Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

UPDATED: Warriors steal their way to win over CSUN


Slicing away at Cal State Northridge from near, far, and high up above, sophomore wing Aaron Valdes scored a career-high 34 points Saturday night to help Hawai’i race past the Matadors, 83-68, in Big West Conference men’s basketball action.

An appreciative crowd of 6,805 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Rainbow Warriors tie a school record with 20 steals in improving to 13-5 overall, 1-1 in the Big West heading into its first conference road trip at UC Riverside on Jan. 17. The Matadors fell to 4-13, 0-2.

Stefan Jankovic added a UH career-high 15 points, Isaac Fleming contributed 10 points, five rebounds, four assists and two steals off the bench, and Roderick Bobbitt notched six points, 10 assists and eight steals. Stefan Jovanovic, who made just his second start of the season, pitched in with nine rebounds.

The 20 team steals tied a school record set in 1988 vs. Tennessee Tech. Valdes added five steals and Quincy Smith four off the bench.

“Our ball pressure is not a fluke,” UH coach Benjy Taylor said. “With our quick hands, and with our foot speed, everyone is susceptible to our pressure — whether it’s a turnover or making you take a quick shot.”

Several of those steals led to fast break layups and a couple resulted in spectacular alley-oop slam dunks by the 6-foot-5 Valdes, who made 13 of 18 field goal attempts — including 3 of 5 from 3-point range — and was 5 for 7 from the free throw line. He scored 21 points in the second half, including 15 during a key six-minute stretch which saw the Rainbow Warriors turn a 44-43 deficit into a 64-51 lead.

“Coach Benjy is giving me the green light, and with point guards like Rod, Quincy and Isaac getting me the ball, it gives me a lot of opportunity to score,” Valdes said.

The 34 points scored by Valdes is the most by a UH player in a single game since Rod Flemings poured in 39 vs. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Feb. 20, 2010.


“I thought tonight was Aaron’s best game, and he had two really good days of practices (since Wednesday’s 61-57 overtime loss to Cal Poly),” Taylor said. “He wasn’t the best athlete out there, but he kept moving and was aggressive. He was cutting, spacing the floor, he took smart 3s — and made them. When he can bring all that to the game every time, the sky’s the limit for him.”

CSUN took a 44-43 lead after Stephen Maxwell’s two free throws with 17:34 remaining, but Valdes answered with two free throws 50 seconds later to start Hawai’i on a 24-10 run capped by Fleming’s layup to put the Rainbow Warriors ahead, 68-53, with 8:03 left.

After the Matadors closed it to 70-60 on Aaron Parks’ layup with 6:04 remaining, Valdes bookended a 9-0 run with a free throw and three-point play to essentially seal the victory at 79-60 with 4:32 remaining.

“We had more energy and passion out there tonight,” said Valdes, when asked what was the major difference from Wednesday. “The first half was still close and back-and-forth, but we had the energy.”

Neither team led by more than four points in the first half, but Hawai’i closed it out with an 8-2 run in the final two and a half minutes to take a 39-37 lead into the break.

Valdes said the fast, up-and-down pace was a positive change from Wednesday night’s sluggish, possession-by-possession halfcourt game.

“We got a lot of easy baskets,” Valdes said. “They’re a fast-breaking team, too, but they only had eight players so we knew eventually their legs would get to them, and it did in the second half.”

The Matadors suited up only nine players due to six players being held out reportedly pending academic eligibility.


The Rainbow Warriors, meanwhile, were without starting senior guard Garrett Nevels, who is still recovering from Dec. 31 surgery on his right (shooting) hand. His status for Saturday’s game at UC Riverside is still questionable.

By beating CSUN, Hawai’i again kept its record clean from back-to-back losses this season.

“This was big for us,” Valdes said. “Losing that first (conference) game was tough, but we came back strong. No one wants to lose two in a row, that looks bad. But this team hates losing even one game. We have a tough stretch coming up (at UC Riverside, then at home vs. UC Davis and UC Irvine), but now we have some momentum going in.”

Maxwell led CSUN with 20 points, while Stephan Hicks added 14 points and seven rebounds. Landon Drew passed for 10 assists, but also committed five of the Matadors’ season-high 28 turnovers.

