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34 posts from May 2013

May 31, 2013

Friday update: Birdman suspended; Stern upset; Wade, Bosh react to scoring dip

Here's a Friday Heat update. If you haven't seen the Friday buzz column, which was posted overnight, please check out the last blog - It has UM schedule news and Fins and Marlins notes.


The NBA suspended Chris Andersen for Game 6 of the Heat-Pacers series, hours after NBA Commissioner David Stern told NBC Radio that he "should have been ejected" for his Flagrant foul on Tyler Hansbrough in Game 5. "I don't know what he was doing," Stern said. "A serious review of his activities is called for."

Andersen will be suspended without pay. His flagrant one foul was elevated to a flagrant two.

Losing Andersen is significant, especially with Indiana's size advantage. Besides what he offers on the boards, Andersen has shot 15 for 15 in this series.

Joel Anthony likely would fill the backup center role. Erik Spoelstra also could opt for more smaller lineups, with Udonis Haslem moving to center when Bosh is on the bench, and Shane Battier and LeBron James getting more time at power forward.


Forty points from Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh? That was close to the norm in the regular season, when they combined to average 37.8 a game.

But 40 combined from Wade and Bosh over two games? That’s the entirety of their scoring output from Games 4 and 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, with just 17 in Thursday’s win that gave the Heat a 3-2 series lead.

And so, just one win away from a third consecutive berth in the NBA Finals, the Heat enters Game 6 in Indianapolis on Saturday not quite sure what it will get offensively from two thirds of the Big Three.

For Wade, it remains a question of health. He said Friday the bone bruise on his right knee continues to have “good and bad” moments.

“I know he’s hurting,” Udonis Haslem said. “He’s giving us everything he has.”

For Bosh, the offensive decline is a byproduct of Indiana’s stiff defense, combined with taking fewer shots, especially in the basket area.

“The last two years, when they’ve gotten to the NBA Finals, there was a three-man consistency with Bosh, James and Wade, but that isn’t the case anymore,” TNT’s Kenny Smith said after Game 5.

“Those guys [Bosh and Wade] don’t take the challenge that they used to take.  It might be because of injury or it might be because of matchups. Whatever it is, James is doing what he did in Cleveland… being a one-man wrecking crew on the offensive end.”

Let’s not misunderstand. Both are still contributing. In Game 5, Wade continued his stretch of outstanding defense and added six rebounds, four assists, a steal and a block. Bosh was active defensively against David West.

But offensively, neither has been close to his standards.

Bosh, who said he re-injured his ankle injury to open Game 5 but that it didn't significantly limit him, has scored only seven points each of the past two games. That marks only the third time in the past eight seasons that he has scored in single digits in consecutive games.

Wade, meanwhile, has gone a career-long 11 games in a row without scoring 20 points. His previous longest drought? Two nine-game streaks as a rookie.

Wade took only eight shots in Game 5, making three, and said Friday: “In my early years, I wouldn’t have shot eight shots. I would have forced it. But I didn’t do it.

“LeBron and U.D. had it going. I’m trying to make plays for other guys and not necessarily worry about if I can get 20 points so you [reporters] can feel good, so you guys can come in and write a good story about me…. I’ve got five more games to win. Then I can get better.”

But asked if part of him wants to erupt offensively, Wade admitted: “Every night. I would love to score 20 or 30 a night. Everyone looks at how many points I put up,… but that doesn’t really determine my success on this team. Even when I was feeling great, I did what I need to do for my team to win.

“That’s the reason I’m here. If [Saturday] is a night where I’m feeling better and I can go for more points, I will try to be aggressive. But if it’s a game where I’ve got plays for other guys to get shots, then that’s what I’ll do.”

How tough is it to push through this injury? “Very tough but I can’t sit at home,” Wade said. He spoke of  “doing the little things,… trying to make [Paul George] work as much as possible.”

Asked where he’s making his best contribution, he offers a simple answer: “Being on the floor.”

He tries to avoid hearing the undercurrent of criticism, including Reggie Miller’s comment on TNT on Thursday that Wade “at times looks so uninterested out there, like someone just going through the motions. This is not the same aggressive Dwyane Wade that we’re used to seeing.”

To that, Wade said: “I don’t respond. I can’t respond to everything someone says about me. It’s not the way I live. I’m out there doing what I can.”

Coach Erik Spoelstra insists he’s not concerned about Wade’s diminished scoring, which has left his playoff average at 13.9, down from 24.5 and 22.8 the past two postseasons.

As for Bosh, he has taken only 13 shots the past two games, making four. But asked if he’s frustrated offensively, he said: “Why would I be? We’re up 3-2. This is a defensive series. What I’m focusing on is defense and rebounding.”

His defense was solid Thursday, but he has just 18 rebounds in five games.

Offensively, he is often positioned on the perimeter, but Spoelstra was encouraged that he took four shots in the basket area Thursday. In fact, Spoelstra said “one of my favorite possessions Chris had” was Bosh “rolling to the rim and Roy Hibbert made a terrific block….

"We need to put him in a handful of those opportunities. At the same time, he’s making a big sacrifice that not everyone understands. He’s also providing space for us. It’s a fine line.”

During the regular season, 47.9 percent of Bosh’s shots were within 10 feet. It’s 33 percent in these playoffs.

Bosh said his positioning on the court “has been a little bit of everywhere. That’s why my job is difficult. They’re hugging me a little on the perimeter. Sometimes if they do that, you drive.”

          He said his responsibility in this series “is more widespread. Against other teams, it was pretty simple. They have two very good low post scorers. Sometimes the offense really isn’t the most important thing in this series.”

His approach offensively in this series? “Don’t force it, but be aggressive when I have the chance.”




Notes, quotes, postscripts from Heat's Game 5 win

Please see the post above this one for the Friday Buzz Column, with UM, Dolphins, Heat and Marlins chatter.

For now…

Postscripts from the Heat’s Game 5 win against Indiana that puts Miami one win away from its third consecutive NBA Finals appearance:

### LeBron James grabbed this game by the neck in the third quarter, outscoring Indiana on his own, 16-13 --- the most points by a Heat player in any quarter this postseason. He shot 7 for 10 in the period, with four rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot.

“I went back to my Cleveland days,” James said. “I said – Let’s try to make more plays, be more of a scoring threat and see if the guys would follow me, and lead the best way I could. And look for my shot. And luckily I was able to make some.”

James produced at least 30 points and 8 rebounds in a playoff game for the 38th time, most in the league since his first playoff appearance in 2004. Second most during that time? Dirk Nowitzki with 20.

### And consider this stat, courtesy of ESPN: In the last 25 seasons, James has 42 playoff games with at least 30 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Michael Jordan leads the way in that category with 46. Kobe is third with 37.

“He wanted to start off the game with a bang and to end the game with a bang and he expressed that to us,” Norris Cole said.

### James moved past Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor into 13th place on the all-time career postseason scoring list – nine points behind 12th place Scottie Pippen.

### Udonis Haslem had his second exceptional game of the series, hitting 8 of 9 shots, scoring 16 points, and playing stout second-half defense against Roy Hibbert, who had only two field goals after halftime.

“For 10 years I made my living on the baseline,” Haslem said. "I’m getting back to the spot. That’s the way Hibbert is playing defense. My emotions kind of got the best of me tonight. I’m usually a low key guy.”

The Pacers gave begrudging respect to Haslem afterward. “Haslem is a one-tricky pony,” David West said. “We have to resolve to take that away from him. We were a step late getting to him. He was ultimately the difference in the game.”    

James had three words: “UD was amazing.”

### Juwan Howard gave an impassioned speech at halftime, with the Heat down four.

“Juwan’s voice is as big as anyone’s,” LeBron said. “That’s why we brought him back – he has an instrumental role. He got on us at halftime – said we were wasting an opportunity.”

LeBron, for his part, also spoke up.

“We were in wait mode in the first half instead of going to get it,” James said. “I tried to let them know – we can’t just win with talent. I have a big voice in our locker room. I sensed what was going with our team in the first half. We had no sense of urgency.”

