ACC Preview: Boston College’s Burning Question

Posted by Matt Patton on October 24th, 2014

Last place or not last place?

It’s not easy taking over a slumping program in a conference that just added three perennial Top 25 programs. It’s even harder when you can’t start until April and you lose your two of your three best players before you even take the job. That’s where Jim Christian stands a little over six months after replacing Steve Donahue. Perhaps his most important battle, though, was won when Olivier Hanlan decided to stay in Chestnut Hill. Hanlan’s presence — along with a graduate transfer and a healthy center — are the only reason this is a burning question at all.

Jim Christian needs to change the culture in Chestnut Hill (photo credit: Ted Fitzgerald/Boston Herald)

Jim Christian needs to change the culture in Chestnut Hill (photo credit: Ted Fitzgerald/Boston Herald)

Any look at Boston College this season has to start with Christian, a former coach at Kent State, TCU and then Ohio before coming to Chestnut Hill. He built a solid MAC program at Kent State, improving nearly every year while he was there. During his last year at TCU, he turned one of the worst programs in the country into a middling Mountain West team with a few solid wins (including one over Virginia). But there’s not much data from which to judge his time at Ohio, and he’s never coached in a major conference.

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ACC M5: 02.20.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on February 20th, 2014

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  1. KenPom.com: If you have a subscription, the win probability graph from Boston College‘s upset over Syracuse last night is amazing. The Orange had a 96 percent chance to win at the tip. That stayed at or above 94 percent before peaking with around 16 minutes left in the second half (when Syracuse was up 13 points). Then things get interesting. A few Boston College threes later, and each possession starts influencing the graph. Boston College’s best chance to steal the win in regulation came with two seconds left (when CJ Fair almost committed the worst foul of the year), but the percentage spiked back to over 80 percent to start overtime. At that point every possession is high leverage. If you don’t have a subscription, today’s the day. How else would you know Boston College held Syracuse to its second-worst offensive efficiency of the year?
  2. BC Interruption: But how did the Eagles do it? They slowed the game down to a crawl (only 56 possessions in an overtime game!). They knocked down threes. They stopped turning the ball over (though the first half was admittedly horrible on this front). And they played remarkably good defense once they cut out Syracuse’s runouts. Olivier Hanlan was aggressive; Lonnie Jackson stepped up and hit four clutch free throws to close the game out; and Joe Rahon managed to hold CJ Fair to 20 points on 23 shots.
  3. Sports Illustrated: This is just a tremendous piece on Jabari Parker, focusing on his relationship with Coach K. It’s worth the time (which will be substantial), but really delivers great insight into who Parker is on and off the basketball court.
  4. Charlotte Observer: What do you get when you mix Barry Jacobs with a classic game on the day of Duke-North Carolina? A must-read. Jacobs chronicles the famous 7-0 half at Cameron Indoor to finish off the 1979 season. Duke was in its “signature 2-3 matchup zone” (yes, Bill Foster was coaching, but that’s still weird to hear), so Dean Smith brought out the four corners to try to coax the Blue Devils away from its defensive principles. It didn’t work. In the second half both teams ran more and put up 40 points each. Come for the first half shutout, stay for the flopping anecdote.
  5. Shakin the Southland: Clemson earned a win that could help itself a lot come Selection Sunday. No, it won’t stand out for being a great win, but NC State is currently sitting along with the Tigers on the bubble, and Clemson had to stop the bleeding to end its three-game losing streak. The win puts Clemson in a better position than its foes from Raleigh. This was Clemson’s best offensive performance of conference play and second-best performance on the season. More performances like that will help Clemson pass the dreaded (and arbitrary) eye test in a few short weeks.
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A Popular Preseason Dark Horse Pick, Boston College Has Failed to Live Up to Expectations

Posted by Chris Kehoe on December 31st, 2013

Boston College has had a resoundingly disappointing season, to say the least. Coming into the year with elevated expectations based on their youth and potent inside-out combination of Olivier Hanlan and Ryan Anderson, the Eagles have not even held a .500 record yet. Their defense is porous, ranking an astonishingly bad 298th in the nation out of 351 Division I basketball teams. They also haven’t shot the ball well from deep, yet have persisted in making it a staple of their offense. A top-40 schedule with games against UConn, Providence, UMass, USC, Maryland, Toledo and VCU have all resulted in losses. At some point this team needs to win a few marquee games in order to thrive in a top-heavy ACC, and although they won’t lack for those opportunities, it seems like the rest of the season will be spent in hopes of securing a non-NCAA postseason bid and building for the future.