“Twenty-eight turnovers and 35 points (the other way]) you can’t overcome that. They beat up on us and our guys caved in,” said CSUN head coach Reggie Theus. “Hawai’i did what they had to do and went right at our guy and he caved in.”


Big West Conference
Saturday’s Results

UC Irvine 69, UC Riverside 55
UC Santa Barbara 50, Cal Poly 45
UC Davis 73, Long Beach State 67 (OT)
Hawai’i 83, Cal State Northridge 68

(Game photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)



  1. Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows!

  2. 20 steals tied 1988 UH team’s steals record for a game, per Wes. Thought that no UH team had made as many steals as last night. On that 1988 team were Cross, Hallums (captain) ,Terry Houston,Smalls, Bowe, Beaubrun, Lott (Gaines, Tim Shepard ?), et al .

    Current team’s style reminds me of UNLV teams like the one Theus was on ,1976-78,except those teams were more run and gun. UNLV won the NCAA championship in 1990 and was a member of the Big West at that time.

    Or at times like Nolan Richardson Arkansas teams “40 minutes of Hell” defense.

    And the UH Fabulous Five, but now it’s the fabulous nine or twelve .

  3. islandman:

    I think Benjy , Que, Autry and Loyd, they know their team, letting them loose, Aaron, Quincy, Bobbitt, Fleming, are given the green light to gamble for steals.. .. That is why they will get burned, sometimes, other team scores easy buckets..
    Have to learn to get back and not let other team score easily after UH makes basket or misses shot.. As Benjy says, after that initial pressure from the perimeter guys.. learn to Drop Back into 27 feel on in to the rim, Good Half Court D.. and really transistion D..
    However, like Tom Henderson team, Fab Five, even Savo team with Nerius Puida, the 6’5″ SF from Lithuania who led team in steals.. really exciting when you , and I think UH is turning over other teams, close to 17 times a game, which is amazing.

    Nevels, NWC and Jawato, they get healthy and produce.. and the Two Stefs.. get that inside out, with Janks rebounding more than 1 rebound a game., maybe 6 or 7, or between Janks and Jovanovich, about 15 a game, plus guard the rim.. UH will be ready come BWC tourney time

    Still, to the Nay sayers, and UH admin.. Benjy and staff, plus team following his direction, and The families of the guys, the true Fans.. Incredible job so far..

    This Saturday Jan 17 630pm HST, I believe the road game against Riverside will be on ESPNU !!

    NWC.. just relax, work hard on D, rebound, dive for loose balls, like the other guys, your shots will start to drop.. Just have to be tough.. Nevels.. maybe in couple weeks, when Davis and Irvine comes to town.. maybe G will be out there with that special brace/cast.. Wow !!

    Go Bows !

  4. Here’s what UH is good at:
    —Pressuring the ball
    —Picking pockets
    —Team defense
    —High energy and all out play
    —Creating your shot
    —Driving to the basket
    —Taking advice and correcting mistakes
    —Team ohana

    Here’s what UH is not good at:
    —Outside shooting
    —Rebounding from bigs
    —Foul prone bigs
    —Free throws
    —Crunch time poise
    —Scheduling stronger preseason opponents
    —Administrative leadership

    When the not goods are fewer or no more we got the makings of a championship team. Change is gonna come.

  5. servante

    Agreed…..what team went through…and just my own thought..how much is uh admin promoting benjy and team
    easily could have been 5-13 at this point
    uh admin and current AD…news pundits golden team , whom we do love…hard times now for beeman and gals
    uh should take care of mbb team
    they are shining light plus MVB for first 3 games

    All team will do…no matter who starts or minute heavy or not..solid together
    agree NWC….has to work it defense , assists and rebounding
    and …this team will only get better
    can they go 9-7 or 10-6
    I think so..servante. ..they got what they got, and capturing good fans young and old
    uh admin wait till first 8 games..see if uh mbb 5-3 or 6-2
    Overall record 17-7 or 18-6…honor, show respect ton benjy and staff and team..prepare

    Hope uh mbb gets huge espnu road win against riverside key
    they can do it
    go bows!!

    Awesome job, with 2 ? Bigs waiting to see what happens before sign
    uh admin act soon

  6. Great team win! Negus had an off night but so many others stepped up and that is the sign of a true team. Bobbitt on D and Aaron Valdes in transition are worth the price of admission. They had the arena rocking again!

