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Kelly won't use history to motivate Notre Dame

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Kelly won't use history to motivate Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) The similarities between Notre Dame this season and the Fighting Irish squad from a decade ago are uncanny enough that it might make some fans a bit uncomfortable heading into Saturday's game against Pittsburgh.

A decade ago, a Notre Dame team that started the season unranked persuaded many college football fans it was for real when it won at then-No. 11 Florida State to improve to 8-0 and rise to a No. 4 ranking. That team was a 10-point underdog when it beat the Seminoles in the eighth game by breaking a second-half tie by scoring 24 straight points to drop Florida State to 84-5-1 in its previous 90 home games.

This year's team has many fans believing it is real after starting the season unranked and winning at then-No. 8 Oklahoma to improve to 8-0 and rise to a No. 4 ranking. The Irish were 10-point underdogs when they beat the Sooners in the eighth game by breaking a second-half tie by scoring 17 straight points to drop Oklahoma to 79-5 in its last 84 home games.

Following that 2002 win, Notre Dame appeared to have an easy path to a BCS. This time, the Irish again appear to have an easy path to a BCS game with a three-game stretch against Pittsburgh (4-4), Boston College (2-6) and Wake Forest (4-4) before the season finale at Southern California (6-2).

As any Irish fan can tell you, the ninth game of the 2002 season was the beginning of the end for then-first-year coach Tyrone Willingham.

The Irish were favored by 10 points, but turned the ball over seven times while wearing green jerseys for motivation and lost 14-7 to Boston College. They then struggled to beat Navy, were trounced 44-13 at USC and lost 28-6 to North Carolina State in the Gator Bowl.

Coach Brian Kelly isn't much interested in that history, though.

``History will have no effect on how this team plays,'' Kelly said. ``What will affect how they play is how they prepare during the week. That is what I can control and that's what our players can control. Our focus is on what we can control.''

Kelly said he won't use 2002 as a cautionary tale to remind his team to guard against a letdown against a Pitt team that has just as many wins as that Boston College team.

``I don't use history lessons as much as I want them to realize what it takes to win week in and week out,'' he said. ``Look, there will be enough of that out there to kind of get to them. I don't know if that from me is going to change the way we prepare.''

Kelly said after the victory over Oklahoma on Saturday the Irish need to avoid looking at the big picture.

``If we start listening to national championship and the BCS, we'll lose a football game,'' he said. ``They're a pretty smart group. They know that if they stick with what we've done and stick with the process of just preparing for Pittsburgh, they'll be fine. But if they start thinking about all those other things and listening, we'll lose.''

Linebacker Manti Te'o said the Irish players understand.

``I think once we start paying attention to that, that's when we're going to get in trouble,'' he said.

But that didn't stop Te'o from answering a question after the Oklahoma victory about whether he thinks the Irish are the best team.

``I think we're on our way. We have a lot of work to do but we're definitely on our way,'' he said.

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Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says

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Wizards have talked to the Spurs about Kawhi Leonard, report says

After already making significant changes to their roster, the Wizards may not be done this offseason, as they have been in talks with the San Antonio Spurs about a potential trade for superstar Kawhi Leonard, according to a new report by ESPN

Read this from Adrian Wojnarowski:

Still, the bidding war among Boston, Philadelphia and the Lakers never materialized. The Los Angeles Clippers, Denver, Phoenix, Portland, Toronto and Washington are among teams who've talked with San Antonio, league sources said.

The Wizards certainly make sense as a Leonard suitor. They are in the East, meaning the Spurs could trade Leonard to them and not have to worry about facing him as often. Plus, they have a solid group of tradeable assets and ones that seem to fit the Spurs model.

Otto Porter is a versatile, young player under team control who plays an unselfish style and would likely embrace playing in a small market. He also has a salary ($26M in 2018-19) that isn't far off from Leonard's ($21M in 2018-19), so the money could be easily matched.

The Wizards also have Tomas Satoransky and Kelly Oubre, Jr., two young and up-and-coming players. Plus, they have draft picks, though ones that are unlikely to convey as lottery selections.

The Spurs have reportedly been more interested in getting players that can help now rather than draft picks to rebuild. That makes sense, as they still won 47 games last year despite Leonard only playing in nine of them due to injury.

The question in any Wizards and Spurs talks would be whether they would want one of Washington's All-Stars in John Wall and Bradley Beal. It would be tough to imagine the Wizards parting with either guy for Leonard, who carries some risk not only because of his quadriceps injury but also because he can opt out of his contract and leave after next season.

Just because the Wizards have talked to the Spurs doesn't mean they are serious contenders for Leonard, but it does show they are serious about improving their roster this summer. If they got Leonard and didn't part with Wall and Beal, that would be some team.

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Orioles reportedly have deal in place to trade Manny Machado to Dodgers

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Orioles reportedly have deal in place to trade Manny Machado to Dodgers

When Manny Machado returns from the 2018 MLB All-Star Break, he will not be donning a Baltimore Orioles uniform. 

The All-Star shortstop is expected to be traded from Baltimore to the Los Angeles Dodgers, barring any last-minute changes, according to multiple media reports. 

That being said, the Machado trade talks remain fluid and both the Phillies and Brewers are still trying to work a trade for the 26-year-old third baseman, according to Jon Heyman. The Diamondbacks are also reportedly trying to lure the four-time All-Star to the desert, while the Yankees decided to pull out of the Machado sweepstakes just prior to the All-Star festivities in Washington, D.C. 

While the details of the trade have yet to be revealed, the Dodgers will reportedly include top outfield prospect Yusniel Diaz in the Machado trade, according to Heyman.

According to Jim Bowden, when regular-season play returns, Machado will be in the National League, although which team he plays for is still up in the air.

With the Orioles sitting a historically awful 39.5 games out of first place at the All-Star Break, trading Machado is the first major step toward a complete overhaul. The Orioles drafted Machado out of Brito High School in Miami, Fla., with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft. Since then, Machado has drawn comparisons to iconic third basemen Brooks Robinson and Alex Rodriguez, despite being moved to shortstop full-time this past season, and is widely considered one of the three best position players in professional baseball.

Machado is currently batting .315 with 24 home runs and 65 RBIs.

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