Barry Jackson

Jimmy Johnson loves Diaz; Riley scout Big Ten


Some UM and Heat notes on a Friday:

• Fox NFL analyst and former UM coach Jimmy Johnson, who said he never misses a UM game on TV, raves about what coordinator Manny Diaz has done with this UM defense.

“He’s done a great job, especially with the freshman linebackers,” Johnson said. “I started watching Diaz when he was with

Louisiana Tech. Terry Bradshaw and I turn three TVs on every Saturday.

“I have priority on one of the TVs [and watch UM games]. He would put Louisiana Tech on one of the televisions. We liked Manny Diaz when he was at Louisiana Tech. Then we started watching him all along.”

JJ said of Miami: “They’re making progress. I love Ahmmon Richards – outstanding player – a great find. He was the most dynamic receiver they have. [Running back] Mark Walton did a nice job.”

• The Hurricanes are only 4-4 this season with the lineup that started in Thursday’s ACC Tournament loss to North Carolina: Ja’Quan Newton, Bruce Brown, Davon Reed, Anthony Lawrence Jr. and Kamari Murphy.

It will be interesting to see if Jim Larranaga sticks with that group when Miami opens what presumably will be NCAA Tournament play next Thursday or Friday.

• In the last 103 minutes against North Carolina and Duke, Bruce Brown tallied 76 points, 10 assists, 15 rebounds, four blocks and four steals.

• Among prominent bracketologists, Joe Lunardi has Miami an an eighth seed and Tulsa-bound to play Arkansas.

CBS’ Jerry Palm has UM as a seventh seed and going to Sacramento to face Providence.

• With UM baseball off to its worst start in 63 years at 4-8, this is stunning: Miami’s .172 batting average ranks 294th among 295 Division one programs, ahead of only New York Institute of Technology.

• As we’ve reported, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra today confirmed that Justise Winslow will not return this season from a torn labrum. But Spoelstra said Winslow is ahead of schedule.

The Heat’s use of a $1.3 million disabled players exception, awarded after the Winslow injury, expires today.

• Heat president Pat Riley is scouting the Big Ten tournament in Washington DC today, but based on current projections, only one player projects in Miami’s draft range: Michigan State forward Miles Bridges.

ESPN’s Chad Ford ranks him 10th among all draft prospects, saying “Bridges continues to impress scouts with his combination of athleticism, scoring ability and floor vision. He's shooting an impressive 41 percent on jumpers (both from 3 and from 2, according to Hoop-Math). He also has proven to be a terrific rebounder and a solid shot-blocker.”

Ford has only two other Big 10 players in his top 30: Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan and injured Indiana forward OG Anubody.