Plucky Heat crew approaching some of the Big Three’s best streaks

 

A bit of perspective on the Miami Heat’s eight-game win streak, which might stretch longer but stretches the imagination either way.

The Heat only topped this streak five times during the Big Three era.

Miami Heat's Dion Waiters passes the ball in the first quarter against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017 at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Fla. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)
Miami Heat’s Dion Waiters passes the ball in the first quarter against the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017 at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Fla. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)

One of those times they absolutely crushed it, ripping off 27 wins in a row in February and March of 2013, but the rest of their runs were more in line with what Dion Waiters, Goran Dragic and the fellas are doing now.

Twelve in a row a couple of times for LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and company, plus single streaks of 10 and nine games each.

I don’t have to tell you that those Heat teams were worlds better than this one. Four straight trips to the NBA Finals. Two championships. Yeah, worlds better than the 2016-17 crew, which against all odds has pushed the record all the way up to 19-30, still outside the wide playoff net.

That’s what blows your mind. Eight straight wins are exceedingly tough to get in any major sport. What’s needed is a highly talented group on a hot streak, not a roster running on fumes.

Here is a listing of the most recent streaks of eight wins or longer for South Florida’s other pro franchises.

Miami Dolphins – Eight wins in a row, 1985. That team was quarterbacked by Hall of Famer Dan Marino and played in the Super Bowl the previous season. The streak included seven in a row to end the regular season plus a playoff win over Cleveland.

Miami Marlins – Nine wins in a row, 2008. We’re going back to the old football-stadium days here and a Marlins payroll that was the lowest in the major leagues. Still, there was a talented group of players on the roster, like Hanley Ramirez and Ricky Nolasco and Josh Johnson and Dan Uggla, and the final record of 84-77 showed that.

Florida Panthers – Twelve wins in a row, 2015-16. According to Elias Sports Bureau, this streak was the longest ever for a team that didn’t qualify for the playoffs the previous season. The Panthers had plenty of talent, though, enough to win the Atlantic Division and reach the postseason for just the fifth time in franchise history.

Does Erik Spoelstra have a playoff team at the moment, or a team that should surpass .500 by season’s end, or a team led by a Hall of Famer? Certainly not, but the Heat have won eight in a row just the same.

South Florida fans have seen some astonishing win streaks, of course, like 34 in a row by the Miami Hurricanes from 2000-02 and 18 in a row by the dynastic Dolphins (17-0 in 1972 and a win to open the next season).

[Palm Beach County is state’s spring-training showcase now]

[A little candy to treat Dolphins fans sick of Patriots in Super Bowl]

[College football scoring average tops 30 points, and Gators aren’t close]

Can’t let this current Heat run get lost in the shuffle, though. It shouldn’t be happening. No matter the quality of the competition during the streak, from Golden State to lowly Brooklyn, it shouldn’t be happening. The franchise, left behind by LeBron and Dwyane, is making something uncommon happen with a fairly common cast of characters, a specialty of Pat Riley’s organization for some time.

Palm Beach County’s spring-training showcase is the best in the state

Palm Beach County is really stepping up its game with the opening next month of a new spring-training stadium for the Washington Nationals and Houston Astros.

We’re not just talking volume here, either, but quality.

Cam Richardson, left, and Zach Severns, operations managers for Brightview Sports Turf, complete work on the stadium pitchers mound at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach on January 10, 2017.  (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Cam Richardson, left, and Zach Severns, operations managers for Brightview Sports Turf, complete work on the stadium pitchers mound at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach on January 10, 2017. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Pair those two teams with the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins at Jupiter’s Roger Dean Stadium and you’ve got a combined record of 44 games above .500 in last year’s MLB standings. Let’s see some other county top that.

Sure, Maricopa County in the Phoenix metro area really pours it on, swallowing up 15 teams at 10 spring-training facilities within its boundaries.

Add it all up, though, from the high of the World Champion Chicago Cubs to the low of the 94-loss Padres and Reds and the total of wins and losses from 2016 is not so grand for that large Arizona grouping. Six games below .500, to be exact.

