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November 7, 2005 Hoops Preview '05 Home

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Atlantic 10 | Conference USA | Mountain West


LEAGUE OVERVIEW After years of multiple quality teams coming out of the Atlantic 10, last season was somewhat of a down one in the conference. Only two teams, St. Joseph's and George Washington, were in contention for NCAA Tournament berths, but both were on the bubble. GW won the conference tournament, while St. Joe's got left out. GW lost to Georgia Tech in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, while St. Joseph's ended up making a run to the NIT Championship Game before falling to South Carolina. New member Charlotte is coming over from Conference USA, where they made it to the NCAA Tournament only to lose to NC State in the first round. The two NCAA teams from last season will be at the top of the league this season. George Washington is far and away the best team in this league, top to bottom. Several potential all-leaguers reside in the starting lineup. The frontcourt is loaded. Pops Mensah-Bonsu and Mike Hall both put their names into the early-entry pool but pulled out before the deadline. The Colonials are happy they are back. Mensah-Bonsu is extremely athletic and is a good shot blocker. If he develops some more post moves, he could be dominant. Mike Hall is very underrated throughout the nation. He is a tough player who is one of the best rebounders in the conference. Rounding out the frontline is Omar Williams. He is a good defender and is a very viable option on offense. In the backcourt, JR Pinnock should have a huge season. After being the team's sixth man the past two seasons, he is ready to take on a bigger role. He should become the best scorer in the conference due to his ridiculous athleticism. Point guard Carl Elliot is a strong guard that is a very tough on the ball defender. Off the bench, Maureece Rice is a very good scorer that will replace Pinnock in his role as sixth man. LSU transfer Regis Koundija is going to be a tough player to stop off the bench for the Colonials.

Charlotte is the obvious next-best team in conference. They have possibly the best player in the league in forward Curtis Withers. He is the most unstoppable player in the league. He could improve to a double-double guy every night out. Combining with him for an excellent inside-outside combo is Oklahoma transfer De'Angelo Alexander. He is going to be a very good scorer for the 49ers. In the backcourt with Alexander is point guard Mitchell Baldwin. He is lightning-fast with the ball, but isn't much of a scorer. Backup Leemire Goldwire is a very good scorer that sees plenty of minutes on the perimeter. Up front, E.J. Drayton is a former sixth man that will start this season. He is going to be one of the best forwards in the league. Chris Nance will round out the starting lineup, but JC transfers Courtney Williams and Antwon Coleman will compete for minutes. With five returning starters as well as four double-figure scorers, Xavier should take the next step into the NCAA Tournament. The deepest frontcourt in the league is lead by forwards Justin Doelmann, Justin Cage, and Brian Thornton. Cage is an excellent defender and a versatile player on offense. Doelmann is a good shooter that is a very heady player. Thornton is one of the best low-post scorers in the league. Coming off the bench is Josh Duncan and Will Caudle. Duncan can do a variety of things in the frontcourt, while Caudle is a low-post option. In the backcourt, Stanley Burrell and Dedrick Finn return. Burrell is one of the best scorers in the conference, while Finn is experienced but inconsistent. Temple returns one of the best all-around players in the nation in point guard Mardy Collins. He is a tough player to stop on offense because of his size and skill. He is also one of the best defenders in the league. Mark Tyndale returns beside Collins. He is an excellent option on offense, and is a good scorer. His shooting could use some work, though. Dustin Salisbery is another double-figure scorer that could have a big year. Down low, Wayne Marshall will man the post, while Antwayne Robinson is the best three-point shooter on the team, and is very athletic.