Olivier Hanlan, Boston College

Olivier Hanlan is shouldering a large burden this season. (Boston Globe)

Boston College fans had good reason to believe in this squad coming into this season, as the Eagles returned all of their major players including the ACC ROY Hanlan, versatile big man Anderson, and guard Joe Rahon. The team finished the 2012-13 season relatively strong, winning four out of its last five games with an extremely young team that lacked depth and ACC experience. Much was made out of the momentous leap expected from Hanlan, the seemingly unstoppable Canadian guard who dropped an ACC freshman record 41 points in the first round of last year’s ACC Tournament.

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Three Thoughts on Maryland’s Win at Boston College

Posted by Matt Patton on December 14th, 2013

Maryland stopped its two-game skid with a road win to open conference play, and meanwhile the Eagles slipped to 3-7 in another poor defensive performance.

Roddy Peters will be a great player at Maryland. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

Roddy Peters will be a great player at Maryland. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

  1. Ryan Anderson and Joe Rahon are in shape this year, and Anderson kept the game close at the beginning. He was really the only active Boston College player early, cutting and finishing with a couple of two-handed dunks that kept Maryland from running away. However, a big concern was how Anderson disappeared after the first four minutes and throughout the second half. He only took two shots in the second period (making both; he also had two assists), which just won’t cut it in most games. Anderson needs to work on staying aggressive. Most of the game Steve Donahue played him at the four, where he’s really tough to guard because of his perimeter shooting. Rahon is listed at the same weight, but it’s clear he worked on his conditioning this summer. He finished last season on a high note, and his stats this season are a cut above. That said, I’m pretty sure Steve Donahue would happily take Rahon’s offensive stats from last season in exchange for him becoming an elite defender. Read the rest of this entry »
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AAC M5: 11.21.13 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on November 21st, 2013

