July 18, 2016

Michael Irvin: Miami Hurricanes back to having fun...'This is heaven'

Michaelirvintwitterhandle

Former Miami Hurricane great, Dallas Cowboy and St. Thomas Aquinas Raider Michael Irvin (picture above is his twitter photo) -- the Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver known as "The Playmaker' -- joined Marc Hochman, Channing Crowder and Zach Krantz to talk about this past weekend's Paradise Camp at UM and Canes football.

And, as usual, he was completely engaging.

Irvin, 50, was one of several former Canes megastars who were guest speakers or helped coach dozens of top-rated recruits on Saturday night. 

His son, Michael Irvin II, recently arrived at UM as a tight end out of St. Thomas (learn all about Michael II in my feature on him and Sam Bruce by clicking here)

Here are some excerpts I transcribed from this evening's interview on WQAM:

On Richt and the program in general: "Honestly, I love the direction we’re headed in. Let’s be real here… in those [glory] days we were an offensive minded football team. We have so many offensive gifts in and around our area of football. Having Mark Richt getting back to that, that offensive mind where we become quarterback U all over again, I just love it. I love being around him, I love the way he’s putting things together as far as really pointing towards let’s all come back to what we used to be...He's bringing back the essence of family and that's a great thing."

On it seeming like the UM players, the program, are having fun again: "You think you can win with three yards and a cloud of dust in Miami? Man, there’s too much going on in Miami for that. I'm talking about winning on the field, winning in the stands, winning with everybody and everywhere. It’s back to having fun."

On seeing his son on Greentree Field: "I can’t tell you what that meant for me... I’m looking over and I remember when I was 18, 19 years old on this field. Now he has my name on the back of his shirt over there coaching the tight ends and then he’d throw me the football and I was like, 'Oh my God. This is heaven.' I didn’t want to leave.'' 

On bringing the swag back in a changing world of football and beyond: "You can’t do what we used to do at UM but [you can] still have success. We don’t ever want to do anything to hurt our team, and certainly in the midst of trying to win a game and anything that reflects poorly on the families. [But] get this now: having fun winning -- ain’t nothing against the law with that. There's no rules against that.…If you take pride in how you play out here on this practice field, when you hit game day all of that will come through. One guy makes a play, you start that attitude, the stuff that’s contagious. There's nothing illegal with that...

"I tell them like Jimmy told us, 'Man do me this: You just win! We'll deal with what comes with it. You just win no matter what. Don’t worry about what everybody says. If we win we’ll deal with all that other stuff that comes with people talking about this, talking about it. Now, you don’t want to do anything that keeps putting your your team 15 yards back and giving you penalties, but if you win, all of that other stuff takes care of itself… Its too hard of a game not to have fun. That’s what separates the very, very good [from] the very, very great. You’ve got to enjoy what you’re doing.''

Regarding the "swag'' topic, Irvin indicated that today's players need "to be cognizant'' and sensitive about making sure they don't do some of the things that he and other former UM players might have done in the past.

"With all of these shootings,'' Irvin said, "I don’t want to see you go out there [with] blazing guns and shooting , without sensitivity of what’s going on. But football is an escape from a lot of the issues that we deal with everyday. And it also is our greatest truth of growth. We see these issues we have but that’s what makes a locker room so great. You’ve got all these different people from different backgrounds, different races, but we have one goal in mind: that’s being the best team.

"That’s what we need in this country, one goal in mind. Let’s be the best country and stop [being] divided with all this mess we’re going through."

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt spreading good will to Broward youth football

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The University of Miami football team just announced a "year-long partnership with the American Youth Football League (AYFL)'' for youth 13 and younger in Broward County.

And leave it to head coach Mark Richt to be right in the middle of it, spreading his community service and good will and ultimately leaving South Floridians, in turn, feeling good about Hurricanes football.

In UM's release, it said the partnership begins at 6:30 Monday at PAL Field in Plantation with the first of two coaches' clinics. Richt and other assistants will be there to instruct AYFL youth coaches.

"I couldn't be more excited about this partnership,'' Richt said in the release. "Through this partnership, we will be able to give kids and coaches the proper instruction they need to help advance their skills. This is a great opportunity to get out into the community and speak to some of our youth football programs in the AYFL. I'm looking forward to this clinic and to visiting other youth teams in parks throughout the tri-county area in the near future.''

The partnership, UM said, "will provide coaches of the AYFL with a customized concussion protocol in collaboration with UHealth Sports Medicine to assist coaches with overall safety.''

Members of the AYFL will attend the Canes' game against FAU on Sept. 10 as part of the partnership.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

June 30, 2016

Zack Collins becomes first Hurricane to earn Johnny Bench award

Zack Collins was named as the recipient of the 2016 Johnny Bench Award honoring the nation’s top collegiate catcher Thursday at the 19th Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet.

Collins, who was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the first round of the 2016 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in early June, is the first University of Miami representative to win the award, which was created in 2000.

Collins beat out finalists Logan Ice (Oregon State) and Keith Skinner (North Florida) for the honor.

The Pembroke Pines native, who earned first-team All-America honors from Baseball America, D1Baseball, NCBWA, Perfect Game and Rawlings, delivered another dominant season swinging the bat and behind the plate in 2016.

Collins batted .363 for the season, leading Miami with 16 home runs and 59 RBI to go along with a nation-leading total of 78 walks. He reached base at a .544 clip, the second-highest in the country, and recorded a team-high .668 slugging percentage.

A back-to-back All-ACC First-Team selection, Collins started 62 of a possible 64 games, including 59 starts behind the plate. He just four errors as a key member of a Miami defense that tied for first nationally with a .983 fielding percentage.

Collins, who signed a professional contract with the White Sox as the No. 10 overall pick last week, ended the season ranked third among active players in career home runs (42), third in career RBI (183) and first in career walks (177).