### And so LeBron stands just one win away from third Finals appearance in a row. He tried to put that in perspective afterward:

"That’s what I came here for – to compete for a championship every year. I made a tough decision. I envisioned something that was bigger as far as a team, sacrificed a lot individually in the summer of 2010 because I wanted to do something special as a team. We have an opportunity for a third straight year to make the Finals. We have to go on the road in a hostile environment and take it.”

### The Game 5 winner of a 2-2 series has won 83.4 percent of NBA playoff series.

### LeBron spoke candidly of his battle with Lance Stephenson, who had a dreadful night (four points, 2 for 7 shooting, three turnovers).

“As a competitor, you love challenges,” James said. “Lance is one of those guys that likes to talk some. I really don’t start it, but if it gets started, I love to do it. It shows a competitive spirit between two individuals.”

### Mario Chalmers again put his fingerprints on this game, with 12 points, six assists and just one turnover.

“I talked to him before the game, talked to him after shootaround, letting him know where he could be aggressive and make plays not only for himself but for his teammates in certain situations,” James said. “Rio has done a great job of using me as a screener to get in the paint and make plays for himself and his teammates.”

### The Heat won despite another quiet night from Dwyane Wade (10 points, 3 for 8 shooting, three turnovers) and Chris Bosh (7 points, 5 rebounds).

“Offense for us, it is not a problem,” Wade said. “We have enough on the offensive end.”

### The Heat changed its approach on Hibbert from the outset, making Haslem and not Bosh the primary defender on Hibbert, and utilizing more double teams on Indiana’s center. Haslem did a good job fronting Hibbert.

Hibbert scored 14 in the first half but here were his numbers after halftime: 8 points on 2 for 5 shooting, just three rebounds and two turnovers. And David West, after halftime, had 7 points on 2 for 6 shooting, and four rebounds.

“They doubled [on me] from time to time when the opportunity presented itself,” Hibbert said. “They made a concerted effort to send two, three bodies to me when I went to the offensive glass. I couldn’t create as many offensive putbacks as I wanted to. It’s a testament to them.”

### Hibbert, who had been averaging 12 rebounds per game in the series, closed with only six to go with his 22 points. And the Pacers, who outrebounded the Heat by 84 – 84! – in their first seven meetings this season, finished with just a 33-32 edge.

### Pacers point guard George Hill, who entered averaging 15.4 points in the series, finished with one point, shooting 0 for 4. The Heat unleashed a 21-6 run after Hill left with his fourth foul with 6:58 left in the third.

“We stalled out offensively, turned the ball over way too much,” West said. “The ball didn’t move the way it’s supposed to move.”

### So what was that third quarter incident about? West yelled at Mario Chalmers and then exchanged words with Haslem after Haslem intervened. All three received technical fouls.

“I got cheap-shotted,” West said. “[Chalmers] gave me a shot in my back.”

Said Haslem: “I was just protecting my point guard.”

James’ take: “We’re not going to let anyone talk down to our point guard. He’s one of the smallest guys on the team.”

### Chris Andersen was 2 for 2, meaning he has made 17 shots in a row, including all 15 in this series. He has only one basket in this series from beyond two feet.


May 29, 2013

Thursday update: Pacers upset with Battier; LeBron fined; Fins practice notes

The Wednesday night post - with Dolphins and Heat news is below. Here's an update from Thursday morning's Heat and Pacers practices:

A couple weeks after LeBron James said “I don’t need to flop,” the NBA on Thursday fined him $5000 for doing exactly that.

It was the Heat's first fine for flopping since the league, before the season, instituted a fine system to try to eliminate, or curtail, players from making exaggerated reactions to draw foul calls.

James and Indiana’s David West and Lance Stephenson were each fined $5000 for flopping incidents during Game 4.

James and West were fined for the same play, which happened on an Indiana possession in the fourth quarter. Both were briefly jostling for position, when James fell to the court and West made an exaggerated motion, as if he had been aggressively shoved.

James did not speak to reporters at Thursday morning’s shoot-around.
“I know I didn’t flop,” West said Thursday after learned he had been fined. “I don’t play the game that way. I was trying to post up and I knew he was trying to draw a foul. The refs let the play go on.”

West suggested James falling was “maybe some gamesmanship.” 

On his "flop," Stephenson reacted as if Ray Allen had elbowed him after Stephenson pushed Allen running down court.

“I thought he was trying to hit me,” Stephenson said after being fined. “It looked like I was flopping [but there was] no acting.”

Pacers coach Frank Vogel was fined $15,000 for accusing the Heat of flopping before last year's playoff series and wouldn’t discuss the issue Thursday.

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau accused the Heat of flopping during their second-round playoff series, after James fell to the floor when he was pushed by Nazr Mohammed.

After Thibodeau's comments, James said: "I don't need to flop. I play an aggressive game. I don't flop. I've never been one of those guys."

Earlier this week, when asked about the league's new flopping policy, James said: "It's year one, so you are not just going to go cold turkey. Guys have been accustomed to doing it for years, and it's not even a bad thing… Any way you can get the advantage over an opponent to help your team win, then so be it."

Coach Erik Spoelstra said of James’ flopping fine: “We accept it. We don’t want the attention to be on the officiating.”

### The NBA upgraded a Game 4 foul on West – committed against Dwyane Wade -- from a common foul to a Flagrant 1 foul. 
###  West and Pacers center Roy Hibbert said Thursday morning that they must watch their knees when Shane Battier is defending them. Hibbert said he has to “watch” his groin as well.

### “Obviously I don’t like it,” Hibbert said of Battier’s approach. “I don’t want to look back and say I gave into a dirty player…. It has worked for him in the past. He has to do whatever he has to do to make sure his team wins…. If he has to hit below the belt, do whatever he has to do to win, that’s fine…. It’s not just Battier. Everybody in the league will do whatever it takes to win.”

Asked what he learned defending Battier during last year’s playoffs, West said: “Always have my guard up, protect my knees, and try to concentrate on the game. He’s got this funny way of moving into your knees. We’re very conscious of that.

“It’s an irritant. I’m doubly conscious, having an ACL a year and a half ago. It’s something we talk about, being prepared for anything and everything that he’s going to try. The way he plays, he’s trying to make an impact any way he can.”

Battier hasn’t been the primary defender on Hibbert but has had extended stints guarding West, who at 6-9 and 250 pounds is one inch taller and 32 pounds heavier than Battier.


Notes and quotes from the Dolphins’ OTA session today, and a six-pack of Heat notes, plus a note on a former UM assistant:

### Ryan Tannehill made a few mistakes in the second of six offseason practices open to the media, but he did make several sharp throws in red zone drills. He threw a pick to Koa Misi that would have been returned for a touchdown if the play hadn't been blown dead and also threw a ball that linebacker Philip Wheeler should have intercepted.

Tannehill had an explanation: “The defense threw a lot of stuff (at us) that we hadn’t even talked about in the offensive meeting room. We weren’t prepared for it. They are installing stuff day-by-day, so we don’t know what they are going to put in.”

Tannehill stepped off the elevator after practice and told Joe Philbin: “Well, it wasn’t one of our better days.” Philbin’s response? “That’s why you’re going into the film room to learn and correct.”

### With Mike Wallace out to attend to a personal matter, Armon Binns joined Brian Hartline with the first team at receiver, with Brandon Gibson continuing to operate in the slot. Binns had two TDs in red zone work but also dropped an easy catch.

The receiver standout Wendesday? Undoubtedly Rishard Matthews, who caught three TD passes from Tannehill – two in red zone drills and another in the corner of the end zone over Richard Marshall. 

### We’re eager to see more of receiver Courtney Gardner, a tall target (6-3) with 4.5 speed. He signed with San Diego after the draft and then was cut for undisclosed off-field reasons. “An intriguing prospect,” Philbin said.

The Dolphins summoned Gardner to Davie as one of their 30 allowed pre-draft visits. Oklahoma coveted him, but he couldn’t qualify academically and was a junior college All-American last season.

