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20 posts from April 2013

April 30, 2013

Wed. night update: Fins mull decision; Story of how player slipped to Fins;Heat, Canes

Updating three issues from Wednesday (the Wednesday buzz column can be found below that):

### The Dolphins hope to strike a deal with an offensive tackle very soon after working out right tackles Eric Winston, Tyson Clabo and Winston Justice on Wednesday and left tackle Bryant McKinnie earlier in the week.

The Dolphins prefer to do a short term deal (one or two years) at modest money. Financial parameters were discussed with agents for some, but not all, of the four players.

The Dolphins are considering not only what player would be the best fit on the field, but also what would make the most sense financially. The Dolphins want to leave their options open to be able to acquire a long-term answer at tackle next offseason, but they also have not ruled out trading for a longterm tackle this offseason.

Even while the three right tackles were visiting Wednesday, the Dolphins continued discussions with the representative for McKinnie, who also is considering San Diego, Baltimore and recent overtures from Dallas. Serious negotiations are underway with the Chargers.

McKinnie's appeal to the Dolphins is that he can play left tackle well, unlike the others. But they might be reluctant to pay what he can get elsewhere, including San Diego; that remains fluid. And the right tackles remain under consideration, too. 

Clabo started every game for the Falcons the past five seasons and was rated 14th among 80 tackles by Pro Football Focus for 2012. Winston started 15 games for the Chiefs and was ranked 26th by PFF.

Justice started 12 games for the Colts and was rated 45th. McKinnie started for the Ravens during their playoff run last season after not starting a game during the regular season.

### Point guard Angel Rodriguez, who is transferring from Kansas State, has signed with UM, according to his Miami Tropics coach, Art Alvarez. Rodriguez, who was second-team All Big 12 last season, wanted to attend school closer to his family in Puerto Rico. He will apply for a family hardship in an attempt to become eligible this season, but it's questionable if that will be granted. Rodriguez visited UM Wednesday, Alvarez said.

### After receiving permission from UM to talk to other schools - and having conversations with several of those schools this week - quarterback Preston Dewey has decided to stay at UM, his father told me today. That's a surprise to UM people. UM was prepared to grant him his release.

Several UM people expected he would leave after he asked for permission to contact other schools about transferring. Dewey received that permission Monday and spoke to several schools this week. UM specified some schools with whom he could not speak.

Dewey's father declined to explain why Preston asked for permission to speak to other schools, or why the conversations with other schools didn't materialize into a transfer.

His father said he was comfortable saying only this: "Preston loves the U, is making good grades and has no plans to transfer. And yes, he would be willing to stay at Miami even in the event he is not a starter."

Asked if Preston would be comfortable here even if he doesn't play, his father said "yes" but then said he didn't want to answer that question. 

It's unclear how Preston feels about everything, because he was not available for comment. He likes attending UM and likes the players and coaches but has been frustrated at times about his situation, according to a very close associate.

UM's Al Golden does not pull scholarships from players unless they've committed a violation, so it's unlikely Dewey's scholarship would be yanked now that he has declined the opportunity to transfer. 

Recruited by former coordinator Jedd Fisch, Dewey is unlikely to play at UM anytime soon, if at all. He's fourth on the depth chart (behind Stephen Morris, Ryan Williams and Gray Crow) and could fall further when David Thompson moves over from baseball and top prospect Kevin Olsen joins the team this summer. Dewey was an All-American in high school in Austin, Tx., and is considered a highly intelligent quarterback. But arm strength has been a question. 



If medical tests at the NFL Combine hadn’t turned up a worrisome red flag, the player that the Dolphins hope will become a long-term starting cornerback might still be on the road toward a transplant. And that health scare contributed to Jamar Taylor sliding into the Dolphins’ lap at No. 54 in the draft.

According to a source, here’s the behind-the-scenes story that played out with Miami’s second-round pick: Taylor has had high blood pressure since high school. He was placed on medication that has serious side effects for some, especially black males.

The medication damaged his kidneys. Anti-inflammatories made matters worse. When he was tested at the Combine in February, his kidneys were functioning at 42 percent efficiency, alarming both Taylor and NFL teams.

When Taylor had a biopsy, it was determined the blood pressure medication was causing the problem, and there was no pre-existing kidney condition. So he was placed on new blood pressure medication and told not to take anti-inflammatories.

His kidneys were left with scar tissue, but doctors expect their operating efficiency to improve. He’ll have another test in a few months.

This was explained to teams, but several picking between 25 and 45 nevertheless voiced concern about his kidneys in deciding to pass on a player many considered a first-round talent.

So at 54, the Dolphins came away with “good value” and a likely starter, as Mel Kiper said. And more importantly, as a friend of Taylor said, “the Combine helped him from needing a kidney transplant in 10 years.”


### Kiper gave the Dolphins’ draft a B-, asserting that though Dion Jordan “is a gifted athlete that can help their pass rush, I can’t totally disagree with Jon Gruden, who was critical of the move. I’m not sure you can cast him in a 4-3 defensive end role, because he could be a physical liability against the run. But I don’t think Miami will.”

### A longtime NFC scout who we trust said “Mike Gillislee could play 8 to 10 years as a backup. He’s similar to [UM’s] Mike James, but more explosive. Neither is special. I see Jelani Jenkins as a cover guy who will play a lot against a Tom Brady, not nearly as much against power teams.

“We thought at most Dallas Thomas would be a starting guard and backup tackle, not a starting tackle. We considered Dion Sims but had concerns about his speed.”

### Please see our last post for news on three more free agents visiting the Dolphins.

### Remember how former Canes Ray Ray Armstrong and Vaughn Telemaque talked about being one of the great safety tandems in college football? Telemaque still hasn’t found a team willing to invite him to rookie minicamp; Armstrong went undrafted and signed with the Rams… Here the final list of where the undrafted Canes ended up: Ramon Buchanon (Seattle contract), Jeremy Lewis (Tampa tryout), Kendal Thompkins (Kansas City tryout), Dalton Botts (Saints and Buccaneers tryouts). Jake Wieclaw has found nothing, his agent said.

### The Heat went from last in the league in rebounding during the regular season to outrebounding Milwaukee by 35 in the first round. But Chris Bosh said he saw this coming because “we’re a different team in the playoffs. It’s different when you know you have to get the rebound.”

### Celtics coach Doc Rivers doesn’t agree with the notion that a team with a good post presence is better equipped to beat Miami. “It’s going to be team toughness and mental toughness,” Rivers said. “You can have great size, but if you are not mentally tough, you are going to get smacked by them.”

### Predictably, Heat players insisted Tuesday they don't have a preference for their next opponent, though Miami was 3-0 against the Nets and 2-2 against the Bulls. The Heat will play the winner of the Bulls-Nets series, with Game 1 set for Monday in Miami. The rest of the schedule hasn't been announced.

### Marlins advisor Jack McKeon said outfield prospect Marcell Ozuna – promoted to the Marlins Tuesday – reminds me [of two-time American League home run champ] Tony Armas, with his power and speed.”

One NL scout said he believes Ozuna has more upside than Christian Yelich, the Marlins’ top position prospect. Ozuna hit 22, 23 and 24 home runs the past three seasons. “Ozuna can do it all – can run, can hit, can throw,” manager Mike Redmond said.

Ozuna was promoted ahead of Yelich for three reasons: Yelich recently returned from injury; he wasn't hitting as well as Ozuna, who was hitting .333 with five homers and 15 RBI; and unlike Ozuna, Yelich isn't yet required to be on the 40-man roster, so the Marlins would have needed to make room for him by purging a player.

### Miami Tropics coach Art Alvarez said point guard Angel Rodriguez, who is leaving Kansas State after being named second-team Big 12 to be closer to family in Puerto Rico, plans to commit to UM during his visit this week and then apply for a family hardship exception to try to become eligible this season.

### Former NBA All-Star Kenny Anderson, arrested for DUI in Pembroke Pines this past weekend -- he was more than twice the legal limit -- will not be retained as coach at Jewish Day School in Davie. He was the most famous high school basketball coach in Florida.