Probably doesn’t make much sense to turn this into some kind of bragging war, but it’s fair to say that Palm Beach County is playing a major role in Florida’s overall stability as a spring-training destination.

The Atlanta Braves nearly pulled a muscle trying to get back here before recently settling on a planned facility in Sarasota County on the state’s Gulf Coast. The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches makes the Mets feel more comfortable about staying in Port St. Lucie, too.

[Let’s talk about a Heat upset even wilder than Monday’s win over Warriors]

[Gators fall well short of 2016’s college football scoring average]

[Wondering if Dolphins’ No. 22 draft slot is haunted]

So what would be the best recommendation if you’re a baseball fan from up north in search of the perfect spring vacation spot and you don’t have an obsession with a particular team and just want to collect lots of autographs and plenty of rays?

Got to be honest. It’s Arizona for the simple reason that there are so many teams in a concentrated area, which means you’re bound to get a glimpse of some recognizable player at most any restaurant or nightspot in town.

Second prize goes to Palm Beach County, though, and first prize if we’re talking of Florida alone.

Sure, it’s off to Fort Myers if the Red Sox are what matters most, and Tampa if it’s a Yankees thing. Stay here, however, and there’s baseball every day with a minimum of hassles.

Plus there’s that fresh-paint smell at the new park in West Palm Beach. Makes you certain that spring training is a still a growing concern in our neighborhood, and that teams will stop threatening to tumbleweed their way to Arizona, the way the Dodgers did in 2009.

 

A little candy to treat Dolphins fans who are sick of seeing the Patriots always in the Super Bowl

 

This time of year can be tough on Miami Dolphins fans, now 43 years removed from

1973 file photo. Don Shula.
Don Shula in 1973. (Post file photo)

the last NFL championship in franchise history, and that frustration goes double when the New England Patriots are back in the Super Bowl again.

As a public service to the South Florida market we offer these proofs that it was not always this way (Patriots ruling the AFC East and, too frequently, the world) and it will not stay this way forever (in theory, at least).

  • Between 1964-75, the Boston/New England Patriots experienced a 12-season postseason drought. The Dolphins’ longest stretch without a playoff game is seven seasons.
  • During the sad period of Patriots history listed above, the Dolphins won a couple of Super Bowls, posted the only perfect season in NFL history and ran up a 13-6 record against the Pats.
  • Between 1963-82, the Patriots qualified for just four playoff games and lost them all. The last loss in that string was a first-rounder to Miami in 1982, and the Dolphins went on to play in the Super Bowl that year.
  • The Dolphins are 16 years without a postseason victory at the moment, but there’s still time to put one on the board before reaching the Patriots’ franchise worst drought of 21 years between 1964-84.
  • Three times in their history the Patriots have owned or shared the worst record in the NFL – 1970, 1990 and 1992. That has happened to Miami only once (2007).
  • The Dolphins lead the all-time series with the Patriots 53-50, playoffs included.
  • The Dolphins own the longest winning streak in the series, with nine straight victories over the Patriots between 1989-93. The Patriots have never won more than seven in a row against Miami.
  • The Dolphins have the most lopsided victory in the series, 52-0 in 1972.
  • When Tom Brady joines the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day, he’ll still be outnumbered by Bob Griese and Dan Marino.
  • Bill Belichick may have 262 career victories but he’s still 85 short of Don Shula.

 

Conclusions? This makes me feel a little bit better about the faulty concept that everything always goes New England’s way, and a little bit worse that it took so much work to find these Miami advantages.

Trust me, it does no good to dig further. Stop here, before counting up division titles, Super Bowls and such, and before recognizing that Shula was 65 when the Dolphins pushed him out of the way for Jimmy Johnson. Belichick is 64 and still working on his trophy case.

[Here’s a Miami Heat upset crazier than Monday’s win over Warriors]

[Gators fall a touchdown short of college football’s scoring average]

[Wondering if Dolphins’ No. 22 draft slot is haunted]

Monday was sensational, but there’s an even crazier upset in Heat franchise history

Monday’s 105-102 upset of the Golden State Warriors was one of the most shocking victories in Miami Heat history and it provides the blueprint for Erik Spoelstra for defeating the league’s best as the season continues.