### Dustin Keller continues to find openings in the seams, but the backup tight end job remains wide open and should remain so well into August.

Michael Egnew and Charles Clay both dropped catchable balls, but Egnew also made a nifty catch in traffic and Clay caught a TD pass from Tannehill, beating Reshad Jones. And Kyle Miller hauled in an impressive one-handed catch. Rookie Dion Sims continues to work with the “J.V. team” that runs drills at the same time as the “varsity” team.

Philbin’s take on his tight ends: “It’s a good group. Dustin (Keller) has come in here, and he's a real pro. I think that’s one of things that has impressed the entire coaching staff and his teammates as well.

Charles Clay, it’s great to see him out there moving around. Mike Egnew has clearly made progress from where he was a year ago, and Dion Sims is a guy who has prototypical size for the position and is learning the position well. He appears to be a quick learner. Kyle Miller made some plays out there today.”

### Lamar Miller continued to get snaps with the first team, but Daniel Thomas had some good moments.

### Tough day for rookie kicker Caleb Sturgis, who got all the work in team drills. He made two long field goals but missed five of nearly a dozen attempts – including three misses from 43 yards.

The reality is that Sturgis, a fifth-round pick – probably would need to be poor in preseason --- and Dan Carpenter would need to be very good – for the older and more expensive Carpenter to keep his job.

### Most impressive player on defense Wednesday? Had to be second-year safety Kelcie McCray, who missed all of last season with a fractured foot. He intercepted Matt Moore and broke up a potential TD pass to Binns.

“Certainly there is still some rust there that has to come off, but we think he has a future,” Philbin said.

### Olivier Vernon had a would-be sack of Tannehill… Marcus Thigpen had a couple drops… Tannehill said Chad Pennington, who is assisting with quaterbacks for a few days, “is very helpful in just giving us little tips that he has. Whether it’s just reading the defense or how we handle a certain situation or how we handle our footwork on certain plays.”


### The Heat, at times, has downplayed concerns about its rebounding, noting – as Shane Battier previously asserted – that “winning the turnover battle is the more important” indicator of the Heat’s success.

But after watching his team again get pounded on the boards in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals, coach Erik Spoelstra made this very clear Wednesday:

“We’ve never said we can get pummeled on the glass. That is not a winning formula for us. We have to do better. We have to be more committed without any excuses and just get it done. That will be our focus in Game 5.”

After outrebounding Miami by a 49-30 margin on Monday (a game in which the Heat committed just six turnovers), the Pacers hold a plus-40 advantage on the boards in this series. Including the team’s three regular meetings, Indiana has outrebounded Miami by 84, an average of 12 per game.

This, too, is telling: Pacers center Roy Hibbert has outrebounded Chris Bosh, 48-13, in this playoff series. And Hibbert, who scored just 11.9 per game during the regular season, has averaged 22.7 points in the series, compared with Bosh’s 14.0.

“The guy is making layups,” Dwyane Wade said. “He’s the biggest guy on the court. That’s the kind of impact he should have.”

But Spoelstra said of defending Hibbert: “We’ve got to do more. There’s no excuses.”

### Another indicator of Hibbert’s impact: According to ESPN, LeBron James has driven to the basket 18 times with Hibbert on the court in this series and has five points, on 1 for 3 shooting, on those 18 plays. (He passed 11 times.)

With Hibbert off the court, James has driven to the basket 10 times and made five of six shots.

### Spoelstra said he did not use Norris Cole or any point guard for 6:39 of the second half Tuesday because he wanted to give more minutes to Ray Allen, who played less in the first half that Spoelstra generally prefers. Allen shot 4 for 13 and is now 9 for 29 in the series.

### James shot 1 for 6 on post-ups in Game 4 after shooting 5 for 7 in Game 3. Asked why James didn’t operate out of the post as much in Game 4 as the previous game, Spoelstra said: “You saw about the same amount – you just didn’t see the efficiency. The attention to detail wasn’t the same.”

### None of Bosh’s six shots in Game 4 were within 10 feet of the basket, and even though the Heat likes what he offers on the perimeter, Spoelstra said: “We need to be attentive to make sure we’re getting him in places he can be aggressive in the paint.”

### Only once during the regular season (at Memphis) did the Heat shoot worse than it did in Game 4, when Miami closed at 39 percent from the field.


Former UM assistant coach Aubrey Hill, who lost his job at the University of Florida last August amid the NCAA's investigation into the Hurricanes football program, has been hired as head coach at Miami Carol City High, school principal JaMarv Dunn said Wednesday night.

"He's the best candidate for the job," Dunn said. "He's the perfect fit. It's in the best interests of the school."

Hill, a Carol City and University of Florida alumnus, was UM's receivers coach from 2008 through 2010 and the Hurricanes' recruiting coordinator in 2010 before leaving for UF, where he served as receivers coach and recruiting coordinator in 2011.

But Hill and UF parted ways days before the 2012 season - a result of Hill being linked to the Nevin Shapiro scandal.

Hill will be appear before the NCAA's infractions committee in mid-June and is among several former UM assistants facing charges of unethical conduct. Several former Hurricanes -- including Jacory Harris, Dyron Dye, Eric Moncur, Randy Phillips and Olivier Vernon -- have written affidavits on his behalf. Dye disputed the NCAA's allegation that Hill "arranged for Shapiro to pay for bowling, beverages and meals" at Lucky Strikes on Miami Beach.

Dunn said he spoke to Hill about the NCAA matter "but I didn't have any concerns. I reviewed it with district personnel. He's entitled to due process."

Hill, 41, was a receiver for the Gators from 1991 to 1994. Besides UM and UF, he also has worked as an assistant coach at Duke, Elon and Pittsburgh.

At Carol City, he replaces Harold Barnwell, who was promoted to athletic director. 

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

Postscripts on Heat's Game 4 loss;UM players lash out at NCAA;UM QB faces decision;Dolphins





As UM approaches its mid-June hearing before the NCAA's infractions committee, several players are alleging that intimidation tactics were used in interviews conducted with them by former NCAA investigator Rich Johanningmeier, who twice has been accused of unethical behavior in court filings involving other NCAA cases.

Meanwhile, in a related matter, Canes defensive end Dyron Dye interviewed for a third time with the NCAA on Tuesday, trying to ward off a potential unethical conduct charge, but he was not told when the NCAA will rule on his eligibility for his senior season.

A synopsis of the latest NCAA twist:

According to sources, Dye and former UM players Olivier Vernon, Eric Moncur, Randy Phillips and Jacory Harris signed affidavits on behalf of former UM assistant coach Aubrey Hill, who faces NCAA charges. (The father of former UM safety Ray-Ray Armstrong said his son declined to sign the letter because he wants to move on.)

Like Dye and Harris, Vernon is taking issue with the NCAA’s interview tactics.

“The NCAA treated us like criminals,” Vernon said Tuesday at a Dolphins charity event, adding that he signed Hill's affidavit on the suggestion of Phillips, who was close with Nevin Shapiro and also has a good relationship with Hill.

"When [Johanningmeier] asked the question, he made it seem like he wanted you to answer it as to where you did something wrong," Vernon said. "He flipped it on us… Sometimes you blurt out something that you were pressured into saying. He pressured us a lot more.”

In his affidavit for Hill that was obtained by The Associated Press and The Miami Herald, Dye said Johanningmeier "continually threatened me if I did [not] comply with him.. I felt intimidated by Mr. Johanningmeier and I was also concerned regarding the possibility of losing my scholarship and athletic eligibility....

"I felt compelled to testify in a manner that would be consistent with the manner in which Mr. Johanningmeier was directing me in order to keep my eligibility…. I feel it is unfair the NCAA has twisted my testimony to use it negatively against coach Hill.”

He added that “I have learned that Mr. Johanningmeier has employed similar intimidating tactics during interviews with student-athletes.”

Harris echoed those sentiments.