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  1. Sometimes, when you are afraid you won’t have enough news to fill the Morning Five, you have to pray to the College Basketball News Gods. They don’t always listen to your prayers, but when they do, they always answer them by sending Richard Andrew Pitino to save the day. After Louisville demolished Hartford on Tuesday night, Pitino could have just answered questions about the Kevin Ware speeding ticket by expressing his disappointment and moved on. Instead he took the time to make vague insinuations that the story only broke because a Kentucky fan tipped off the media outlets. It can’t be proven, but given the nature of this rivalry, absolutely no one would be surprised if Pitino’s suspicions were totally true. Ware’s suspension rumors from the summer were also supposedly started by someone in Big Blue Nation and let’s not pretend like Louisville fans are any nobler. They would be direct messaging every national college basketball writer in the country if they thought they could get Julius Randle suspended or even looked at by the NCAA. I’m not a proponent of trading in gossip but this is also partially what makes the rivalry between the teams so fun… so… uh… work those phones Cardinals’ and Wildcats’ fans!
  2. It’s a little bit surprising to hear that former Boston College coach Al Skinner never even bothered to call Shabazz Napier and at least feign interest just in case his preferred targets fell through. Napier wasn’t exactly a can’t-miss prospect coming out of prep school, but he did play in the Eagles’ backyard and was probably worth at least a phone call. Skinner’s loss (it is really Steve Donahue’s loss since he actually tried to recruit Napier but was too late) was Jim Calhoun’s gain as Napier has built himself into a conference player of the year candidate and the Huskies’ most important player. Napier gets a chance to indirectly exact his revenge tonight as the Huskies and Eagles square off at Madison Square Garden in the 2K Sports Classic. Donahue has a pair of solid sophomore guards in Olivier Hanlan and Joe Rahon, just don’t think for a second that either one of them is going to be able to stop Napier.
  3. The coronation of Troy Caupain as Cincinnati‘s point guard of the future will have to wait at least one more game after last night’s underwhelming performance. I won’t pick on the members of the media who were already starting to sing his praises because I was singing them just as loudly after his excellent all-around game against Appalachian State. But the beginning of the breakout that was supposed to happen against Campbell last night never materialized as Ge’Lawn Guyn played most of the minutes and Caupain missed the only two shots he took from the field to finish with one point, one rebound, one assist and one steal in just 14 minutes. I will readily admit that my itchy “breakout performer” trigger-finger got the best of me on this one, but I am not jumping of the Caupain bandwagon quite yet. Caupain is still more than a week away from his 18th birthday and he is already part of an AAC team’s rotation. He will undoubtedly have bouts of inconsistency throughout the season but he has a lot of room to grow and he is going to do that by playing a lot.
  4. The theme of the week for Temple is patience. Coach Fran Dunphy is preaching it. The student newspaper is preaching it; and star forward Anthony Lee is preaching it too. Although the Owls were picked to finish fifth in the preseason AAC coaches poll, it is now fair to wonder whether that prediction has more to do with the respect for Dunphy than it does with the Owls’ actual abilities. The outlook from KenPom is far less favorable (for those without the subscription, he is predicting the Owls finish 10-18) and the team is going to need to grow up in a hurry if they want to prove the prognosticators wrong. They have the pieces and a good amount of talent, but right now they aren’t particularly good in any facet of the game. They have been particularly bad from behind the three-point arc, shooting just over 26 percent from downtown, and they also rank near the bottom nationally when it comes to forcing turnovers. The hope is that some of this will improve as the team gets more comfortable and more experience, they just better hope that happens before its too late.
  5. I’m fine with giving Houston‘s TaShawn Thomas conference player of the week honors, as he has dominated in all four games this season. I am not fine with hyping Houston as a contender, however, not at least until they play someone even remotely worthwhile. They are still a bad defensive team, and while the offense is improving, it still isn’t that efficient and certainly not enough so to help them beat conference foes. The schedule doesn’t get any better against Howard, which rates as one of the worst teams in the country, so expect Thomas and Danuel House to get theirs in an easy win.  But the Cougars get a shot at Stanford at the Barclays Center on Monday and if they can beat the Cardinal, then I will consider to start to take the team seriously.
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ACC Team Preview: Boston College Eagles

Posted by Kellen Carpenter on November 1st, 2013

This is Steve Donahue’s fourth year as coach of Boston College and the question is floating through the air: Is it the year? After an abysmal sophomore season where Donahue floundered with a nearly all-freshman class, last year was a turning point for the program. Sure, the team only went 7-11 in league play and lost in the second round of the ACC Tournament, but it was still progress and the groundwork that Donahue has laid looks strong. This year, the hard work starts to pay off. Boston College is ready to make some noise… with one big catch.

boston-college-preview-2013]

In 2011-12, the freshman pair of Ryan Anderson and Lonnie Jackson gave Boston College some hope for the future. Now, as juniors, both have clear roles in the Eagles’ team system. Anderson is capable of a double-double every night while Jackson is the team’s designated sharp-shooter on a team loaded with outside shooting. The two offer veteran leadership on a squad that basically lacked significant contributions from upperclassmen for the past two years. On top of that foundation came the dynamic freshmen duo of Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan. Though only a freshman, Rahon provided an instant steadying presence at point guard and ultimately led all freshmen in the conference in total minutes played. Hanlan, however, brought more to the team than a steady presence. The dynamic freshman guard played well all season, but he came on with a fury at the end of the year, setting the ACC Tournament record for scoring by a freshman with 41 points against Georgia Tech. He would ultimately win ACC Freshman of the Year.