    I am positive that Negus will have his big game coming up and hopefully it is soon and get him back on track. This team is young and being inconsistent will be part of the growing up. Now we know that there are a lot of options in case one of the main guys has an off night.

    UC Davis is the only 2-0 team right now and UH only one game behind. Shoulda been 2-0 also but that is in the past so just focus on getting this next game at Riverside. That’s going to be tougher than it was in past years because Riverside looks like they improved a lot. Hopefully UH come back home with the win and then can set up a big game with UC Davis for first place the next week!

  7. TAI WEBSTER may be looking for greener pastures.

    I just watched the Nebraska/Illinois game and Tai did not get any playing time…it appears his time was given to a freshman. What made me notice him on the bench is when the Huskers made a critical shot everyone was up on their feet except Tai…he sat and looked disgusted.

    I think Tony should be made aware of the situation and note that Bobbitt would be graduating the same year Tai would be able to play for us.

    Davis leads the nation in 3 pt %…beat The Beach in OT…still undefeated on their court.

    Sure enjoyed the effort last night…nice to have plenty of options even without Garrett. Riverside has a real scorer this year…sure hope we have the right energy from the tip off.


  8. Just a great game! Never have I been so excited about a UH team defensively. It is so fun watching the other team scramble around. Looked like nobody on their team wanted to touch the ball and face our pressing. Once they pass, it is like our guys hone in on where the pass is going and they close in on the lane. Beautiful thing to watch. DEFENSE!!!!!

    On another note, I listen to KKEA while watching at the SSC. Dickman is sooo much better as the color analyst than Portnoy. Not even close. None of the negative snide remarks or snickering. Just honest commentary. And really good flow working with Curran. Should be a permanent change if you ask me. I think Flemings took of his headband so that Bobby can tell the diff between him and Bobbitt. Seems like he always gets confused with the two.

    Go Bows!!!!

  9. warriorhaw you right…

    Defense….I think Gib first year Benjy oversaw defensive scheme…uh mbb was one of top 15? In holding teams shooting percentages down

    Benjy had smaller athletic 19 win team at chicago st., that team I think led nation one of nation’s leaders in scoring and steals
    benjy ball

    letting guys play, have fun and gamble…hey that defense almost got them win comeback against poly!!
    Chuck Cheese heard on post game show benjy wants negus to follow nevel’s example…play great defense, hustle , don’t float, battle rebound 100% effort..his shot will come around
    that Bobbitt, Nevels, Jankovich, Jovanovich , Thomas 2nd half starters was neat..
    this team. Anyone of 11 healthy guys can help team ein, with 9 solid rotation

    rod, aaron, fleming, quincy, thomas, janks, jovanovich , and hopefully soon nwc, playing at high level
    negative naysayers…only way uh mbb can quiet them..keep winning and do well on court, community and class..

    warriorhaw…the defense and better rebounding, half court defense and shots dropping, uh mbb can compete for championships
    must be rocking at ssc..jamie smith soon back withbteam !!
    Go Bows !!

  10. Sorry , 2nd half starters
    Rod 6’2″ , Valdes 6’5″, Mike 6’7″, Janks 6’11”, and Jovanovich 6’11” big neat lineup
    Athletic defense rod, aaron, thomas, ..down low janks and jovanovich..rim to 22 feet

    Benjy has that option
    MT..Janks and Stef rebound and score protect rim
    maybe 6 different starting combinations
    janks, jovanovich, nevels, valdes, bobbitt, fleming, smith, thomas, nwc have all scored in double figures
    with 9 guys scoring about 6 to 16.6 ppg

  11. 10 Things (I’ve observed recently):

    1. Rod Bobbitt: Bobbitt’s been logging on a lot of minutes this season. Not having Garrett Nevels on the floor is tough.. but losing Bobbitt to injury would be devastating to the team…

    2. Isaac Fleming: Yes! He does play better without the headband. Huge difference! He stopped taking 25 foot shots and went hard to the basket in the 2nd half.

    3. Aaron Valdes: One man show. If he was 6 foot 8, he’d be a first round NBA pick next year. But for now, he’s our best offensive weapon.