In Collins’ three seasons with the Hurricanes, Miami won two ACC regular season championships (2014, 2016) and three straight ACC Coastal Division titles (2014-16), and made two trips to the College World Series (2015, 2016).

June 28, 2016

UM coaches on Pat Summitt's death

By Michelle Kaufman

Like all college basketball fans, University of Miami coaches Katie Meier and Jim Larranaga were deeply saddened to wake up Tuesday to the news that legendary University of Tennessee coach Pat Summitt had died at age 64.

"I didn't know her personally. I viewed her and her career from afar," said Larranaga. "I thought of her as the Dr. James Naismith of women's college basketball. She put women's basketball on the map. She was the dominant coach for the first 20 years after Title IX."

Meier did know Summitt well, and had this to say:

"Pat Summitt was such an iconic figure in our sport. She just elevated every conversation, clinic or recruiting event. She always reminded the younger coaches to `act right' and to lead with strength and compassion. She inspired a generation of female competitors who will continue to give back."

Back in 2011, when the then-No. 7 Hurricanes played No. 3 Tennessee, Meier was asked about Summitt.

She said: "I could spend two hours on that. She is obviously the best at her profession. When Pat wins, women's basketball's happy. They (Summitt and her staff) have been so helpful. They're cheering for you, supporting you. If you want to come to a practice, they let you. They're all about women's basketball, especially Coach Summitt.

"I've been lucky enough to have exposure to them and how they operate. I hope everyone in our profession appreciates it. I have a ton of respect and owe a lot of my career to Tennessee, their generosity. If I needed an out of bounds play, I could call (then-assistant) Holly (Warwick) or Coach Summitt right now and they’d give me an out of bounds play to make me a better coach. That’s what they’re in it for, opportunity for young players, and coaches. I wish I’d see more of it in the sport. It is rare and a wonderful thing that they’ve been headliners this whole time for women’s basketball.’’

June 24, 2016

McClellan to Wizards, Rodriguez to Spurs

By Michelle Kaufman

Former University of Miami guard Sheldon McClellan confirmed Friday that he has a partial contract offer from the Washington Wizards that he will sign when he reports to camp on July 1.

McClellan, 6-6, was not selected in the NBA Draft on Thursday night, but had interest from several teams.

Hurricane teammate Angel Rodriguez also got good news on Friday. He was invited by the San Antonio Spurs to Summer League.

"All I need is an opportunity, I'll take care of the rest," Rodriguez said. "I'm always going to bet on myself, that's for sure!"

Tonye Jekiri was still weighing his options.

McClellan awaiting offer, possibly from Wizards

By Michelle Kaufman

Former University of Miami guard Sheldon McClellan watched the NBA draft from his home in Houston, and like so many talented college basketball players, was not among the players chosen Thursday night.

But, reached at 1 a.m., he said he was awaiting word from his agent about a contract, possibly with the Washington Wizards, one of the 11 teams he worked out for in the past month. The Wizards had shown a lot of interest, and let it be known they'd be interested in signing him if he went undrafted. He would join the team for the summer league, which begins the second week of July.

Asked if it was a nerve-wracking night, McClellan replied: "No, not at all. I'm excited about the opportunity and blessed to even be considered. I have several options in front of me right now, so I'm in great shape."

McClellan, 6-6, was projected on some mock drafts as a late second-round pick. He did well at he NBA draft combine. One of the only knocks on him is his age. He will turn 24 in December, and the trend is for NBA teams to go with younger players.

McClellan's UM teammates Angel Rodriguez and Tonye Jekiri also were undrafted. Both also got looks from many NBA clubs and could land in the summer league or overseas.

June 21, 2016

Bad ending for Miami Hurricanes, but season of which to be proud

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After covering the University of Miami baseball program this season, I was very surprised that it ended the way it did. I truly thought this year the Hurricanes would get closer than ever, and perhaps all the way, to their dream of a fifth national title.

More than anyone, the players did, too.

The College World Series and the first part of the tournament leading up to it have been fascinating: teams many of us didn't know much about breaking the hearts of nationally heralded baseball programs -- Louisville getting slammed by UC Santa Barbara, the same team that eliminated the Hurricanes; No.1 Florida falling to Coastal Carolina in their opener; and on and on and on.

This team should be lauded, nonetheless, for a tremendous 50-14 season.

The Canes have been a truly close-knit group of guys with talent across the board, great attitudes, and an overriding team spirit.

When I look at the NCAA national rankings going into Monday's final game, it's still amazing to me that Miami was NOT in the top 10 of any national team category except sacrifice bunts (fourth -- and here come the groans, though I disagree with those groans), fielding percentage (No. 1 until maybe today, not sure because they haven't been posted yet)  and obviously win-loss percentage (second, with a .794). 

Watching this team play defense was a beautiful thing.

Watching it overcome so many deficits gave those who followed the team a sense that no deficit would be a problem.

But I didn't get that feeling in the College World Series. 

Nerves? Probably, no matter how many times they said they'd been there before. Doesn't matter. This stage was different, and as coach Jim Morris accurately said, every team in this tournament was hot. No matter how great, good or mediocre a team is, if it isn't hot at the end of the season it doesn't get to Omaha. Miami was hot all season. To only lose two games in a row once until this week is nothing short of excellent.

Pitching? Surprisingly sub-par. Michael Mediavilla, dominant all season (despite sometimes starting out a bit rough), imploded. But guess what? The guy is back next year and there's no reason to think he won't be as good or better.

Defense? Shaky a few times.

Hitting?  The Canes just didn't come through with the timely hits they needed in a setting where everyone, again, is either super talented or super hot. That first game against Arizona was especially mind-boggling, as 14 Hurricanes struck out -- eight looking at third strikes. That ump calling balls and strikes was absolutely atrocious, but especially because of that, you've got to swing if the ball is anywhere near you can make decent contact.