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Closing Out the ACC Microsite

Posted by mpatton on April 29th, 2013

Well, it was an up-and-down year in the ACC filled with injuries, March disappointments and one season for the history books. We here at the RTC ACC Microsite loved chronicling every minute of it. We’ll still be providing periodic coverage throughout the summer, looking towards the NBA Draft and next year, but this marks the official end of the 2012-13 season for us. If you start getting nostalgic, here are some good places to start (in chronological order).

  • Preseason ACC Awards: Still riding the highs of my Michael Snaer mancrush after his transcendent performance in the 2012 ACC Tournament, he took the preseason ACC POY nod. We clearly meant Olivier Hanlan, not Rodney Purvis when we picked the consummate scoring frosh, we just didn’t know it yet. At least we finished one for three by picking Jim Larranaga to win COY.
This Miami team will forever be etched in the history book of ACC greats. (Photo: Robert Mayer / USA TODAY Sports)

This Miami team will forever be etched in the history book of ACC greats. (Photo: Robert Mayer / USA TODAY Sports)

  • The Martin Report feels like forever ago, but the academic jokes from North Carolina‘s rivals won’t stop for a long time. And those questions the report danced around are still out there.
  • Akil Mitchell is the best returning frontcourt man in the ACC, and Kellen was all over it last December. Especially without the likes of Mason Plumlee, Devin Booker and Alex Len, it’s fine to pencil him onto your 2013-14 preseason All-ACC teams right now.
  • Speaking of being ahead of the curve, it took us until three days into 2013 to take note of Hanlan and his freshman teammate Joe Rahon. After one of the best rookie performances in ACC Tournament history, it’s safe to say it won’t take that long next year. Also, with Scott Wood and Seth Curry graduating, it’s hard to see much competition for best shooter in the ACC.

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Rushed Reactions: Miami 69, Boston College 58

Posted by mpatton on March 15th, 2013

rushedreactions

Matt Patton is an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from the ACC quarterfinal match-up between Miami (FL) and Boston College this afternoon.

Three Key Takeaways:

Donahue has Boston College moving towards ACC contention.

Donahue has Boston College moving towards ACC contention.

  1. Zone Read: Around the under-eight media timeout in the first half, Steve Donahue switched to a loose zone. To that point, Miami had been clicking offensively, but the zone bothered the Hurricanes. It helped tremendously that Julian Gamble, Reggie Johnson and Tonye Jekiri all had two fouls, which partially neutralized the Hurricanes’ interior advantage. But Miami settled for jumpers and heavily contested shots, missing nine of its next 10 shots. The Hurricanes also turned it over three times. That allowed Boston College to finish on a 19-4 run and take a lead into halftime.
  2. Going Small: With five minutes left in the game, Jim Larranaga took Julian Gamble out, leaving Rion Brown, Trey McKinney-Jones, Shane Larkin, Durand Scott and Kenny Kadji on the floor. Essentially that’s Kadji with four guards and wings (all under 6’6″). After the game Jim Larranaga talked about the switch extensively:

    “Thank goodness we were able to go small in the last five minutes. We don’t have a lot of perimeter subs so we couldn’t have done it earlier, even though we know that’s probably the best way to guard them. We were able to do that in the last five minutes and pull away and get a nice win and move on to the semifinals. […] The whole key in guarding Boston College, they do such a great job with ball screens and hitting the role man and hitting or finding another open man. When you’re bigger you’re slower in your rotation so the last five minutes we went to the small lineup and we switched most of them so there is no open man and we trapped with our big guy to be the aggressor at the end of the floor, both ends of the floor and both of those things worked at that time in the game.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Olivier Hanlan Buries Georgia Tech and Scoring Record

Posted by mpatton on March 14th, 2013

Matt Patton is an RTC correspondent and an ACC microsite writer. He filed this report from Thursday afternoon’s ACC Tournament in Greensboro.