    4. Stefan Jovanovic: I think playing with Isaac Fotu last year has rubbed off on this guy. He’s developing some nice post up offensive moves, and playing very good defense. In fact, his defense now is WAY better than Isaac Fotu’s defense could ever be. He will start a few games in conference play, not for his offense, but for what he offers on defense.

    5. Stefan Jankovic: I will stop expecting him to be a center or power forward. He plays like a European big man… good outside shooter and good ball-handler… to expect him to be a power rebounder is unrealistic. He CAN block shots here and there, but he’s a small forward on offense.

    6. IF Jovanovic and Jankovic were to somehow MORPH into one player, we’d have a Serbian version of Mindaugas Burneka… remember him from 2002? He could do a little of everything… rebound, shoot free throws, shoot 3 pointers, and play physical defense.

    7. Mike Thomas: He is improving more and more every game. He usually plays within himself and always ends up with put back baskets… he is so steady… even more steady than NWC. Mike Thomas reminds me of Phil Martin (from 2002).

    8. UC Riverside: They rank 2nd in the Big West in steals per game (6.75 steals / game)

    9. UC Riverside: They rank 3rd in the Big West in 3 point attempts per game (19 / game)

    10. UC Riverside: They rank 3rd in the Big West in offensive rebounds per game (11.8 / game)

  12. They ARE ‘Run’Bows’…

    BUT They Begin by Runnin’ On Defense…In Front to Cut Off the Path to the Basket,
    Behind to Steal IF Necessary, Steppin’ In Front of the Pass —
    I LIKE that R.Bobbitt IS Inspiring His Teammates
    to Play ‘D” Harder, with More Energy, Competing With Each Other…

    ALL 35 Seconds IF Necessary, like if they Don’t Force a Turnover (Sooner), Bad Shot-Rebound Before that, BUT They DON’T Ease Up with 10, Six, Three Seconds … Don’t Have that Stat (Yet) but they’re probably also UH All-Time Near-the-Top of 35-Second Shot Clock Turnovers…

    Their DEFENSE Keeps ‘Em In the Game within Striking Range for When The ‘O’ DOES / Will Kick In…


    Go ‘Bows!
    Establish The Road Warriors!
    Keep Winning 2 of 3 OR 3 of 4 On the Road…
    1/2-Game Out of First Place…
    Continue And Finish Strong!

  13. Glad the Warriors pulled out the win, and they continue to surprise me as well as everyone else with their tenacious D! However, it would be nice to not have to rely on that as much and also have that offensive balance/attack. Once again, Nevels presence was sorely missed. Anyone know what his timeline is at the moment? I believe the last I heard was he’s questionable for Saturday’s game at UCR. Hoping for a speedy recover, as that one is a must-win if UH hopes to stay in the regular season champion race. Obviously, if they lose they won’t deserve it but I think this is a very winnable game but it will take a full effort from the entire squad.

    njacinto, good observations. Need to give Rod a little more rest to have him at full speed. At least two rests in each half at some point. I believe exhaustion cost us both of W’s in our overtime losses (Wich St, Cal Poly) as Rod could have been the key playmaker in the last seconds of both of those games. If we lose him, we likely won’t fare very well for the remainder of the season so hopefully Benjy and staff can figure something out quick. I like what I’ve seen of Filipovich, I think the main thing is we have a guy who can safely bring down the ball and run the plays while giving Rod some key resting time.

    Hopefully the guys get in some good practices this week, fly in early then arrive at UCR ready to play and pull out a double digit win. At this point, it’s almost expected. But hey, no pressure. Let’s go BOWS!

  14. I wonder what the travel plan is for the team this week? Only one game at Riverside on Saturday so that should mean the team can fly in early in the week to get adjusted. I notice that UCR playing UC Davis on Thursday so I wonder if possible for UH to be there in stands to watch the game for some advance scouting on both those teams.

    I think UH started classes today because the news stations was talking about the traffic so maybe the guys have to be in classes for the week and they not allowed to fly out early. If up to me, I say better to miss class time at the beginning of the year then at the end.