Citing pressure from Jonhanningmeier, Dye changed parts of his story in his second 2011 interview. The NCAA scheduled Tuesday's interview to explore what it perceived as discrepancies between Dye's affadavit and his second NCAA interview.

Dye said contrary to claims in UM's Notice of Allegations, he did not stay at Hill's home, was not provided meals by Hill including joining him for a meal at Grazie Italian Cuisine; did not get transportation from him "halfway between Orlando and Miami during an unofficial visit."

He also said "to my the best of my knowledge," Hill "did not arrange for Shapiro to pay for bowling, beverages and meals at Lucky Strikes" on Miami Beach --- another charge against UM and Hill in the Notice of Allegations.

It's notable that Johanningmeier, who retired in May 2012, and the NCAA previously were sued for defamation by two former Alabama coaches; a $30 million judgment for one coach was tossed by a court on technical grounds.

And he is also targeted in an ongoing lawsuit by former Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill, a suit in which Johanningmeier is accused of knowingly making false claims and using information from a biased Mississippi booster.

The interview with Dye was conducted by the NCAA’s Brynna Barnhart, notable because UM previously asked that she be removed from the case on grounds she “repeatedly misled the university.” The NCAA denied that request, calling it “insulting and incredulous” that UM would “attack her.”

According to UM, Barnhart told UM that she was told Kyle Wright called the NCAA to incriminate UM; Wright has vehemently denied that, asserting the NCAA called him.

UM also has accused Barnhart of lying to former basketball assistant coach Jake Morton, telling him Frank Haith said something that Haith never said, in an unsuccessful attempt to get him to turn on Haith.

Dye’s attorney, Darren Heitner,said of the interview Tuesday: “Based on all the information provided, our hope is the NCAA acts in a way that is just and proper.” Heitner declined to comment further.


The father of UM quarterback/baseball standout David Thompson said Tuesday that his son “is struggling greatly with the decision” about whether to play both sports or focus only on baseball.

David Thompson said he continues to experience pain “now and then” in his right (throwing) shoulder after labrum surgery last June. He said he will have an MRI after baseball season and won’t decide his longterm plans until after that. Ed Thompson, David’s father, said the issue appears to be tendinitis and the solution is “rest and therapy.”

Ed Thompson said David “will be talking with the coaches and trying to make the best decision. In his heart, he wants to do both. He loves [Al Golden]…. He’s much more of a proven commodity in baseball than football and people say, ‘What will he be able to accomplish if he just focuses on one sport?’ But he loves football. It’s going to be a difficult decision.”

Thompson hit .285 with six homers and 43 RBI this season. UM opens NCAA Tournament play against Oklahoma State on Friday.

### Delvon Simmons, rated the nation’s fifth-best defensive tackle in the 2011 class, received his release from Texas Tech and is strongly considering enrolling at UM, one of his former assistant high school coaches said Tuesday. McKeesport (Pa.) High’s Todd Blackwell said UM and USC are the top contenders for Simmons, who visited UM over the past few days. “He liked the campus,” Blackwell said. “He has all the tools to be an NFL player - real quick off the ball.”

Simmons – who had 27 tackles and two sacks as a starter last season – would be required to sit out next season but would have two years of eligibility left.

### UM also is pursuing basketball transfers, and Sheldon McClellan, who is leaving the University of Texas, is visiting UM Thursday. UM is cautiously optimistic; Miami is his only scheduled visit for now, though Oregon and Marquette are in the mix. McClellan, ranked the No. 15 shooting guard by rivals.com in the 2011 class, averaged 13.5 points but shot just 38.2 percent. He also would be required to sit out next season.

### Who has surprised and emerged in Dolphins offseason practices? Receiver “Armon Binns,” tight end Dustin Keller said. “He’s getting open” a lot…. The Dolphins got a modest, but not a big, spike in ticket sales from their offseason moves. They’re on pace to top last year’s 41,000 season ticket count.

### While Marcell Ozuna impresses, the Marlins’ other top outfield prospects --- who one day could flank Ozuna if Giancarlo Stanton is inevitably traded - have slumped recently: Christian Yelich (.270) and Jake Marisnick (.245) entered Tuesday in 0-for-16 and 1-for-16 slumps at Double A.

### Again, please check out the last post for postgame chatter from the Heat's Game 4 loss tonight.


Notes, quotes, postscripts from Heat's Game 4 loss

Please see the previous post for the regular Wednesday buzz column, with lots of UM news and some Dolphins and Marlins.

On to...

Postscripts from the Heat’s 99-92 Game 4 loss at Indiana that left the Eastern Conference Finals tied at 2-2.

So many problems tonight. Here are 12 of them:

1) The Heat was pummeled on the boards, 49-30, with Roy Hibbert scoring two key late baskets after grabbing offensive rebounds: one to put Indiana ahead for good at 91-89 with 2:42 left, and another that resulted in a three-point play to push the Pacer lead to five with 1:30 to go.

“I’m trying to be physical, be tough, create extra possessions,” Hibbert said. “It’s a mental thing – do you want to bang with LeBron, Chris Andersen and Chris Bosh?... There’s not one guy in that locker-room that didn’t believe we were going to win tonight. We’re evenly matched. It’s a matter of who wants it more.”

Especially damning: The Pacers had 15 offensive rebounds and outscored Miami 50-32 in the paint. “We can’t allow[it]… to get beaten on the glass by 20,” James said. Shockingly, Ray Allen led Miami in rebounds with seven.

2) Bosh (seven points, two rebounds, 1 for 6 shooting) was limited to 30 minutes by foul trouble and thoroughly dominated by Hibbert (23 points, 12 rebounds).

And Hibbert also consistently got the better of Andersen, who’s a much better team defender than individual defender. Andersen, by the way, didn’t attempt a shot after making all 13 of his attempts in the first four games.

Hibbert joined Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki as the only players in the Big Three Era to post three straight playoff games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds against Miami.

By the way, Bosh said his ankle injury – he left briefly in the second half before returning – won’t be an issue going forward.

3) Dwyane Wade was ordinary when the Heat needed him to be better than that, scoring 16 points on 5 for 15 shooting and committing a traveling violation with the Heat down four and 26 seconds left.

"We didn’t get to what we needed to,” Wade said. “We had too many guys on the perimeter. [But] as the game went on, we got the shots we wanted.”

Wade has now gone 10 games in a row without scoring 20 points – the longest streak of his career. At one point, TNT’s Reggie Miller said: “Wade looks like he’s going through the motions.” TNT’s Steve Kerr, in the second quarter, added: “It looks like he’s going half speed.”

4) James, who scored 24 points, fouled out for only the fifth time in his career (and second in 128 playoff games) on a highly questionable call with 56 seconds left.

“I didn’t believe it was an offensive foul,” James said of that sixth foul. “I was going to set a screen. Lance actually ran into me. You’d like to be there for my teammates. There were a couple calls I didn’t feel like were personal fouls on me.”

5) The Heat’s offense was awful in the final five minutes. After Ray Allen’s three put the Heat ahead 89-86 with 5:13 left, Miami finished the game shooting 1 for 9 (James’ three being the only basket, with 1:20 left) and two turnovers. 

Chalmers had three of those eight late misses, a sour close to an otherwise strong night for Miami’s point guard, who closed with 20 points. Miami was plus-11 with Chalmers in the game, best on the team. Allen had two of the eight misses and shot just 4 for 13, continuing a puzzling stretch of poor shooting.

“They did a good job of taking away our first option and second option,” James said. “We had a lot of good looks that didn’t go down.”

6) The Heat played without a point guard for a long stretch after Chalmers picked up his fourth foul, and the results weren’t good. When Chalmers left, the Heat was up 60-57 with 6:37 left in the third. When he returned, Miami was down 81-72 and 8:41 left.

7) LeBron got off to a 2-for-9 start – he closed 8 for 18 --- and didn’t produce in the post as he had with so much success in Game 3. James was just 1 for 6 (three points) on post-ups in Game 4, after scoring 14 points in the post in Game 3.

