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Dooley: No word on his future at Tennessee

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Dooley: No word on his future at Tennessee

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said if a decision has been made about his future with the Volunteers, it's news to him.

Dooley said at his Monday news conference that he hasn't been told whether the Volunteers plan to remove him at the end of the season, contrary to reports suggesting such a move was inevitable.

Dooley said he had spoken with athletic director Dave Hart since the Vols' 51-48 overtime loss Saturday to Missouri, and that Hart informed him nothing has been decided about the coach's future.

``We talked very frankly about it,'' Dooley said. ``He told me he had not made a decision, if we go 6-6, despite what all the reports are. Either the sources are wrong or Dave wasn't being forthright with me, and I have no reason to think Dave's not being forthright with me. He's an honest man. He's always been honest with me. I've appreciated how he's handled everything about this.''

Dooley has a 15-20 record in his three-year tenure. He's 4-18 in the Southeastern Conference and 0-15 against Top 25 teams. Tennessee (4-6, 0-6 SEC) plays Saturday at Vanderbilt (6-4, 4-3), the only SEC team to lose to the Vols over the last two seasons. Tennessee has lost 13 of its last 14 conference games.

Vanderbilt has been through similar situations this year.

Kentucky coach Joker Phillips was fired the day after the Wildcats' 40-0 loss to Vanderbilt. Auburn coach Gene Chizik's job status was the subject of much discussion in the days leading up to Vanderbilt's 17-13 victory over the Tigers.

``I have a tremendous respect for Derek,'' Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said. ``I have tremendous respect for the University of Tennessee. But our focus is completely on Vanderbilt. I don't have time to spend thinking about those types of things. I really don't.''

The Vols still can become bowl-eligible by winning at Vanderbilt and defeating Kentucky at home on Nov. 24. Dooley talked to his players before Monday's practice about not getting distracted by the uncertainty surrounding his job status.

``Yeah, I addressed it,'' Dooley said. ``They're getting banged up on their phone the way my kids were getting banged up on their phone, the way my wife was getting banged up (on her phone). Everybody said I was fired, and I didn't even know it. I'm sitting there working on Vandy, and I'd already talked to Dave.''

Tennessee's players indicated they've been dealing with these types of distractions for a few weeks now, but it reached a new level after Tennessee blew a 21-7 halftime lead and lost to Missouri.

``I'm getting text messages, calls, people on Twitter,'' sophomore tailback/punt returner and Knoxville native Devrin Young said. ``Every time I turn around, I'm hearing something about it. I'm giving them the same answers I'm giving you, and that's to focus on the things I can control.''

The Vols realize that's easier said than done.

``It's pretty hard,'' junior offensive tackle Ja'Wuan James said. ``You all ask us. Families ask us. We get phone calls from parents and stuff like that. But I think we're doing a pretty good job (staying focused) this year. We're more mature.''

They're also more competitive, though the Vols' record doesn't reflect it. In five of Tennessee's six losses, the Vols either were ahead or trailed by one score in the second half.

But the Vols also are staring at the realistic possibility of producing three straight losing seasons for the first time since 1909-11. Tennessee's defense has allowed the most points (37.0) and yards (480.2) per game of any SEC team.

The defense has struggled so much that Dooley spent nearly all his time working on that side of the ball last week and had defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri work from the press box Saturday for the first time this season. Dooley said he would continue that strategy this week.

Dooley, who practiced law before starting his coaching career, passed up a chance in his news conference to make a case on his behalf.

``I can't make that decision,'' Dooley said. ``I can give you compelling arguments why I should (return), and there's plenty of compelling arguments why I shouldn't. It's not going to be your decision. It's not going to be a bunch of these sources' decision. It's Dave and the chancellor (Jimmy Cheek). It's their decision. I can't control what they think. We've had a lot of good dialogue. I think (Hart's) got a good handle on how I do things in our program, where we are and why we're not getting the results we want. You move on and live with it.''

---

AP sports writer Teresa Walker in Nashville, Tenn., contributed to this report.

