Sunday, March 26, 2017


Tom Keegan: Loss to Oregon cuts deepest of Elite Eight setbacks

Oregon forward Jordan Bell (1) celebrates following the Ducks' win, Thursday, March 23, 2017 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Oregon forward Jordan Bell (1) celebrates following the Ducks' win, Thursday, March 23, 2017 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.


It will take more than the rain that fell on Lawrence on Sunday night to wash away the melancholy hovering since the Kansas basketball team’s 74-60, Saturday night loss to Oregon at Sprint Center.

For Bill Self, who has been to two Final Fours, it was his seventh overall Elite Eight loss and fifth in 14 years at Kansas.

Self is smart enough to know that all but a few of the active 351 Div. I basketball coaches happily would take that record because it means he has reached the Elite Eight in 50 percent of his KU seasons.

At the same time, Self is competitive enough to be bothered by the Elite Eight record and will continue to search for common denominators to see if there is anything that makes the quick turn-around game on the brink of the ultimate stage one that hasn’t gone well for him.

At Kansas, Self won the national title in 2008 and has lost twice in the first round (Bucknell, Bradley), three in the second round (Northern Iowa, Stanford, Wichita State), twice in the Sweet 16 (Michigan State, Michigan), five times in the Elite Eight (Georgia Tech, UCLA, VCU, Villanova, Oregon), once in the title game (Kentucky).

Another way of putting that: Self is 12-2 in the first round, 9-3 in the second, 7-2 in the Sweet 16, 2-5 in the Elite Eight, 2-0 in national semifinals and 1-1 in the national-title game for a 33-13 NCAA Tournament record at KU and a .717 winning percentage.

Among active college coaches, only two have been to more Elite Eights during Self’s Kansas years: Kentucky’s John Calipari (nine, the first three at Memphis) and North Carolina’s Roy Williams (eight). Six active college coaches have reached the Final Four more in that span: Calipari (five, the first at Memphis), Williams (five), Michigan State’s Tom Izzo (four), and with three apiece Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, Louisville’s Rick Pitino and Mississippi State’s Ben Howland (all at UCLA in consecutive seasons).

The day before the regional final against Oregon, Self explained why Elite Eight losses sting the deepest.

“If you lose in the first round, it stinks. It stinks, especially at Kansas, but you were in the tournament,” he said. “If you lose in the second round, at least you won a game. If you lose in the Sweet 16, we got to the second weekend, but the one you can't rationalize is the Elite Eight game. It's a big game for everybody and I'm not putting any more emphasis on it than what it is, but it's a game that needs to be played in the way you played your first three games getting to this point.”

Even among Elite Eight losses, the Oregon and VCU ones, in that order, stand out because Kansas appeared to be on such an unstoppable roll.

In 2011, the Jayhawks drilled Boston University and Illinois by a combined 33 points in Tulsa and hammered Richmond by 20 in San Antonio on the same night that VCU squeaked past Florida State, 72-71 in overtime, the Rams’ only close game to that point of the tournament.

This season, the Jayhawks won their first three games by a combined 96 points and averaged 96 points a game. In the final 26:24 of its Sweet 16 game, Kansas smacked Purdue, 73-33, on the same night that Oregon edged Michigan, 69-68.

Those nights in San Antonio and six years later in Kansas City left the impression that KU could not be denied a spot in the Final Four.

And both served as a reminder that every game starts 0-0 and takes on a personality of its own. VCU and Oregon survived their off nights in Sweet 16 games and Kansas couldn’t overcome its off nights against them in Elite Eight games.


Layne Pierce 5 years, 6 months ago

While in no way do I want to get rid of coach Self, it is interesting to ponder why the Elite 8 is such a problem, and what components need to be addressed. One interesting one is timeouts.

Is it just me, or does it seem like coach self used to call more timeouts, and not just wait for tv timeouts.