First, forget about getting Tyler Johnson, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson back in the lineup. Obviously, the Heat don’t need them.

Dion Waiters of the Miami Heat poses for photo media during Heat Media Day at American Airlines Arena, September 26, 2016. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post
Dion Waiters of the Miami Heat poses during Heat Media Day at American Airlines Arena, September 26, 2016. Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post

Second, get a subpar performance from Hassan Whiteside. His meager 10 points in 35-plus minutes on Monday were well below average but clearly vital in distracting the Warriors from their pregame keys.

Third, tell Goran Dragic to dial it down a bit, too. He made just 5-of-14 Monday from the field and was pretty lousy from the foul line, too, missing 5-of-13. Again, brilliant subterfuge.

Fourth, take a kid who has barely played in the NBA and give him significant minutes. Okaro White, who prior to Monday was 0-for-3 in a grand total of two career games, contributed five very necessary points to the win over the Warriors.

Fifth, get Dion Waiters and Luke Babbitt to combine for 9-for-12 from three-point range. Now there’s a game plan that should be easily repeatable, right?

All kidding aside, there’s only been one Heat game more ridiculous than this one was in terms of overperforming. That was Miami’s easy 113-104 win over Michael Jordan’s invincible Chicago Bulls on Feb. 23, 1996.

Chicago was on its way to a 72-10 regular season, a record that stood until Golden State went 73-9 last year. We’re talking about MJ, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and the boys, plus Steve Kerr, the current Warriors coach, off the bench.

Defeating them that night was a Miami team coached by Pat Riley but stuck in a disastrous roster limbo. The 24-29 Heat had just made a trade for Tim Hardaway, Chris Gatlin and two other players but those fresh troops had not yet arrived. Consequently, there were only eight Miami players dressed and ready to play against the Bulls but it hardly mattered.

Rex Chapman, who averaged 14 points per game that year, went off for a season-high 39 against the Bulls, hitting 9-of-10 from three-point range in the process.

“He reminded me of Jerry West,” Riley said of Chapman.

Don’t know about that, but Rex did outscored Jordan that night by eight points.

Here’s an excerpt from the Palm Beach Post’s deadline story on the upset, written by Tom D’Angelo. Of course, Tom was there. He’s everywhere.

“Some nights are hard to explain. Friday was one of them.

Playing with eight players and against the team some are touting as the best of all time, the Miami Heat submitted their most impressive performance of the season.

The Heat – relying heavily on three-point shooting – shocked the Chicago Bulls 113-104 at Miami Arena. Miami showed emotion (and outside shooting) rarely seen this season less than 24 hours after the team was gutted by three trades involving 10 players.

“You see it all the time in sports,” said Heat guard Rex Chapman, who equaled his career high with 39 points. “A team that’s undermanned on paper, and has no chance at all…Nobody is more surprised than we are, I’ll admit that. But if we had come out and laid down, we could have been beaten by 100.”

That’s just a flavor from D’Angelo’s complete story, and here are a few last notes I’ll throw in, too.

In the two games prior to that monumental upset, Miami scored 70 points in a loss to Cleveland and 66 in a win over Philadelphia.

What’s more, they didn’t get a monster game from Alonzo Mourning in beating the Bulls. Zo turned in his usual strongman numbers of 19 points and 12 rebounds but made just 8-of-22 shots.

The funniest part to me, looking back, is how angry Zo was after the game. He couldn’t believe how many in the sellout crowd were cheering loudly for the visiting superstars from Chicago and actually looked forward to going on a road trip in a couple of days.

“I’m kind of happy we’re getting out of this city and away from these fans,” Zo said. “The fans here are so hypocritical, it’s ridiculous. It makes me sick.”