St. Joseph's loses two of their key veterans in Dwayne Jones and Pat Carroll, but return enough to contend for a postseason berth. Guard Dwayne Lee is a good point guard that can pass well and play tough defense. Wing Chet Stachitas is a very good shooter that will get more opportunities to score with gunner Carroll gone. Athletic Abdulai Jalloh should step into the starting lineup. In the frontcourt, Rob Ferguson looks like he could have a breakout season at forward, while Dave Mallon leads a host of players looking to replace Jones down low. Dayton returns a extensive group of players that all played important roles a year ago, led by Monty Scott. Scott is a very good scorer and a solid rebounder that could have a huge year in the A-10. Norman Plummer joins Scott at forward. He should improve his production this season. In the low post, Chris Alvarez will start, but Nick Stafford and James Cripe will see minutes. In the backcourt, Norman Plummer is a good scorer than can put up points in a variety of ways. Point guard Warren Williams is a solid distributor and returns as a starter. Marques Bennett and Jimmy Binnie provide depth. Massachusetts has one of the better low-post scorers in the country in Rashaun Freeman. He is a very good scorer and rebounder and can dominate the conference. Athletic Stephane Lasme joins him in the frontcourt. He is very underrated. The perimeter has a glut of wings that will all play major minutes. Maurice Maxwell is a big-time scorer that likes to get out into the open floor. Art Bowers might have to play the point so the five best players can get on the floor at once. JC transfer Brandon Thomas is going to have an immediate impact. Fordham returns A-10 Rookie of the Year Bryant Dunston, who could be a first-team all-conference player this season. He is a very good scorer, rebounder, and shot blocker. Wings Marcus Stout and Jermaine Anderson are a very good duo. Both are solid scorers and good shooters. Point guard Kevin Anderson needs to improve his scoring. The lone available starting job is going to fought over by returnees Sebastian Greene and Michael Binns. Domenic Osei and Corey McRae will provide depth.

Rhode Island returns three starts plus two guys that missed last season due to injury. Point guard Dawan Robinson was out the entire year due to a stress fracture in his foot. He is an excellent player that can take any defender to the basket. He is also a very good defender and one of the best distributors in the conference. Jamaal Wise was also injured last season, but he is back and should give solid production at forward. Parfait Bitee is a solid guard that is a good athlete and should start. Will Daniels and Terrence Mack are productive forwards, while Jon Lucky and Tyrese Sullivan are two more options on the perimeter. LaSalle has one of the more nationally underrated players in forward Steven Smith. He is the best pure scoring forward in the conference. Guards Jermaine Thomas and Darnell Harris provide scoring balance while point guard Tabby Cunningham is a very good passer at the point. Forward Mike St. John joins Smith in the frontcourt. Richmond does not have several players that they had expected to have this season due to a variety of reasons. Forwards Kevin Steenberge and Jermaine Bucknor are a formidable duo. Both can score and rebound with efficiency. Gaston Moliva provides depth up front. On the perimeter, Valparaiso transfer Oumar Sylla and T.J. Paterick will lead the way. Saint Louis is led by its deep perimeter corps. Dwayne Polk is solid point guard. Wings Danny Brown, an athletic scorer, and Luke Meyer, an excellent scorer, return, although Anthony Drejaj and freshman Kevin Lisch are the favorites to start at the guard spots. Forwards Vas'Shun Newborne and Justin Johnson need to improve their numbers, while Ian Vouyoukas should have a big role down. Duquense has a very good inside-outside duo in guard Bryant McAllister, a very good perimeter scorer that can put up points in different ways, and Kieron Achara, a vastly underrated, much improved big man. Forwards DeVario Hudson and Chauncey Duke are solid role players, while Jack Higgins is a good shooter and scorer, but is not up to par defensively. Western Kentucky transfer Ryan Lambert should have a decent impact up front. St. Bonaventure has a long list of players that can play a role. West Virginia transfer Tyler Relph and all-conference player Ahmad Smith will form a good backcourt, while double-figure scorer Wade Dunston and part-time starter Isiah Carson also return on the perimeter. Up front, Patrick Lottin should be healthy and recovered from two surgeries and could have a big year at forward. Michael Lee is another solid option in the frontcourt. Siena transfer Paul Williams could also see minutes on the baseline.