  15. Agree with Benjy above statements, team are athletes, quick, great anticipation, and that is what is helping them to win ball games. Plus fun and the guys love it. His Concern and staff, make sure that second line of defense, that rotation.. is there , to prevent the other team from getting easy baskets, or pull up mid range shots, or 3-1 breaks to rim, after they break the initial traps and pressure. He says, When UH MBB team learns to do that, pressure, if no steals, drop back quickly into the 27 feet(half court)on in to the rim Defense, a Solid one.. That way it is not so much a helter skeleter, or losing responsibility Half court defense.. UH in second half , they turn up that pressure, even at BYU, when in Utah, UH was falling behind.. they turned up the pressure, and got some steals and baskets… however. BYU, just had their shooters, one guy who could not shoot well, however he was hot, run to the 3 pt line, as soon As BYU got past the first line of pressure, they threw it out to the 3 ball launched and he was hitting them, if they missed their big guys cleaned up the glass.

    So Benjy, is impressing me on the X and O stuff, along with Autry, Que and Loyd, they are developing schemes, knowing their Own team first, their strengths and playing it to an advantage, the weak areas, better O and D rebounding, Half court offensive and defensive sets.. and 3 ball / FT shooting.. however Team, still has 14 more games before BWC tournament to figure it out.

    AMAZING.FACT.. KEY people gone, missing, or out of action , and Hawaii still wins.. Pitt win, Fotu went pro, Sammis Reyes not play…, DHC…..guys sick, and hampered by injury, they beat Colorado and Nebraska, Early Florida tournament, guys tired, no Fotu, Reyes, Janks,… they win 2 out of,and probably if tournament played in Las Vegas, UH on the road would have gone 3-0
    Seems like all season, Someone, sick, injured, rehabbing, ineligible, or left team.. and Hawaii wins up to this point 13 games and counting.

    That IS WHAT IMPRESSES ME… With all of the Turmoil, and shortage of players. Bigs, players leaving program, and interim HC status.. team just wants to win, NO MATTER WHOM ON COURT..
    would not doubt, if given time on court and were part of first team, that Niko, could take over the PG spot.. Dyrbe,.. because, just my opinion, not as fast , for defense, and is basically a set shot 3 point shooter.. catch and shoot, and wide open, however Dyrbe has long range to 27 feet too… he would be able to play.. and YOU KNOW WHAT>.. Enos, Niko, MT, AV, Stef Jovanovich,, if they happened to end up being starters, because of sickness or injury.. UH would still win.. Team they are winners..

    Great job by Benjy, staff and the Whole team, Family buying in.
    just hope, NWC, can produce that 10 ppg, 5 rpg, 3 assists, 1.5 steals, 1 blocked shot, etc and shoot 80% from FT line.. he lost weight to get down from 220 last year to 205 this year.. I think he should have kept that 220 weight, or 215, and gotten stronger base.. he is a 1 or 2 , playing at the 4, which is tough.. NWC.. just relax, work hard on defense, get rebounds.. and your offense will come around.

    Great Team, good coaching, and awesome fans at SSC and from Canada to Cali to Serbia !!

  16. Yes.. Thomas, Valdes, Niko, Smith, Bobbitt, Jovanovich who played HS ball in Cali, Jawato, going back home.. should have fan support on the road. Riverside, outside LA? Valdes, Nevels family, the LA guys families be there.. sometimes, the Nor Cali families if can drive down, would be there too.
    Always can hear on radio, on TV ESPNU.. when UH does something good on O and D, cheers, those fans, that applaud team, the families and friends, relatives of the Cali guys and Hawaii transplants.
    Man, from SSC arena, and playing in front of about 6000 to playing in front of 960-1600.. in basically small HS/JC gyms.. like old Klum gym, however , last year’s team went on a 4-0 , 4 wins on the road in a row historic streak which included that great win over Irvine..
    Believe the Florida killer road games and the BYU altitude game, prepared guys, just have to take care of bodies, and play smart, smarter and harder.. come out with win.. cannot drop heads.. fight for win till the final buzzer. they can do it

    Go Bows !!

  17. Aaron Valdes is quickly becoming the go to guy that we sorely need. At crunch time when we need a score he is the one that needs to take the shot. His outside shooting is starting to become his strength instead of his weakness. And he’s showing us that he is not just a one dimensional player. In conference play he was scouted as a high wire act and dangerous in the open court. Now with his outside shooting and driving the lanes they have to be more neutral on defending him. Because now they can’t leave him open at the 3 or he’ll burn you like how he did against CSUN. We will find out if he can bring his game to the road. That’s where stars are born.