### I'm on Twitter now: @flasportsbuzz

April 29, 2013

Tuesday update: Fins bringing in three more tackles; NBA announces Heat date; Canes

Quick Tuesday update before we post a full buzz column later this evening:

### The NBA announced that the Heat will begin its next series next Monday, regardless of whether the Brooklyn-Chicago series ends Thursday in Game 6 or Saturday in a potential Game 7.

The Dolphins will continue their parade of free agent tackles on Wednesday when they bring in free agent tackles Tyson Clabo, Eric Winston and Winston Justice for visits.

Clabo was cut by the Falcons this offseason, and Winston by the Chiefs. Justice started 12 games for the Colts last season.

Winston visited the Dolphins in March, but the Dolphins at that time were unwilling to give him a deal any better than one year at low money.

Bryant McKinnie visited the Dolphins on Monday, then flew to San Diego to visit the Chargers.

The Dolphins had shown zero interest in McKinnie or Clabo until this week.

The Dolphins plan to add a veteran tackle as soon as they decide who's the best fit - both in terms of ability and financially.


Some Monday notes:

### Veteran offensive tackle and former UM star Bryant McKinnie completed a one-day visit with the Dolphins this afternoon, and dialogue between the sides will continue in the coming days.

The Dolphins, San Diego and Baltimore are all possibilities for McKinnie, and there's a good chance he will visit San Diego in the next couple of days. The Ravens have discussed the possibility of re-signing him.

McKinnie met with Jeff Ireland and Dolphins coaches during his visit. 

McKinnie, 33, said two weeks ago he would welcome overtures from the Dolphins. Miami didn't contact him in the weeks before the draft but decided to consider him after failing to acquire a tackle during the draft and after declining to give the Chiefs a second-round pick this past weekend in exchange for Branden Albert.

McKinnie came to camp with a back injury last July - suffered when he fell down stairs at his South Florida home - and didn't start a game in the regular season. But he started at left tackle throughout Baltimore's run to the Super Bowl, when the Ravens offense was rolling.

He started every game for Baltimore at left tackle in 2011, and Pro Football Focus ranked him 42nd among 66 tackles that season.

### Jeff Ireland feels very good about his collection of cornerbacks: Brent Grimes, Dimitri Patterson, Richard Marshall, Nolan Carroll, a couple of young holdovers (including DeAndre Presley) and draft picks Jamar Taylor, Will Davis and Don Jones.

“I think there is a lot of competition,” Ireland said. “You’ve got some real good veterans that have played very good football in their career. Obviously, we had some guys that didn’t finish the season  but have shown a lot of productivity in their careers. Then, you have some young guys we’ve drafted.

“We’ve got some core special teams players and guys that have had some highlights in their careers as well. I feel good about the position. I think we’ve got a lot of talent over there. We’ve got to get these guys healthy, which, I think, a majority of them they are, and I look forward to seeing how that position plays out. But I think there’s a good mix of vets and young players that can fill out the roster from the cornerback position.”

### Ireland’s final assessment on the third day of the Dolphins draft: “I feel really good about it. Jelani Jenkins is very quick, very athletic, very versatile. He’s a great kid, very educated, smart. He’s going to be a core special teams player for us. He’s going to compete for obviously an outside linebacker position. I think he’s pretty versatile. I think he can back up inside and outside, but I think the guy’s got a chance to be a starter in the future.

“[Michigan State tight end] Dion Sims is a very intriguing prospect. He’s physical. He’s got very good hands. He’s a former basketball player. Very intriguing. He played at probably a little heavier weight in college than what we saw here in the last spring and that’s what really intrigued us about him is he lost some weight, showed us some discipline in that regard and moved around very well in the spring."

More Ireland: “I really like Mike Gillislee. He’s got a very good skillset for the running back position. He can pass protect. Kind of paid his dues there at Florida. He was a one-year starter. He catches the ball well and he pass protects. He runs it very well as well. He’s tough.”

Ireland said rookie Caleb Sturgis and veteran Dan Carpenter “are going to be in pretty good competition in camp and we look forward to that.”

Ireland, on the team’s final draft pick, Arkansas State’s Jones: “This kid really jumped out on the screen for us with his speed and physicality. He played kind of a nickel back for Arkansas State, kind of a hybrid safety position. We brought him here on a visit and got to know the kid. He was a non-combine workout guy and really kind of liked the kid. We’re going to try him at corner and see if we can put him over there. He’s played corner and safety in his career, so looking forward to that transition as well.”

### Gators coach Will Muschamp spoke to Dolphins writers today about the three Gators picked by the Dolphins. Among the highlights:

Muschamp said: “They got three great people, three great guys in the locker. Jelani Jenkins is an every down linebacker. The guy can really run and play in space. He has improved his physicality. He can play every down. In a spread league, you have to have guys who can play in a box and play every down. He can do that.”

He said Caleb Sturgis “is the best kicker I’ve ever been around. Accurate, strong leg. No issues. The confidence level I’ve had in him, I’ve never had in a kicker.”

He had three kicks blocked last season, but Muschamp said: “One was a snap issue, one was a protection issue. And the one blocked in the Missouri game wasn’t his fault because he had an ankle injury.”

On running back Mike Gillislee: “He was nowhere on the radar at this time last year. Good lateral quickness, can get vertical in a hole quickly. Can play every down, because he can protect. He’s got really good lower body flexibility and good punch and power on all blocks. Tough, hard nosed runner. Gets stronger as the game goes.”

### Among undrafted Canes players, Epicagents.com said two of its clients will join teams this week: linebacker Ramon Buchanan signed with Seattle and offensive lineman (and former defensive lineman) Jeremy Lewis will attend Tampa's rookie minicamp.

Receiver Kendal Thompkins will attend Chiefs’ rookie minicamp, and punter Dalton Botts was invited to the Saints’ rookie minicamp.

### The Heat is now 12-2 this year without Dwyane Wade and 29-7 without Wade since LeBron James joined the franchise.

### With Shane Larkin leaving, what will the UM backcourt look like?

“Ask me in November, because right now we don’t know the answer to that,” coach Jim Larranaga said. “We’re not finished recruiting. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle we have to figure out.”

Rion Brown assuredly will start, and incoming DeAndre Burnett likely will play a lot. Garrius Adams can play small forward or shooting guard.

April 27, 2013

Analysts break down Fins' draft picks; How Cavs' move affects LeBron;Canes decline overtures


What the evaluators are saying about the Dolphins’ Friday and Saturday draft picks:

### ESPN’s Mel Kiper rated Jamar Taylor fourth among all cornerbacks and said “he went from a fifth-round to a second-round pick on his performance this season. One of the stronger cornerbacks you’ll find. Plays the ball well. Good instincts.”… CBS’ Rob Rang: “Every bit as impressive in zone, press and off-man coverage as well as run support.”…

ESPN’s Todd McShay: “Will be a really good player.”… NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah: “Consistent on every tape I studied. Rock solid.”… Pro Football Weekly: “Short arms” but “desirable speed, cover skills. Can play outside or inside” and will “become a solid No. 2 corner.”.. Had four picks, 2.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2012.

### NFL Network’s Mike Mayock had only a fifth-round grade on third-round cornerback Will Davis. “I kept getting mixed messages,” NFL Network’s Charles Davis said. “One guy liked him a lot. Next guy, not so much.”… Rang compared him to Dolphins cornerback Richard Marshall, in that both have good coverage skills “and may only need greater physicality to emerge as a starter.”….

Pro Football Weekly: “Finesse corner. Needs to get stronger to jam stronger receivers and shed blocks. Average timed speed. [But] should contribute immediately in sub-packages before developing into a No. 2.”… Five picks, 17 pass breakups last year.

### Mayock and Davis agreed Tennessee’s Dallas Thomas is better at guard than tackle. If Dolphins coaches agree, he could replace Richie Incognito in a year…. Mayock: “If they think he’s the answer at tackle, I would disagree.”… As an example, Davis said Thomas “played appreciably better” at guard than tackle against Florida….

The good news: Thomas did not allow a sack either at left tackle in 2011 or at left guard in 2012. But Rang said he is “vulnerable to outside speed rushers” at tackle…. More Rang: “Explosive punch, which he often uses, to knock defenders back in run game.”… Pro Football Weekly: “Clear starter potential” but “looked more comfortable at guard” than tackle. He graded out at 98 percent at left guard in 2012.