[Gators are a touchdown shy of college football’s per-game scoring average]

[Wondering if Dolphins’ No. 22 draft position is haunted]

[Steve Shepherd and ‘Dangerous Dave’ Lewter join Florida Boxing Hall of Fame]

For the record, the Bulls got their revenge, dismissing Miami 3-0 in the opening playoff round that year and going on to start a new string of three consecutive NBA championships.

Better remember these amazing nights when they come along, however. It’s why any game ticket could wind up being the one you keep forever.

 

NCAA football scoring average tops 30 points per game, and Gators don’t come close

 

The only disappointment from Jim McElwain’s first two seasons as coach of the Florida Gators has been a serious lack of scoring punch. Now comes statistical confirmation of their subpar status in that area.

According to final statistics released by the NCAA, the per-game average for Div. I football teams in 2016 was a record 30.04 points. Florida missed that average by nearly a touchdown, coming in at 23.9 to rank 107th of 128 schools.

Florida head coach Jim McElwain reacts to a dropped pass by Iowa during the first half of the Outback Bowl NCAA college football game Monday, Jan. 2, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
TAMPA – Florida head coach Jim McElwain reacts to a dropped pass by Iowa during the Gators’ Outback Bowl win over Iowa on Jan. 2, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

The problem starts and ends at the quarterback position, an area McElwain has promised to address, though it should be noted that the Gators would be just fine if Will Grier hadn’t selfishly checked out on them with a performance-enhancing substance violation and a transfer to West Virginia.

Imagine, though, how sad the situation would have been without consistently excellent defense at Florida. Takeaways and defensive touchdowns played a major part in the modest scoring that McElwain’s teams have done.

No wonder Florida fans have struggled to fully embrace the new coach in spite of back-to-back SEC East titles under McElwain. Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer sometimes had 30 points by halftime as Gator coaches. In 1996, for instance, Spurrier’s national championship team averaged 47 points per game.

I’m thinking it will get fixed. McElwain’s a bright coach with a long-term plan. Meanwhile, it’s a matter of adjusting to what the rest of America is doing and playing a bit of catch-up along the way.

That’s tough to swallow for a Florida team that won nine games, including the Outback Bowl, but it plays into recruiting and ticket sales and everything else that gets tied to coaching.

If you’re looking for the scoring most of all, the South Florida Bulls are a good season-ticket value.

USF averaged 43.8 points last season, fourth in the nation, and scored 46 in a Birmingham Bowl win over South Carolina. Now the Bulls have Charlie Strong for a head coach, which will only boost the talent there. That spells touchdowns, almost by accident, and it will have to be that way in order to compete in the American Athletic Conference, where Tulsa and Navy and Houston and Temple regularly light it up.

FSU and Miami are above the national scoring average at 35.1 and 34.3 points per game, respectively.

Below average are UCF (28.8 points per game), Florida Atlantic (26.4), Florida International (24.0) and, as previously mentioned Florida.

Only two SEC schools ranked lower on the scoring list than the Gators. One of those teams (South Carolina) has Will Muschamp as its head coach and the other, as if you couldn’t guess, is Vanderbilt.

 

 

Wondering if No. 22 draft spot, where Dolphins are picking, is haunted

 

It’s an oddity, but the Miami Dolphins have never owned the No. 22 overall selection in an NFL draft, which is where they sit for April’s edition.

Don’t know if this development will be groundbreaking or heartbreaking, but there has been plenty of both to choose from at that number through the years.

Pittsburgh got Ernie Stautner at No. 22 in 1950. He’s the only Pro Football Hall of Famer ever selected at that spot. Of course, it’s been a while, but that at least is mildly encouraging for Dolphins fans.

FILE - In this May 8, 2014, file photo, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel reacts after being selected by the Cleveland Browns as the 22nd pick during the first round of the NFL Draft in New York. The Browns indicated Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016, that they’ve finally had enough of Manziel’s bad-boy behavior and intend to release the quarterback in March when the league begins its next calendar year. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)
FILE – In this May 8, 2014, file photo, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel reacts after being selected by the Cleveland Browns as the 22nd pick during the first round of the NFL Draft in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II, File)

On the other hand, the Cleveland Browns have taken Johnny Manziel, Brandon Weeden and Brady Quinn at No. 22 in recent years. Makes you think that spot might actually be haunted.