  18. agreed.. Imagine, last year it was Fotu, acutually Christian’s team, just go right hand, and hard, draw fouls, etc,. and Fotu spin, not too much defense, .. however just get up and go offense.. Shamburger take care of ball, assist, not go to rack, or too many fastbreaks.. and of course that BWC tourney.. still hurts.. where instead of dishing to open Fotu or Standhardinger, he drives to basket, for very difficult shot, which is not his strength, and misses, then turnover, then last turnover, step out of bounds..
    Great UH MBB has Defense, RB, AV, MT, NWC hopefully, IF, QS, pushing hard.. can help on the road, if team Plays great defense, which includes getting back on transition D and half court D. plus having great offensive sets.. Still think, If Bobbitt, Fleming, can knock down, along with Janks, some 3’s besides Aaron, UH will be really dangerous..
    Hey, UH first 8 games, go 5-3 or better yet 6-2.. They will be primed upon Nevels return for a BWC championship run..

    Aaron, such a highly skilled guy, he is not a one on one break you down athlete.. such fundamentally sound now, and plays to his strengths.. Team NEEDS.. at least 9 or 10 guys ready on the road.. Still think Riverside, Fullerton, every team can beat each other..

    Big test come this Saturday.
    Aaron Valdes, sure he can be off, maybe have that 7 pt 2 rebound game, however, if Fleming, Bobbitt, Thomas, Quincy Janks, Jovanovich.. step up.. and who knows if Jawato steps up and knocks down some Cali three balls down the pocket..

    Great start.. UH get win, and come back 2-1.. Awesome !!
    servante Eagle, you and myself, and a few others on this forum, private or public support from going on 5 years.. It AMAZES me, what UH MBB team has done, despite, that silent, and behind scenes, things to quell BT’s success.. shame on them, admin.. they should support the Team !

    Go Bows. And Aaron, Mike, Brandon, Rod, Stef, Niko, just have good road swings into Cali, go 4-4 on the road, and take care business at home.. FANTASTIC fininsh.
    We got your Backs…. One of the best effort UH MBB teams I Have witnessed in over 40 years !!
    Go Rainbow Warriors !! IMUA !!

  19. GO ‘BOWS!
    WINNABLE Road Game @ UCR
    Get Off to a Good Start, Focus and Finish Strong, ‘Bows

    Heavy Dependence on 6-7 TAYLOR JOHNS (17/20ppg); and
    6-3 JAYLEN BLAND (14/10 PPG);
    6-0 STEVEN JONES (6/5 PPG)
    5-10 NICK GRUNINGER (7/9 PPG)
    UCR Only Five Players averaging more than 5 ppg
    (Versus Hawaii with Eight above 5 ppg and SEVEN @ 8+ppg )
    Advantages to Hawaii on DEPTH, Scoring, and SIZE, Probably Defensive Effectiveness;

    IF HAWAII FOCUSES on Boards:
    MAY/(should) Have Edge;
    UCR ONLY Three Players Averaging 4 or more Rebounds (Johns 8 rpg)
    Versus UH with EIGHT Players @ 4+ RPG (Valdรฉs 6rpg, Jovanovic 7.5 Conf rpg)

    Best UCR WINS: UCBakersfield (On Road); CS Fullerton @ Home;
    Hawaii Won 87-76 ly and 72-68 two years ago;

    Get An Edge in Conference:
    Start WINNING /WIN on Road
    Win Winnable Home Games
    Fleming, Negus and Jankovic capable of being (Need to be) Consistent & TOUGH Performers;
    Quincy, Garrett and Roderick Capable of WINNING/Neutralizing BWC ‘Guard Games’;
    Valdรฉs, Thomas, Jankovic, Negus Capable of Being IMPACT Players
    and Jovanovic and Fleming Consistent Performers

    BONUS: Jawato: Get Healthy, Get Your Balance And Focus —
    Play LOOSE: ‘A.Rodgers’ Mentality: “R-E-L-A-X”, Potential X-Factor to Turn/WIN Additional Games…

    Go ‘Bows!
    Turn ON The ‘STRONG’ Game, Attitude
    Start Strong, Play Through Strong and

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