NCAA

Let's give 110 percent and take 1 game at a time

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Let's give 110 percent and take 1 game at a time

MIAMI (AP) Whether it's giving 110 percent or taking it one game at a time, you've always got to remember it is what it is.

In other words, the formula for winning the game before the game is simple: bring on the cliches!

Notre Dame and Alabama are already winners in that regard, spending the days leading up to the BCS championship talking about a lot of things, all while trying not to say much of anything.

``If you can stick to a script that's already written, it makes things a lot easier,'' Notre Dame offensive lineman Mike Golic Jr. quipped on Saturday. ``I have an arsenal of cliches always ready. It's really helped me out so far.''

With both teams - every player and coach - turning out for media day at Sun Life Stadium, the familiar phrases were flowing freely.

Lingering around the podium of Kapron Lewis-Moore, the Fighting Irish's personable defensive lineman, it didn't take long to get a rat-tat-tat-tat of banal buzzwords.

- ``To be the best, you've got to beat the best.''

- ``We know it's going to be a four-quarter battle.''

- ``You can't take anything for granted.''

For players trying to sound coherent about their subject matter, while avoiding the pitfalls of blurting out something contentious, cliches are like a warm, comforting dish whipped up by your mother. They make everything OK.

Plus, they aren't going to be the least bit offensive to the other team because, chances are, they are saying most of the same things.

``You don't want to be that guy who gives out bulletin-board material,'' Lewis-Moore said.

Alabama coach Nick Saban - who, if we're doling out cliches, would certainly qualify as a control freak - doesn't take any chances when it comes to making sure his team puts out what he describes as a ``positive'' message.

If others want to call it bland, well, so be it.

Saban bars freshmen and assistant coaches from talking to the media during the season, an edict he was forced to lift this week because of the BCS mandates that everyone is available at least once before Monday night's championship game.

Reporters who have covered the Crimson Tide for more than four months on its way to the title game were thrilled to finally hear from defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, one of the nation's hottest head coaching prospects, and freshman stars T.J. Yeldon and Amari Cooper.

Not that anyone went off script.

``We just go out there and play and have fun,'' said Yeldon, guarding every word like it was a matter of national security.

That's just the way Saban likes it. Before each season, he brings in public speaking experts to meet with the players. The football media relations staff, headed by Jeff Purinton, carries on the training even after the games begin.

``It's more of a style of answering questions and how to effectively answer questions,'' said All-American center Barrett Jones, ``without saying anything you don't want to say.''

Saban takes no chances with his first-year players, still mindful of an episode from his long-ago tenure at Michigan State. In 1998, receiver Plaxico Burress made some inflammatory comments before a game against rival Michigan, and the coach has no doubt that contributed to the Spartans losing.

The freshmen are now muzzled, at least until they can be trained to deal with the media.

``How to get interviewed. Things to say. How to have messages that you want to get out and how to bridge to those messages. Where to look when you talk. Things like that,'' Saban said. ``Things that actually makes them look better and certainly are a better reflection on them, their family and the entire organization.''

While cliches, per se, aren't part of the training, they are certainly a go-to weapon (pardon the cliche) when there's a camera or recorder right in front of your face.

In fact, experts such as Abbie S. Fink, vice president and general manager of HMA Public Relations in Phoenix, rely on the classic baseball movie ``Bull Durham'' as part of their training seminars. She will start out showing clients how a hot young pitching prospect, played by Tim Robbins, conducts himself in his first interview (not good), followed by a scene where his aging catcher (Kevin Costner) explains the power of saying nothing.

``You're going to have to learn your cliches,'' Costner says on a bus ride between towns. ``You're gonna have to study them, you're gonna have to know them. They're your friends.''

He hands Robbins a pen and tells him to write down what he says.

``We've got to play `em one day at a time,'' Costner drones.

Robbins objects.

``That's pretty boring, ain't it?'' he says.

``Of course it's boring!'' Costner shoots back. ``That's the point. Write it down.''

By the end of the movie, Robbins sounds downright articulate while spewing one cliche after another.

``That's what athletes do,'' Fink said. ``Basically every interview, in one way or another, sounds like that.''

While cliches permeate every aspect of life, from business to education to the legal community, sports is where they really thrive - football, in particular. Coaches are downright paranoid about letting out too much information, and they try to pass on that mind-set to the players.

When in doubt (or even scared) about what to say, one tends to fall back on the familiar.

``Something is very comforting when you've heard it over and over and over,'' said Don Powell, a psychologist and lifelong sports fan who calls himself ``Dr. Cliche.'' He has a database with nearly 5,000 entries and has put the best of the bunch in a book, ``Best Sports Cliches Ever! We're Taking Them One at a Time.''

``They're trite but they're usually true. They do make a lot of sense. That's why we tend to use them over and over,'' Powell said. ``They're also a very efficient form of communication, a way to express something simply that may be a little more complex in nature. ... You don't have to use many words when using a cliche. They're very visual and hit the nail right on the head.''

