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Golson hopes Notre Dame's season ends on BCS note

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Golson hopes Notre Dame's season ends on BCS note

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) When Everett Golson sees a piano, he usually sits down and starts entertaining. He plays several instruments, keeps a keyboard in his room and loves to sing.

Music is a huge part of his life, perhaps only topped by basketball.

And in Golson's spare time, he plays quarterback for Notre Dame.

``He's pretty good at his hobby,'' Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chuck Martin said. ``This being his hobby.''

Golson's biggest game - and biggest opportunity - awaits Monday night when the top-ranked Fighting Irish (12-0) take on No. 2 Alabama (12-1) for the BCS national title. Golson's season started with him winning a competition to be the quarterback for a then-unranked team, and now he's got the chance to lead Notre Dame back to the top of college football.

Or in musical vernacular, to be ND's maestro.

``It is a big stage,'' Golson said. ``I don't ride the wave too much. I'm kind of just focused on what's played between the yard lines, what's played on the field. Can't really focus on everything that's off the field because that's out of my control.''

A redshirt freshman, Golson didn't play last season, instead running the scout team. He won starter job entering this season, yet even when he was picked to be under center as Notre Dame opened the season in Ireland against Navy, there was some question about how long he would actually be able to keep his spot.

Golson had all the answers. His numbers aren't catchy - 11 passing touchdowns in 11 appearances - but his record is unblemished, 10-0 as a starter.

``I think he understood more of what our coaches wanted from him,'' Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert said. ``When they would coach him up on something, he kind of better understood that as the year went on.''

One of the major issues Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly had with the Irish offense a year ago was its penchant for turning the ball over.

Golson rarely dealt with that problem.

Poised more often than not, Golson has only five interceptions in 282 attempts this season. He averages 191 passing yards per game - only 79th-best in the nation - but he's not necessarily asked to win games with wild throwing sprees, either. Kelly's mandate was simply for his quarterback to avoid the big mistake that would lose games.

So far, so good.

``First-ever college game in Dublin, Ireland, first-ever home game against Purdue, road game primetime Michigan State, night game at Notre Dame against Michigan, on the road at Oklahoma, on the road at USC, coming off the bench ... take any other quarterback this year and try to figure out if they've gone through as much as Everett Golson,'' Martin said. ``To me it's not even close. Not even close.''

It goes deeper than the experiences of 2012.

In Golson's mind, not getting a chance to play in 2011 may have been more significant in pushing his development along.

``I think me being put back on the scout team, it was just really a humbling experience for me,'' Golson said. ``Coming in, I thought I was ready to play or had that confidence that I was ready to play, but it wasn't that way for me. I think being put back on the scout team, like I said, really humbled me, made me kind of reassess myself.''

Even the Crimson Tide can see that.

When Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart first started breaking down tape of the Irish, he predictably watched every play of every game several times. And by the end of that film study, Smart knew the Golson who started the season isn't remotely close to the player who now is tasked with running the Irish offense.

``You can't give the guy the ability to run all around and make plays, yet that's what he's going to do, so it's who's got the greater will to contain and keep him in the pocket,'' Smart said. ``So it's a tough thing. The guy is going to scramble. He's going to be a better, quicker athlete than the people we have up front.''

The thing the Irish rave about most when talking about Golson is his confidence.

Even when things were tough at times this season - particularly the game against Pittsburgh when Notre Dame trailed 20-6 entering the fourth quarter, then won 29-26 on his touchdown run in the third overtime - Golson continually showed he can do the job.

``He's a very important part of our offense and he's a big playmaker,'' Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin said. ``Any time we can take a hit off of him, it's going to be big. He's a playmaker. He makes plays.''

If that happens Monday, Golson may make football's equivalent of beautiful music.

``The race is not given to the swift or the strong ... but it's given to the one that endures to the end,'' Golson said. ``We're obviously the underdogs coming into this game. ... Alabama has, like I said, a great defense, great team, bigger, faster, stronger. But it's really about who's going to endure to the end.''

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Wizards destroy Raptors behind Bradley Beal's breakout effort, move series to 2-1

Wizards destroy Raptors behind Bradley Beal's breakout effort, move series to 2-1

The Washington Wizards beat the Toronto Raptors 122-103 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Wizards show some fight: The Washington Wizards who punch back, who play with an edge and impose their will on opponents physically and mentally, the team that initiates contact and trash-talks their foes into misery, that team finally showed up in the 2018 NBA Playoffs on Friday night and did so at the perfect time. With an 0-2 deficit and following a blowout loss three days before, the Wizards pulled themselves up off the mat and struck the Raptors with a message-sending blow that may have saved their season.

They blasted Toronto in a convincing win that looked a whole lot like the proverbial switch had been flipped. Their best players played to their capabilities on both ends of the floor and there was nothing the Raptors, as good as they are, could do about it. The net result is a 2-1 series and some newfound belief that an upset is possible.