At first I was so down, and then I started trying to see the situation for what it really was. No.1 we did not have a real inside game, which means a post man who is a threat to score, and rebound, and be a shot blocker. Landon was fantastic as a rebounder, and a position defender, but Oregon showed us painfully what we did not have. No. 2, it seems Devonte has a hard time creating his own shot, he really needed us to take our time and break down the Oregon defense, man to man, or zone, we were as coach said very impatient. No. 3, Josh getting the two fouls was extremely disruptive to our game. No. 4, Dorsey was out of his mind, and Devonte just could not handle him. Think of the job Devonte did on Buddy Hield, maybe we should have put Frank on him. The truth is we shot 3s or drove all the way to the basket and had 8 shots blocked. We should have moved the ball side to side and taken short jump shots. All in all, Oregon had a good game plan, which they executed at a very high level. We would have had to play an A game, and we played a B-,.

It is interesting that Larry Brown always said that the season was to get ready for the tournament, and that while he wanted to win all of the games, above all he wanted the team to improve, defensively and offensively in terms of ball movement, and game thinking.

What do you all think? Did we improve that much after beating Kentucky? Was the TCU loss telling us something?

Dale Koch 5 years, 6 months ago

The one thing you said that makes sense is that Josh sitting on the bench really disrupted our game. Think about it, he got 12 rebounds in about that many minutes in the 2nd half. If he even gets 6 in the first half it would have been a game changer. And yes, the TCU game was telling us something...TAHT JOSH JACKSON WAS VITAL TO THIS TEAM!!!

Suzi Marshall 5 years, 6 months ago

That is amazing record Self has accrued at Kansas. He has made the NCAA Tournament every year and half his time at KU his teams have advanced to the Elite Eight or better. I just don't get it why his teams so consistently underperform in the Elite Eight. One should remind oneself that there are several other examples for Kansas teams playing the single worst game of the year to drop out of the tournament with excellent teams...'97 AZ, N. Iowa, VCU etc. However, there have been several games where Self was just flat out out coached, in terms of getting his team ready to play and tactics/strategy....Stanford, WSU, Oregon.

Nevertheless, I'm over the moon with his record, including the .717 winning percentage. If we/he keeps knocking on the door, sooner or later we will kick that door down. Hopefully we kick it down next year when the team returns to San Antonio to defend our '08 title in the Alamodome!

Mike Greer 5 years, 6 months ago

I probably wouldn't have included this years Oregon loss as being out coached, I really didn't think Oregon had a game plan to get Jackson on the bench after just over two minutes on the game clock. They may have had a plan on working inside against Lucas and I suppose it's always in your game plan to shoot lights out from behind the arc. I thought last season's loss to Nova was because of their game plan, it was simply to make someone other than Perry Ellis beat them and we couldn't. They did the same thing against UNC but their guards were popping 3s and eventually they backed off the big guy and he started scoring.

Pius Waldman 5 years, 6 months ago

I hope people understand the one and done factor. Yes winning by over 20 means we will win the next game. No Way Jose each game doesn't that will continue. To be honest Oregon was hot on treys and KU wasn't. Game result shows that. Graham was bomb city the game before and dull city against Oregon. The only suggestion I want to make to Self is you dance with the one that brung ya. Westbrook runs the show shoots the most passes the most scores the most. Mason appeared to be capable of doing that instead of that weaving and passing without one player deciding what to do.Graham and Svi were good shooting treys but Mason was better and also capable of driving to the goal.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 6 months ago

Really? How much time do you spend in the average day worrying if people understand the one and done rules of the NCAA tournament?

The tournament is getting pretty close to its 80th year anniversary and I bet you cannot find any real college basketball fans who don't understand this concept.

Bob Forer 5 years, 6 months ago

All it takes is one bad day. Since they began seeding in 1979 only 25 percent of number one seeds have made it to the final four.

Steve Johnson 5 years, 6 months ago

Bill Self is a great coach and his record speaks to that. Something has to change when it comes to the Elite 8 strategy. I am not smart enough to say what it needs to be but it is clear something should change. The game against Oregon was off from the start and it never felt like we a had a chance. We got beat by a far better team that day but the team was beat from the start. They never looked confident or capable of winning the game. That tells me the coaches didn't do their job to have the team ready to play. I believe the loss was due to the teams mental well being.

Martin Rosenblum 5 years, 6 months ago

We can't be National Champs except in years that end in "8", apparently. So, next year is our year!

