Cutting down on mistakes keys turnaround for Irish


Cutting down on mistakes keys turnaround for Irish

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Ask any Notre Dame defensive player about Alabama's offense, and the words "mistake-free" will pop up somewhere in their answer. The Tide have one of the best turnover margins in college football at 1 per game, keyed by A.J. McCarron only throwing three interceptions all year.
Notre Dame has a painful firsthand knowledge of how turnovers can torpedo a season. The Irish coughed the ball up 10 times in losses to South Florida and Michigan to open the 2011 season, setting the tone for a sloppy 8-5 year marred by 29 turnovers, the 10th-highest total among FBS teams.
There's some part of turning the ball over that involves luck. For Notre Dame, there was plenty of it last year, and coupled with poor decisions and the so-frequently-mentioned need to improve the team's "attention to detail" it cost the Irish a season.
That's why going in to spring practice, the emphasis on Notre Dame's quarterback battle was on keeping hold of the football. Everett Golson didn't have a turnover in the team's spring game, while Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix both did. And while there was plenty about Golson's game that was frustrating for coach Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin, his ability to hold on to the football was a big point in his favor.
Four months later, it's telling that Golson didn't field any questions about turning the ball over from the throngs of media assembled around him at Monday's media day. In 2011, that's all anyone could talk about -- how was Notre Dame going to stop turning the ball over so much?
The answer hasn't just been inserting Golson in as the team's starting quarterback. He's still turned the ball over, throwing five interceptions and losing four fumbles. But it's also telling that, after Golson quarterbacked Notre Dame to a road win over Michigan State this year, the freshman was universally praised -- by everyone outside the team, that is.
"Michigan State, (the media) applauded him -- but if you really broke down what he did against Michigan State, he ran around a little bit, he scrambled and threw an ESPN play of the day, and that kind of overshadowed the rest of the game," Martin said. "Where in his mind, he knew he didnt play great at Michigan State.
" Michigan State game, I almost pulled him away from you guys and said you stink,'" Martin added.
But consider this: the worst turnover margin among the last five national champions was Auburn's 0.36, good for 33rd nationally in 2010. Notre Dame was at -1.15 in 2011, third-worst among 120 FBS schools. In 2012, the Irish are 0.75, ranking 23rd nationally.
Couple that with a defense that's gone from good to great, and Notre Dame is going from the Champs Sports Bowl to the BCS Championship.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa is heating up, but even a red-hot Sosa doesn't automatically equal wins for the Cubs.

Slammin' Sammy notched his first multi-homer game in 1998 in a 9-5 loss to Kevin Millwood and the Atlanta Braves. Sosa drove in 4 of the Cubs' 5 runs on a solo shot in the 4th inning and a three-run shot in the 8th. 

Sosa tallied 830 feet of homers in the game, with his first blast going 410 feet and the second shot measured at 420 feet.

The big game bumped Sosa's overall season slash line to .337/.411/.551 (.962 OPS) with 11 homers and 35 RBI.

Fun fact: Mickey Morandini hit second for the Cubs in this game and went 4-for-4, but somehow only scored one run despite hitting just in front of Sosa all game. That's because Morandini was caught stealing to end the 3rd inning, leaving Sosa to lead off the 4th inning with a solo blast.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch the series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.