With yet another cliche out of the way, let's get down to business.

There's a game to be played (remember, only one).

There's 110 percent to give (good luck finding that last 10 percent).

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

College Football 2019 Week 4 What to Watch: State bragging rights

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College Football 2019 Week 4 What to Watch: State bragging rights

In terms of local action, Week 4 is a little bit of a down week. Maryland and Penn State are both on bye weeks before their big matchup on Sept. 27. Navy and Virginia Tech also have the week off as well. But fear not! There is still plenty of college football to watch without your beloved Terps, Lions, Midshipmen or Hokies. Virginia hosts in-state rival Old Dominion and there is some big-time college football down south.

Here is a breakdown of all the local action.

No. 21 Virginia vs. Old Dominion

When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Scott Stadium, Charlottesville, Va.
How to watch: ESPN2

The Cavaliers host Old Dominion in the first-ever meeting between these two programs. After narrowly escaping with a win over Florida State, Virginia remains perfect with a 3-0 record and already two conference wins. Because of that, the Cavaliers now sit ranked 21st in the nation, the highest the team has been ranked since 2007. Now the task before them is to not stumble or get caught looking ahead to next week's matchup at Notre Dame because the Monarchs love surprising the bigger in-state programs. Just ask Virginia Tech.

Game of the week: No. 3 Georgia vs. No. 7 Notre Dame

When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Ga.
How to watch: CBS

In 2018, Notre Dame was a playoff team. Georgia was not. Ask anyone in Athens, however, and they will tell you the Bulldogs were the better team and deserved to be in over the Irish. Whether they are right is debatable. Notre Dame entered the playoff undefeated but was embarrassed by Clemson in a 30-3 romp in the Cotton Bowl. That loss certainly looks less embarrassing than it did initially after the Tigers blew apart Alabama in the National Championship, but that does little to comfort Georgia fans.

Luckily, this year offers Georgia the chance for revenge as the Irish travel to Athens in one of the biggest games of the college football season

Georgia comes into this game with something to prove. Not only do they want to show who the better program is after last year's perceived snub, but they also want to reassert themselves as one of the top teams in the nation. With Alabama dealing with injuries and Clemson's schedule leaving much to be desired, there is room for the Bulldogs to insert themselves into the conversation for the top team in the nation.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, has a chance to topple our preconceived notions about the dominance of the SEC's top teams and to reassert themselves into the playoff race. Georgia is easily Notre Dame's toughest game. There is no reason the Irish can't go undefeated if they win on Saturday and a win over the Bulldogs in Georgia would be a pretty nice feather in the cap for any playoff resume.

On NBC Sports Washington

Wake Forest vs. Elon

When: 12 p.m.
Where: BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, N.C.
How to watch: NBC Sports Washington

North Carolina vs. Appalachian State

When: 3:30 p.m.
Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C.
How to watch: NBC Sports Washington

Other local teams

Morgan State at Army, 12 p.m. Saturday on CBSSN
Robert Morris at VMI, 1:30 p.m. Saturday on ESPN+
Howard at Delaware State, 2 p.m. Saturday on ESPN3
Norfolk State at Montana State, 3 p.m. Saturday
James Madison at Chattanooga, 4 p.m. Saturday on ESPN+
William & Mary at East Carolina, 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN3
Hampton at Liberty, 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN+
Villanova at Towson, 6 p.m. Saturday

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Elena Delle Donne named 2019 WNBA MVP for the second time following historic season

Elena Delle Donne named 2019 WNBA MVP for the second time following historic season

Elena Delle Donne has done it again.

For the second time in her career, the Washington Mystics' star has been named the WNBA MVP, Monumental Sports announced Thursday.

Delle Donne is the first WNBA player to earn the prestigious award with two teams, her 2015 honor while with the Chicago Sky.

“I would like to thank my teammates and coaches and our wonderful fans--I have the greatest teammates in the world, our coaches have put us in a position to succeed by forming this awesome unit and the energy of our fans has given us the best home-court atmosphere in the league,” Delle Donne said in the statement.

“Everyone has had a part in this, especially my wife and family, and it took a lot of hard work and focus from all of us together to get to this point.  I am extremely proud of this honor, but we still have work ahead of us and we’re all focused playing our hardest to bring a championship to Washington.”

During her 2019 season with the Mystics, Delle Donne averaged 19.5 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists, securing her spot on the All-Star team for the sixth time. Her most unbelievable feat, however, was becoming the first WNBA player to join the prestigious 50/40/90 club.

Delle Donne earned 51.5 percent from the field, 43.03 percent from beyond the arc and an incredible 97.4 percent from the free-throw line.

Steve Nash, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, Larry Bird, Mark Price, Reggie Miller, Mark Nowitzki and Malcolm Brogdon are the only players in the history of the NBA to accomplish that feat.

The Mystics look for another win Thursday night en route to a Championship against the Las Vegas Aces for Game 2 of the WNBA Semifinals at 8:30 p.m.

You can watch the game on ESPN 2.

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