Chris DeWeese 5 years, 6 months ago

I think we as KU fans are far too spoiled. Self is in an elite group of coaches who have seen many Sweet 16s and Elite 8s. Far more than most any other coach could dream of. Not to mention his national championship, which the vast majority of coaches will never get. The modern era of the NCAA tournament is an incredibly difficult jaunt, more so than it was back in the 60's and 70's. I personally trust in Bill Self. He knows how to consistently win. I have faith he will continue to learn from his mistakes and failures and improve as a head coach.

Travis Clementsmith 5 years, 6 months ago

The best answer I saw to winning the Tournament was "you have to have some good luck, and you can't have any bad luck". We had a bad luck shooting night on a team that really walked the razor's edge between being really good and falling off the edge. Josh picks up two quick fouls and it was hard to keep panic from setting in. Miss a few early shots, and all of a sudden it grows into bad luck that is hard to stave off.

Bill Pitcher 5 years, 6 months ago

Oregon's matchup zone shouldn't have come as a surprise to us. Attacking a matchup is 3/4 mental and execution. Send cutters, attack the baseline and middle, and use dribble penetration. Why did it flummox us? JJ, a key player against any zone, had two early fouls in a pressure game. We were left trying to penetrate against long and quick defenders who defended very well.

Even with everything that went against us this was a two-possession game with 2:45 to go, an entirely manageable game situation (see Kentucky-UNC). And then there was that rebound, two guys trying their hardest, and the cruelest and unluckiest bounce possible intervened.

Savor a wonderful year, amazing players and coaching staff and accept the fact that this tournament is designed to bring tears to 67 of 68 teams. And then do yoga or something different to relax before playing the next Elite 8 game....

Barry Weiss 5 years, 6 months ago

Their match up zone worked well. The key was that they had a legit rim protector that repeatedly swatted away the shots of our drivers. I agree with you on JJ getting those quick two fouls and going to the bench, that really, really hurt. Our outside shooting was probably as bad as it ever has been. You really can't blame any of that on Coach Self like some have.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 6 months ago

We've overcome legitimate rim protectors before BUT not if we aren't knocking down three-point shots. Good post as always Barry.

Brock Wells 5 years, 6 months ago

I agree pretty much with everything everyone is saying.

My only complaint is why Bill didn't go to the full court press after the under 8 min tv to in the second half. That would have forced some life into us and Landon was so good with that press other games, esp WVU at home.

Completely agree with Tom, this one hurts the most to me because I really wanted to watch them play two more games, they were so much fun to watch this tourney.

Barry Weiss 5 years, 6 months ago

I think we had it down to 6 points, or a two possession game at around the 2 minute mark. But we could not get stops.

Carl O'Hair 5 years, 6 months ago

I have waited all this time for someone to say something about that point of the game so I could mention that the two purely lucky 3s by Dorsey were what made the situation so bad. He shot that one that bounced too high to not come back down on the rim and bounce away and then he hit that one off the board.

Jackson being on the bench so long cost so many points because he can get up over the defense when making really beautiful passes and although he can't drive and finish like Mason he could have helped Frank out a lot.

I still blame the basketball gods for this one for those two Dorsey shots and the fact that Graham could only find the rim when his normal makes are so pure nothing but net.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 6 months ago

Coach Self certainly didn't have his best game making adjustments during the game and at halftime. Those last two 3's right before the half really hurt but when the 2nd half started, we were even flatter than when the game started.

On a personal level, I really feel for Frank Mason. He played his heart out trying to keep us in the game and I didn't see the same effort from some of the other players. I'm not talking about shots not falling, that happens, I didn't see the effort on the defensive end which could have made a big difference in transition points.

Still, even the basketball seemed to bounce the wrong way. Maybe the gods of basketball weren't aligned for us that game.

Jim Chastain 5 years, 6 months ago

I remember Self being interviewed after the Davidson game in 08. The announcer asked him what he felt at that point and he said, "relief." If you remember we won that game very ugly and Davidson had a chance to win with a long 3 at the end. I honestly think this is the underlying issue. If he has that kind of mentality -- consciously or subconsciously -- going into these Elite 8 games then that will rub off the team. Guys will tighten up. I love him as a coach and I think anyone who wants to get rid of him just doesn't get the big picture. But I think he tightens in these games. I think he does come across a bit differently in interviews before and during these games. He is playing to an expectation instead of playing for the thrill. There is a difference.