“I tried to figure out how to guard in the post [at practice],” Paul George said. “Playing cat and mouse with him kind of messed up his rhythm” because he didn’t know when a second defender would come to help.

8) Stephenson played with the energy that Wade seemingly lacked at times, finishing with 20 points and five rebounds and giving a good defensive effort against James when the two were matched up. James – clearly not a big fan of Stephenson (who gave him the choke sign during last year’s playoffs) – made it obvious he didn’t want to specifically discuss Stephenson’s defense against him.

9) David West was again a load, with 14 points and 11 rebounds. In the wake of a 17-point eruption in Game 4, Udonis Haslem attempted only five shots, hitting three, on a quiet six-point, two rebound night. James ended up guarding West a good deal when the Heat went small.

10) The Heat’s small lineup wasn’t very good, and Allen was vulnerable when asked to defend a point guard or George.

11) The Pacers not only kept James and Wade out of the paint as much they would like, but Miami had trouble finishing around the basket. On shots within five feet, the Heat scored 22 points on 47.8 percent shooting. During the first three games of the series, Miami averaged 40 points per game on 69.8 percent on shots within five feet.

12) Overall, the Heat shot 39 percent. “They did a good job of taking away our first option and second option,” James said. “We had a lot of good looks that didn’t go down.” Miami protected the ball well (six turnovers) but couldn’t overcome poor shooting and the absurd rebounding deficit.


### Spoelstra: “They got all the loose balls and long rebounds in the fourth quarter. We pride ourselves on closing out games and we weren’t able to.”

### Hibbert: “Our guards did a real good job of keeping their man in front of them so I didn’t have rotate as much.”

### Frank Vogel: “Our guys rose to the challenge to start the game. And when Miami took the lead, they rose to the challenge again. Our defense returned to form. We made some minor adjustments, nothing major. They’re as complete an opponent as we’ll ever face.”

### LeBron: “We wanted to be greedy and get two [here]. But we were able to come here and regain homecourt. We feel good about that.”

### TNT’s Charles Barkley: Roy Hibbert and David West are going to be good every game [vs. Miami] because they’re shooting over a load of munchkins.”


May 28, 2013

Tuesday morning Heat-Pacers quick hits

A few quick hits while waiting for Game 4 of Heat-Pacers:

### Even if the Heat wins Tuesday and Thursday, an NBA spokesman said the league will not move up the start of the Finals before the scheduled start date on Thursday, June 6. Then there would be a short break before Game 2 on Sunday, June 9. So the Western Conference champion Spurs will end up playing one game in the next 12 days.

### The Heat is the first team to win five road playoff games in a row by double digits, and Chris Bosh has a theory why this group thrives away from home:

“There's a higher degree of difficulty. You're a lot more uncomfortable on the road. A lot more unsure of yourself and your team. That creates a sense of coming together and more of a sense of urgency, because you have to play your best on the road if you're going to win.

“That kind of atmosphere, we live for that, we stand up to it. We just have to do it again.”

### Much of the talk during Monday’s availability focused on how the Pacers will defend LeBron James if he ventures into the post again, as he did several times in Game 2.

Paul George, who has had the primary defensive assignment on James, said: “You can't give him five dribbles at the block. [If you do], you're giving him two points.” George expects more help from other defenders.

“When we say we don't double the post, that never means that we leave the guy guarding LeBron James on a complete island like we did last night,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said.  “It should never look like that. We've got to definitely be more active in our gaps and in our seams and making him see more than one defender.”

###  But can Roy Hibbert leave the player he’s guarding to help George when LeBron goes to the post?

“When guys are shooting like the way they did last night, no, you can't,” Hibbert said. “But somebody has to give something up. I would rather somebody take a 15, 17‑foot jump shot as opposed to a higher percentage shot in the paint.”

### Pacers guard George Hill had an odd answer when asked about the Heat scoring 70 points in the first half.

“I don't remember it now. I went to sleep. I had some Nyquil and stuff. I really don't remember the 70 points. That's not our defense. Everyone knows that.”

### Hibbert said Haslem was talking to him after hitting jump shots in Game 3. What did he say?

“I don't know,” Haslem said.  “I had my mouthpiece in. It probably sounded like a bunch of jibberish to him.”

### Dwyane Wade, on how much better he and LeBron James work together on the court than the early stages of the Big Three era:  “We've come a long, long way. The first year obviously we both were alphas, and we both played similar kind of games. 

“LeBron was out on the perimeter a lot more. And I think he took upon himself last year, especially in the playoffs, to really get in the post. And they gave us a different dynamic. Over the last three years I've been in the post more than I normally was as well.”

### Among Erik Spoelstra’s biggest concerns: “That front line is still pummeling us. It's big. They're powerful.  They don't let you off the hook. They put us in compromising positions where we're fouling right now or giving up second‑chance opportunities.”            

### Chris Andersen, who has shot 13 for 13 in this series, is the first player in NBA history to make all his shots in four consecutive playoff games (minimum two shots per game).

May 27, 2013

Postscripts from Heat's Game 3 win; Nevin Shapiro lashes out at UM/NCAA, lies under oath

Please see our last post, if you haven’t, on Nevin Shapiro lashing out at UM and the NCAA, and a look at the potential fallout of the revelation – reported by The Herald earlier Sunday – that Shapiro lied under oath about a matter unrelated to the UM case.


Some postscripts from the Heat’s 114-96 Game 3 win at Indiana, highlighted by a 70-point first half:

### Udonis Haslem had impeccable timing on his most impactful game of the postseason: 17 points (8 for 9 shooting) and 7 rebounds in just 23 minutes, which is actually a few minutes more than he usually plays.

He shot 5 for 6 on shots from at least 15 feet from the basket, after making 6 of 19 of those shots in 11 playoff games entering Sunday, according to ESPN's Stats and Information. His 17 points were three shy of his postseason career high.

“He’s the heartbeat of our team,” LeBron James said.

Said Erik Spoelstra: “He has played his biggest in the biggest moments, when you need him, when there’s adversity. In the 10 years I’ve gotten to know him, he cannot be defined by numbers. He’s defined by winning plays and toughness that most players don’t have.”

Pacers center Roy Hibbert said: “Our game plan was to limit those [role] guys, make sure they got nothing. Make the Big Three do all the work. Haslem was the one who really pushed them over the edge. He wasn’t hitting those shots the first two games, so I was helping off him.”

### Smart move by Spoelstra to put James in the post a bunch of times, especially in the second quarter when the Heat extended its lead to 70-56 at halftime. James fully capitalized on his side advantage over Paul George, and the Pacers erred by not double-teaming. He shot 5 for 7 on postups.

"They didn't come down in the post," James said. "It was a one-on-one matchup. I tried to take advantage of it."

“That was something we wanted to get to, to get us to a more physical attack,” Spoelstra said. “We wanted to be more aggressive getting into the paint to see what would happen. LeBron was very committed to not settle.”

Hibbert said: “We have to do a better job of helping Paul out. They spread out us, so I couldn’t do as good a job getting over. We have to make adjustments.”

### James (8 for 17) finished with 22 points, and the Heat outscored Indiana by 22 with LeBron on the court.

George entered with the best plus/minus in the series at plus 17. But the Pacers were outscored by 17 with George on the floor Sunday.

Ugly night for George: 3 for 10 from the field, five turnovers, just 13 points.

“They made it pretty tough to get to the paint,” George said. “They tried to load up on the strong side.”

### Not only is the Heat 5-0 on the road in the playoffs, but Miami became the first team to win five road playoff games in a row by double figures in all of them. Miami has won 23 of its last 24 on the road.

### This was critical: Miami had only five turnovers, a franchise playoff low. What’s more, the Heat shot 54.5 percent from the field and 24 for 28 from the line after struggling on free throws (66.7 percent) in the first two games.

### Wade was highly efficient: 18 points on 8 for 14 shooting, with 8 assists, 2 blocks and a steal. It was his ninth game in a row that he didn’t score 20, but it hardly mattered.