### Kiper said Gators linebacker Jelani Jenkins is “a good cover guy, can run. Durability concerns. He could have been a first- or second-rounder if he returned to Florida. You added Philip Wheeler, Dannell Ellerbe at linebacker, and you have Koa Misi. Incredibly strong in the upper body.”…

Mayock: “Jenkins is going to make a living on special teams.”… Pro Football Weekly: “Agile, smart and good closing speed. Can run with backs/TEs” but “lacks ideal height [6-0], length and bulk. Poor body fat (18 percent) raises questions about conditioning. Can be overpowered facing inside runs.”

(Jeff Ireland, by the way, said tonight Jenkins "has a chance to be a starter" in the future.)

### Kiper said tight end Dion Sims “can stretch the deep middle, which is rare for a kid this size. Ryan Tannehill will like his big frame and soft hands and ability he brings in the pass offense.”… Twenty nine of his 36 catches in 2012 went for first downs or touchdowns.

But evaluators disagree about his blocking skills. McShay said “he’s going to have to improve as a blocker” and Kiper said “I’d like to see him dominate more as a blocker.” But Mayock said: “He and [Cincinnati’s Travis Kelcie] are the two best in-line blocking tight ends in this draft.”… Pro Football Weekly also said he needs to improve his blocking technique but he's "a load to bring down after the catch. Three-down potential, given size and athleticism.” But he has “concentration drops” and “immaturity could be limiting.”

### Mayock calls Mike Gillislee “an underlooked, bigger back that does everything well without one spectacular trait. Will pass protect. Catches the ball well.” … Davis: “You know what I love most about him? His odometer is low. One year as a featured runner.”… Has a sterling 5.3 career yards-per-carry average, with four fumbles in 421 touches…

McShay: “Some guys have a nose for the end zone. He does [11 touchdowns last season].” Perfect change of pace back."... Kiper notes he has some kickoff return experience, with modest results…. Pro Football Weekly: “Lacks ‘wow’ factor and top end finishing speed. [But] good instincts, vision… Very consistent across the board in every area and has tools to become a very dependable backup. Could prove to be a better pro than college player.”

### Pro Football Weekly on kicker Caleb Sturgis: “Excelled from distance. Experienced, dependable kicker whose strong leg and consistent accuracy give him the look of a longtime pro.” Missed only four of 28 field goals in 2012, but three were blocked…. Was 17 for 22 on field goals of 40 or more last two years. Ireland said it will be a competition between Sturgis and Dan Carpenter.

###### Kiper called Arkansas State safety Don Jones "underrated." (In fact, he was the first under-the-radar prospect I mentioned the FIns were looking hard at more than a month ago.) He has 4.4 speed in the 40 and an impressive 42-inch vertical jump, and the Dolphins will use him at corner, likely in the slot. NFL.com's Gil Brandt said he projects as a fifth or sixth corner. It won't be surprising if he makes the team as a seventh rounder, like Jimmy Wilson did.


### As of last week, Miami hadn’t offered Eric Winston anything more than a one-year deal at very low money, but Winston remains an option unless Miami and the Chiefs revive talks on Branden Albert. The Dolphins and Chiefs discussed the 54th pick, but Miami ultimately decided not to offer it, though they did reach a financial understanding with Albert had a trade gone down.

Jon Gruden said Winston’s play was a “disaster” last year, but keep in mind Pro Football Focus ranked him a solid 26th of 80 tackles (allowed three sacks, 25 quarterback hurries). By comparison, Albert was 25th (1 sack, 12 hurries). Miami hadn't called Bryant McKinnie as of last week and also hasn’t called former Falcons starter Tyson Clabo, among the best free agent tackles left.

### The Fins are giving a tryout next week to Duquesne DB Zach Richert, who is Dan Marino's nephew... The Fins added several undrafted receivers: Arkansas State's Taylor Stockemer, Mississippi State's Chad Bumphis, Northern Iowa's Terrell Sinkfield and Mount Union's Jasper Collins.... Arkansas OLB Alonzo Highsmith, who missed most of last season with a foot injury, also signed with Miami after the draft. He's the son of the former UM great, now a Packers executive.

### Though he was a good team guy, a Dolphins player said Davone Bess grew frustrated at times the past two years after some games when he wasn’t involved as much in the offense as he would like. Bottom line: If he hadn’t been traded, being a fourth receiver likely wouldn’t have sat well with him.

Ireland said tonight he's comfortable with what Miami has at the position. The Dolphins see upside in Rishard Matthews and Armon Binns, who will compete with the undrafted rookies and former practice squad members Jeff Fuller and Brian Tyms for the No. 4 and No. 5 receiver jobs. With Miami using a lot of two tight-end sets, the fourth receiver could end up playing less than last year (16.6 percent of offensive snaps last season for the No. 4 receiver).

### A friend of LeBron James said Cleveland’s re-hiring of coach Mike Brown doesn’t hurt the Cavaliers’ chances of luring James back in 2014 but doesn’t tilt the odds toward Cleveland, either. “He left Cleveland with good feelings for Mike and speaks highly of him [privately],” the friend said.

James’ friend makes the Heat the front-runner to keep him when he can become a free agent in 2014, but also said Cleveland cannot be ruled out because of “his love for Akron – how special it is to him. I’d be very surprised if he considers anywhere but Miami and Cleveland.”

### James, by the way, surprised teammates by giving each of them a new pair of snazzy headsets before the playoffs. Rashard Lewis said that’s the sixth gift he has given teammates this season.

### Remarkable: Chris Andersen has 31 points and 19 rebounds in 42 playoff minutes, and the Heat has outscored the Bucks by 37 points during those minutes. That means he’s averaging a ridiculous 38 points and 22 rebounds per 48 minutes. For perspective, Joel Anthony averaged 8.0 and 7.9 per 48 minutes in a similar role last postseason.

### UM declined overtures to open the 2014 season against LSU at Houston’s Reliant Stadium – smart, considering it will be the first game for Stephen Morris’ successor at quarterback. UM doesn’t need him opening against a usually-stout LSU defense.

### Though Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco said previously he expects to be traded at some point, no team had inquired as of late this week and the Marlins expect talks won’t heat up until the summer, when a contender needs a starter. The Marlins, on a historically anemic pace offensively, hadn't actively looked to trade for a hitter as of Friday.      

### Please follow me on Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

April 26, 2013

Jeff Ireland address Friday night's Dolphins draft picks; Stephen Ross speaks out

Some quick comments from Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland on his three picks Friday:

### On Boise State cornerback Jamar Taylor: "Great kid.  Prototypical size and speed.  Very smart.  Very physical.  Can play inside and outside.  He plays with a great awareness, instinct."

### On Utah State cornerback Will Davis: "Can play inside or outside. Very skilled athlete. Doesn't have a lot of experience. Really came on the scene this year.

"Obviously with his experience level you would think that he may be a little bit of a developmental player, but I think the guy has the skill set to play in this league. I think that with the great coaching that we have and the players around him, he will develop fast.” 

### Ireland said Tennessee offensive lineman Dallas Thomas would play on the left side, but he was non-committal about whether he will play guard or tackle. He said the coaches would determine that.

“We spent a lot of time watching him play in 2011 and 2012. I  love the versatility. When you see a big guy that can pull and move his feet and play guard and tackle on the left side, that’s pretty unique."

Ireland suggested he doesn't expect a trade for Kansas City's Branden Albert, but he also said nothing was going on with Davone Bess a day before was traded. He wouldn't rule out a trade for Albert.


Dolphins owner Stephen Ross made some interesting revelations and comments in a studio appearance on Dan Le Batard’s show on 790 The Ticket today. Among them:

### “This organization is functioning the best since the Shula days, [because] I picked the head coach with Jeff Ireland. People see this organization is really on the uptick.”

### On Ireland: “People wanted to blame our losing on somebody, and he was the easy person to blame it on. I believe in Jeff, and you’re seeing today what Jeff Ireland can really do. This past year is the first year, under my [ownership] this organization is coming into its own.”

