29 Mart 2008


Pat Riley continued to juggle his roles as Heat president and coach when he left the team to attend Saturday's NCAA Tournament games in Houston to scout potential prospects for the NBA Draft.

With the Heat (13-59) poised to land one of the top four picks in the June draft, Riley has briefly stepped away from the team for the third time in as many weeks to scout players.

The Heat, two games into a four-game trip, traveled Friday to Boston and did not practice. It plays the Celtics on Sunday and Indiana on Monday. Riley, who planned to also attend a regional Saturday in either Phoenix or Charlotte, N.C., was not certain if he would coach Sunday's game.

Riley was in Houston for another look at Memphis point guard Derrick Rose. He also could get second looks this weekend at Stanford center Brook Lopez, UCLA center Kevin Love, North Carolina guard Ty Lawson and center Tyler Hansbrough. But Riley recently said most of his scouting work is done with the use of a laptop computer when he travels.

''Now that I've got video of these guys, before I land, I've got enough information about what they do, what they look like defensively, all that stuff,'' Riley said. ``You get an idea what a guy's about and go from there.''

Should Riley not return in time for Sunday's game, assistant Ron Rothstein is expected to coach the Heat for the fourth time this month.


Earlier this month, Alonzo Mourning said he was still ''about six or seven months from making a decision'' about his future. But during an interview aired Thursday on WIOD as part of the Heat's pregame show, Mourning sounded optimistic about a return.

''The mental part is there,'' Mourning said. ''I still want to play the game. I still feel like I have a lot to offer.'' Mourning, 38, tore multiple tendons in his right knee during a Dec. 19 game against the Hawks. Before the injury, he planned to retire after this season when his contract expires.

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Heat's Ricky Davis has proven resilient

What feels like the longest season in Heat history is down to 10 games. For Ricky Davis, that puts the finish line to his marathon within view.

While the overall result will almost certainly be the NBA's worst record, the veteran swingman still has put himself in position for a small victory, as the lone Heat player to appear in all 82 games.

"I said that to him the other day in a meeting," said coach Pat Riley. "I mean, we're trying to be honest about this whole thing and truthful and not talk about it, but guys have to look at what is it they've contributed, either personally or to the team this year."

For all that has gone wrong with his Heat reunion, and for all the criticism he has endured, including this week's rebuke from former teammate Shaquille O'Neal, Davis has proven reliable and resilient.

"Some guys can just stay the course by showing tremendous character during this adversity," Riley said.

Like teammates who have opted to step aside, Davis has had his share of lingering ailments, including groin issues. But he will close the season as the lone Heat player to appear in more than 70 games.

"I came in to play all 82 games," he said, in position to do so for the third time in his 10 seasons, after playing 81 games for the Timberwolves last season. "That's what it's about, just finishing out the season."

It is a marked contrast to Davis' first term with the franchise, when a foot injury limited him to seven games with the team in 2000-01.

"I'm still here right now, just try to help them along," he said.

"I'd rather be playing than sitting down. Like coach said, I'm going out there and earning that check."

Signaling a truce?
Apparently Thursday's conversation between Riley and Suns President Steve Kerr brought to a close the war of words between the Heat and O'Neal.

"I'm not going to comment anymore," O'Neal said at a Friday shootaround in Philadelphia. "I'm the type of guy who only speaks once. I shouldn't have to speak twice. I said what I said."

O'Neal had previously attempted to clarify that he was talking about the lack of talented depth during his final months with the Heat, not specifically about Davis and Chris Quinn.

"A lot of times," O'Neal said, "statements get misconstrued. I said what I said. I clarified what I said. I'm not going to talk anymore about it."

Decisions due
With Riley off scouting the NCAA Tournament, the Heat is off until Sunday's game in Boston.

That's when the 10-day contracts of D-League guard Blake Ahearn and forward Stephane Lasme expire. Kasib Powell's expires after Monday's game in Indiana. Players can be signed for up to two 10-day contracts per team, before their salaries must be guaranteed for the balance of the season.