Oregon's defense flummoxed us early and Jackson's fouls didn't help. But thanks to Frank we were right in it and could have made adjustments but I think the guys were more scared to lose than excited to win. Very similar to the Iowa State game at AFH this year.

John Brazelton 5 years, 6 months ago

Josh Jackson is so important to our offensive, I would have started Vick and brought Jackson off the bench after 5-6 minutes. As soon as Jackson got into foul trouble and we couldn't hit our 3s, it was going to be a long game. Just like the Iowa State game, it was the long NBA-length 3s that killed us.

David Robinett 5 years, 6 months ago

My theory is that our Kansas team has often overachieved even to make it to the elite eight. That was probably the case this year since we had zero inside game. Therefore it might not be surprising that we fail when we face the best teams.

Rae Bricil 5 years, 6 months ago

over achieved? this team was great--they could have beat anyone on any given day--they played their worst game of the year and were down by 6 with 3 mins left. If they played to their potential they were easily capable of beating Oregon--hence why they were favored by 7 pts. Anything less than a F4 this team did not meet their potential--which happens but to say they overachieved, I believe, discredits how good this team was.

Mike Greer 5 years, 6 months ago

The team had great success, but I do believe they overachieved. They won the regular season Big XII title by 4 games, but how many of those games were won by 5 points or less, eight games. Those aren't overwhelming victories. Four of those were 1 possession games. They were overwhelming in the first 3 NCAA tournament games and perhaps that has given us a false sense of how good this team could be.

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 6 months ago

Disagree about overachieving but I still think we were one Udoka away from a national championship.

David Robinett 5 years, 6 months ago

I would also like to question the logic of always removing a player who gets two fouls early. What it does is guarantee that you do not maximize the minutes of that player. And since Josh was so critical to our success this year I think he should've stayed in the game and played with those two fouls.

Glen Miller 5 years, 6 months ago

Did you see what happened in the first half when Self put him back in the game...... he got blitzed on the defensive end and played not to foul. He played timid and was ineffective. That's why you don't keep them in.

Jeff Foster 5 years, 6 months ago

All the talk about " Self's strategy's got to change" or "Self's a terrible E8 coach" etc, is ridiculous! Coaches can't shoot or guard, they direct the players on where to be. On the court, it all happens so fast, and on the fly players adjust and sometimes make mistakes, other times they make brilliant plays. Either way, both are glorified or dragged through the mud. Self is a GREAT coach as evidenced by the fact we're in the tourney EVERY year (ask UConn or Syracuse b,out that) and we routinely get to the second round.

As for Oregon's zone, had KU shot the ball like they did in the first 3 games, the lanes would have opened up for the drive and O would have had to go man. But they didn't. Even late in the 2nd half when Oregon did all they could to get us back in the game, we couldn't capitalize. Bad rebound bounces off hands, missed layups and open jumpers. Those aren't coaching errors, those are player errors that weren't errors at all two days before.

Sometimes, players press and play tight because of the expectations, the pressure, the next level, it could be the LAST game...some teams don't. How great did MIch St. play vs a really good ISU team only to run up against someone playing better in KU? Two nights before KU v Oregon, the Ducks eked out a win vs Michigan who had a chance to win it at the buzzer, then they come out vs KU and play great!

No better school than Kansas, no better basketball team/program than KU and no better coach than Self, period! Thanks for a great senior year and careers to Lucas, Mason and Self, I hope the next team has the same passion and 'never quit' attitude as this team, if so, we'll be just fine and I'll take an Elite 8 trip again next year! Rock Chalk 4 Life!

Eric Dawson 5 years, 6 months ago

For one game your point that it is the players, not the coach, is valid. When the record repeatedly shows that the team loses these E8 games year in and year out, with the only constant factor being the coach, the evidence overwhelmingly supports the argument that the coach is failing to have his team prepared for the game. Nine E8 appearances, just 2 wins despite most of the appearances being as the 1 or 2 seed (average KU seed 1.9 for his KU career, 1.6 for his KU E8 years; Tulsa '99 E8=7, Illinois '00 E8=1, career E8=2.1). Allowing an assumption that over time E8 opponents should be equally matched, an excellent coach could be expected to have an E8 winning % of at least 50%. His is 22% for his career and just under 29% for his KU career. The preponderance of evidence supports the argument that it is not just the players.