### He said No. 1 draft pick Dion Jordan reminded the front office of Jason Taylor and DeMarcus Ware.

### He said during his first year as owner, “Everybody had me walking on eggshells... or we were going to lose Bill Parcells.”... He disagreed with Le Batard's assertion that Parcells is a fraud: "I have a lot of respect for the guy. I like the guy. He didn't stay with it for personal reasons."

### On his trip to visit then-Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh when Tony Sparano was still the team’s coach: “I got blasted for Harbaugh. He turned out to be a pretty darn good coach. It wasn’t like I was looking in the wrong direction. Everyone said, ‘This guy doesn’t know what he’s doing.’… I learned a lot. I knew this guy would be a great head coach. We have one now.”

Ross said he quickly learned he was being used by Harbaugh's agent. Soon after, Harbaugh became head coach of the 49ers.

### Ross criticized former coach Tony Sparano: “The way Tony reacted to [the Harbaugh interview] damaged the whole organization. He could never put it behind him. I don’t think he was right head coach for Miami Dolphins. I didn’t hire him. We’re a much better organization today than then.”

Sparano was upset that Ross interviewed Harbaugh while Sparano was still employed, then was rewarded with a one-year extension that apparently didn’t soothe his feelings as much as Ross expected it would.

By the way, Ross openly questioned Sparano's coaching decisions around confidantes. He thought Sparano's teams played below their talent level.

### He said his pitch to Peyton Manning during free agency last spring included a role with the Dolphins after he retired. “I got to know Archie Manning. I tried every angle. You have to be tenacious. I thought we had a shot at him. We went up to Indianapolis. I then flew him from Indianapolis to North Carolina, to Duke, and he and I spent some time together.

“I know the reason why he made the decision. I made an offer I thought would get him there [with a post-playing career role that Ross did not specify on the radio]. He wrote me a letter: ‘I would love to come with you, but I guess that would mean I have to play for you.’

He said one of the main reasons Manning chose Denver was “his familiarity with the coaches and their [offensive] systems. He didn’t know our coaches or our system.”

### When Manning returned to Miami after meeting with the Dolphins and other teams, TV reporters cascaded on him, and helicopters followed his car back home.

“The helicopters really spooked him,” Ross said. “He wants privacy. He takes his profession very seriously. He didn’t want all that in Miami. There were a number of factors why we didn’t get him.”

### Ross revealed the team “hired five quarterback experts” last offseason to study available quarterback options. The reason? He said the Dolphins wanted “to leave no stone unturned, because we couldn’t make a mistake.” He said his experts liked Andrew Luck No. 1, Robert Griffin No. 2 and Tannehill third among quarterbacks in the 2012 draft.

### He said Tannehill “will turn out to be a great quarterback.”

### He said: “I don’t know if there’s a fair argument against” the team’s public financing plan. The Miami-Dade referendum is scheduled for May 14.

### What if the stadium financing plan is voted down? "There isn't a backup plan. If we don't get it, I'll have to figure it out."

### Why not pay for the whole project himself? "I'm paying much, much more than the percentage I would possibly benefit. It's not the community paying me. It's the tourists who stay in the hotels who are paying."

### He admitted he "absolutely" wishes there wasn't a vote on the issue. "The county commission could have voted for it, but we agreed to a referendum because of the Marlins deal. It's not even close to the Marlins [ballpark] deal. If it were close to the Marlins deal, it wouldn't even be [given] to the voters. Why should anybody be against it? If you really love Dade County, you shouldn't be against it. They're the beneficiaries."

### If fans feel hopeful about the team, does that help with the vote? "I would hope so. [But] I will be judged on if we have a winning team, not on the stadium. If we fail [with the stadium], I'm still trying to put a winning team on the field.... The challenge is great, but we're going to succeed."

### Please see our last post for analysis from pundits on the Dion Jordan pick; some players the Dolphins checked out at key positions; and an agent ripping the Marlins.

April 25, 2013

Mixed reaction on Dion Jordan pick; Fins draft notes; Agent rips Marlins


Some reaction to the Dolphins’ selection of Oregon defensive end/linebacker Dion Jordan:

### NFL Network’s Mike Mayock: “He’s breathtaking off the edge. He’s got the potential to be Jason Taylor. He looks a little bit like an Aldon Smith. If he puts 20 pounds on that 6-7 frame, someday he might even be a DeMarcus Ware. He’s got that edge speed. The motor is excellent. At Oregon, they even put him over the slot and had him disrupt the slot in pass coverage. They’ve got Jared Odrick, who’s more of a defensive tackle than an end. They needed an edge presence, but they have to have a plan for left tackle.”

### ESPN’s Jon Gruden: “I really like Jordan’s athleticism but I’m shocked by this pick. [At Oregon] he plays six plays, he’s out six plays. When you watch Jordan play 70 snaps in an NFL game, that will be first time you ever seen him do it. He’s narrow. He’s got a shoulder problem. There’s a lot of unknown right now.

“No question he’s a great edge rusher, does an excellent job getting off the ball and beating tackles with edge pressure. [But] I don’t see inside moves. Everything is to the outside. For him to be a great pro, he will have to do more than just rush around the edge.”

### ESPN’s Mel Kiper said he’s best suited to be a 3-4 outside linebacker instead of a defensive end in a 4-3.

“At less than 250 pounds, can he hold up at the point of attack?” Kiper wonders. “Can he be a down guy against power tackles in the NFL?” But Kiper likes that "he made a lot of run stops behind the line of scrimmage – 23 tackles for loss the last two years.”

### NFL Network’s Steve Mariucci: “When he puts on a little muscle, he’s going to be dynamite. They’re going to find a way to have this guy on the field most downs.”

### Before the draft, NFLdraftscout.com’s Rob Rang predicted Jordan will be “exposed as overrated” and wonders why he wasn’t more productive. “Far from the sure thing that his cut-ups have led some to believe,” Rang said. “Rather than actually make plays in coverage, Jordan simply took up space.”

### NFL Network’s Marshall Faulk: “If you’re going to compete against the Patriots two times a year, you have to be able to beat a guy one-on-one and not blitz Tom Brady. You need this guy.”

### Pro Football Weekly called Jordan a “long-limbed, fluid moving athlete with surprising play strength given his linear frame… Could require patience to develop but could become a difference maker in two years given his natural explosion and raw physical skills…. Cannot fight through blocks… Does not disengage well once he’s locked up…. Sudden first step… Can cover tight ends and keep stride with backs.”

### NFL.com noted Jordan was rarely asked to play with a hand in the dirt as a traditional defensive end. But he said tonight that won’t be a problem. And Jeff Ireland said there's a possibility he might play linebacker. The coaching staff will determine that… Let’s hope Jordan ends up better than the other two Oregon players who went third overall: Joey Harrington and Akili Smith…. None of Jordan’s five sacks last season came against a double team.

### Here's what Dolphins owner Steve Ross said about the pick: “I’m very pleased. I’m really surprised. We had a dinner with the coaches and Jeff last week. At the end of the dinner, we went around asking, I asked them who they’d pick around there and the first choice was Dion Jordan. Everybody thought, ‘Hey, we’ll never get him.’ And it was like, just sitting in there and it was like Jeff said, ‘Let me just try it based on the things I hear.’

"I thought he was kidding and sure enough when [Oakland] called back I think everybody in that room was shocked. Joe (Philbin) will tell you that’s one player they really liked. They thought he was really different and I think it’s a great move. This is an impact player. There’s nothing better when you’re really drafting and you’re getting what you think is…with the third pick in the draft and the guy who you really loved… It’s a great thing. It’s a great day and the value, giving up as little as they had to give for him and looking at the numbers and how they assess things, these are incredible. Good day.” 


Among the names still available that the Dolphins have spent extra time with at different positions:

### Running back: Had a private workout with Clemson’s Andre Ellington and spent a lot of time with North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard.

### Receiver: Washington State’s Marquess Wilson and junior college standout Courtney Gardner visited team headquarters. Miami also met multiple times with Lehigh’s Ryan Spadola and had a private audition with Texas A&M’s Ryan Swope and West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey. Among others on their radar: Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton and Utah All-American kick returner Reggie Dunn.