Coaching? Jim Morris, J.D. Arteaga, Gino DiMare are all excellent coaches -- and J.D. and Gino can flat-out recruit. Morris has more than 1,500 career victories (more than 1,000 in Coral Gables) and has gotten UM to Omaha 13 times since 1994 -- that's 13 times in 23 seasons at Miami with a sport that divvies 11.7 full scholarships to its players. If you don't get scholarship money and don't qualify for an academic scholarship, that means you have to pay the approximately $60,000 room and board. It's a lot less expensive to pay for that room and board at Florida or Florida State. It's a lot more challenging to do at UM what you can do at UF or FSU, simply by the amount of bodies from which you have to choose. Morris has two more seasons coaching at UM, before he's replaced by coach-in-waiting DiMare, an intelligent man and a talented hitting coach.

Regarding Monday's game, however, I would not have put Peter Crocitto in to pinch-hit -- despite the pinch-hitter from UCSB (Sam Cohen) who crushed Louisville with that grand slam to get into the CWS and the kid from Long Beach State (Jeff Nellis) who was batting .095 before hitting the pinch-hit homer against Bryan Garcia in the regional. Crocitto finished the 2016 campaign batting .218 by hitting into a season-ending double play. Too risky at way too crucial a point for my taste. Maybe Morris knows something we didn't, but I would have left in Barr, who had an RBI-single in UM's losing effort against Arizona. 

So on to next season, which looks pretty good to me at a quick glance.

Not sure about all the once prospective signees who instead have signed or will sign to play with Major League Baseball organizations after the draft, and also wondering if Jacob Heyward (242. batting average and drafted in the 18th round by San Francisco Giants), a phenomenal outfielder who struggled at the plate but has great power and potential, will return for his senior season; as well as infielder Johnny Ruiz (.342 batting average and drafted in the 28th round by Houston). 

 But here are some names to feel really good about heading into next season: infielder Randy Batista (.272), center fielder Carl Chester (.336), third baseman Edgar Michelangeli (.269 clutch hitter), first baseman Barr (.256) -- and an outstanding pitching staff in Mediavilla (11-2, 3.40 ERA), Andrew Cabezas (3-1, 5.07 and only getting better) and a bullpen gem in Frankie Bartow (6-0, 2.72), who will likely begin 2017 as the closer. If Jesse Lepore's shoulder injury doesn't necessitate surgery (I have no idea of his prognosis at this second), he is another standout (9-0, 2.20) who will be returning. Then there's Devin Meyer and Keven Pimentel among other pitchers. Talented sidewinder Cooper Hammond is recovering from major surgery and might not be able to return in time for next season, Morris previously said. Enrique Sosa,  who also has major surgery to start the season, has one more season of eligibility. 

Those who didn't get much playing time, such as Romy Gonzalez and catcher Joe Gomez, are also expected to produce next season.

Unless you win the College World Series, every season ends on a down note. But at least to me, the 2016 Miami Hurricanes -- no matter how upset and frustrated they might be now -- had a season of which to be proud.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

June 11, 2016

Miami coach Mark Richt regarding social media and recruits: "We watch it very closely."

Markrichtcamp

Here's a report by recruiting correspondent Peter Ariz on Mark Richt's chat with the media Saturday morning... (picture above by Peter)

On the third day of the Mark Richt Football Camp on the University of Miami campus, Miami’s coach spoke about the impact of social media on recruiting and assessed how the south Florida recruiting base compares to Georgia’s.

Richt, who was one of the most successful recruiters in the country during his time in Athens, Georgia as the Bulldogs’ coach, believes that the two areas are more comparable than people might realize.

“There’s a lot more similarities than difference, in my opinion,” said Richt. “Even the Metro Atlanta area is similar to the tri-county area here as far as number of prospects, proximity to your school – you’re always going to have a certain percentage that want to go to your school and you’re going to have a certain percentage that just flat out want to go away from home and you’re going to have the ones in the middle that we will battle for.”

As far as the types of prospects that the Miami staff targets, Coach Richt said there are a certain criteria that they look for in terms of “a height, weight, maybe not necessarily always a 40, but speed, and agility.” If a recruit does not fit exactly what they want, that is not the end of the line in Richt’s eyes.

“Now if a guy is a little shorter than you want him to be, then he’s got to be a little more dynamic. I’ve had great receivers this tall and I’ve had great receivers that tall. So I’m not going to say a receiver has got to be 6-foot or 6’3”, or a guy has to run a 4.6 or 4.4,” said Richt.

“If a guy doesn’t quite fit the criteria you have, he’s gotta be a highly productive guy or a guy that has the growth potential to become what you want him to become.”

The emergence of social media has changed recruiting in many ways, but Richt explained that it is a part of the evaluation process for his staff.

“If he’s a guy that we are highly interested in, or we’ve offered, or he’s committed, we watch it very closely,” said Richt.

“I’ve let guys go – at Georgia, there was a kid we had committed and he had stuff on there that really wasn't good. He was representing us so we told him ‘don’t do that’ and then he ‘yes sirred’ us and changed his little handle or whatever you wanna call it and kept doing the same thing. Apparently he didn’t care about what we were saying so we told him we were moving on.”

Richt says that his coaches speak to the recruit’s “head coach, position coach, if they have a strength coach, a team chaplain, the principal, a counselor, teachers in class” and added, “if there’s something you need to find out then you probably will.”

Although a roster full of high character student-athletes is what Richt is striving for at Miami, he understands that no kid is perfect. He explained how they try to prevent issues from arising.

“We try to capture the heart of our guys and tell them we love them. Any rule we have is really based on trying to help you be great. Help you be a great father, husband, citizen, college football player, whatever their desires are,” said Richt. “If they know our motivations then I think they respond well. Rules have never made people behave. Laws have never made people behave. Usually you make good decisions based on what you have in your heart.”