With about six and a half minutes left in the first half, ACC Rookie of the Year Olivier Hanlan had four points on six shots. Boston College was down 12, but its press looked lackadaisical and its offense stagnant. During the under-eight media timeout Steve Donahue told Hanlan to be more aggressive and that Mfon Udofia was breaking the press by getting off to a quick start. Hanlan cut off Robert Carter Jr.’s pass, ran right into the big Georgia Tech freshman, drawing the and-one. The game was never the same and the Eagles ended up winning by 20 points.

Olivier Hanlan Couldn't Miss and Boston College Routed Georgia Tech. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

Olivier Hanlan Couldn’t Miss and Boston College Routed Georgia Tech. (photo: Chuck Liddy / Raleigh News & Observer)

Hanlan went on to hit the rest of his shots to score a ludicrous 41 points on 18 attempts. Over half his points came from beyond the arc, but his performance was so much more than good shooting. He hit runners, he hit lay-ups, he created, he spotted up, he drew fouls. Hanlan’s final shot summed up his performance perfectly. On a crisp pass from Ryan Anderson, he squared up and took his 10th three. The ball went all the way around the rim and off the backboard before falling through the net for the last of his 41 points. The performance broke Harrison Barnes 2011 scoring record for a freshman, but Steve Donahue pulled Hanlan with two minutes left, keeping Lenny Rosenbluth’s ACC Tournament record intact.

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ACC M5: 01.17.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 17th, 2013

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  1. Blogger So Dear: This is the best blog post I’ve read all season. Seriously, I have no idea why it’s not getting more pub. John Mundy knocks it out of the park. He’s got great sources (two former ACC assistant coaches along with a few academic types), he’s concise and thoughtful, and most importantly his article doesn’t shove anything down your throat. I thought about putting this piece as all five blurbs, but that’s cheating. Onto the subject matter: changing culture in college basketball. How long does it take? Is it important? Read this, and expect more on this article later.
  2. Georgia Tech Athletic Department: After a quiet search, Georgia Tech settled on Xavier’s Mike Bobinski as its new athletic director. Bobinski’s background is in money. He ran Xavier’s fundraising arm for two years (in addition to starting his working life as an accountant), which is the experience Georgia Tech is obviously looking to capitalize on. Bobinski is a Notre Dame graduate, who should be a safe hire — especially financially. The big question is whether he can reignite the spark in the Georgia Tech fan base going forward.
  3. Tallahassee Democrat: Leonard Hamilton joined the ranks of ACC coaches putting their teams through long, painful film sessions (Roy Williams forced his team to watch film immediately after its loss to Miami, and Mark Turgeon made his team grade all 46 of its offensive possessions against Clemson). Like the other two cases, Hamilton’s frustration was deserved. The Seminoles refused to rebound and North Carolina closed the game on an 8-0 run to put it out of reach. It’s danger time in Tallahassee: They need good wins and fast.
  4. Charlottesville Daily Progress: The injury bug is hitting Tony Bennett‘s team really hard yet again with Akil Mitchell and Darion Atkins out thanks to foot injuries. The silver lining is that freshman Mike Tobey (who’s shown flashes of brilliance) gets minutes, but Bennett is an injury away from having to spell his frontcourt starters with guards. Luckily Bennett’s defensive system places far more pressure on guards than interior players, as it’s designed to collapse similarly to a zone.
  5. Boston Herald: Joe Rahon has been one of the more surprising success stories of the year. The Boston College freshman came in a relative unknown, but he’s been very productive this season. Because of Dennis Clifford’s injury struggles, the Eagles have been forced to play small much of the year. Steve Donahue often rolls out a four-guard lineup, which causes match-up problems on both ends so long as Ryan Anderson keeps the opponent honest.

EXTRA: KJ McDaniels probably deserved his own highlight reel after Tuesday’s game against Wake Forest.

