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Stanford, UCLA Pac-12 title rematch a 'mind game'

Stanford, UCLA Pac-12 title rematch a 'mind game'

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) This week has been unlike any other in the 20 years Mike Gleeson has been Stanford football's video director.

Even though there's a tight turnaround between the Cardinal's 35-17 victory last Saturday at UCLA and the Pac-12 championship game rematch Friday night, Gleeson's typical task is simplified. All he has to do is add video from the first game and recalculate statistics to the preparation done last week.

After that, things get complicated.

``The staff, in a way, they have to shuffle the deck as if it didn't happen. Or did it?'' Gleeson said. ``How do you want to look at it? Do you want to change things? Do you want to keep things? Now we've got the mind games with UCLA. What did they show? What do we think they showed compared to what they'll do this week?

``Well, we have 11 other games. So we kind of know what they're about, just like they know what we're about. But did they show everything that they could against us? Maybe. Maybe not. That's the mind game.''

Call last week a dress rehearsal, although even that may be in question. Stanford will wear its black uniforms, helmets and shoes for only the fourth time. UCLA is expected to swap out those dark blue ``L.A. Night'' jerseys for its traditional white tops, gold pants and gold helmets on the road.

With the league title at stake, what else the eighth-ranked Cardinal (10-2, 8-1) and the No. 17 Bruins (9-3, 6-3) bring out of the closet for what could be a rain-soaked sequel at Stanford Stadium might not be so obvious. They will be the first opponents in major college football matched against each other for a regular-season finale and conference title game in consecutive weeks.

After the opener at the Rose Bowl, booking a return trip to Pasadena for ``The Granddaddy of Them All'' on Jan. 1 could be tricky. Both staffs lost a day of game planning and practice, and the preparation has everybody involved contemplating how to approach Part II.

``I cannot recall ever being in this situation before,'' UCLA coach Jim Mora said. ``I don't know that it benefits either team, or is hard on any team. It just comes down to going out on Friday night and executing. Any familiarity we have with them, they'll have with us.''

Stanford's video staff usually compiles highlights of about four games from when its opponent faced a team that mirrored what the Cardinal does, including last season's meeting if the opponent has the same coaching staff or style. In this case, last week's game stands for last season's game. Then producers send the videos and analytical reports to coaches and players through an application on their iPad playbooks.

``Our challenge is to make sure that we don't outsmart ourselves,'' said Stanford coach David Shaw, who won his second straight Pac-12 Coach of the Year award this week. ``But at the same time, that we are as diverse as we can be, to make sure that the things that we did positively, we've got to know that UCLA is going to come back and have answers for it. The things that they did positively, we've got to make sure that we fix those things that hurt us.''

The Cardinal controlled the first matchup in familiar, physical fashion.

Stepfan Taylor rushed for 142 yards and two touchdowns and is 35 yards shy of Darrin Nelson's school rushing record of 4,169 yards (note: Stanford had previously said Nelson finished with 4,033 yards, however, in recent years the school started including bowl game statistics and did not originally add Nelson's postseason totals to its record books).

Kevin Hogan beat his third ranked opponent in his third straight start since replacing Josh Nunes at quarterback, passing for 160 yards and another score to help Stanford run away with its fourth victory in a row over the Bruins.

UCLA's Brett Hundley completed 20 of 38 passes for 261 yards and a TD with one interception while getting sacked seven times. Stanford, which leads the nation in rushing defense (71.3 yards), sacks (4.4) and tackles for loss (9.2) per game, held Johnathan Franklin - the Bruins' career rushing leader - to 73 yards on the ground.

``Both teams sort of see what the other teams are capable of doing and their tendencies, stuff like that.'' Hundley said. ``Both teams have that advantage.''

Things will not get any easier as the Bruins go for their first conference championship since 1998.

Stanford has won eight straight and 19 of its past 20 home games, with the lone loss coming to Oregon last season, then avenging that defeat with defensive domination in a 17-14 overtime win over the Ducks (11-1, 8-1) two weeks ago to secure the North Division tiebreaker. The Cardinal are riding a six-game winning streak and looking to win the league title for the first time since 1999 while advancing to their third different BCS bowl in as many seasons.

Rain started falling Thursday evening when the Bruins arrived on the quant Silicon Valley campus. A tarp covered the field at Stanford Stadium, and Mora and Shaw shook hands before posing for a ceremonial photo with the silver league title trophy inside the Cardinal athletic offices.

``I think the rain favors the team that executes the best,'' Mora said.

UCLA's repeat trip to the second annual Pac-12 championship game does come with at least one other noticeable difference. Last year, UCLA lost 49-31 at Oregon in lame duck coach Rick Neuheisel's weird finale - the Bruins had a 6-6 record and only advanced out of the South Division because crosstown rival Southern California was finishing a two-year postseason ban for NCAA violations.

This time, Mora had to face questions after the regular-season finale about whether he limited his game plan knowing the possibility of facing Stanford loomed. Both he and Shaw, who took Taylor out during the fourth quarter with the score lopsided against UCLA, said neither side seemed to withhold anything.

Of course, all agree each game is different.

``They've probably got some tricks up their sleeve that we didn't see,'' Cardinal outside linebacker Trent Murphy said. ``Everybody always says, `It's really tough to beat a team twice.' But as far as the positives go, every week you look on the tape, you see the mistakes you made and the things you wish you could've done better. The kind of moves that you see that were there after watching the film. You get an opportunity to correct those mistakes the next weekend.''

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Follow Antonio Gonzalez at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

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AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham in Los Angeles contributed.