PETER ARIZ

June 09, 2016

UM coach Mark Richt speaks about $1 million donation, RB Mark Walton's status

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University of Miami football coach Mark Richt just spoke to a group of reporters at the intramural fields on campus, where UM is hosting the first annual Mark Richt Football Camp through Sunday.

Our Peter Ariz was on the scene, reporting about the camp and Richt.

Here's the key news before we add quotes from Richt:

*** Running back Mark Walton, who was suspended indefinitely after being arrested for DUI in April, is, said Richt, "still on the team, working out, and going to school."  Richt said if there's any more news to report regarding Walton, he'll let us know.

   Please note that Walton has still not gone to court yet, and still could be suspended for the opener or beyond, but nothing has been announced about any punishment.

*** Richt also addressed his $1 million pledge toward construction of the indoor practice facility for football, though he didn't actually say "$1 million.'' When the Miami Herald asked about his "$1 million'' donation, however, Richt said it was important people knew that he was "all in'' on Miami and that it was important for people to know he is "not going anywhere.''

*** Richt also spoke about his 7-on-7 football camp, and about 7-on-7 satellite camps. 

    More to come.

   SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

   and PETER ARIZ

 

 

June 08, 2016

Miami pitcher Frankie Bartow named Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American

Frankiebartow

Miami Hurricanes right-handed pitcher Frankie Bartow, who came up big this season as the set-up man for UM career saves leader Bryan Garcia, was just named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American.

Bartow, who is as smiley and good-natured as he is talented, has a team-high 39 appearances out of the bullpen in 2016. It should be noted that going into the postseason, Bartow's 36 appearances was ranked fourth nationally. He is 5-0 with a 2.76 ERA, his five wins being the most for any UM relief pitcher.

The Miami native has 27 strikeouts compared to eight walks. Bartow was one of 15 relief pitchers nationwide selected for the honor, and one of eight players from the ACC.

Bartow was the pitcher that made an outstanding defensive play on a hard-hit ball up the middle and fired to third base to prevent a would-be run in the Hurricanes' final regional victory -- then threw wild to first base on a failed pickoff attempt to bring home the tying run for Long Beach State. Hey, he's only a freshman. All in a good night's learning.

Bottom line: Bartow is really talented, and is expected to be looked at first to replace Garcia as the team's closer next season.

Bartow joins Michael Mediavilla (2015), Zack Collins (2014) and Bryan Garcia (2014) as current Hurricanes who were Louisville Slugger All-Americans.

For the full release from Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, click HERE.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

June 07, 2016

News: Boston College baseball at Miami super regional opens play 5 p.m. Friday

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Just announced by the NCAA: The Miami Hurricanes will play Boston College in its NCAA super regional best-of-three game series from Friday through Sunday at Mark Light Field, with the opening game at 5 p.m. Friday on ESPNU. 

The Saturday and Sunday games are scheduled for noon, with Sunday's game only if necessary. Saturday's game will be on ESPNU and Sunday's game, if necessary, would be on ESPNU or ESPN2.

The third-ranked Canes (48-11), who won the Coral Gables Regional late Sunday, already knew they were to face fellow Atlantic Coast Conference member Boston College (34-20) in the super regional. But they were waiting to see if the next round would be Friday through Sunday or Saturday through Monday.

The winner of the eight super regionals around the country advance to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

Boston College, the No. 3 seed in the Oxford, Mississippi regional this past weekend, will face Miami for the first time since March 2014, when UM swept the three-game series. Miami is 18-6 all-time against the Eagles.

Despite three super regional spots still to be determined, as games have stretched into Tuesday, the NCAA nonetheless made the schedule and host announcement on Tuesday morning.

For ticket information to the super regionals, go to hurricanesports.com.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

June 02, 2016

Introducing the "Bat Flip Shake" at Miami's Mark Light Field

Batflipshake

Leave it to Mark Light Shake to come up with an appropriate, and likely delicious, new conconction for the baseball postseason that begins with the Coral Gables Regional on Friday, when No. 2 seed FAU (38-17) meets No. 3 seed Long Beach State (36-20) at 1 p.m. and No. 3 national seed Miami (45-11) meets No. 4 seed Stetson (29-29).

The vanilla shake, shown in the picture above, is graced with a churro stick that looks a lot like the bat that UM third baseman Edgar Michelangeli held straight up in the air before he flipped it to run the bases as he watched his three-run homer sail over the left-field fence to put UM ahead for good last week against NC State in the ACC Tournament. I must admit, I became an instant Michelangeli fan watching the flip.

Here's the entertaining story our Jordan McPherson wrote about what I'm calling "The Bat Flip Heard 'Round the World.''

When I asked Michelangeli what life has been like since "The Bat Flip Heard 'Round the World,'' here's what he said:

"Obviously it's been fun. I've tried to keep it lighthearted and not really think about the home run because we still have games to play. I had fun the next day. All my teammates were joking about it. But it's time to move on and play regionals now.''

What were you thinking when you did that, Edgar?

"I don't think I was thinking much,'' he said with a grin.  "It was just reaction. I had high emotions. I was very excited. It just happened.''

We have a very strong feeling that a LOT of Bat Flip Shakes will be sold this weekend at The Light. 

You paying attention, Edgar?

KUDOS to GINO AND J.D.

While you're in the reading mood, please check out this story on long-time Hurricanes' assistants J.D. Arteaga and Gino DiMare, both former players and both top-notch coaches. Thanks to our Michael Stern, who has done a great job in his internship with us and is off to the Cape Cod League to do some broadcasting this summer. We'll miss him! Follow him @michaeljstern23

http://www.miamiherald.com/sports/college/acc/university-of-miami/article81198152.html 

DANNY GARCIA STARTING FOR CANES

UM announced it will start left-handed junior Danny Garcia (9-3, 3.62 ERA), the usual Sunday afternoon starter during the regular season, against Stetson on Friday in its regional opener.

