Eye of the Hurricane

April 27, 2011

Heat have plenty to work on heading into series with Celtics

Filed under: NBA — davidfurones @ 9:55 pm
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With a 97-91 victory against the 76ers Wednesday night in Miami, the Heat finished off the pesky Sixers four games to one and advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals where they will face the experienced and playoff-savvy Boston Celtics.

Miami’s pure talent was enough to get them passed the Sixers, but they’re going to need to show much more hustle, determination, and outright desire if they plan on being as successful against the Celtics.

Throughout their first round series, we saw far too often that the Heat had their minds more set on looking flashy and winning with flair, style and ease. Against Boston, they’re going to have to change that attitude. In a seven game series against the Celtics, you have to match their intensity, their scrappiness, and their bully state of mind.

The Heat was drastically outscored in points in the paint in Game 5. Although they turned on that interior defense late in the game, as Joel Anthony contributed with a few key blocks, it took them quite a while to get that figured out. Philly was a jump shooting team for most of the series, and Miami was getting dominated inside during various stretches.

They need to display greater toughness near the basket on both sides of the ball. On the offensive end, a team that throughout the year was able to reach the free throw line at will was settling for perimeter jump shots. Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh combined to shoot 11 three pointers.

In their defense, the referees were extremely inconsistent in how much contact they would allow players to get away with. There were several plays where Heat players, specifically their stars, felt they got fouled and let it be known to the officials.

But that’s another thing. Just play the game!

On one play in the third, LeBron thought he was fouled on a fastbreak and missed a layup. The teams sprinted down to the other side of the court off the miss while James stayed behind pleading his case to the ref and leaving his team to defend five-on-four for a series.

With about a minute remaining in the game, Dwyane Wade, on a play where he missed but Bosh rebounded and was fouled, received a technical foul for arguing on the shot he took.

Earth to Dwyane: your teammate was fouled and will get two free throws. It’s a positive play for your team. Albeit, the technical did not ultimately decide the game, but against a good team in a close game, every point given away is pivotal.

Both discipline and hustle are lacking, and I have not seen it from this team since that regular season series finale against Boston when they dominated the Celtics at home.

I have never seen this team move around defensively with such determination and gusto the way they did that afternoon.

Watching this game, I can almost say I was secretly rooting for the series to go seven so Udonis Haslem can buy himself some time to get back and any sense of hustle can be restored on the floor for this team.

And then there’s the shot selection… well, I’ll save that for another rant.

One thing’s for sure. It’ll be extremely interesting when the Celtics and Heat get their series started Sunday at the American Airlines Arena.

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Ethier extends hit streak, wins game for Dodgers

Filed under: Major League Baseball — davidfurones @ 3:00 pm
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By DAVID FURONES

 With a smooth swing of the bat and a fly ball that gracefully landed into the abandoned right field Sun Life Stadium seats, Andre Ethier gave the Dodgers their first lead, and the only one they would need Wednesday afternoon for the 5-4 victory. 

Ethier had already extended his Major League-leading hitting streak to 24 games with a sharp line drive to center in his second at bat against Sanchez, which came in the fourth inning. 

The Marlins, who had already managed to win the first two of the series against the Dodgers, finished the homestand going 7-2, are now tied with the Phillies for the lead atop the NL East as they wait for Philadelphia to play in Arizona at 3:40 p.m.

 Nonetheless, the 15-7 start ties the Marlins franchise record for best start through 23 games. 

Florida went down harmlessly in the bottom of the tenth as the two, three and four hitters were retired in order against Vicente Padilla—not Jonathan Broxton—who earned the save making only his third appearance of the season.

 The Marlins threatened to finish it in the bottom of the ninth with runners on second and third and one out. Scott Cousins, who remained in the game via a double switch after pinch hitting in the seventh, then struck out and pinch hitter John Buck grounded softly to short to end the inning. 

The usually reliable Marlins bullpen gave up the lead in the seventh and then the ball game in extras, although they were called upon earlier than normal. 

The Marlins utilized every single pitcher they had in the bullpen to get through the game.

 Anibal Sanchez, coming off his Friday night no-hit bid that was lost in the ninth against the Rockies, was spotless through three innings, but the Dodgers got to him in the fourth with a Rod Barajas three-run shot to left field. 

After throwing 123 pitches in his complete game outing against Colorado, the team wanted to hold him back Wednesday and his day was done after 77 pitches. He ended the day pitching five innings, striking out four, giving up four hits and three runs, with his only mistake being the pitch he made to Barajas in the fourth.

 He left the game with a one-run lead but would end up with a no decision after Ryan Webb gave up a double to pinch hitter Juan Uribe that plated Aaron Miles in the seventh.

 Los Angeles starter Chad Billingsley pitched six innings, giving up four runs off five hits. Billingsley did not give up a hit after all the damage was done off him in the second inning. The Dodger bullpen pitched in four shutout innings in relief. 