William “Refrigerator” Perry went to Chicago at No. 22 in 1985. Now we’re in the realm of NFL folklore. A 335-pound monster versatile enough to run for a Super Bowl touchdown, and so entertaining that he actually made coach Mike Ditka share some of the headlines.

Demaryius Thomas was a nice pick at No. 22 for Denver in 2010. He quickly became a Pro Bowler at wide receiver and was one of Adam Gase’s favorites there.

On the nastier side, at least from a Dolphins standpoint, is Bud Dupree, the Pittsburgh linebacker who drew a roughing-the-passer penalty for a vicious hit on Matt Moore in the wild-card playoff game a couple of weeks ago. Never hurts to have a little nasty on defense, though. Getting a kid like Dupree could potentially transform Miami’s leaky linebacker corps.

All of this has me wondering what will be available when the Dolphins’ turn comes around. Not specifically, but in terms of general quality and immediate utility.

Obviously, it won’t be the cream of the crop. Because the Dolphins had a better season (10-6 and a wild-card playoff appearance), their drafting order gets worse, and so do the chances of finding a sure starter in the first round.

Don Shula had pretty good luck finding reliable players in this general range, however.

Here are the guys Miami has taken within a spot or two of No. 22 throughout the years. Judge for yourself.

Offensive tackle Darryl Carlton – No. 23 in 1975 (traded to Tampa Bay after two disappointing seasons)

Offensive tackle Jon Giesler – No. 24 in 1979 (10 solid seasons at left tackle, including the early Marino years)

Cornerback Don McNeal – No. 21 in 1980 (Instant starter, played in two Super Bowls)

Offensive lineman Roy Foster – No. 24 in 1982 (Two-time Pro Bowler, also caught TD pass from Marino)

Wide receiver Randal Hill – No. 23 in 1991 (5 starts and 4 touchdown catches in brief Miami career)

FSU leads the nation in comprehensive competitiveness

Congratulations to Florida State for nearing a tipping point of achievement that rarely gets noted around here.

The Seminoles are ranked nearly as high in basketball (No. 10 in the latest AP poll) as the FSU football team was in 2016’s final poll (No. 8).

This is fairly amazing stuff, and there’s an opportunity for Leonard Hamilton’s hoops team to climb even higher with No. 15 Notre Dame and No. 12 Louisville coming to Tallahassee this week.

Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Florida State head coach Leonard Hamilton reacts during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

For two-sport domination, no other school comes close at the moment. FSU is the only program with top-10 teams in football and basketball according to the most current polls.

The other contenders are well back.

Louisville is No. 12 in basketball and finished No. 21 in football.

Wisconsin pairs a No. 17 basketball ranking with a No. 9 football finish.

Florida is up to No. 19 in hoops. A little bit more and they’ll catch the Gator football team at No. 14. This has happened before, of course, with back-to-back national titles in basketball during Billy Donovan’s great years, but in a football-crazy state like this one, Mike White deserves more headlines for even coming close.

Miami has the most climbing to do. Unranked in basketball, the Hurricanes finished No. 20 in Mark Richt’s first season as football coach. Jim Larranaga just picked up his 600th career victory, however, and he’s gotten the Hurricanes to the Sweet 16 a couple of times so it’s obvious the school is in good shape across the board.

Here’s another burst of fireworks for FSU. The Seminoles also are No. 7 in the AP poll for women’s basketball. Miami’s women also rank highly at No. 14.

We’ll check back as the hoops season goes on, unless all you want to talk about by then is college football recruiting, which would mean that everything is back to normal no matter what three pretty competitive basketball programs have to say about it.

 

[Steve Shepherd, Dave Lewter enter Florida Boxing Hall of Fame]

[Bob D’Angio was king of close calls during great run at Forest Hill]

[Lane Kiffin revival tent comes to Florida Atlantic]

 

A quiz on 4 head coaches in NFL’s Conference Championship round

 

Four head coaches still have a chance to win the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.

