going to tell you I think I should have won [laughter]. Brandon_athlete_of_the_yearFirst of all, it is a tremendous honor. I want to thank The Miami Herald for all the great articles and awards they've given me and my family in my time in high school. I've had so much fun and its made it really memorable. But no, I didn't think I was going to receive the award. I know I didn't have as strong a season in track as I did my junior year. Still, I'll take it. It's a huge honor -- something I'll remember for the rest of my life.

Q: Obviously winning the award was sweet, but I heard you had a blast on prom night -- rolling in style, partying in style. Give me the details.
Brandon_harris_prom_nightA: [Laughter] It was all PG rated stuff. Come on now. No, my family rented me a nice black Mercedez convertible to go with my white suit and hat. I was rolling to the prom in that.

Q: So are you glad you stayed at Booker T. instead of enrolling early at UM and participating in spring practice and missing out on all those senior events?
A: I'm definitely glad I stayed. People wanted to know why I didn't go early, start competing. But I wanted to enjoy my senior year. I wanted to run track. I wanted to spend time with my dad, my friends. Plus, I didn't feel like it would affect me on the depth chart or player wise. I know that when I come in I'm going to be focused, ready to play. I'm definitely excited already about getting a chance to come on campus, use the facilities, workout with the guys and build relationships. We've all known each other for so long. And now, we're all going to get a chance to play together. It's going to be real exciting.

Q: I have to imagine during your workouts now at UM you've run into some of the former Canes who are in the NFL. Any interesting meetings or discussions with any of them?
A: All of those guys are real cool. Willis McGahee is a real nice guy. We've gone out, thrown a couple balls around. Reggie Wayne too. I've met so many of them. All of them say the same things -- how we've got to get The U back to where it was. And we will.

Q: What are some of the things maybe some of the other freshman who were here in the spring have told you about the program and what to expect?
Brandon_scores_at_tdA: They just talk about coming in and getting in shape, getting ready to play ball and to expect some of the toughest practices you'll ever have in your life. Other than that, they just talk about how much fun it is to be here. Marcus [Forston], Jacory [Harris], Sean [Spence] and those guys all have their little bikes. They're all around campus, having a good time, but working hard too.

Q: So do you know yet who you will be rooming with when you start summer school?
A: I'm going to be rooming with Davon Johnson, [receiver] Laron Byrd and [safety] Vaughn Telemaque. We'll be starting in Summer B. I have no idea what classes yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

Football injuries/rumor control

For a dead period at UM when the only thing people should be talking about is the baseball team, we sure have spent a lot of time talking football in the last few weeks -- particularly injuries.

Graig_cooperFirst, there was the Allen Bailey rumor that turned out to be true -- a torn pectoral muscle that I've been told is now not as bad as initially anticipated. And now in the last 24 hours, two more rumors have surfaced. The first, involving defensive end Courtney Harris rupturing his Achilles (which is true). The latest, running back Greg Cooper tearing his ACL, IS NOT TRUE according to several sources I've spoken to in the last few hours.

"That's some crazy B.S.," a source at UM told me when asked if the Cooper rumors were true. "We've only got one kid seriously injured. Why are people starting that stuff. Do they want us to have bad luck or something?"

The bad luck belongs to Harris, who was all set to compete for playing time this fall, and defensive line coach Clint Hurtt. Achilles' injuries are seriCourtney_harris ous and can even be career threatening. Miami's defensive line, meanwhile, already thin and riddled with injuries from a year ago, will have to move on. Senior Eric Moncur, the lone veteran, will share a lot of playing time with Bailey once he returns (which I'm told could be the first game of the season). Those two should be the starting ends once the season begins. It's who comes after them that you should be worried about -- because there isn't a lot out there. Redshirt freshman Adewale Ojomo (the scout team MVP), Steven Wesley and incoming freshman Andrew Smith (who still has to raise his GPA to qualify for UM) are all that's left available. Miami could essentially try a few other young players at defensive end. My thoughts would be defensive tackle Marcus Forston and linebacker Marcus Robinson, who both played some end in high school, have big bodies and know how to get to the quarterback.

For those of you who missed it, I've got the sixth installment of my spring tour around South Florida high schools up on our new recruiting page. In this edition, I talk about a kid who several college scouts told me is the best 2010 recruit in Dade -- Southwest High athlete LaMarcus Joyner. There is no need to worry. I've been told the Canes have already offered him.