And Wade showed some explosiveness on a couple drives to the basket, which was encouraging in light of his right knee issue.

“This was our best game so far of the playoffs,” Wade said. “Our mindset was to play Miami Heat basketball, the way we know how. The biggest thing is they had a chance to see our halfcourt defense [because] we had only five turnovers in the game. Offensively, we got the shots we wanted.”

### The Heat’s 70 first half points were the most in a half in a playoff game since Golden State scored 70 against Utah in 2007. Miami did it by shooting 63 percent and committing one – one! – turnover.

The key, besides, well, making shots?

“We were more committed to not settling and not letting them off the hook with shots they want us to take,” Spoelstra said. “The ball was moving.”

### Don’t underestimate Mario Chalmers’ impact, especially in the third quarter.

His 14 points were meaningful, and his floor game was sound: four assists, no turnovers. "Mario came out very aggressive [in the third]," Wade said. "It gave them something to worry about."

### Chris Andersen, who shot 4 for 4, had 9 points and 9 rebounds in 22 minutes and is now 13 for 13 from the field in the series. And, oh by the way, his 85.4 percent shooting in the postseason is the best in NBA playoff history for players with at least 40 shots.

### Hibbert closed with 20 points and 17 rebounds but shot just 4 for 12. David West had 21 points and 10 rebounds, but this was key: When Chris Bosh (15 points, 3 rebounds) left with his fourth foul with 7:41 left in the third, the Heat led 74-67.

The Heat then went small, with Shane Battier and Haslem, but the Pacers couldn’t take advantage, and the lead swelled to 87-73 before  Andersen entered with 2:27 to go in the third.

During the time the Heat went small with Haslem and Battier, West shot 0 for 3, and Hibbert’s impact was limited (four points).

“They made some adjustments – started rolling off pick and rolls and caught us off guard in that respect,” West said. “They did a good job of moving the ball. LeBron wasn’t holding it. Wade wasn’t holding it. And guys made shots.”

Said Battier: “I’m not the biggest guy, if you haven’t noticed, but I can play with energy and be disruptive.”

### Ray Allen, who hadn’t made a three-pointer in Indiana in two prior games this year, hit 2 of 4, and the Heat was 6 for 14 beyond the arc.

Battier finally hit a shot (a three), closing 1 for 4. He’s now 1 for 11 in the series, but his defense was exceptional Sunday, and the Heat was plus-16 in Battier’s 21 minutes.

“Tonight, the ball moved,” Allen said. “It wasn’t stagnant. We got some pretty good looks beyond the arc, and it opens the paint a little more. We’ve got some tough-minded individuals on this team.”

### This was one night when the Pacers’ rebounding advantage (45-36) didn’t matter. Not on a night when the Heat was brilliant offensively and not on a night when George, Hibbert and Lance Stephenson (2 for 10, 7 points) all struggled from the field.

Amazingly, the Heat still hasn’t lost consecutive games since Jan. 8 and 10, in Indiana and Portland.

### When a series is 1-1, the team that then wins Game 3 has gone on to win 77 percent of NBA playoff series.

May 26, 2013

Fallout from Shapiro's lie under oath; Shapiro lashes out;Heat, Dolphins, UM chatter

The Sunday buzz column is below. First, a quick Sunday 5 p.m. update: If you haven't seen it, please read colleague Jay Weaver's accompanying story on The Herald home site in which Shapiro is discovered to have lied under oath in a matter unrelated to UM.

How will this impact the UM case? UM isn't sure. UM was unaware he lied under oath and thus did not include it in its response to the NCAA that was due last Monday.

UM is expected to bring it up when it presents its case before the NCAA's infractions committee on June 13-15 in Indianapolis. But UM believes it already has done as good a job as it could undermining his credibility --- heck, the guy is in jail for running a Ponzi scheme.

UM wants the eight infractions committee members who are hearing the case to disregard 20 allegations against UM that were uncorroborated by anyone besides Shapiro.

The NCAA's enforcement staff - different from the infractions commitee - included those 20 allegations among many in UM's Notice of Allegations.

What's unclear to UM is whether questions about Shapiro's credbility will weigh heavily in the decisions of the eight people hearing the case. UM has no way of knowing that.

Former Georgia Tech basketball coach Bobby Cremins is the only one of the 18 infractions committee members who has publicly expressed skepticism about Shapiro's credibility. And he wasn't assigned to the UM case. 

### For those who read the column earlier, see the last paragraph for a Sunday noon update on UM hoops.



Nevin Shapiro and the University of Miami now share something in common: They’re both angry about how the NCAA has handled the investigation into the Hurricanes athletics program. But Shapiro also is upping the trash-talk against UM president Donna Shalala.

Shapiro, who went to the NCAA in March 2011 to allege rampant rules violations by UM – which prompted the NCAA investigation - lashed out at the NCAA and UM in e-mails and calls to The Miami Herald, his first public comments on the matter since early 2012.

“I gave them the body, the weapon and the evidence, and the NCAA still managed to screw this thing up somehow,” he said.

Shapiro, serving a 20-year prison sentence for running a $930 million Ponzi scheme, added: “I am extremely disappointed with the NCAA’s approach to this investigation… and even more disappointed in the way that they tried to insinuate any improprieties towards my attorney, who acted only at the direction of individuals… in significant authority at the NCAA.

“The NCAA hadn’t yet seen something like this and was incapable to pull this investigation off properly with what they had within their means to do so…

“Who can really take the NCAA serious at this point? Or should? This investigation could have changed the landscape of policing collegiate sports, not… becoming a colossal joke as it has become…. If I had to do this all over again, I would have just kept to myself and allowed the NCAA to sink in their own stew for how ever many more years.”

He said the NCAA “should have requested a federal investigation” that would have entailed “subpoena powers and consequences for those who were untruthful in the process.” But the NCAA has no authority to do that.

“The NCAA is just not equipped to police member institutions when they can’t even police their own institution,” he said. “This was just too big for the compliance office of the NCAA. Period.”

Shapiro added: “Had I not run into my own personal issues with regards to my case, the NCAA could have never stopped the dealings between me and the University of Miami players, staff and administrators…

“The thing that really makes me laugh to myself is this: Everyone screams for national reform [in college sports] and the first real chance the NCAA has to make a strong stand, everyone wants to end the investigation because I’m in prison, or I’m this, and I’m that?”

Shapiro, who previously said he was angry with UM players for turning their back on him when he went to prison, cited three factors that he says validate his claims: UM self-imposing two bowl bans “without even all of the facts in hand yet”; UM paying the bankruptcy trustee $83,000 to ensure that no former UM players would be deposed; and the fact none of the players he named in the Yahoo! story have sued Yahoo! for defamation.

“If a reasonable person can get beyond those three questions and still question whether or not this story is true, they aren’t being honest with themselves and are in just plain denial,” he said.

UM has conceded some of Shapiro’s claims are true but disputes many of them, including some uncorroborated beyond Shapiro.

Meanwhile, Shapiro delivered this message to the UM president: Shalala wants to scream: ‘We have suffered enough.’ OK, make this investigation transparent. Show all of the facts, not just the ones that you want to show because you think you have a legal loophole. I dare you….

“President Shalala – you want a war with me? I got one for you. I’m going to shake that city to its core and the nation will collectively say, ‘Holy [Bleep]!”

Shapiro keeps threatening to unleash more bombshells – “a Tsunami 5” – against Miami, but UM is highly skeptical. The NCAA investigated his gambling claims regarding the UM football program and found no evidence.

UM believes he already has given the NCAA everything he has to say, and that everything has been investigated, and there's no more harm he can cause the program beyond the mess already created.

“I don’t care if the NCAA smashes UM or doesn’t smash UM. That isn’t my concern,” Shapiro said, though his anger toward UM suggests otherwise. “My one and only concern has been to maintain my credibility as it relates to this story.

"I told the truth then and still to this day now and if President Shalala says that she is going to take this to the wall if Miami suffers any further sanctions, then I really hope that is the case because I’ve been standing at the wall for two years waiting for them to get here already.