It was just one game and anyone who has watched this team all season knows there are two very different versions of the Wizards. They aren't in the clear until they are actually in the clear.

But it would be hard to not to find encouragement in exactly how the Wizards won this game. They forced the Raptors into 19 turnovers and held their bench to 32 points, many of which came late when the game was decided. Washington shot 55.3 percent against one of the NBA's best defenses.

Bradley Beal (28 points) finally looked like himself. John Wall (28 points) was dominant and pumping up the crowd. Marcin Gortat (16 points), who almost lost his starting job, stepped up with several timely buckets. Mike Scott (12 points, 4-for-4 FG) played well for the third straight game.

Everything clicked and now we have ourselves a series.

Beal woke up: The fabled monster of the spring known as Playoff Beal showed up on Friday and announced his presence early. After the worst performance of his playoff career in Game 2, Beal broke out in a big way with a colossal first half of 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting.

Beal scored just nine points in Game 2, but surpassed that in about 10 minutes in Game 3. By halftime, he had more threes (four) than he did in his first two games this series combined.

Very quickly in the first quarter Beal looked different. His first bucket came on a turnaround fadeaway off the glass. From there his confidence grew as three-point shots fell one after another, whether he was guarded or not.

Beal finished with 28 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals. in between Games 2 and 3, head coach Scott Brooks held a meeting with Beal and John Wall, hoping to find Beal more opportunities. There may or may not have been an apology issued on Brooks' part.

Whatever the nature of the discussion, it seemed to work. Wall and Brooks told Beal to be more aggressive and that's exactly what happened. Beal looked much more like the guy who averaged 28.8 points against the Raptors during the regular season and was largely dominant vs. this very same team and without Wall to help out.

Wall needs some attention, too. He looked like the best player on the court for much of the game and accrued a ridiculous line of 28 points, 14 assists, six rebounds, four steals and a block, of the chasedown variety of course.

Oubre lit a spark: Beal did most of the heavy lifting early, but Kelly Oubre, Jr. also deserves credit for the first half surge by the Wizards. He was all sorts of active on both ends of the floor. In one sequence he blocked a shot, dunked it on the other end, took a charge and then dunked once more. 

Each time, Oubre let out one of his signature screams to the crowd. He was making plays and infusing energy into the team. That's the stuff Brooks wants to see from Oubre. Many people, including Oubre, obsess over his three-point shooting but defense and hustle plays are really the name of the game for him.

Oubre ended up with 12 points, four rebounds and shot 5-for-9 from the field.

Playoff basketball: The tone may have been set early by Markieff Morris. After two games where the Wizards didn't show much fight, Morris literally almost got in one. 

After hitting the deck on a collision with OG Anunoby, Morris got up and shoved both him and Serge Ibaka. Double technicals were assessed and one could argue Morris lost his cool on the play. The counter to that would be the Wizards needed to show some fire and Morris was sending a message. Given he wasn't kicked out of the game, it wasn't too costly.

Here is the whole sequence:

That's the playoff version of Morris we remember and it may have rubbed off on his teammates. In the third quarter, more animosity broke out after Jonas Valanciunas was called for an offensive foul on Marcin Gortat. Beal went after the ball and that started a big argument between the teams, highlighted by Wall and Ibaka needing to be separated by Wizards bodyguard Dave Best. 

The arena was playing Tupac's 'Ambitionz az a Ridah' as it all went down, invoking memories of the 'Death Row D.C.' days of last season. Wall is, of course, Tupac according to the Morris-conceived metaphor.

The end result was technicals for Beal, Wall and Ibaka. That, and the realization that this series is now a lot more fun.

Up next: Game 4 is on Sunday at Capital One Arena. Tipoff will be at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington with pregame coverage starting at 5 p.m. with Wizards HangTime.

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It took three minutes for the Wizards and Raptors to get into a Game 3 altercation

It took three minutes for the Wizards and Raptors to get into a Game 3 altercation

WASHINGTON —  It didn't take long for playoff basketball to escalate in the nation’s capital.

Less than three minutes to be exact.

On only the fifth possession of Game 3 between the Wizards and Raptors at Capital One Arena, Wizards forward Markieff Morris and Raptors forward OG Anunoby got tangled up and let their emotions out.

From the initial look it appeared that Morris just got tripped up in setting a screen, but if you look more closely, Anunoby appeared to pull down Morris from the back.

Even though a foul was called, Morris made sure that Anunoby knew his displeasure and even threw an extra shove at Serge Ibaka.

Both Morris and Anunoby received a technical foul after the altercation.

Once again the Wizards getting physical in a playoff series. 

MORE ON THE WIZARDS-RAPTORS SERIES:

THE DRAKE-WIZARDS TRASH TALK WON'T STOP

HISTORIC ODDS FOR TEAMS THAT GO DOWN 0-2

BROOKS MAY CHANGE STARTING LINEUP FOR GAME 3