It’s easy to imagine that guys like these stood out from the start, that the skills necessary to reach this pinnacle of NFL competition had people scrambling to hire them instantly, promote them quickly and then shower them with whatever was needed to keep them on staff.

Here’s a little exercise, though, to demonstrate how much scrapping there really is on the way to the top of this profession. I’ll offer a note or two about each of the head coaches in next weekend’s conference championship games and you can try to figure out which personal history fits which man.

The choices, in alphabetical order, are Bill Belichick, Mike McCarthy, Dan Quinn and Mike Tomlin.

  1. He slept on a bunk in the empty freshman locker room at William & Mary while working as a volunteer assistant coach. Got his first paid coaching job at Virginia Military Institute when his fiancée, who just happened to be the head athletic trainer there, helped set up a meeting. His first coordinator’s job was at a FCS school that since has dropped the sport.
  2. Got his first job in the NFL because his father, a respected scout and assistant coach at Navy for more than 30 years, arranged a face-to-face meeting with one of the league’s head coaches. “He was willing to work ‘round the clock for nothing and learn everything he could about the game,” that head coach said years later. In truth, the basic gopher job paid more than nothing. It paid $25 per week.
  3. Worked as a college graduate assistant without benefits during his first two years in coaching. Jumped around to four different schools in his first six coaching seasons. Two of those seasons were spent at a Div. I Independent that regularly scheduled “body-bag” payoff games against Miami, Georgia, LSU, Virginia Tech and the like in order to fund the athletic department.
  4. During his early days as a graduate assistant coach at a major university, he worked a toll booth on the Pennsylvania Turnpike as a second job. Because it was the graveyard shift and because few cars exited or entered at the rural interchange he was assigned, he brought playbooks along and studied all night without much interruption.

Rather than give the answers right here, these photos hopefully will require you to scroll down a bit and think a little, too, before getting them.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the final minutes of the game against the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on January 3, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the final minutes of the game against the Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida on January 3, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15: Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers calls a play in the first half during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX – JANUARY 15: Head coach Mike McCarthy of the Green Bay Packers calls a play in the first half during the NFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on January 15, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 14: Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn reacts against the Seattle Seahawks at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA – JANUARY 14: Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn reacts against the Seattle Seahawks at the Georgia Dome on January 14, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin speaks a news conference after an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. The Steelers won 18-16. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin speaks a news conference after an NFL divisional playoff football game against the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, in Kansas City, Mo. The Steelers won 18-16. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Answers: A) Quinn; B) Belichick; C) Tomlin; D) McCarthy.

Quinn later was on the Miami Dolphins’ staff under Nick Saban and was Will Muschamp’s defensive coordinator at Florida.

Belichick’s first job was personal assistant to Ted Marchibroda of the Baltimore Colts.

Tomlin got his first opportunity at VMI with help from Quinn, who had previously known him at William & Mary.

McCarthy was a grad assistant at the University of Pittsburgh during his toll-booth days, and he had already spent two seasons as a G.A. at Fort Hays State in Kansas.

[Steve Shepherd, Dave Lewter join Florida Boxing Hall of Fame]

[Bob D’Angio was king of close calls during great Forest Hill run]

[Keeping Jimbo was biggest news for FSU since hiring Jimbo]

Steve Shepherd and ‘Dangerous Dave’ Lewter join Florida Boxing Hall of Fame

“Kickboxing is boxing, plus you kick,” Steve Shepherd said. “That’s it.”

A five-time world kickboxing champion during his younger years and a promoter of major cards in both sports later on, Shepherd doesn’t draw huge distinctions between the two disciplines.

Photo for Dave George column on Steve Shepherd and Muhammad Ali
Steve Shepherd at his West Palm Beach gym. Photo by Dave George (Palm Beach Post staff writer)

“I was good at kickboxing because I was good at boxing,” said Shepherd, a 1968 graduate of Lake Worth High School, “and I did box both professionally and as an amateur.”