“They won’t win this argument under any pretenses…. I can assure you that this will not be the last of this story from my end.”

Shapiro told Yahoo! in 2011 that he spent “millions of dollars” on UM athletes, coaches and recruits. In its notice of allegations, the NCAA alleged Shapiro provided $170,000 in benefits.

Shapiro gave the NCAA 114 names. In UM's Notice of Allegations, the NCAA, according to the Associated Press, cited 72 then-players, three recruits and 12 “friends and family members” of UM players or recruits. UM’s case will be heard by the infractions committee in mid-June.

Shapiro was transferred last week from Louisiana to Butner in North Carolina - a prison where Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff is serving time.


### Troubling: Dwyane Wade has now gone eight games in a row without scoring 20 points –- his longest streak since two nine-game streaks as a rookie. He’s averaging 12.5 points and shooting 45.9 percent in this stretch.

With his knee injury, "he’s a little limited on his first step," Pacers guard Lance Stephenson said. Miami has been outscored by 10 points with Wade on the floor in this series – worst on the Heat.

### The Heat’s smaller lineups that worked so well in last year’s series were outscored by five in Game 2, and Pacers coach Frank Vogel tells us he is "less concerned about" those lineups now than previously because "we’ve become very good at guarding small lineups – might be the best in the NBA."

### Game 2 marked only the second time in LeBron James’ 891 career games that he committed two turnovers in the final minute of a game. (Detroit in 2008 was the other.) The good news: He’s 7 for 16 in his career on go-ahead or game-tying shots in the final 24 seconds of playoff games – the NBA’s best percentage since 2004.

### Despite the limited body of work, there is a quiet confidence around Dolphins camp that Lamar Miller is ready to break out. “He’s just so smooth,” Matt Moore said. “He’s different from Reggie Bush but can get similar results. His nature is go north and south, Reggie’s [style] was more to dance. And he has grabbed the leadership [reins].”    

### Power forward Donnavan Kirk, who transferred from UM to DePaul after the 2010-11 season, told us he likely will enroll at either UM or Colorado State for graduate school and will be eligible to play this coming season.

Kirk, 6-9, averaged 6.2 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.6 blocks for DePaul last season and would bolster a UM frontline badly in need of another big man. He said the two schools are “even” and he will make a decision soon after visiting Colorado State this week. He doesn’t need to visit UM because he already has been enrolled here. 

"I like Coach [Jim] Larranaga's honesty and his way of doing things, and they need a four-man," he said. But he also likes Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy.

UM has three scholarships left and has been eyeing several transfer and junior college players. CBS Sports Network reported that guard Sheldon McClellan, who is transferring from Texas, will visit UM on Thursday. Oregon and Marquette also in the mix. He averaged 13.5 points last season and has two years of eligibility left. A native of Houston, McClellan reportedly frustrated Texas coach Rick Barnes at times for effort/intensity issues.

Twitter: @flasportsbuzz

May 25, 2013

Saturday Heat-Pacers update: Two stories, notes, quotes

This has been billed as the deepest, most talented Heat team in its 25-year history, a roster with so many capable and gifted pieces that MVP LeBron James would not need to be routinely overburdened.

Now would be a good time for those pieces to again validate that notion.

Face it: Excluding James and Chris Andersen, nobody on the Heat has been anything special in this 1-1 Eastern Conference Finals against Indiana, which resumes with Game 3 on Sunday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“LeBron may be a little tired – it’s hard carrying four people up and down the court,” TNT’s Charles Barkley cracked after Friday’s 97-93 Pacers win.

James leads the Heat in this series in points (33 per game), rebounds (9.0) and assists (6.5) and is tied for the lead in steals and blocks. Pacers forward David West conceded the Pacers’ focus has been “on those other guys. We knew LeBron was going to do what he does.”

Clearly, more is needed elsewhere, not only from the ensemble around the Big Three, but from two-thirds of the Big Three.

“We all need to raise our games,” Shane Batter said.

Being in this situation “makes you feel alive, which is a good feeling,” Battier added. “We’ve had a pretty good run this year where we haven’t had this feeling. You get punched in the nose literally and figuratively, it makes you feel alive. We’ll see what we’re made of.”

Heat center Chris Bosh put it this way: “Our backs are against the wall. I think that’s what we need.”

What James needs is for Dwyane Wade to start resembling something closer to the vintage version, for Bosh to produce more than the mere 15 rebounds he mustered in five games against Indiana this season, for Battier and Ray Allen to snap out of shooting slumps, and for Miami’s point guards to provide anything close to what George Hill gave Indiana in Game 2.

Without at least some of those variables changing, trouble looms for the Heat against a confident, balanced team playing in a building where it has gone 6-0 and outscored teams by 14 per game in postseason.

“We’re not playing our game,” Bosh said. “Give them credit for playing defense, but it’s all us right now. We’re going to have to do a better job of dictating tempo.”

More clearly is needed from Wade, whose 13.7 playoff average (on 46.8 percent shooting) badly lags behind his regular season average (21.2) and career playoff mark (24.3). And consider this: Wade is averaging fewer points in the past eight games than he has in any eight-game stretch since late in his rookie season. 

He wasn’t much of a factor offensively in the fourth quarter of Game 2, missing his only shot and committing a turnover.

And now he returns to the arena where he suffered through perhaps his worst playoff game (the five-point, 2-for-13 clunker in Game 3 of the Heat/Pacers second-round series last May) but also rebounded from that dreadful night to score 30, 28 and 41 in the next three games.

“It hurts to lose a game at home, but we’ve been here before,” Wade said.

Then there’s Bosh. He hit a three-pointer and two big free throws in the fourth quarter Friday but missed his five other shots from the field and grabbed just one rebound. There’s no excuse for Pacers shooting guard Lance Stephenson outrebounding Bosh, 20-7, in the series.

And Bosh acknowledged that “I’m going to have to do a much better job in Game 3” defending Roy Hibbert, who is averaging 24 points and 9.5 rebounds through two games.

“If Hibbert has a game like [Friday’s 29 points and 10 rebounds], it’s going to be very tough to beat them,” Bosh said.

Also, the Heat’s bench shooters need to regain their touch. Battier is 0 for 7 in this series and 13 for 57 (22.8 percent) in the playoffs. Allen is 3 for 13 in this series, his playoff percentage dipping to 41.4.

“We’ve not gotten the looks that we normally get,” Battier said of this series. But “I believe in the law of averages. It’s amazing when one goes down, what it can do for you. Sometimes that’s all it takes.”

Also troubling is that neither has shot well against Indiana this season, with Allen now 6 for 29 (including 2 for 15 on threes) and Battier 5 for 21 (and 3 for 18).

“We have to figure out a way to get our shooters some shots early in the game, where they feel like they’re a part of the offense,” James said.

Meanwhile, Norris Cole, who blossomed in recent weeks, has missed 8 of 10 shots in the series, with more turnovers (six) than assists (five).

Overall offensively, “we’re just looking around too much,” Bosh said. “Our guys have to be aggressive. If you have a shot, shoot it. We had a few open shots we didn’t take [Friday].

“We have in our minds right now, ‘Oh, they’re such a good defensive team.’ No, we’re a good offensive team and a good defensive team. We didn’t make it this far by people hesitating.”

The Heat played poorly in both games in Indiana this season – a 10-point loss on Jan. 8 and a 13-point setback on Feb. 1. But after being drubbed 94-75 at Indiana in Game 3 of last year’s series, the Heat won there 101-93 in Game 4 and closed out the series there 105-93 in Game 6.

But here’s the caveat: Even though Bosh missed most of that series – and Allen and Andersen weren’t on the team – these Pacers “are much better” according to Bosh, than last year’s group that ultimately succumbed to the greatness of James and Wade.

“They have a better belief in who they are,” Battier said. “Paul George is a lot better. Stephenson gives them a dimension that Danny Granger didn’t last year. They’re tough.”