Stetson will start right-handed junior ace Mitchell Jordan (6-5, 4.07), who starred last summer in the Cape Cod League with an 8-1 record and 0.20 ERA as the Cape Cod Pitcher of the Year. 

"I'm very privileged to get the rock tomorrow and just keep grinding,'' Garcia told reporters, including the Herald's McPherson, on Thursday. "Last year I pitched Game 4 and I got it done. This year, hopefully I get it done Game 1.''

ZACK ATTACK

Canes catcher Zack Collins was among 25 amateur baseball players selected as semifinalists for the 2016 Gold Spikes Award, USA Baseball announced Wednesday.

Collins lead the third-ranked Hurricanes in home runs (12), RBI (52), on-base percentage (.540), slugging percentage (.630) and leads the nation in walks with 66. His on-base percentage, the stat coach Jim Morris treasures, is second in the nation.

Collins became the first Miami player to earn back-to-back spots on the All-ACC first team since Jon Jay in 2005 and 2006.

To submit your vote for Zack, click here.

BRANDON LOPEZ HONORED

Hurricanes senior shortstop Brandon Lopez was named a semifinalist for the Brooks Wallace Award that goes to the top shortstop in the nation. Lopez, known for his great fielding and this season for extraordinary hitting (he's batting .388 with 13 doubles and 41 RBI) has made only five errors in 131 attempts (.975) in 2016.

He has recorded career-bests with 73 hits, 43 runs scored, the 13 doubles, two home runs and the 41 RBI. He is slugging .489 and has an on-base percentage of .454.

He'll be one of several Hurricanes drafted next week.

Here's this to help you keep organized:

 

 

May 29, 2016

Incredibly impressive: Miami baseball extends NCAA postseason record to 44 years

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UM baseball fans: Tune in to ESPNU at noon to tomorrow to watch the field of 64 announced for the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament, which begins locally on Friday, June 3, at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables.

UM, which had the nation's No. 3 RPI as of Sunday, will learn tomorrow what it is seeded nationally for the tournament. The Canes will also learn the other three teams coming to Coral Gables next weekend, and who they would meet in a super regional (which also would be in Coral Gables) should they win their regional.

As I said below in my story, the 44 consecutive years of postseason berths by Miami baseball represents the longest active NCAA postseason streak for any collegiate sport.

That is incredibly impressive.

My story is below. I'll be at UM tomorrow for the NCAA announcement.

************************************************************************ 

Time for a fresh coat of white paint to change “43” to “44” on the University of Miami dugout – as in “NCAA RECORD 44 STRAIGHT TOURNAMENTS.”

Though it was no surprise, on Sunday night the NCAA announced Alex Rodriguez Park’s Mark Light Field in Coral Gables as one 16 national sites to host an NCAA baseball regional next weekend in the first round of the Division I Baseball Tournament.

The 44 consecutive years of postseason berths by Miami baseball represents the longest active NCAA postseason streak for any collegiate sport.

Now, the only surprises will be what national seed the third-ranked Hurricanes (45-11, 21-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) will be deemed, the other three teams coming to Coral Gables and who the Canes might meet at Mark Light for the super regional should they win their regional.

The full field of 64 teams and the tournament’s national seeds will be announced live on ESPNU at noon Monday.

“It’s crazy,’’ UM coach Jim Morris said last Monday before leaving for the ACC Tournament, in which the Canes won their first two games but were eliminated by Florida State (No. 12 RPI) in the third. “There are so many in a row I hardly think about it anymore. I just don’t want to be the coach when it ends.

“Whenever it does end, it may never be matched again.’’

One team the Hurricanes will not meet in the regional or super regional is No. 4 Florida, which will host the first round in Gainesville and as of Sunday had the No. 1 RPI in the nation. Miami had the nation’s No. 3 RPI. The Canes lost two of three to Florida this season and were eliminated by the Gators in last year’s College World Series.

The FAU Owls (38-17) of Boca Raton, ranked as high as 13th by Baseball America, will not host because their stadium isn’t big enough to accommodate a regional. The Owls, who went 1-2 in the Conference USA tournament as the No. 1 seed, are not expected to come to Coral Gables. FAU last week was projected by Baseball America as the No. 1 seed in the Long Beach, California, regional and by D1 Baseball as the No. 1 seed in the Tempe, Arizona regional.

Last year, the Canes earned the No. 5 national seed of eight awarded, before going on to win the regional and super regional. They went 1-2 at the CWS in Omaha.

Miami won national titles in 1982, 1985, 1999 and 2001 – the latter two won by Morris, who has made it to Omaha in 12 of his 22 seasons in Coral Gables.

“Hosting is huge,’’ Morris said. “It’s something we work at all year and we talk about all year. It’s a nice feeling to put ourselves in this position because you earn that spot, and our guys certainly have done that this season.”

Outfielder Jacob Heyward said it was “great to be at home for the regional,’’ but added that he rarely thinks about the advantage of hosting.

“We just want to play,’’ Heyward said.

The College World Series begins June 18 and will end either June 28 or 29.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

May 26, 2016

Mark Richt's $1 million pledge: when he revealed it and why facility is needed

Markrichtwithfootballi

If you're a UM fan, you've got to respect a coach (and a program's first-year coach, at that) for not just urging others to get on board by supporting the program above and beyond -- as in $$$$$$$ -- but doing it himself. Here's my story on when/where Mark Richt actually revealed his $1 million pledge toward the indoor practice facility project, and the bottom line of why the AD knows the facility is necessary -- with Richt comments from Pro Day added.

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The University of Miami indoor football practice facility project just got a nice boost from the man closest to the Miami Hurricanes.

Nice, as in $1 million.