"We're looking at a couple of other guys, but I sort of like what I see with a couple of these," Riley said. "It's hard to evaluate young guys when you aren't playing them with your best players. We're asking them to do things we wouldn't normally expect them to do."

Factoring into any decision on 10-day renewals will be the availability of guard Marcus Banks, who Riley expects back next week. Banks has been sidelined the past 11 games with a pulled right hamstring and is not on this four-game trip.

Mourning hopeful
As expected, Alonzo Mourning is talking about a comeback from this season's knee surgery. The 38-year-old center told WIOD radio, "I still want to play the game of basketball." Mourning said he would make a decision in August or September, with his rehab scheduled to extend beyond that time frame...

kaynak : NBA

28 Mart 2008

McDonald's Game Notebook

MILWAUKEE -- From the start, it was clear that Brandon Jennings of Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) wasn't interested in scoring.

Unlike most McDonald's All-Americans, Jennings was only interested in dishing the rock. He had his sights set on the McDonald's assist record of 13, set by Jacque Vaughn back in 1993.

And for a while, it looked like he'd have the mark by the first half. Jennings assisted on the West's first five baskets, including several on spectacular alley oops, but he slowed down and finished with nine in the East's 107-102 victory.

Unfortunately, Jennings showed his displeasure on the court when someone missed a layup costing him a potential assist and then he took it a step further during the post-game press conference.

"I was trying to get that assist record," Jennings said. "If B.J. Mullens and Greg (Monroe) would've made their layups, I probably would have gotten it."

To be fair, Jennings may have been joking (although he wasn't laughing) and the question he was asked did refer to his teammates not being prepared for his passes, but there's no reason for Jennings to call out his star big men like that.

As NBA on ABC announcer Mark Jackson would say, Brandon Jennings, you're better than that.

Jennings is a great player and one of the most exciting in the game. But being a star point guard isn't just about throwing precision passes. Even more than that, it's about making your teammates better and inspiring them to play their best. It's one thing to show frustration in the heat of the moment when someone misses an easy basket, but there's no need to do so to the media following a game.

* * *

When the question of who was the most impressive player this week was posed to Jennings, Tyreke Evans, Mike Rosario and Willie Warren, it didn't take long to get an answer.

Without hesitation, they each said Samardo Samuels of St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.). The Louisville-bound big man, who's RISE's No. 1 senior, impressed everything with his scary combination of size and agility.

"That's a big man," Rosario said.

For Samuels, who didn't start playing basketball until he was 13, that validated all of his effort.

"That's just hard work," Samuels said. "Guys acknowledging me is great and now I want to keep it up."

* * *

Presenting the MVP trophy to Evans following the boys' game was NBA star and 1988 McDonald's All-American co-MVP Alonzo Mourning.

Mourning was in town because he's heading up the McDonald's Advisory Council, which aims to educate the All-Americans about success on and off the court.

"It was smart that McDonald's put together this Advisory Council beacuse it gives an opportunity for the veteran stars of the game to come back and play a positive role in the current McDonald's All-American kids' lives," Mourning said. "We can provide insight, inspiration and help them understand that coming out here isn't just about the game, but to teach them it's important to establish a legacy in their community."

Jennings finished with 12 points and nine assists.

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Washington State's run brings ex-Hornet Bennett back to Charlotte

The Cougars' first trip to the regional semifinals has brought Bennett back to Charlotte, where he played for parts of three seasons in the mid-1990s with the NBA's Hornets. He credited that experience for helping to shape his coaching philosophy.

"I played my 12 to 14 minutes a game, but I was part of (the team)," Bennett said Wednesday. "It didn't matter that I came from Green Bay. It's not a basketball hotbed. I got to play against (Michael) Jordan and with some of the greatest players, I think, in the game. It formed a lot of my thoughts about what matters right now."

The Hornets drafted Bennett in the second round in 1992 out of Wisconsin-Green Bay, and he averaged 3.5 points in 152 games from 1992-94 before a foot injury ended his career.