The Fish got the scoring started in the second when a rally of three consecutive singles loaded the bases for Brett Hayes, who then belted a long single off the left field “teal tower” that could only score one as the runners held as Tony Gwynn bluffed as if he was under the high fly ball. After an Anibal Sanchez strikeout, Chris Coghlan lined a shot down the left field line that cleared the bases and put the Marlins up 4-0. They wouldn’t score again. 

Marlins all-star Hanley Ramirez went right back to his struggling ways after his 2-for-4 outing Tuesday night. Ramirez went 0-for-5 on the day and is currently hitting .135 on the season against right-handed pitching. 

The Marlins have been winning without the services of Logan Morrison, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list April 20 with a sprained left foot. The cast on his foot was removed Monday but Morrison will continue to rehab to get back into action. The original prognosis on his injury was that it would take two to four weeks to recover.

 Despite the time lost, he continues to lead the team in several statistical categories including batting average and OPS while he remains tied with leadoff man Chris Coghlan for the home run lead.

 Contrary to other recent seasons, Florida has gotten outstanding production from their bullpen and defense and has not had to rely on the three-run bombs that have usually salvaged them. 

“Timely hitting, pitching, and defense,” says Morrison, “that’ll get you where you need to go.”

 The registered attendance of 16,523 for Wednesday’s matinee consisted of approximately 9,000 students in grades 3-8 who were invited to Sun Life Stadium as part of the fifth annual CBS4 Weather Day, in which students received a pre-game program on weather issues relevant in South Florida and then stayed for the noon start to the game.

 Mostly all the schools invited to the game left before the final out as they had to get their kids back on campus before 3 p.m.

 The Marlins have the day off Thursday before they travel to Cincinnati to face the Reds at Great American Ballpark to kick off a week-long road trip that ends in St. Louis. 

Javier Vazquez will take his record of 1-2 and 6.52 ERA and start Friday to face Cincinnati lefty Travis Wood. 

The Marlins did not fare well in their last trip to Cincinnati, getting swept in the three-game series in 2010. The last time the Marlins won a season series against the Reds was 2005.

Marlins in first place going into Wednesday

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidfurones @ 12:28 am

With a 4-2 win over the Dodgers Tuesday and a Phillie loss to the Diamondbacks, the Marlins, one-eighth of the way through the season, climbed atop the NL East by half a game.

The Fish have been red hot as of late, winning the first two in the series against the Dodgers and seven of eight on their current homestand. The Marlins currently hold a 15-7 record and trail only the Colorado Rockies, who Florida recently took two of three from, for the league’s top record.

The Marlins have been doing it with pitching, specifically their bullpen. Florida is second to only the Oakland Athletics with their 2.98 ERA

Anibal Sanchez will face off against Chad Billingsley to cap the nine-game Florida homestand  Wednesday with the noon start before they hit the road for Cincinnati.

April 23, 2011

Star Dolphins WR stabbed

Filed under: NFL football — davidfurones @ 10:37 am
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Brandon Marshall was stabbed late last nigth by his wife, Michi Nogami-Marshall.

He was rushed to Broward General Hospital by car and remains in intensive care.

His wife was arrested and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

April 22, 2011

Conflicting information from two sides on movement of NBA franchise

Filed under: NBA — davidfurones @ 10:56 pm
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Sacramento Kings part-owner Joe Maloof said today that no decision has been made on his franchise’s potential movesouth from the California’s capitol to Anaheim.

The NBA, however, said today that it is likelythe Kings will stay in Sacramento and play their home games in Arco Arena for the 2011-12 season.

Several teams have relocated within the past decade of NBA basketball, including the Seattle Supersonics becoming the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Hornets making the move from Charlotte to New Orleans, and the Grizzlies moving from Vancouver to Memphis.

The Sacramento Kings, as they are currently known, have constantly been relocating. The storied franchise that started off in New York as the Rochester Royals moved to Cincinnati in 1957. They continued moving west to be known as the Kansas City-Omaha Kings in 1972 for three seasons before simply calling themselves the Kansas City Kings starting in 1975. Then they finally arrived in Sacramento in 1985.

April 17, 2011

Memphis Grizzlies earn first playoff win in franchise history

They were previously 0-12 in playoff games. They reached three consecutive postseasons from 2004 to 2006, getting swept by the Spurs, Suns, and Mavericks in that order.

But in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round against the West’s No. 1 seed, the San Antonio Spurs, the Memphis Grizzlies are finally in the win column when it comes to the postseason after Richard Jefferson’s wide open top of the key three hit the back of the rim as the buzzer went off.

The Charlotte Bobcats, who began play in the 2004-05 season, are now the only NBA franchise without a playoff win. They reached the postseason last year, but were swept in the first round by the Orlando Magic.