UM football coach Mark Richt told a group of about 50 “very supportive individuals’’ at a private dinner after UM’s #Building Champions Spring Tour in Chicago last Thursday that he was donating $1 million toward the facility, a source at the private dinner told the Miami Herald.

UM athletic director Blake James confirmed that Richt is giving a donation but wouldn’t divulge details.

“I know Mark is going to make a gift to the project,’’ James told the Herald on Wednesday. “When we finalize it we’ll make an announcement.”

The donation was first reported by Canesport.com.

James wouldn’t give a timetable for breaking ground or announcing a major leadership donation by someone who would get his or her name on the building.

“There’s a lot of energy and excitement about the project,’’ James said, “but until we do get the gift there isn’t anything to announce. We don’t put timetables on gifts.’’

When Richt mentioned the donation at the dinner, the guests were apparently thrilled.

“You can imagine the reaction,’’ the source said. “Everyone was extremely impressed. Everyone clapped. People hollered. It was impressive.’’

The source said Richt “spoke to the dinner crowd about his commitment to the program, about his commitment to those young men and the major needs of the program, including the indoor facility.’’

The #BuildingChampions Spring Tour, separate from the dinner, was at the Knickerbocker Hotel.

Richt, in his first year at Miami, makes more than $4 million, though UM is a private school and does not disclose his contract details.

Multiple sources familiar with the indoor facility plans previously told the Herald that coaches have been informing prospective recruits about the facility and that renderings of the project, which has yet to break ground and even officially be announced by UM, have been made available to current players by Richt.

The indoor practice facility, which James told the Herald has “been No.<TH>1 on my list for a year and a half,’’ will be large enough to enclose a regulation-size football field.

It will include a weight room and coaches’ offices and is expected to extend from the current weight room housed in the Schwartz Center for Athletic Excellence near the outdoor practice fields. Initial costs will be between $20 and $30 million.

UM is the only Atlantic Coast Conference school without an indoor facility and one of the only major programs in the country not to have one.

James told the Herald last month that the biggest safety concern is lightning, which often strikes repeatedly in Miami’s tropical climate, wreaking havoc on practice.

Every time UM’s lightning alarm goes off, the players are required to go inside for at least 30 minutes.

 “It’s not temperatures that we’re looking to get out of,’’ James said. “And obviously you have to play in the rain. For us, it’s getting out of the lightning.”

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Speaking of rain, the many Hurricanes who performed in front of NFL representatives on UM Pro Day -- its combine at Greentree Field -- were undoubtedly hampered by torrential rain that day. They kept performing because they had no choice, but an indoor facility would have been a blessing at that point.

"It was sad, really,'' Richt, who attended the UM combine, told reporters the next day. "It was sad that it was a downpour at the moment they needed to be able to show what they could do.

"They fought through the adversity, and I think the pro scouts appreciated and saw that. I did like how they handled adversity. That's part of the evaluation process. [But] not to have a place where they could have the type of day that they've been working so hard for, for so long -- not only from the end of the season to now, but really their whole life they're waiting for that opportunity -- was just tough on them.''

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

May 23, 2016

Miami offensive lineman Tyler Grimsley to transfer

Tylergrimsley

The Hurricanes announced Monday night that redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Tyler Grimsley will transfer to another football program.

"Tyler has decided to transfer away from our football program in the hopes of gaining more playing time,'' coach Mark Richt said in a prepared statement. "I certainly respect his decision and I wish him nothing but the best in his future college football career.''

Grimsley is from Green Cove Springs, Florida, where he played at Clay High School. He redshirted in 2014 and served on the scout team in 2015. He is listed as 6-3 and 300 pounds.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

Dejan "DJ" Vasiljevic on his first week at UM

Incoming freshman guard Dejan "DJ" Vasiljevic arrived at UM for Summer School from his native Australia last week.

Asked his first impressions, this was his response: "At the moment the whole experience appears surreal – so many things have happened over the past few days that I feel as if I am still on the plane and everything is flying by. Seems like I am getting over the jet lag and feel refreshed. I have managed to finalize my enrollment, start classes and obtain the medical clearance so basically it has been full on several days. Between classes, assignments and workouts there has not been much time for anything else. I did get a chance to meet several football recruits and share experience with them, went to a baseball game which reminded me why I chose an indoor sport – it was too hot outside, at least for me, so I think those players deserve lots of praises for their commitment. Literally everyone has been so supportive and encouraging helping me with the transition. I am really excited to be part of this program."

-- Michelle Kaufman.

Miami Hurricanes freshman 2nd overall, competing Monday for NCAA golf title

Dewiweber

University of Miami freshman Dewi Weber, who shot a career-low 66 on Saturday and took the overall lead at the 2016 NCAA Women's Golf Championship in Eugene Oregon, shot 74 on Sunday and is tied for second place individually with Alabama's Cheyenne Knight.

Weber, of The Netherlands, is one of nine individuals outside of the 15 qualifying teams -- UM's team finished 21st -- to earn a spot in Monday's final round of stroke play at the Eugene Country Club.

The last Miami player to earn a national individual title in golf was Penny Hammel in 1983.

 Weber's 66 on Saturday was one stroke shy of tying the NCAA championship and Miami records for the lowest score in one round.

Hurricanes coach Patti Rizzo said on Saturday that she "couldn't keep my phone out of my pocket because every time I looked at the scores Dewi made another birdie, then she made an eagle, so she was really hot out there today.''

Weber is shooting a 7-under-par 209 through three rounds. She is six strokes behind Duke's Virginia Elna Carta, who shot a third-round 66 Sunday.

Through three rounds, Weber has 14 birdies and one eagle at the par-72, 6,331-yard course. On Sunday, she posted bogeys on three of the first five holes before rallying on the back nine with birdies on 10, 11 and 17.

SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

 

 

May 21, 2016

Coveted football recruit DeeJay Dallas chooses the Miami Hurricanes

DeeJayDallas

The Miami Hurricanes and Mark Richt have landed one of their top targets in the 2017 recruiting class. Four-star athlete DeeJay Dallas from Glynn Academy in Brunswick, Ga. announced Saturday afternoon during a radio show that he will become a Hurricane.

"For the next four years I plan on attending the University of Miami,'' he said. "I chose Miami because I really like the environment down there [and] I really like the coaching staff...''

The 5-10, 190-pound Dallas chose Miami over Alabama, Michigan, Georgia Tech, and Oregon.

Dallas said he wanted to remain relatively close to home in Georgia -- but not too close. 

Dallas, a former Georgia commit after forging a relationship with former Bulldogs coach Richt, is the 12th-ranked athlete and 222nd-ranked overall player in the country according to 247sports. At Glynn Academy, Dallas plays both sides of the football, including quarterback, running back, wide receiver, cornerback and safety. He is the 15th commitment for Miami’s 2017 class, but only the third from out of state.

Dallas will graduate high school in December and plans on enrolling at Miami in January 2017.

Although Dallas said Miami coaches made it clear to him that they plan on using him in a multitude of ways, it appears that he will make his most immediate impact as a receiver. Since taking over the job, Mark Richt has mentioned the need for speed at the wide receiver position – Dallas fits the bill.

“They’ve mentioned a whole bunch of stuff like me starting with the receivers and making my presence felt there and then also playing some defensive back too, while being a return man,” Dallas told the Miami Herald last week. “That’s one of my goals, to be a triple-threat prospect and Coach Richt is fine with that as long as I come in and produce.”

Glynn Academy Coach Rocky Hidalgo recognizes that Dallas’ electric ability is what caught college recruiters’ attention, but he appreciates Dallas for his other qualities on the field.

“For as much as he brings to the field as a player, his most valuable asset is that he is an incredible leader,” Hidalgo said Friday. “He is enthusiastic and infectious as a leader and his teammates just want to catch on to that and go with it.”

Like the coaches at Miami, Hidalgo envisions Dallas as the type of rare talent who can go both ways at the college level.

“He is such an incredible asset in the secondary, but he’s also a guy that I think can play 15-20 snaps on offense and also in the return game. He is such a team guy that he will do whatever his team needs him to do,” Hidalgo said.

His relationship with Richt seems to have separated the Canes from the pack, according to Hidalgo.

“I’ve had a couple of my kids play for Coach Richt and he is the type of guy that you want your son to play for,” said Hidalgo. “He takes care of his players and their parents. His relationship with DeeJay has been tremendously important during his recruitment.”

“He’s a good role model because he cares about his players after football. He cares about them as a person and speaks about his players as his own children, so that is what draws me to Coach Richt,” Dallas added.

 

May 19, 2016

Mark Walton pleads not guilty through his attorney in DUI case

Markwaltonimage

New information: Mark Walton is being represented by the attorney (Joey McCall of Farrell & Patel in Coral Gables) who represented Florida State running back Dalvin Cook when he was acquitted last year. Here is the link to that story: http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/college/florida-state-rb-dalvin-cook-not-guilty-punching-woman-article-1.2336112

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Just confirmed through the Miami Herald's David Ovalle that University of Miami running back Mark Walton, through his attorney, pleaded not guilty in Miami-Dade this morning to a DUI charge and Driving while license suspended/with knowledge charge.

 There are no other cases involving Walton,19,in the Miami-Dade court system, I was told by the State Attorney's Office, and records show it is a first offense.

  Last season, Walton played in all 13 games and rushed for 461 yards and scored nine touchdowns on 130 carries. He also caught 22 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown. He ended the season second on the team with 1,054 all-purpose yards.

   Here is the original story on Walton's arrest.

   The suspicion of Walton impersonating a police officer appears to not be valid because nearly a month has gone by without any other charges being filed. 

   Walton is now suspended from the football team indefinitely. As for when and if he'll be reinstated to the team, we'll find out sooner or later. Walton had a good spring and was the first-team tailback in the spring game, and according to coach Mark Richt, was leading at the position. Richt made clear that he will rotate more than one back during the season.

   Richt is a man who wants to see his players learn and grow from their experiences/choices -- good and bad -- and become better men because of them, unless the bad choices happen too often.

      Will let you know if there's any more news on this.

     SUSAN MILLER DEGNAN

   

 

FAU at Miami football game on Sept. 10 will be aired at 6 p.m. by ESPN3... and also...

JUST RELEASED BY ACC:

  1. FAU at UM game set for 6 p.m. on Sept. 10th and will be aired by ESPN3
  2. FAMU at UM opener also set for 6 p.m. on Sept. 3rd and will be aired by ESPN3
  3. Thursday-night ESPN game at Virginia Tech will begin at 7 p.m. 

Primetime for the 12th Annual Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship; Boston College Hosts Georgia Tech in Dublin Ireland; Florida State Battles Ole Miss on Labor Day Monday Night

GREENSBORO, N.C. — An eighth straight appearance in prime time for the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game, a minimum of 21 national exposures on ESPN platforms  in the first three weeks of the season, headline the 2016 Atlantic Coast Conference early season TV football schedule announced Thursday by the ACC.

The schedule includes all of the ACC’s games for the first three weeks of the season, with the exception of road non-conference games which are controlled by the host team or its conference. Also included are four Thursday night contests which will be nationally televised by ESPN and five nationally-televised Friday games.

Once again the conference will have a syndicated package on the ACC Network which will air in more than 100 markets and a package on the Regional Sports Networks (RSN) that will be in an average 71 million homes.

However, with ESPN3 carrying both packages outside of its syndicated footprints, every ACC-controlled football game this year will once again be a national exposure.