### Tight end: UF’s Jordan Reed and Michigan State’s Dion Sims visited, as did H-back/tight end Kyle Juszczyk, who could be the first player drafted from Harvard since Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2005. Among others they’ve shown interest in: Stanford’s Zach Ertz, Cincinnati’s Travis Kelcie, South Carolina’s Justice Cunningham, Maryland’s Matt Furstenburg.

### Offensive line: Too many to name all, but CSU-Pueblo’s Ryan Jansen, Chadron State’s Garrett Gilkey and FSU’s Menelik Watson visited. Among those with private Dolphins workouts: North Carolina’s Brennan Williams and Travis Bond, San Jose State’s David Quessenberry (Miami likes him) and West Virginia’s Jeff Braun.

### Linebackers: UF’s Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic visited. They’ve shown interest in Texas A&M Jonathan Stewart, Oregon’s Kiko Alonso and Ohio State’s Nate Williams, among others.

### Cornerbacks: Boise State’s Jamar Taylor, Houston’s DJ Hayden and Southeast Louisiana’s Robert Alford visited, and the Dolphins expressed interest in Mississippi State’s Darius Slay, Utah State's Will Davis, Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer and Cal’s Steve Williams, among others. "I don't know that [cornerback] is a huge need," Ireland said late Thursday night.

### Safety: Arkansas State’s under-the-radar Don Jones visited. Miami privately auditioned Michigan’s Jordan Kovacs and expressed interest in FIU’s Jonathan Cyprien, UCF’s Kemal Ishmael (Conference USA player of year) and Rutgers’ Duron Harmon.

### Specialists: Among kickers the Dolphins like: UF’s Caleb Sturgis (24 for 28 on field goals last year, and 17 of 22 beyond 40 last two seasons). Dan Carpenter likely will have competition. 


### Jeff Ireland said tonight that the Dolphins are "nowhere" on a Davone Bess trade, with one source saying Miami wants a higher pick than Cleveland has offered. Though Miami has the cap space, his salary of $2.7 million would be a bit pricey for a potential fourth receiver. And keep in mind Miami’s fourth receiver played just 16.6 percent of their offensive snaps last season.

The Dolphins signed Brandon Gibson with the clear intent of playing him quite a bit behind starters Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline.

### Dwyane Wade's 1 for 12 shooting in Game 3 against Milwaukee tonight was the second-worst of his career, barely ahead of a 1 for 13 night against Indiana in 2010. But "we had other guys who filled in the gaps," said Ray Allen, who led Miami with 23 points. "That's what this team is made of."

Said Wade: "After the game, I told [Allen], 'Thanks for picking me up.'"

But Wade helped a lot in other ways, with 11 assists, 9 rebounds, 5 steals and 2 blocks.

### Ricky Nolasco’s agent on Thursday lashed out at the Marlins for Tuesday’s unfortunate incident in which Nolasco came to Target Field in Minneapolis expecting to pitch the first game of a double-header, but then was sent back to the hotel so Jose Fernandez could pitch the first game, in sunny conditions, with Nolasco pitching the second game.

“To be told two or 2 ½ hours before a start that you’re starting eight or nine hours from now [instead] is a bunch of [expletive],” agent Matt Sosnick said, adding this “is very much in line with the message the Marlins have sent to veteran players.”

Sosnick doesn’t blame the baseball staff: “I know it wasn’t the manager’s decision, and [front-office executives] Larry Beinfest and Mike Hill have too much integrity to make that type of call. Whoever made the choice would have to have so little social and emotional awareness that would totally have a lack of understanding of how it would affect Ricky and the manager.”

 ### Please follow me on Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

April 24, 2013

Draft prospects the Dolphins have summoned; UM commitment; Heat playoff news, notes

Some Wednesday night Dolphins/Heat tidbits, as the Dolphins shop Davone Bess around the league and continue talks with Kansas City about Branden Albert:

NFL teams are permitted to bring 30 non-local draft prospects to team headquarters to meet with team officials and do medical tests. The Dolphins are interested in some (such as DJ Hayden and Kenny Vaccaro) more than others, but all piqued Miami’s interest enough to bring them in.

The Dolphins never release the names, but 19 of them ultimately leaked. Here are the 16 that I found:

Texas S Vaccaro

Houston CB Hayden

Arkansas State S Don Jones

Boise State CB Jamar Taylor

Washington State QB Jeff Tuel

Washington State WR Marquess Wilson

Southeast Louisiana CB Robert Alford

Alabama CB Dee Milliner

Utah DT Star Lotulelei

FSU OT Menelik Watson

Florida LB Jelani Jenkins

Florida TE Jordan Reed

Harvard H-Back/TE Kyle Juszczyk

Chadron State OT Garrett Gilkey

Michigan State TE Dion Sims

Sierra (CC) WR Courtney Gardner (considered of the draft’s top sleeper WRs; would have gone to Oklahoma if he had qualified academically).

### Credit Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post (and soon to be Boston Globe) for unearthing Dolphins visits for Missouri DT Sheldon Richardson, Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o and Colorado State University-Pueblo OG Ryan Jensen.

The Dolphins could bring in as many players with local ties as they want for workouts on their local Pro Day April 3. But they spent extra time with a few on different days, including North Carolina RB Giovani Bernard (Miami likes him), Auburn DE Corey Lemonier and UF safety Matt Elam.

### The Dolphins spent some private time on campus with West Virginia's Tavon Austin, for those enamored with the speedy slot receiver.


Pearl River Community College defensive tackle Dalvon Stuckey, who was once a three-star FSU commitment, told Canesport.com on Wednesday that he will enroll at UM in January. Defensive tackle remains a UM priority in recruiting. He had 15 tackles for loss and eight sacks last season. He was rated by rivals.com as the 23rd-best defensive tackle out of high school a year ago.


LeBron James is widely expected to be named NBA Most Valuable Player sometime in the next couple of weeks. But he had to settle for finishing second to Memphis center Marc Gasol for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, which was announced Wednesday.

Gasol, who anchored the league’s stingiest defense, received 30 first-place votes and 212 points overall in a voting of media members. James had 18 and 149.

But James wasn’t listed in the top three of 74 of the 121 ballots cast.

James finished fourth for Defensive Player of the Year last season and ninth in his first season with the Heat. He finished second one other time -- in 2008-09, behind Dwight Howard.

“I would like to see him achieve Defensive Player of the Year. He’s deserving,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “What you love about LeBron – the best player in the game – is how he values that side of the floor as a star player. A true two-way player.

“It’s not a coincidence the type of players we try to recruit into our system are two-way players who take as much pride on the defensive end.

“Also, the thing about LeBron is he was coached very well… [in] high school and the pros. [Cleveland coach] Mike Brown did a great job instilling a defensive background. You take for granted his impact defensively. He guards [every position] every night. In the fourth quarter, it’s whoever is the biggest threat against us – that’s who he’s guarding.”

Heat guard Dwyane Wade finished 16th in the voting.

### Former NBA guard Baron Davis said on NBA TV’s postgame show Tuesday: “I think LeBron is going to be the greatest [of all time]. He’s definitely going to surpass Michael Jordan.”    

### The Heat did not practice Wednesday, and Spoelstra said the team’s day included “rest, treatment and flying.”

Wade, who missed six of the final 11 regular season games with a bone bruise in the right knee, said after Tuesday’s game: “I have a lot more improving to do with my health. Hopefully, I continue to feel better. I’m not where I want to be.”

### Shane Battier, who needed four stitches on his chin after a collision with Milwaukee center Larry Sanders, said he will be fine. 

### During the regular season, the Heat finished 30th in rebounding and the Bucks fifth. But the Heat has outrebounded them by 20 through two games.

Chris Andersen has 13 rebounds in 28 minutes – the same number Bosh has in 59.

### Here's more perspective on Birdman's impact: In Game 2, the Bucks shot 37.6 percent and were outscored by 14 during Andersen’s 12 minutes. Milwaukee shot 53.6 percent and outscored the Heat by two the rest of the time.

### Spoelstra stuck with Norris Cole for the entire fourth quarter of Game 2, after Cole scored five points during Miami’s 12-0 spurt to start the quarter.