Among Bennett's most vivid memories of his years in Charlotte: mobbing Alonzo Mourning after his shot with 0.4 seconds left against Boston in the 1993 playoffs gave the Hornets their first postseason series victory in franchise history; going head-to-head with Muggsy Bogues in practice and routinely playing before sellout crowds at the since-demolished Charlotte Coliseum that embraced the city's first major professional sports team.

"The memories I have of just, night in and night out, playing in front of that crowd, getting to know (teammates Dell Curry, Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson) and just making the playoffs and being an up-and-coming team. It was real special," he said.


FULL CIRCLE: David Padgett left Kansas for Louisville the year after coach Roy Williams bolted for North Carolina. Now the Cardinals' big man might wind up playing against him this weekend.

When Padgett opted to transfer after his freshman season with the Jayhawks in 2003-04, one of the schools he considered was North Carolina.

"I loved him when I was recruiting him, because he was a big guy who could run, who could catch, who could pass, who had savvy," Williams said. "I think he's showing all of those things now."

During four seasons at Louisville, Padgett fought through multiple injuries -- including a broken kneecap earlier this season -- to become a unanimous all-Big East selection.

"Coach Williams and I have always had a great relationship, and I have great respect for him," Padgett said. "But it was just one of those situations where I felt that Louisville was going to be a better spot for me overall. It's just where I chose to go."


ROAD TRIPPING: Tennessee might have had some semblance of home-court advantage this weekend at Charlotte Bobcats Arena -- that is, if the top-seeded Tar Heels weren't also here.

Much has been made of North Carolina's proximity to its regional site. But they're just one of three teams here that have campuses located within a day's drive of the Charlotte area. Tennessee's campus in Knoxville is about 250 miles away, and Louisville is 500 miles northwest of the city.

Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl isn't a big believer in home-court advantage at this stage of the tournament, anyway.

"I don't think the crowd is going to do anything to intimidate Washington State, Louisville or Tennessee at this point," Pearl said. "We could play in Nashville, and there may be a few more folks in orange, and it could get hyped and it could catch fire. But it wouldn't intimidate a team that we're playing against."


CRIKEY!: Plenty of accolades have been showered upon North Carolina star forward Tyler Hansbrough this season. Washington State's Aron Baynes came up with a new one.

The Cougars' center, a native of Australia, likened Hansbrough to "a thrashing croc in the paint down there."

That comparison wasn't lost on Tar Heels point guard Ty Lawson.

"I can see why he says that -- I watch the 'Crocodile Hunter,"' Lawson quipped. "I've seen him thrashing, so I can see where he gets that from."


LAYUPS: One of Williams' concerns during the subregional in Raleigh was the large NCAA sticker at midcourt that he blamed for causing some players to slip. That won't be an issue here this weekend: logos and other floor markings are painted on the new court. ... Washington State's regional semifinal against the Tar Heels will be the school's first game in the state of North Carolina.

kaynak : NBA

College fundraiser to honor Alonzo Mourning and South Florida establishments

The storied Orange Bowl has been smashed to smithereens, but it's signature fundraiser continues.

Former Heat player Alonzo Mourning and his philanthropic wife, Tracey, will be among the honorees March 28 at the Orange Bowl Foundation event at the Broward County Convention Center.

The Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, The African-American Research Library and Tarra L. Pressey will also be honored at the sixth annual dinner, which will feature r&b singer Eric Benet.

The Field of Dreams scholarships will be donated to the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Florida Region, whose Fort Lauderdale chapter serves UNCF schools such as Florida Memorial University in Miami, Edward Waters College in Jacksonville and Bethune Cookman College in Daytona Beach.

Money raised will also provide academic scholarships to African-American high school athletes from South Florida schools who plan to attend a United Negro College Fund institution.

A reception begins at 7 p.m. and dinner will start at 8:30 p.m. at 1950 Eisenhower Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale.

Tickets start at $125 per person, $1,000 for a corporate table and $1,500 for a premium corporate table (which includes preferred location seating, champagne and personal gift). For tickets or more information, call LaToya Williams at (305) 341-4728

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