The prime reason that Shepherd is being inducted to the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame, however, is for his tireless work as a manager and a promoter of more than 200 champions, both amateur and professional, at the state, national and world championship level.

One of the boxers who started out at Shepherd’s old gym on Military Trail in West Palm Beach was middleweight David Lewter, another of the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame’s 2017 inductees.

Lewter, 22-4 as a professional, is a former Palm Beach Lakes High School and Palm Beach Atlantic College student. He was waiting tables part-time at a West Palm Beach restaurant when he signed his first pro boxing contract.

“David Lewter was one fight away from getting a world title shot,” Shepherd said. “He got a fight on national TV against a former world champion (Jose Luis Lopez) and got his jaw broken in the first round. He didn’t tell me or I would stopped it, of course.”

Lewter, 43, eventually retired from that Dec. 1, 2000 fight in the eighth round, a major career opportunity lost. He battled Lopez that night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Lewter’s later fights, all victories, were at venues like the Delray Beach Tennis Center, the South Florida Fairgrounds and the Harriet Himmel Theater at West Palm Beach’s Cityplace.

That’s how the fight game goes, and it worked out better for Shepherd and Lewter than most. They are the first from Palm Beach County to enter the state boxing hall of fame.

The induction ceremony is a three-day affair in June at the Westshore Grand Hotel in Tampa. Included in the same induction class are a couple of former world heavyweight champions, Michael Moorer and Trevor Berbick, the man who beat Muhammad Ali in the great one’s final fight.

Shepherd, 66, was added to the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame in 1982. He’s still leading customers through fitness and self-defense workouts at his KickBox-SuperFIT gym at 915 North Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach. No more getting serious fighters ready for professional careers, but the list of those he did assist as manager and trainer and sometimes corner man is long and varied.

[Bob D’Angio was the king of close calls as Forest Hill baseball coach]

[The Lane Kiffin revival tent is coming to Florida Atlantic]

[FSU keeping Jimbo is biggest news for program since hiring Jimbo]

Former IBF junior middleweight champion Kassim Ouma from Uganda is one. Lena Akesson, once the top-ranked female boxer in the world, is another. All the while, Shepherd stayed involved in kickboxing, promoting numerous cards that filled the old West Palm Beach Auditorium.

“Looking back on it,” Shepherd said, “I’m just so glad I got the chance to actually help these people. All credit to them. They’re the ones who were in the rings. They were the ones taking the shots. I’m just glad I was able to give them some advice to help them.

 

Bob D’Angio was the king of close calls during his great run as Forest Hill High School baseball coach

 

One of the giants of Palm Beach County sports from half a century ago has left us.

Bob D’Angio, coach and teacher to hundreds at numerous area schools, died Monday in Vero Beach just a few weeks shy of his 95th birthday.

playballD’Angio was best known as the coach of three state runner-up teams at Forest Hill High School in the 1960’s. Twice his Falcons lost the championship game in extra innings, to Cantonment Tate in 1962 and to North Miami in 1964.

The last title-game loss, 3-0 to Pensacola Escambia in 1965, was D’Angio’s final game as coach. He retired immediately afterwards, having gone 74-7 over a four-year stretch.

Long-time residents will also remember Bob, born in Brooklyn, as a favorite teacher at Conniston Junior High and St. Anne’s School. He was an assistant on the legendary 1952 Conniston football team of head coach Hank Martin. That group finished undefeated, untied and unscored-upon, with a 40-0 postseason win over a group of all-stars from other county junior high schools.

An educator long after his coaching career ended, D’Angio was the first provost of Palm Beach State College’s north campus when it opened in Palm Beach Gardens in 1982.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday at Palms West Funeral Home in Royal Palm Beach. Hoping the word gets out because those who knew West Palm Beach 50 years ago, a small town blessed by a legacy of first-class coaches in every sport, will surely want to be there.

[The Lane Kiffin revival tent is coming to FAU]

[Might just as well let ESPN manage the college football playoff selection]

[A fun look back at Dolphins’ first training camp in 1966]