The 2016 Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game, which will be played for the seventh consecutive year in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, is scheduled for the first Saturday in December (Dec. 3) and will have a nationally televised kickoff time of either 7:45 p.m. (on ESPN) or 8 p.m. ET (on ABC). The Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship has been televised in primetime since 2009.

From Dublin, Ireland, where Boston College and Georgia Tech meet at Aviva Stadium in the 2016 Aer Lingus College Football Classic (7:30 a.m., ESPN2), to Eugene, Oregon, where Virginia will meet the Oregon Ducks on the second week of the season (Sept. 10), ACC teams will be playing games 4,740 miles apart in the first three weeks of the season. The game in Dublin will be the first football game between ACC opponents of the year and will mark the first time a conference game has been played in Ireland.

 As usual, the ACC will be competing in blockbuster matchups with three games featuring ACC-SEC teams on the opening weekend of the season, beginning with North Carolina facing Georgia in the Annual Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome which will be nationally televised by ESPN (5:30 p.m.) on Saturday, Sept. 3.

North Carolina, the 2015 ACC Coastal Division champion, is one of five ACC teams ranked in ESPN.com’s most recent “Way-Too-Early Top 25”. The Tar Heels are ranked 19th, while Georgia is ranked 13th.

ACC teams in the Way Too Early Top 25 are led by Clemson, ranked second, and Florida State, ranked fourth, but also include UNC, Louisville (24th) and Miami (25th).        

Later on Sept. 3, the second-ranked Tigers travel to face Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., in a game which will be nationally televised over ESPN beginning at 9 p.m.

Florida State then makes its seventh appearance on the Labor Day Monday Night Game, hosting 14th-ranked Ole Miss in the Camping World Kickoff Game at Camping World Stadium in Orlando on Sept. 5 in a game nationally televised by ESPN (8 p.m.). The Seminoles have split their previous six Labor Day Monday encounters, defeating Pitt, 41-13, in their last appearance in 2013.  The game marks the 12th time an ACC team or teams have appeared on ESPN’s Labor Day platform in the last 13 years.

Pitt renews its longtime rivalry with Penn State in the second week of the season when the Panthers host the Nittany Lions at Heinz Field for the first time on Sept. 10 (noon, ABC or ESPN). The two instate rivals are meeting for the first time since 2000, and the 15-year gap is the longest interruption in a 96-game rivalry which dates back to 1893. 

There are five SEC-ACC matchups in the season’s first three weeks, including Tennessee facing Virginia Tech at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 10 (game time and network are to be announced shortly) and Georgia Tech hosting Vanderbilt at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta on Sept. 17th (ACC Network, 12:30 p.m.).

Game times were announced for four of five nationally televised Thursday night games on ESPN, including Clemson at Georgia Tech (Sept. 22, 7:30 p.m.), Miami at Virginia Tech (Oct. 20, 7 p.m.), Virginia Tech at Pitt (Oct. 27, 7 p.m.), and North Carolina at Duke (Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m.). The Nov. 17 Louisville at Houston game will be announced at a later date by the American Athletic Conference.

The five national exposures on Friday include Louisville at Syracuse on Sept. 9 (ESPN2, 8 p.m.), Clemson at Boston College on Oct. 7 (ESPN, 7:30 p.m.), Duke at Louisville on Oct. 14 (ESPN, 7 p.m.), Boston College at Florida State on Veterans Day, Nov. 11 (ESPN2, 7:30 p.m.), and NC State at North Carolina on Thanksgiving Friday, Nov. 25 (ABC, ESPN or ESPN2; Noon or 3:30 p.m.). 

A total of 12 games will also be available nationally on ESPN3 beginning with Tulane at Wake Forest (7 p.m.) and William & Mary at NC State (7:30 p.m.) on Thursday, Sept. 1,  and continuing with Colgate at Syracuse (Sept. 2, 7 p.m.); Villanova at Pitt (Sept. 3, 1:30 p.m.); Richmond at Virginia (Sept. 3, 3:30 p.m.); North Carolina Central at Duke (Sept. 3, 6 p.m.) and Florida A&M at Miami (Sept. 3, 6 p.m.). 

The ACC’s ESPN3 schedule also includes Mercer at Georgia Tech (Sept. 10, 3 p.m.); Florida Atlantic at Miami (Sept. 10, 6 p.m.); South Florida at Syracuse (Sept. 17, 3:30 p.m.); Old Dominion at NC State (Sept. 17, 6 p.m.); and Delaware at Wake Forest (Sept. 17, 6:30 p.m.).

The ACC will again have two syndicated packages produced by the ACC Network this fall: The ACC Network and the Regional Sports Networks (RSN).

The ACC Network will be syndicated in over 100 markets nationally and more than 90 million TV households with three games in the first three weeks, each with a 12:30 p.m. kickoff: Liberty at Virginia Tech (Sept. 3); Troy at Clemson (Sept.  10); and Vanderbilt at Georgia Tech (Sept.  17). 

In addition, ACC Network games are also available digitally on ESPN3 (outside of the ACC footprint), on theACC.com and on the ACC App for IPhones, IPads and Droid mobile devices. 

Once again, the ACC will also feature a weekly football game which will air each week on the Regional Sports Networks (RSN) of Fox Sports South, Fox Sports Carolinas, Fox Sports Florida or Sun Sports, Comcast Sports Net Mid-Atlantic, New England Sports Network (NESN), the YES Network or MSG Network in New York and Root Sports in Pennsylvania, in addition to several other RSNs nationally reaching 71 million homes on average. 

The RSN package will have four games in the first three weeks of the season including a doubleheader on Sept. 17 with Clemson hosting South Carolina State (Noon) and North Carolina hosting James Madison (3:30 p.m.). The RSN package opens with a prime-time exposure on Thursday with Louisville hosting Charlotte on Sept. 1 (7 p.m.), while Florida State hosts Charleston Southern on Sept. 10 (12:30 p.m.).