“I had every intention of putting Mario Chalmers back in the there,” Spoelstra said. “The minutes and spark Norris gave us with the second unit obviously impacted the game.”

Chalmers has admitted that he sometimes has said something to Spoelstra this season when he wants to get back in the game.

“He’ll give me the look, makes sure he’s the first one I see,” Spoelstra said, leaning his head out to replicate what Chalmers does when Spoelstra peers down his bench.

“But it’s all in good nature. He’s rooting for Norris. They cheer for each other as much as anybody. I’ve enjoyed seeing that point guard relationship group.”

### Contrary to radio speculation, the Heat said the fact it’s not staying at Milwaukee’s Pfister Hotel – where it often stays – has nothing to do with folklore that the place is haunted by ghosts, but instead because the Milwaukee Dancesport Competition is being held there this weekend.

### The 15.6 TV rating for Game 2 – equaling 15.6 percent of all Dade/Broward homes with TV sets – was the highest ever for a Heat game on Sun Sports.


April 23, 2013

Big UM recruiting loss; Fins check out Gators, Noles; Wade speaks out; UM/NCAA news

A quick Wednesday morning update before we get to the Wednesday buzz column below:

UM basketball suffered a recruiting setback minutes ago when its top target - Brandon (Fla.) PF Demetrius Henry - announced he will sign with South Carolina instead of UM, which was his other finalist. Henry said coach Frank Martin is the biggest reason he chose South Carolina.

Henry would have stepped into departing PF Kenny Kadji's slot if he had signed with Miami. The Hurricanes desperately need to add quality size in the next few months, but most of the really good recruits already have signed elsewhere. As it stands, Tonye Jekiri will start at center (Jim Larranaga said he could end up being the best big man UM has ever had) but undersized 6-6 Erik Swoope could end up starting at PF.

Point guard Shane Larkin must decide by Sunday whether to leave for the NBA. ESPN says he is strongly leaning toward leaning pro, though Larkin and his father have said no decision has been made. 

### As colleague Armando Salguero noted earlier today, the Dolphins and Chiefs have resumed trade talks for offensive tackle Branden Albert. Decent chance this gets done, but not certain. Fins wants to make sure they can't get one of elite tackles in draft. And Chiefs have to be willing to accept pick No. 54. Fins hadn't received permission to give Albert a physical as of this morning, but that could change at any minute. Fins could always wait until Friday to see how first round plays out Thursday night.




Fins draft chatter:

### Not even the Dolphins know for sure if they will be drafting any state players this week, as they did last April with UM’s Lamar Miller and Olivier Vernon. But besides liking the skills of FIU safety Jonathan Cyprien, the Dolphins also have been showing interest in several Gators and Seminoles.

Permitted to bring in 30 non-local players for visits at team headquarters, the Dolphins have used three on FSU offensive tackle Menelik Watson, UF linebacker Jelani Jenkins and UF tight end Jordan Reed.

Also, Miami has shown interest in FSU defensive end Tank Carradine; brought in UF safety Matt Elam to meet with team executives last week; and sent their special teams coach upstate to audition Dustin Hopkins (FSU) and Caleb Sturgis (UF) – two of the draft’s best kickers.

The Dolphins have spent more time with Watson than any other tackle in the past month, sending their offensive line coach to audition him in Tallahassee and then summoning him to Miami to meet team officials. He's an option - if Miami trades down lower in the first round or if he slips to 42 - but only if Miami doesn't trade for Branden Albert, which remains a possibility.

A native of England, Menelik never played football before August 2011. He played right tackle at FSU but NFL Network's Mike Mayock said he could be a natural left tackle. “It’s mind-boggling how much upside this kid has,” Mayock said.

Miami also is intrigued by Carradine, a potential second-rounder who had 11 sacks last season before a November ACL injury. The Dolphins haven’t spent as much time with FSU end Bjoern Werner, though he’s also on their radar.

“Werner’s stock has dropped” to the 30s, Kiper said. “He didn’t test out as well as people thought. A little raw. Great motor.”

Since the Combine, the Dolphins have spent significant time with two UF linebackers projected for the middle rounds: Jenkins, a potential mid-round pick who was limited by a foot injury last year but played well in 2011 (75 tackles, two sacks), and middle linebacker Jon Bostic (6.5 sacks, two interceptions).

“Bostic is one of the highest risers in the draft – could go 60 to 75,” Mayock said, adding Jenkins is a fourth- or fifth-rounder.

Kiper said Reed’s stock “has dropped a bit. Maybe he’s a fourth- or fifth-round pick. He’ll help a team.” Elam – a potential second-rounder - has good range, but he’s on the small side (5-10) and he has struggled in coverage at times. "He will play a lot of years in the league," Mayock said.

### Miami couldn’t be more serious about finding a challenger for Dan Carpenter. Besides auditioning Hopkins (25 for 30 in field goals last year) and Sturgis (24-28), the Dolphins sent a coach or scout to privately audition Nebraska’s Brett Maher, North Carolina’s Casey Barth, Oklahoma State’s Quinn Sharp, Fordham’s Patrick Murray and Houston’s Matt Hogan – all on the their campuses. UM’s Jake Wieclaw worked out for the Dolphins at their facility.

### Besides liking tight ends Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz, the Dolphins recently summoned Michigan State’s Dion Sims – a potential mid-rounder who averaged 13.2 yards per catch - to team headquarters.


### So what does Dwyane Wade think of Bucks guard Monta Ellis saying earlier this season that he’s as good as Wade, but without all the wins and championships? “I looked at it and I chuckled in a sense,” Wade said in a private moment Tuesday.

“But if I’m a bar for somebody, I don’t mind that. Monta is a talented, talented guard. But obviously, I feel my game is a little bit different. I’m not just a scorer. I do everything on the floor, my whole career I’ve done it. That’s where I separate myself from others…

“[But] I look at what Kobe Bryant does. I know I need championships to be where he’s at, to even be in the category with him as a player.”

### Behind the scenes, Ray Allen has been challenging LeBron James all season about his shooting, to the point “that he gets tired of me talking about it,” Allen said. “Every day we talk about it. I told him he could be a 50-40-90 guy in the playoffs.”

That means 50 percent from the field (he shot 56.5 during the season), 40 percent on threes (40.6) and 90 percent from the line (75.3). “Free throws have been his nemesis,” Allen said. “I tell him all the time he can shoot over 80 from the line. That’s what I want from him.”

### Kansas State point guard Angel Rodriguez’s transfer to UM drew closer to reality Tuesday. “Miami is where he wants to go and they are interested,” said Art Alvarez, his coach with the Miami Tropics. “It looks very promising.”

Rodriguez, second-team All Big 12 last season, could not play in 2013-14 - unless he gets a waiver on the NCAA transfer rule because of family hardship - but would have two seasons of eligibility left. He is transferring to be closer to his mother and two brothers, who live in Puerto Rico.

Alvarez, who expects Rodriguez will have to sit out next season, compares his game with NBA guard J.J. Barea’s.

UM received his release from K-State today.

Meanwhile, UM is one of several schools pursuing physical 6-9 forward Tarik Black, who is graduating from Memphis and is eligible to play for another college this coming season.

### Remember how UM quietly accepted it when the NCAA threatened to believe Nevin Shapiro’s claims if former players didn’t agree to be interviewed by the NCAA? Miami is now protesting that, and with good reason.

“The enforcement staff attempted to coerce former student athletes by sending them correspondence in November 2012 indicating that if they failed to cooperate, Shapiro’s jailhouse tales about them would be established as true,” UM wrote in a motion to the NCAA’s infractions committee. “Such intimidation is yet but another example of the enforcement staff’s desperate and unprofessional” actions.

We hear about a half dozen players spoke to the NCAA as a result of the threat, but their testimony wasn’t very damaging. Former safety Randy Phillips told people he spoke to the NCAA because he didn’t want to be barred from UM’s training room while rehabbing an injury and trying to get back to the NFL.