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The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards dominated Game 3 because everybody ate ... literally

The Wizards returned to Washington, D.C. on Friday down 0-2 to the Raptors in their best-of-seven 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series

The team lost a close one in Game 1 and was run out of the building in Game 2. Game 3 was must-win, and the Wizards knew what needed to happen in order for them to secure the victory.

"Everybody eats." 

That's the phrase that has defined the Wizards throughout much of the season They are at their best when John Wall is making players and feeding his teammates.

On Friday night, the Wizards beat the Raptors 122-103 to force at least a Game 5. Wall finished with 28 points and 14 assists.

Bradley Beal finally broke out of his slump for 28 points and  Marcin Gortat, Mike Scott and Kelly Oubre all chipped in with at least 10 points.

But the stat sheet wasn't the only place where everybody eats.

Here's Marcin Gortat from Game 3. 

But if pantomiming isn't your thing, here is Bradley Beal actually eating popcorn during Game 3.

So what did we learn in Game 3? Well, for starters: "Everybody Eats" is not just a motto, it is a way of life.

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With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

With Playoff Beal back, the Wizards are revitalized in playoff series vs. Raptors

The Toronto Raptors were only going to hold Bradley Beal down for so long. After two so-so games to begin the Wizards-Raptors playoff series, the All-Star shooting guard was bound to find his way offensively and that arrival came in a Game 3 win on Friday night.

Beal was brilliant and much more in line with what he's shown in the postseason throughout his career. Game 2 was his worst playoff game as an NBA player, he scored only nine points. Game 3 was one of his best on the postseason stage, or at least one of his most timely and important.

The Wizards needed more from Beal to give themsevles a chance in this series. An 0-3 deficit would have been a death sentence. His production is so key to their success that head coach Scott Brooks and point guard John Wall met with Beal in between Games 2 and 3 to figure out how to get him going.

Whether that was the catalyst or not, the results followed. Beal poured in 28 points in 10-for-19 shooting with four rebounds, four assists and three steals. He hit four threes, more than he had in the first two games combined.

Beal wasted no time to make an impact scoring the ball. His first points came on a quick burst to the basket where he stopped on a dime, turned around and banked it in. By the end of the first quarter, he had 12 points in 11 minutes.

“I just wanted to be aggressive, get shots that I wanted which is what they were going to force me to take," Beal said.

After Game 2, Brooks and Beal described how physical the Raptors were defending him. They were holding on to him and staying close, even when he wasn't moving off the ball.

Brooks saw a difference in how Beal responded to that in Game 3.

"Brad came out and was looking to go towards the basket and not just letting them hold him and going along with it. He didn’t want to dance with his opponent, he wanted to get away from them. That was a critical part of his success," Brooks said.

Beal's 28 points were as much as he scored in Games 1 and 2 together and just about what he averaged through four games against the Raptors during the regular season (28.8). By halftime of Game 3, Beal had 21 points on 8-for-11 from the field.

Beal hit two threes in the first quarter and another two in the second quarter. Several of those threes were set up by Wall, who used the meeting with Brooks and Beal to ask how he can set him up better as the point guard.

In Game 3, they were on the same page.

"I do think this man [John Wall] next to me, he creates and facilitates for the whole team and gets everybody easy shots," Beal said. "I talk to you guys all the time and I can’t tell you the last time I actually got a regular catch and shoot three just in a regular half court set. When he came back, I got like three or four off the bat."

What Beal did in Game 3 is what the Wizards are used to seeing from him this time of the year. Despite being only 24 years old, he has a strong track record in the playoffs.

Through 37 career postseason games, Beal is averaging 22.3 points, more than his career average of 18.7 in the regular season. In each of his previous three postseason runs, he has averaged more points during the playoffs than he did in the regular seasons leading up.

That production has earned him the nickname 'Playoff Beal' and when he goes off like he did in Game 3, good things usually happen. The Wizards are 10-6 in the playoffs during his career when he scores 25 points or more.

Wall also boasts impressive career numbers in the playoffs. When the Wizards have both of their stars playing at their best, they are hard to beat. With peak Beal on board, this series looks a lot different than it did not that long ago.

MORE FROM WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

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BEAL GOT AN APOLOGY FROM SCOTT BROOKS

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