### The NBA on Saturday was reviewing a fourth-quarter play in which Dwyane Wade, rushing back on defense, jumped to avoid Lance Stephenson and ended up elbowing him in the head. The NBA said on Saturday afternoon that it had nothing to report regarding whether there would be any discipline.

The LeBron James/Paul George duel has provided some of the most compelling theater in this highly entertaining Heat-Pacers Eastern Conference Finals.

George has shot 10 for 13 in the series when guarded by James, according to ESPN’s Stats and Information department. James shot 10 for 14 when defended by George in Game 2 but committed two turnovers in the final minute.

“He’s really good – he’s going to be a great one,” James said. “His maturity and game have definitely risen in just one year.”

Among the memorable snapshots of Game 2: George soaring over Chris Andersen for a dunk, James then beating the third-quarter buzzer with a three-pointer, and James then hand-slapping George and saying: “I got you back, young fellow.”

Said George: “That was a moment I’ll always remember. I’ve got the most respect for LeBron. I look up to him. I’m ready for the challenge. He’s ready. It’s going to be fun.”

James is averaging 33 points and shooting 59.1 percent in the series. George, who has been defended by Dwyane Wade at times, is averaging 24.5 points on 50 percent shooting.

The Pacers have outscored the Heat by 17 with George on the floor in this series. The Heat has been outscored by four with James on the court, though that’s obviously not indicative of how well he has played, the late Game 2 turnovers aside.

“I can’t believe how much that kid keeps growing,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of George. “He’s going against the best player in the world in LeBron, guarding him [most of] the night, and carrying an offensive scoring load.”

### After the game, James lamented his two late turnovers – one with 43 seconds left, one with eight seconds to go. “Very disappointing,” he said. “That’s the first thing I always look at on the stat sheet is my turnovers. I am very disappointed in my judgment and my plays down the stretch. But I’ll make up for them.”

### James shrugged off Pacers guard George Hill saying the “one person that’s scarier [than James is] God.”

Responded James: “I’m nowhere near close. I made two mistakes [Friday]. Let my teammates down. They expect me to make plays down the stretch, and I came up short. That burns.”

### Rebounding remains a major concern: The Pacers have outrebounded the Heat by 56 in five games this season, including plus-12 in this series.

One option would be pairing Chris Bosh with Chris Andersen more, but the Heat has been outscored by one with those two on the floor together in 12 minutes in this series. During the regular season, the Heat was outscored by nine points in 60 minutes when they were paired.

Also, the Heat believes Anderson – who has shot 9 for 9 in the series and 31 for 37 in the playoffs - is less effective with far more minutes. He played less than 15 minutes in Game 2, after logging 18 in Game 1.

### The Heat has made just 34 of 51 free throws in the series (66.7 percent), while the Pacers are 50 for 64 (78.1 percent).

### Phil Jackson, asked by TNT’s Rachel Nichols if Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s handling of a star-laden team reminds him of anything Jackson did: “I like his attitude on the floor. I like his discussions with his players. He seems to be a reasonable, calm, cool, collected cat, and I like that about him.”

Notes, quotes, postscripts from Heat's Game 2 loss

Postscripts from the Heat’s 97-93 loss to Indiana in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, which is now tied at one win apiece:

### LeBron, predictably, was hard on himself for his two turnovers in the final minute (one with 43 seconds left, one with eight seconds). It was the first playoff game in his career in which he committed two turnovers in the final minute.

“I’m very disappointed in my judgment and plays down the stretch, but I’ll make up for them," he lamented afterward. "I made two mistakes tonight that hurt our team. That hurt more than anything – I let our teammates down. They expect me to make plays down the stretch. I came up short. That burns. The best thing about it is it isn’t college. It isn’t one loss and you’re done.”

LeBron explained the two turnovers thusly:

“First one, Ray had a pick and roll and David West put his hands up and was able to get his hands on the ball. Little careless on my part. If I could take it back, I would throw a bounce pass.

“Second one, I spun and saw Ray Allen wide open and was careless once again. I tried to throw it through the lane, and they were able to get their hand on it. [George Hill specifically]. Can’t happen in that situation, especially being down two.” He said he should have made a “jump pass” on that play.

Teammates, naturally, were supportive: “We’ll take LeBron in that position a million times,” Dwyane Wade said.

James closed with 36 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals – but also five turnovers.

### The Heat didn’t score over the final 1:43 of the game and scored just five points over the final 6:08.

### Paul George, blossoming into a star, scored 14 of his 22 in the second half. “He’s really good, he’s going to be a great,” said James, who slapped hands with him, good-naturedly, at the end of the third quarter. “I love competition. I try to stand up to the challenge.”

### This continues to be a surprising problem: The Heat closed 7 of 22 on threes and is shooting just 33 percent on three-pointers in postseason.

“The outside shot isn’t there for the guys who have been hitting all year,” James said. “We have to figure out a way to get our shooters into the game more. We have to get them some shots early in the game where they feel like they’re a part of the offense. It comes from me, Chris, D-Wade.”

### Wade closed with 14 points, continuing to score far less than his 21.2-point regular season average. He closed 6 of 14 from the field. “Anytime you lose at home in the playoffs, it stings,” Wade said. “We had opportunities. Offensively, I think we got good looks but just didn’t knock them down.”

### James said the “X-factor” was George Hill, who scored 18 points – including two free throws with 48 seconds left and two with eight seconds to go, accounting for the final four points of the game.

“This whole team is just showing great desire and heart and belief,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “They believe they can win this series and they’re giving it all their might. They’re rising to the challenge. I’m very, very proud of them. We look like a true team.”

### Roy Hibbert shot only 13 for 34 against the Heat in three regular games, but he has been far more efficient in this series against several defenders -- Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Chris Andersen and briefly, Joel Anthony. He was exceptional Friday, with 29 points and 10 rebounds.

After shooting 9 for 18 in Game 1, Hibbert shot 10 for 15, doing all of his damage in the paint, including hook shots, dunks and layups. And he shot 9 for 10 from the line. And unlike Game 1, Hibbert was in the game at the end.

“He’s giving great efforts on the offensive glass,” Vogel said. “Efficient scoring, great extra passing. Making winning plays.”

### David West struggled from the field (2 for 9) but hit a key basket with 1:59 left and also made 9 of 10 free throws. “David has incredible will to do whatever it takes to win a game,” Vogel said.

### West said: “They are the best team in the NBA. [But] our confidence hasn’t wavered.”

### The Heat again didn’t get enough from its starting power rotation players. Bosh scored 17 but his rebounding remains disturbingly deficient. After hauling in just two boards in Game 1, Bosh closed with five, giving him 15 in five games against Indiana this season.

"We just played at their tempo the whole night,” Bosh said. “We never really got to what we do. We’re just going to have to do a better job dictating tempo. Any time you give up 50 percent shooting this far into the season you are probably going to lose. They just pretty much choked the life out of us.”

### Haslem mustered just one point and three rebounds, with foul fouls, in nearly 14 minutes.

### Chris Andersen again had an impact, with seven points, three boards and a block, but played just 15 minutes. Because he expends so much injury, the Heat believes he would be less effective if he played a lot more. He made both his shots and is 31 for 37 in post season.

With Bosh and Andersen picking up three first half fouls, Spoelstra used Anthony for a 1:43 stretch before halftime.

### Another problem: The Pacers sustained their edge on the boards -- they outrebounded Miami by 45 in three regular season meetings, by five in Game 1 and by seven (39-32) in Game 2.

### Power rotation players Hibbert, West and Tyler Hansbrough (who had no points and two rebounds) combined for 42 points and 19 rebounds, compared with 25 and 14 combined for Bosh, Haslem, Andersen and Battier.

### Erik Spoelstra’s bottom line: “We pride ourselves in finishing. Particularly when we have leads, to be able to finish. We just weren’t able to to do it tonight.”

### The loss was just Miami’s fourth in its past 50 games.

### Neither team will practice Saturday. The series resumes Sunday in Indy, 8:30 p.m. start.