Former receiver Jason Geathers spoke to the NCAA “but had nothing to give them,” said his agent, Daniel Rose. “Jason said, ‘Larry Coker warned us about this guy.’” Ex-Canes linebacker Carl Walker also told people he spoke to the NCAA. 

### Some of the NCAA’s mistakes in the UM case are laughable. In one 2012 e-mail to UM obtained by The Herald, since-fired investigator Abigail Grantstein wrote about trying to determine whether “Durand Scott’s and Reggie Mitchell’s eligibility have been jeopardized.” There is no Reggie Mitchell. It’s Reggie Johnson.

### Please follow me on Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

April 22, 2013

Heat playoff chatter; Allen helps UM on NCAA case; Dolphins check out prospects

Some Monday night Heat/Dolphins/UM radio notes:

### Even after a 23-point win in Game 1, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on Monday chose to show his team essentially nothing but it shortcomings. And his team understood.

“It’s needed,” Dwyane Wade said. “All the film was on what we did wrong. I don’t think we watched one play where we did something good. We can play better, more efficient. You can’t win getting [19] turnovers.” (Well, against Milwaukee, you can, apparently.)

### Chris Bosh had no complicated theory on Monday for why his three-point shooting becomes so much better in postseason. “The playoffs make you focus a lot more. As situations get more tense, I have more confidence in myself.”

Last season, he shot 10 for 35 on threes during the season, then 7 for 13 in the playoffs.

This season, he was 21 for 74 on threes during the season, before hitting 3 of 4 in Game 1 Sunday.

“It’s huge,” Wade said. “He’s locked and loaded. If he gets it, it’s going up. We love it. He’s really locked into the shot. It has opened up his pie chart.”

Said Bosh: “The corner three is an effective shot. I had to extend my range a little bit. Part of being a better player is taking on new challenges and being uncomfortable as much as possible…. It’s the best way to help this team out – a few minutes extending the floor.”

Bosh said some people “see a big [guy] and want to put you in a box [and] put your back to the basket even though a guy might outweigh me by 50, 60 pounds. If the team doesn’t need me to do that, I’m not going to waste my time and try to bang [with] dudes and shoot hook shots all night.”

### A week after summoning Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden to team headquarters, the Dolphins were one of 10 teams to attend his private on-campus workout today. The Dolphins really like Hayden, as well as Alabama’s Dee Milliner, Boise State’s Jamar Taylor and a few other corners.

NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said Hayden is the best cornerback in the draft and worthy of the 12th pick. Mel Kiper says he’s more of a borderline first-rounder; he also puts Taylor in that category.

### The Dolphins have summoned a few small school players to team headquarters, including Chadron State offensive tackle Garrett Gilkey, who intrigues them as a guard prospect who can play some tackle…. Miami has called about or spent time with several of the draft’s top fullbacks, such as Harvard’s Kyle Juszczyk and Richmond's Kendall Gaskins. The Dolphins like incumbent Jorvorskie Lane, but he will probably get competition in camp.

### UM appreciates that former UM assistant equipment manager Sean Allen, who was manipulated and mistreated by the NCAA during the UM investigation, has done all he could to help UM’s case in recent weeks. It speaks well of Allen that he has gone out of his way to assist.

Allen, who filed a Florida bar complaint against Nevin Shapiro’s attorney several weeks ago, has given UM some key evidence – including then-NCAA investigator Ameen Najjar’s letter on behalf of Shapiro to Shapiro's sentencing judge, and e-mail exchanges that showed Najjar’s successor (Stephanie Hannah) was doing what Najjar did -- collaborating with Shapiro’s attorney to try to use depositions to obtain more information to incriminate UM, even though the NCAA now acknowledges it had no business doing that.

“Allen felt obligated to inform the university when he came across documentation that he believed should have been included in the Cadwalader Report,” UM said in its motion to dismiss the case. “Allen stated that while the enforcement staff consistently acted in what he believed to be an underhanded and manipulative manner, the university acted above aboard.”

### UM’s top basketball recruit target, Brandon (Fla.) power forward Demetrius Henry, will announce on Wednesday whether he will attend UM or South Carolina, according to his coach. Henry is conflicted between the two schools. “I’ve never been so indecisive to make a decision,” he said. If he picks UM, he would slide into Kenny Kadji’s role. Rivals.com ranks him the 100th best prospect in the country.

### WMEN-640 dropped former Dolphins offensive lineman Keith Sims as its late-morning host. 



April 20, 2013

NCAA response to UM has omissions, faulty logic; Dolphins, Heat chatter


News and views on the NCAA’s UM investigation:

### What stood out about the enforcement staff’s response to UM’s motion to dismiss were glaring omissions and in some cases, dubious defense, of its objectionable conduct.

As UM’s motion asserted, 20 of the NCAA’s allegations against UM are “without any corroboration from involved parties other than Nevin Shapiro…. Many were denied by involved former student athletes… If Shapiro described a given allegation on more than one occasion, they considered it… self-corroboration and included the allegation in the notice.”

One of those, we hear: Shapiro giving $50,000 to Vince Wilfork. Also, the NCAA asserts 48 players received VIP access and beverage services from Shapiro; UM says there’s corroborating evidence for only four.

What’s more, “the enforcement staff also included several allegations that were only substantiated by convicted ex-felon Mimi Menoscal, Shapiro’s ex-girlfriend. Menoscal in September 2010 plead guilty to stealing at least $380,000 by running a sham wholesale shipping company that kept up-front payments without ever shipping any products.”

So what did NCAA interim vice president of enforcement Jonathan Duncan say about any of this in his response? Nothing, beyond claiming this “is an improper time” to debate Shapiro’s credibility. Expect Shapiro’s credibility to be a major focus of UM’s defense in its mid-June hearing.

### Amazingly, Duncan gave no indication he found anything objectionable with since-fired investigator Ameen Najjar writing a letter on Shapiro’s behalf to his sentencing judge before the NCAA interviewed anyone else.

Duncan said even though the letter “could be seen as vouching for Shapiro’s credibility, the enforcement staff did not assume that information Shapiro reported was truthful.” Then why did the NCAA charge UM with 20 uncorroborated allegations? And why did Najjar write the letter?

### When an interviewee says something wrong, the NCAA usually alleges dishonesty. But when an NCAA investigator does it, it’s passed off as an honest mistake.

Consider investigator Abigail Grantstein, who was fired because her boyfriend told somebody on a plane last summer that she said she was “going to get” UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad and that he wouldn’t play, even before she received any evidence.

Here's how Grantstein tainted the UM case: Former assistant basketball coach Jake Morton told the NCAA that he repaid a $5000 loan to Shapiro. But Grantstein told Frank Haith that Morton said that Morton delivered $10,000 in cash to Shapiro’s mother’s house in June 2010. When Haith questioned that, puzzled that Morton would say such a thing, Grantstein repeated the misinformation.

Morton said no such thing, and Grantstein’s misstatement was significant, because $10,000 was the figure that Shapiro alleged he paid Morton to ensure DeQuan Jones’ commitment – a claim the NCAA tried to prove but couldn’t. Grantstein also told Haith that Shapiro’s former bodyguard made the same $10,000 claim, even though Sanchez never told the NCAA that and the comment was impermissibly obtained.

Duncan conveniently didn’t mention the Sanchez comment in his response and excused Grantstein’s “misstatement” partly because it didn’t elicit confessions from Haith.

And consider this: Haith told the NCAA that Morton did not talk to him about his relationship with Shapiro. Two weeks later, investigator Brynna Barnhart told Morton: “I’ll be honest, Haith put a lot of the relationship between the men’s basketball program and Nevin on you… that you’re the one who kind of brought Nevin into the program.”

Duncan defended Barnhart too, saying Haith changed part of his story. But Haith never said what Barnhart attributed to him. Instead, Haith said UM’s development staff introduced Shapiro to the program.

### Duncan also defended Stephanie Hannah, assigned to the UM investigation after Najjar was fired, even though she continued to do what Najjar was doing: paying Shapiro’s attorney and collaborating with her to try to get people under oath who didn’t want to speak to the NCAA.

Duncan said Hannah thought this had been approved. What he should be asking is this: Why wouldn’t one of the investigators realize such an arrangement was improper and should be discussed with supervisors? Hannah “either acted in bad faith or was incompetent,” UM says.