I'm a big fan of Self. I know he will keep trying to figure out what he's doing wrong in his approach to playing E8 games. He has to recognize where the problems are and fix them. Hopefully he will.

Self is my coach, I want no other.

Kent Gaylor 5 years, 6 months ago

While this was a bad, bad loss; the VCU loss was worse. Also, the Georgia Tech loss was on another bad loss. Tough when your shooting is the worst of the year and we seemed to have no energy to get to loose balls. Thought we might do it when down 6 with just under 3 and forced a bad shot at the end of the shot clock. Four guys there and couldn't get the rebound. Summed up the night.

Armen Kurdian 5 years, 6 months ago

Losses to MSU, Villanova, GT, Stanford, Kentucky, are losses I could handle fine, tough game, played hard, lost to a better team. Losses to AZ, Northern Iowa, Bucknell were bone-crushing, especially the first two. But VCU & Oregon made me just plum angry. I know I come off as spoiled when I say this, but dang it, you don't play the best three games of the season and follow it up w/the worst. They flat out panicked, got away from what made them successful, what helped them win at Kentucky, come back against WV, and the other close games. They got a lot of points off of our misses off of bad shots. There just is no excuse to lose to the Ducks.

There's 341 teams, and we were one of the last 8 standing. I love this team, and wouldn't trade the coach for anything...but I had to vent on this one.

Mike Greer 5 years, 6 months ago

Just an average night would have beaten the Ducks, we just didn't play average. The Purdue coach said it best, ". . . if this team shoots the way they did, no one is going to stop them. . . " The problem was they didn't. I'm not putting down the players, I'm sure they gave it all they had, but no one, not even Frank had a great game and most of the team shot average. Frank's average for the year was 20.8 ppg, he shot his average 21 points, Jackson's average was 16.4 ppg, he shot 6 points short of that, Devonté's average was 13.4, he came up 10 points short, Svi, Landen and Vick all shot about their average. KU's season average was 83 points per game, shoot that and it's an easy win. No one was making shots and no one player was able to carry the team with a career game. In the mean time Oregon was making 3s from beyond NBA range and I don't know how anyone can defend that.

Rae Bricil 5 years, 6 months ago

I am definitely not advocating firing Bill Self nor do I think there is a better coach for Kansas but these elite 8 losses are on him. I know he is not on the court and doesn’t shoot the ball but all these collapses only have him in common. For all the credit he receives for the incredible conference streak he should receive the same amount of blame for these meltdowns.

I read a stat the other night that someone posted stating 6 of Bill Self’s 9 Elite 8 games were the lowest scoring game of the season—that is insane and beyond coincidence. The last two years are case in point—59 and 60 pts respectively—even in 08 they put up their lowest number of the year. I don’t know if it is the pressure Self projects on the team or the lack of preparation based on the short turnaround facing an unfamiliar team but these are meltdowns. To be favored by 7pts on what was basically a home court and to be dominated like that was unimaginable Friday. Even the players said they were tight if it wasn’t apparent enough with players air balling lay ups and unable to catch simple rebounds.

My point is Bill Self needs to find a way to ease the nerves of these kids. Unfortunately this Elite 8 pressure/collapse has reached a point where it is a thing---evidenced by the Lawrence PD—and will always be brought up now before games which may only add to the pressure.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 6 months ago

Haven't taken the time to read all of the posts, so perhaps nothing more needs to be said. However, I accept Bill Self's record as the outstanding one that it is.

Of course, the Oregon loss stings, but Oregon executed their game plan almost to perfection, and they have the kinds of assets (big guards and a strong inside defensive presence) which fully exploited the KU weaknesses better than anyone in the conference did. Therefore, don't be surprised if Oregon upsets UNC, although I expect UNC to win.

The bottom line is that KU had to be operating on all cylinders offensively to be the "unstoppable" force that we saw in the second half against Purdue. This is true in every sport. For example, how many times has a baseball team won a game by a big margin only to lose their next outing by one run. Or, as Suzi can identify with given her golf background, how many times has a pro golfer had a superb round one day (say a 65 or 66 in a major championship), only to follow it up with a 75 the next day.