April 16, 2011

Canes hold 2011 Spring Game

By DAVID FURONES 

The University of Miami football players received their final opportunity to compete and impress in the 2011 Spring Game on a cloudy, yet humid, Saturday afternoon in Fort Lauderdale’s Lockhart Stadium. 

The Green team defeated the Orange team 30-17 in the intra-squad scrimmage, but the final score was not what the Miami faithful took away from the game. 

For fans, it was a chance to grasp a lasting impression they will carry into the fall after an offseason that completely remodeled the coaching staff following the forgettable 2010 season. 

Several position battles, highlighted by the duel for the starting quarterback position between senior Jacory Harris and sophomore Stephen Morris, were proven to be highly contested Saturday. 

“I’m just going to keep working,” Harris says, “It’s like anything else in life. You have to compete for everything.” 

“It makes you go hard, makes you work hard in the weight room,” says Morris, “competition only brings good.” 

Offensively, Miami was most effective in the running game, particularly Lamar Miller. Miller utilized his 10 carries to total 166 yards and three touchdowns. In the passing game, Jedd Fisch drew up plenty of check down passes to get his quarterbacks comfortable and mixed in the occasional deep ball.

 The two quarterbacks, who were down wide receivers LaRon Byrd, Aldarius Johnson and Travis Benjamin, compiled decent completion percentages, but reminiscent of last season, did turn the ball over. 

Harris went 18 of 30 for 149 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions while Morris completed 14 of his 22 passes, threw a touchdown pass to Kendal Thompkins and also tossed two picks. 

“I thought the quarterbacks struggled,” says first year graduate student and Hurricane fan Brad Kenin. “They didn’t display good pocket presence.” 

Head coach Al Golden attributed the turnovers of the quarterbacks, who defenders were not allowed to make contact with, to the solid play of the defense. He did not name a starter for the fall.

 “That’s too far in advance. I just want to see them compete,” says Golden. “We’ll let them compete for the next 140 days and see who’s going to start.” 

“I think the coaching staff’s going to make a decision best for the team,” says former Cane quarterback Ken Dorsey, “and you can’t really lose with any of these guys.” 

The team’s defensive ends were strong while Sean Spence and Ray Ray Armstrong highlighted the day’s action behind them. Spence had an interception return for a touchdown that resulted in a bench clearing celebration at the field goal post that he deemed similar to that in the Florida-Georgia game in 2007. 

Reggie Wayne chats it up with fans after Saturdays Spring Game while Tapout gets free product placement.

 

Questions still remain on what the Canes will do at cornerback after losing seniors Demarcus Van Dyke and Ryan Hill and junior Brandon Harris, who decided to forego his senior year to enter the NFL draft. 

“You can’t replace those guys,” says Spence, “but I think guys are doing a great job of stepping up, taking ownership and playing their role.” 

Over a hundred football alumni filed onto the sidelines to watch their alma mater’s scrimmage. 

“It’s a special group,” says Golden, “that’s a family.” 

Thirty-three members of the 2001 Hurricanes, who brought Miami its fifth national championship in football, were honored at halftime. 

“It kind of makes me feel old,” says former Cane great and all-pro Minnesota Vikings left tackle Bryant McKinnie. 

The next game Cane fans can look forward to will kick-off the regular season in a Labor Day showdown in Maryland that will be aired on ESPN.

“We just have to beat up on each other during the offseason and make each other better,” says Lamar Miller.

The moment that made me famous

Filed under: NBA — davidfurones @ 12:09 am
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The moment LeBron said those now famous–or,to some, infamous– words “take my talents to South Beach,” I appeared on ESPN about 10-15 minutes after.

April 15, 2011

Cuban wrong about LeBron’s “decision”

By DAVID FURONES

On July 8, 2010 LeBron James made his decision to take his talents to South Beach.

As the start to the NBA’s regular season approached, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said that LeBron James “lost a billion dollars in brand equity.”

It came out recently that James outdid former top dog Kobe Bryant and ranked first in NBA jersey sales over the past season. The combination of the new number, the new colors, and the new name on the front of the jersey, in addition to his stellar play on the hardwood, were enough to overcome the negative publicity from James’ decision in the minds of NBA fans and make his jersey most popular.

It seems like his brand equity is doing quite alright.

LeBron’s No. 6 Miami Heat jersey can be seen in action Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference first round series against the Philadelphia 76ers.

April 12, 2011

Eichorst named Miami’s next Director of Athletics

Filed under: sports, college,UM sports — davidfurones @ 11:09 am

The University of Miami announced who it hired today for the position of Athletic Director. It’s Shawn Eichorst, who was formerly Deputy Athletic Director at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His responsibilities under UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez consisted of serving as the Department’s COO, overseeing daily operations, legal affairs, trademark and licensing and merchandising.

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