### Duncan said the NCAA planned to interview former UM athletic director Paul Dee last June --- 15 months after the investigation started – but didn’t know he was ill. That’s not valid. It was widely known around UM that Dee, who died last May, had throat and tongue cancer and was having trouble speaking.

### Long-time investigator Wayne Black tells us Dee hired him to look into Shapiro several years ago “when no one had heard of the guy.” But sources said Black worked on the case only a few days and found nothing of great concern. Black wanted to tell us more, but UM said he couldn’t.

### Sources say neither Al Golden, Michael Barrow nor any current football staffers are accused of wrongdoing in the Notice of Allegations, Yahoo incorrectly accused both of violations.

### Outrageous: The NCAA never told UM about Najjar’s letter to Shapiro’s judge. UM found out when the Associated Press got it from Perez’s Florida Bar complaint.

### UM is challenging the NCAA using Shapiro’s photos with players as evidence, saying they are undated and aren’t proof of rules violations.

### The NCAA plans to make an issue of its claim that Haith changed part of his story the second time he interviewed.

### Shapiro once gave Najjar a flow chart with 16 schools affected by his violations. Shapiro alleged some committed violations; others signed players that Shapiro said UM improperly recruited.


 ### Musings from Heat president Pat Riley: He said when LeBron James "gets older, he might even have to do less. That’s the great thing about Dwyane Wade. I laugh when people say he’s getting a little bit older or is this or that or anything other than what he is – which is a great, great player. For him to get what he wants, he had to give away something and he gave it away very unselfishly to help this whole team work."

### Riley said putting a cast around his three stars wasn’t "rocket science. It wasn’t like we were on pins and needles about whether this guy was going to sign. They wanted to be here and play with those guys. [It’s] a very competent, eclectic group who really support our best players."… He believes the Heat "has two very good point guards now."

### Riley, on Erik Spoelstra: "It’s been his finest year as a coach. That man who is blessed with a lot [of player talent] is overlooked when really it’s one of the hardest jobs to do – to have to win and Eric has to win."

### Riley, on the state of the  franchise: "What’s going on right now is just crazy. When you come and watch LeBron play every night, I  remember what it was like with Magic Johnson. It’s  great to be part of it and it’s going to be very difficult to maintain because you have to keep winning."

### Milwaukee forward Mike Dunleavy, on LeBron: "There are three new planets out there that might have extraterrestrial life. Maybe he's from one of them."

### Some Dolphins will be disappointed if Miami trades Davone Bess, which hasn’t been ruled out publicly. One defensive player said Bess gets open all the time in practice. “In my opinion, he’s the best receiver we have,” said practice squad receiver Brian Tyms. (Actually, that’s Mike Wallace.).

### The Dolphins have expressed interest in -- and spent a lot of time with --- several North Carolina players, including offensive tackle Brennan Williams, guards Jonathan Cooper and Travis Bond, running back Gionvani Bernard and defensive tackle Sylvester Williams, whom the Dolphins really like.  

### In its perpetual quest for the speed, the Dolphins were one of a limited number of teams that attended a private workout for Utah receiver/All-American kick returner Reggie Dunn, who had four 100-yard touchdown returns last season. They also called him in recent days. He reportedly ran a 4.35 in the 40.  

### Please follow me on Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Shaq speaks out on Heat; Lots of Heat chatter; UM arrest, recruiting news

The tone among NBA analysts has certainly changed from last spring, when Magic Johnson was saying that the Heat did not know how to win, Skip Bayless was spewing his usual LeBron James venom, Bill Simmons was assuring us Miami wouldn’t win the championship, and Jon Barry was announcing he was “done” with the Heat.

This time around, with Miami having won a championship and 37 of its final 39 heading into the playoffs, pundits are far more respectful, far less likely to predict the Heat’s demise.

“I would be surprised if they don’t win the title again,” TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal said by phone last week. “There is no stress, no drama, no negative stuff. They play great team ball. This was the epitome of the Pat Riley culture this season. And Erik Spoelstra has done a great job.”

So who’s the biggest threat to Miami?

“Themselves,” Shaq said. “They look damn near perfect to me. Everyone says they don’t have a big man. They don’t need it.”

### ESPN’s Flip Saunders, the former Timberwolves and Wizards coach, said of the Heat: “I don't see anyone challenging them. I give a lot to credit to Spoelstra, my Coach of the Year.

“You take a team that won a championship being defensive oriented, and he came back this year and changed his offensive philosophy and they became the most efficient offensive team because of that. And then their defense caught up with how they were playing.

“There are teams that are going to be able to beat them a game or two maybe, but I can't see anyone that has the ability to beat them four games in a row.”


First, Bucks guard Brandon Jennings said in March that he hoped Milwaukee would play the Heat in the first round because he believes the Bucks match up well.

Now that a Heat-Bucks series has become a reality, Jennings not only isn’t distancing himself from that rhetoric, but instead is adding fuel.

“I’m sure everybody is writing us off, but I see us winning the series in six,” Jennings said this week. “There’s no pressure on us.”

The comment caught the Heat’s attention, even though coach Eric Spoelstra said he wouldn’t mention it to his players because “that wouldn’t deserve me bringing it up. This thing will be decided between those four lines, and you can’t hide from it.”

Here’s how Heat players reacted to Jennings’ prediction:

### Chris Bosh: “If he thinks they’re going to win, great. They already had our attention. Now they have more of our attention.”

### Shane Battier: “There’s no need for talk. Just play. Let your game speak for itself…. We don’t give that sort of talk much time. We have more important things to worry about.”

### Dwyane Wade: “We don’t need any motivation from what a guy says. A guy is supposed to have confidence in his team.”

### Asked if he appreciates the Bucks’ confidence, LeBron James said: “I can only appreciate what we do here. Whatever their confidence or motivation, that’s for them to figure out, worry about.”

Wade said there’s no risk of overlooking an opponent that finished six games under .500. “We know they’re a good team, especially if you let them get to their game…. We respect teams more than they respect us, probably.”

Spoelstra said overlooking an opponent isn’t an issue with this team.

“Milwaukee will get the respect they deserve,” Spoelstra said. “This team can be very challenging, with that speed and quickness, great shot-blocking.”

He said he told his team to “stay in the moment” because “everybody wants to fast track right now. For some ill-informed people, this series doesn’t draw enough interest in their eyes.” To wit: Game 2 is relegated to NBA TV.

But Spoelstra said: “This is a team that has challenged us, and we struggled against them in our first two games.”

The Heat beats the Bucks in overtime in their first meeting, lost by 19 at Milwaukee in December, and beat them by 13 and 11 in their final two matchups.


Spoelstra has remained non-committal about whether he will stick with Udonis Haslem as a starter or instead opt for Battier, who started in last year’s Finals and through the first month of this season.

Haslem has started since mid-December, including throughout Miami’s 27-game winning streak, but said Spoelstra hasn’t told him if he will remain in that role.

“I’m as anxious as you guys are to see what happens,” Battier said, saying the decision could hinge partly on matchups.

### James said sitting out three games in the past week “allowed me to miss the game again, and that’s what I need. You need something just to kind of make you miss it, love it again.”

### Wade, who missed some time late in the season with soreness in his right knee, did not participate in the contact portion of practice but said he hopes to practice fully on Saturday. Spoelstra said the rest of his team is healthy.

### The Heat said a limited number of tickets remain for Games 1 and 2.


### UM was disappointed about linebacker Gabe Terry’s arrest for felony marijuana possession because it was counting him for next season. Defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio said Terry was useful in a third down package last season and likes his upside as a pass rusher.

Terry has been removed from UM’s on-line roster and was suspended, with his longterm future here in serious question.

### Miami Northwestern defensive end/linebacker Mike Smith, a skilled pass rusher, has received a UM offer and told Canesport.com on Friday that there’s a 90 percent chance he will accept. “Miami’s at the top, no doubt,” he said.

Rivals.com ranks Smith 24th among all weakside defensive ends. He had 73 tackles and 18 sacks last season.

### Please follow me on Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

And please see our last post on what Pat Riley said in his state of the franchise news conference today.