In short, sports are fickle, and the difference between playing with confidence and having some self doubt is often hard to pinpoint. Sometimes you even see both demonstrated during the same game - - like the comeback win at home against West Virginia, one of the highlights of the season.

Vincent Patterson 5 years, 6 months ago

Maybe if Bill went back and actually watched his tourney losses on film, he might discover why he really seems to struggle in the Elite Eight. Why he doesn't watch his tourney losses really perplexes me to this day!! Not sure if it would have helped much this year though, Oregon just seemed destined to win this one. Some of the shots that fell for them, and the way the ball bounced (especially when JJ tipped that ball Mason was sure to rebound), you could just tell it was one of those nights. Good season, but man this is getting old....

Vic Janeway 5 years, 6 months ago

Now I hope coach Self stays. HE is still the greatest to me, he cannot control dry shooting, it just happens. AND NOW I wait for Frank Mason to get that MVP!!!!! RCJHKU!

Clara Westphal 5 years, 6 months ago

Did anyone watch the No. Carolina vs. Kentucky game? At the beginning of the game, two quick fouls were called on one of the Kenturcky starters.. At one time during the game, four of Kentucky's starters were on the bench with four fouls. Sounds a bit familiar. Calipari stated it is hard to win with that kind of situation.

With Josh out, it threw the KU game plan off. Vick tried but he not a Josh Jackson. Also, Landon needed help and he did not get it. Why was Carton Bragg never put in the game. He has more experience than Coleby. Even Lightfoot could have given Lucas a little help.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 6 months ago

Why not watch the tape of the second half against North Carolina in the Elite 8 in 2012? Coach Self utilized an unexpected defensive strategy to beat the great Roy Williams, who has yet to beat KU during the Bill Self era in multiple tries.

I'll take my chances with Bill Self and his staff anytime and anywhere, not only for what they accomplish on the court, but what they have done off it. Hopefully, one week from now, we will be referring to him as Hall of Fame Coach, Bill Self. It is richly deserved. That goes for Frank Mason and the Wooden Award as well.

Sam Allen 5 years, 6 months ago

That's why in the tournament the years our defense is good we are a better team! That's probably something for bill self to look into. (ex. 2012, and 2008), our defense earned us two trips to the final four!

Clarence Haynes 5 years, 6 months ago

Savor the 30 plus victories and let's move on with good summer play in Italy, prepping us for a successful 2017-2018 season!

Marius Rowlanski 5 years, 6 months ago

It's easier to savor something without getting a bone caught in your throat on the last bite.

Randy Bombardier 5 years, 6 months ago

Great season, great team, great coach. There's many great teams that did not make it. Only one will go all the way so we are in good company. Congratulations to the winner in advance. We'll be back.

Michael Haughey 5 years, 6 months ago

Aw shucks, It's not the coach's fault that shots don't go in. Hey, the tournament is crazy and hard to win. The Jayhawks had a great year, including a conference championship. There's no one else I would want coaching KU.

If you agree with those statements, then you shouldn't be upset with yet another Elite 8 loss. But you also must accept that KU isn't one of the top handfull of programs in the country. They aren't routinely getting top recruiting classes, 2 Final Fours in Self's tenure despite very high seeds, early losses,etc. I'm fine with the fact that KU is a top 10 program. I love watching the Big 12 season, and am pretty happy with an Elite 8 appearance. But KU is not UK, Duke or UNC. More like a "next best", with the likes of Louisville, MIchigan State, etc. Some other teams that have as many or more Final Fours as Bill Self in his time at KU are UConn, Butler, Villanova, Wisonsin, Syracuse, Florida, Ohio State. So consistency is great, but I think to be mentioned as a top four program you have to make Final Fours. A

Lance Hobson 5 years, 6 months ago

There is certainly a problem, the teams just freeze up in that game and now that everyone is aware of it it's only going to get worse. Kind of like the Cubs always choking in the playoffs until last year. Even the Davidson game was terrible, we were lucky to win. The only one we played well was as an underdog against UNC in 2012. I love coach Self but I'm about resigned that we have an Elite 8 ceiling. Plenty of teams will take that.

Ben Simonett 5 years, 6 months ago

VCU was a worst loss. that final 4 was weak and the Morri would have won us the chip if the team got there

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