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Alabama gets set for Irish offensive attack

Alabama gets set for Irish offensive attack

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart runs the stingiest defense in the country when it comes to yards allowed, but sees a bunch of challenges in preparing for Notre Dame.

The second-ranked Crimson Tide plays the No. 1 Fighting Irish on Monday in the BCS title game and on Friday it was Alabama's turn to have its defensive leaders talk with reporters.

Smart said Notre Dame's running back-by-committee features a player with tremendous one-step quickness and explosiveness, Theo Riddick, and two with great speed, Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III.

``Those two dudes are fast, they are really fast,'' Smart said. ``We recruited Atkinson, so we knew that. And the other guy (Wood) is just as fast. Riddick is quicker than the other two. He's got the ability to make you miss, a good stiff arm. You wouldn't think a former receiver would run with that much power. They're really good backs.''

He said you have to seek out different tendencies with each back, noting that LSU had four runners to gameplan against in last year's championship game.

Notre Dame runs ``all the same plays with each one of them, so they don't give you a tendency,'' Smart said.

Riddick has run for 880 yards and five touchdowns, Wood 740 and four TDs and Atkinson 378 and five scores. Riddick also is third on the team with 35 catches.

Defensive line standout Damion Square said an athletic quarterback like Notre Dame's redshirt freshman Everett Golson is a great weapon because he can keep plays alive.

``A quarterback like that can make them right for anything that he calls,'' Square said. ``He can call a play that's probably busted and then the quarterback can scramble around for five seconds and create things and create havoc for our defense.''

Square said the linemen will have to rush him from the correct angles and try not to let Golson buy extra time to let his receivers get open.

Another task for the Tide is contending with tight end Tyler Eifert, the Mackey Award winner as the nation's best.

``We haven't faced a tight end with this much talent,'' Smart said. ``The guy's a special player and people don't give this kid enough credit for his blocking ability. He blocks with great toughness and great effort and really forces you to play different defensively because he's so multiple.''

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Trae Young joins Kobe Bryant in historic feat against Wizards

Trae Young joins Kobe Bryant in historic feat against Wizards

Following the passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant on Sunday, emotions were high. 

Many current and former players paid tribute to Bryant, including Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young, who dominated in the Hawks 152-133 win over the Wizards. 

He ended the night with a spectacular performance of 45 points, with 14 assists, making 13-of-24 FGs and 13-of-16 free throws as well as six 3-pointers, six rebounds and one assist. 

Young is the first player to have a 45-point double-double with under 25 field goal attempts against the Washington Wizards, since Kobe Bryant on December 17, 2006.

In honor of his mentor and favorite NBA player, Young wore a No. 8 jersey and took an 8-second-violation after the opening tip. 

He even wore his shoes with a tribute to Bryant as well. 

Young was able to channel his emotions into the game, leaving everything on the floor.

In an emotional night, Young was able to keep himself composed leading the Hawks past the Wizards. 

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Isaiah Thomas: NBA should have canceled games after Kobe Bryant's death

Isaiah Thomas: NBA should have canceled games after Kobe Bryant's death

The news of Kobe Bryant's death shook the sports world to its core, and while there were NBA games scheduled throughout Sunday, some felt the league should have canceled the games in light of the tragic news. 

Isaiah Thomas was one of them. 

"It's hard to even talk about it," Thomas said. "The NBA should have just canceled all the games because that put a dent in everybody's life that he's touched."

Thomas looked up to Bryant, admired him from afar and found his love for the game of basketball because of Bryant's greatness. Spending 20 years as a Laker, Bryant won five championships, an MVP and two Finals MVP awards to go along with 15 All-NBA selections and 18 trips to the All-Star game. 

For Thomas, his relationship with Bryant started to grow when he broke out as an All-Star in Boston. When Thomas suffered the tragic loss of his sister, they grew closer. After his hip injury that cost Thomas over a year of his career, Bryant supported him throughout. 

"I started basketball because of Kobe Bryant," he said. "2017, I lose my sister, 2019 I lose one of my best friends in Nipsey Hussle, and then to lose a mentor of mine, like, that's bigger than basketball, that [expletive] hurts.

"He was one of the people that was there for me and in my corner," he said. "And then I got injured, he was one of those guys that was there for me the whole time, helping me through mentally."

The NBA had a difficult decision to make on whether or not to cancel games since there were two games already in progress.

But before, during and after the game, everyone's thoughts were with Bryant and his family and not on a basketball game. Because as Thomas said, it's bigger than basketball. 

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