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Wizards go cold late to drop Game 5, as Raptors take 3-2 series lead

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NBC Sports Washington

Wizards go cold late to drop Game 5, as Raptors take 3-2 series lead

The Washington Wizards lost to the Toronto Raptors 108-98 in Game 5 of their first round playoff series on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Ice cold: When the Wizards needed it most, their offense failed them. With John Wall running the show, they can traditionally score with the best of them. But from the 4:05 mark in the fourth quarter, they went scoreless for a stretch of three minutes and 49 seconds.

Meanwhile, the Raptors converted turnovers into points to close the game on a 14-5 run. The Wizards shot brick after brick from long range and missed 11 of their last 15 shots. It was a shocking collapse in a game that had been going well for the Wizards.

By beating the Wizards in Game 5, the Raptors took a 3-2 series lead which historically means they have nearly an 83 percent chance of winning the series. Those aren't good odds for the Wizards, who can look at one area of the court to blame.

The Wizards made only five threes on 26 attempts. The Raptors, conversely, went 11-for-25 (44%) from the perimeter. The Wizards' five threes were their fewest in a game since Jan. 12.

DeRozan was a killer: As has been the case this entire series, DeMar DeRozan led the charge for Toronto. The perennial All-Star came out on fire with 20 points in the first half alone.

This time, it wasn't just free throws. He was 4-for-4 at the half, but 7-for-13 from the field and 2-for-2 from three. Usually, threes aren't his game.

DeRozan kept it up in the second half to score 32 points on 12-of-24 from the field. That's a pretty efficient night.

Otto looked a bit hurt: Otto Porter, who was held to nine points and four rebounds, didn't appear to be moving very well. He was running around with a limp, which suggests his right lower leg strain is still bothering him.

Head coach Scott Brooks said last week that Porter is 100 percent, but that doesn't seem like the case, unless there was some sort of setback in the time since. Porter, however, is such a smart player and such a good shooter that he can still make the most of his time on the court.

Solid start: The Wizards aren't used to playing well in the first quarter this series. They entered Game 5 with an average deficit of -7.2 points in the first quarter. In this game, however, they led by one point after one.

That was thanks to a buzzer-beater by John Wall (26 points, nine assists, nine rebounds). Ian Mahinmi got the offensive rebound and it set up Wall for a last-second shot. He got to one of his spots and sent it in:

It was just the second time in five games this series that the Wizards have been leading after one. The other time was Game 3, when the Wizards beat the Raptors handily to earn their first win.

Backup PGs: The Raptors again played without point guard Fred VanVleet, their best bench player and a guy who is arguably one of the best backup point guards in basketball. The loss has been evident for the most part, despite his replacement Delon Wright doing a solid job, including with 18 points in Game 5.

On Wednesday, Washington's backup point guard also shined. Despite not playing a single game during the regular season, Ty Lawson continues to make smart plays and create scoring opportunities for others.

He had four assists in this game and made one of the best plays of the night. Check out this move he put on to set up Ian Mahinmi:

And this dude was playing in China like two weeks ago? If he keeps this up, there will be an easy case to make that the Wizards should re-sign him for next season.

Clearly, they want Tomas Satoransky to play more off the ball and the coaching staff hasn't gained full trust in him. Lawson and Satoransky could make a solid reserve backcourt if they have some time to develop some chemistry.

Up next: The Wizards and Raptors are back at it on Friday night in Washington for Game 6. The tipoff time has not been announced, but the game will be aired on NBC Sports Washington.

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Capitals are shaking up the coaching staff in Hershey

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The Hershey Bears

Capitals are shaking up the coaching staff in Hershey

The contracts of Hershey Bears head coach Troy Mann and Bears assistant coach Ryan Murphy will not be renewed for next season, the Capitals announced Wednesday. Hershey finished in last place in the Atlantic Division and did not qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2014.

“Troy is a dedicated and hard-working coach and we appreciate all he has done for the Hershey Bears,” said Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan. “At this point, we feel a fresh approach and a change in leadership is needed in order for us to continue to develop our young players towards the next level and for success at the AHL level. We also want to thank Ryan for his contributions to the Hershey Bears and wish him all the best.”

Just two seasons ago, the Bears under Mann were playing the Calder Cup Finals where they lost in four games to the Lake Erie Monsters. Mann served as an assistant coach for Hershey from 2009-2013 and was hired as the head coach in 2014. He led the Bears to a record of 162-102-22-18 during his tenure, good for sixth all-time among Hershey coaches in wins.

Mann coached several current Capitals players in Hershey including Travis Boyd, Chandler Stephenson, Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Philipp Grubauer, among others. Hershey also currently boasts several of the Caps' biggest prospects such as Lucas Johansen, Connor Hobbs, Riley Barber and Jonas Siegenthaler.

Murphy was with the Bears for all four years of Mann's tenure. He started in video development in Mann's first season and was promoted to assistant coach the following year.

“We’d like to thank Troy Mann and Ryan Murphy for their contributions to the Hershey Bears organization,” said Hershey vice president of hockey operations, Bryan Helmer. “While we are looking to move our hockey club forward, today is certainly an emotional day. I had the pleasure of working with both Troy and Ryan behind the bench for two seasons, and consider them to be great people. We wish both all the best in future endeavors.”

Coaching in the AHL is a tough job as coaches are expected to bring the team success while also developing their NHL club's prospects. There are times when the two goals do not necessarily line up which can make it a difficult balance.

Considering how important it is to develop talent from within, AHL coaches are very significant parts of an organization. Getting the right guy in charge of Hershey won't just boost the AHL team, but will help the Caps down the line with developed players.

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