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Rahon and Hanlan: A Look at Boston College’s Freshmen Iron Men

Posted by KCarpenter on January 3rd, 2013

It’s no surprise that Erick Green is in the top five in the the conference in terms of minutes per game. As the most important player on Virginia Tech’s squad, he leads the conference in just about every scoring related “volume” category that exists. He leads the league in points per game, usage rate, possessions used, field goals attempted, field goals made, free throws attempted, and free throws made. Of course he plays just about more minutes than anyone else too. Likewise it’s no surprise to see Duke’s Mason Plumlee in the top five in minutes per game; he’s the best player on the best team in the country and probably the front-runner for National Player of the Year. Shane Larkin, the ACC’s leader in average minutes, is Miami’s only consistent play-maker. It’s not surprising that any of these guys are getting serious minutes.

Joe Rahon

Joe Rahon

It’s the other two guys in the top five who are surprising: Boston College‘s Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan. Both of these players are freshmen who are off to a sensational start in their collegiate careers. Sure, the Eagles didn’t exactly have any truly established backcourt starters going into this season, but in these two youngsters, BC has seen the future. Next to Ryan Anderson, the two freshmen are the team’s leading scorers, both boasting double-figure scoring averages that easily justify their time on the court.  Hanlan is a gifted scorer with a knack for getting to the line and an above-average rebounder for his position (a real asset for an Eagles team that will likely often go small down the stretch). while Rahon is a fairly traditional point guard who can dish, handle the ball, and score effectively from beyond the arc or while slicing to the rim. At 4.2 APG, Rahon ranks just below Marcus Paige and above Mfon Udofia and Shane Larkin in terms of distribution. Of course, this number is somewhat leading considering that Rahon plays more minutes than Udofia or Paige, but even in terms of the tempo-free assist percentage metric, Rahon is a top-10 dime-man in the conference. That’s not a bad resume for a pair of freshmen.

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ACC Noon 5: 01.01.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on January 1st, 2013

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  1. Streaking the Lawn:Awesome future non-conference news out of Charlottesville. One thing that’s been dying lately are home-and-home series with non-conference foes, but Virginia will (hopefully) iron out the details on a future head-to-head with local rival VCU. That should make for a really interesting series, and looks to benefit both parties. The Rams and Cavaliers get another marquee non-conference game to prove its strength come Selection Sunday. Fans get a potential budding rivalry played at a high level. Although there is a chance Tony Bennett’s pack-line, slow-down system will spontaneously combust when it meets Shaka Smart’s HAVOC scheme.
  2. Baltimore Sun: Jake Layman didn’t have a seamless transition when he got to College Park. He struggled academically and athletically in his first semester, but the freshman is looking for a new start for the new year. Layman has the chance to be a great four-year player for Mark Turgeon, but he just has to focus on “getting better every day.” Don’t expect Layman to be the Terrapins’ most important piece this season, but look for him to be more comfortable on and off the floor.
  3. Keeping It Heel: PJ Hairston seems to be growing into a more important role in Chapel Hill this season. He took full advantage of Reggie Bullock’s injury in the Tar Heels’ win over UNLV, playing 32 minutes, scoring 15 points on 10 shots, and grabbing four steals. If Hairston continues to improve — specifically on his shot selection and defensive intensity — don’t be surprised if Roy Williams pushes him to play starter minutes (or replaces Dexter Strickland in the starting lineup).
  4. SBNation Boston: Things are looking better in Chestnut Hill. No, the Eagles aren’t looking like contenders but Boston College has looked much better over its recent five-game winning streak. Specifically, the defense is greatly improved and freshmen Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlan are both averaging double figures. Steve Donahue’s schedule hasn’t been littered with world-beaters, but there’s a lot to be said for learning how to win. This team should be more competitive — even if they don’t win more games — than last year’s squad.
  5. Chapelboro: Jeremy Gerlach wrote a travel guide for the ACC (albeit leaving Chapel Hill, Tallahassee, Atlanta, Winston-Salem and College Park off the list). With conference play tipping off this Saturday, you may want to do some research before picking your road trips. This article is an OK place to start, but I’d probably look a little more closely.
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