(1) George Washington
(2) Charlotte
(3) Xavier
(4) Temple
(5) St. Joseph's
(6) Dayton
(7) Massachusetts
(8) Fordham
(9) Rhode Island
(10) LaSalle
(11) Richmond
(12) Saint Louis
(13) Duquense
(14) St. Bonaventure


G - Mardy Collins - Senior, Temple
F - Bryant Dunston - Sophomore, Fordham
F - RaShaun Freeman - Junior, Massachusetts
F - Steven Smith - Senior, LaSalle
F - Curtis Withers - Senior, Charlotte
G - J.R. Pinnock - Junior, George Washington
G - Dwayne Lee - Senior, St. Joseph's
G - Stanley Burrell - Sophomore, Xavier
F - Mike Hall - Senior, George Washington
F - Pops Mensah-Bonsu - Senior, George Washington


Player of the Year: Mardy Collins, Temple
Newcomer of the Year: De'Angelo Alexander, Charlotte
Most Underrated Player: Ahmad Smith, G, St. Bonaventure
Most Overrated Player: Pops Mensah-Bonsu, F, George Washington
Best Frontcourt: George Washington
Best Backcourt: Temple
Most Likely to Overachieve: St. Joseph's
Most Likely to Underachieve: Massachusetts
Best Coach: Phil Martelli, St. Joseph's


NCAA: George Washington, Charlotte, Xavier
NIT: Temple, St. Joseph's, Dayton


LEAGUE OVERVIEW The final year of Conference USA as we know it was one that saw nine teams go above .500 overall, and eight teams at .500 or better within the conference. The regular season title came down to the final week, and Louisville ended up winning it by two games at 14-2. Two teams followed at 12-4, and two more finished at 10-6. The conference tournament will be remembered for Memphis' Darius Washington falling to his knees after missing two free throws that would have sent the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament. Nonetheless, the conference received four bids, with DePaul just getting left out. Louisville made a run to the Final Four; Cincinnati and UAB both won their first round games; and Charlotte lost their first-round game to NC State. However, only UAB returns from that group after the house cleaning of the conference. Louisville, Cincinnati, DePaul, Marquette, and South Florida jumped ship to the Big East, while Charlotte hopped over to the Atlantic-10. After the dust cleared, Memphis emerged as the obvious favorite in a watered-down conference. Memphis, along with Winthrop, might be the biggest favorite to win their conference. It will be surprising if they lose more than a game or two. They are that far ahead of the rest of the league. It all starts with the two best players in the conference, Darius Washington and Rodney Carney. Washington improved as the season went on, and can do everything on the court. He is difficult to press, and can stop on a dime and hit a mid-range shot. Carney is one of the best athletes and dunkers in the country. He is an excellent scorer and is unbelievable out in the open court. Down low, Joey Dorsey returns. He is a monster on the boards, and should improve his numbers with a bigger role. With starting guard Jeremy Hunt kicked off the team in October, two freshman will start. Shawne Williams has the potential to be one of the best freshman in the country. He is a great passer and will be a versatile option in the frountcourt. Guards Chris Douglas-Roberts and Antonio Anderson will fight for the starting guard spot vacated by Hunt. Douglas-Roberts will most likely get the starting nod due to his all-around game, although Anderson will see minutes. Depth in the frontcourt will come from returnee Waki Williams and freshmen Kareem Cooper and Robert Dozier. Cooper, Dozier, Williams, and Anderson were all prep school teammates at Laurinberg Prep in North Carolina.

Houston loses do-everything wing Andre Owens, but are led by all-conference guard Lanny Smith. He is a very good shooter and scorer, and can also distribute well. He needs to decrease his turnover total though. Wings Ramon Dyer and Brian Latham also return. Dyer is a good three point shooter and is also a good defender. Latham was second in the confernece in steals, and was also a decent scoring option. Chris Lawson provides depth, as does freshman gunner Corey Bloom. The froncourt is a bit of a question, but JC transfers Richard Young and Jahmar Thorpe are expected to make impacts down low. UAB loses several key players from an NCAA Tournament team, but returns their usual host of athletes that will keep up the Blazers' version of "40 Minutes of Hell." Their perimeter is loaded. Cardell "Squeaky" Johnson is a very good point guard whose importance doesn't show up in the boxscore. He doesn't turnover the ball often and is an excellent defender. Wing Marvett McDonald is a very good scorer and shooter. DeMario Eddins is one of the more versatile scorers in the league, capable of scoring inside and out. Three more wings, Richard Jones, Paul Delaney and Derrick Broom will also see minutes on the perimeter, with Eddins likely starting at power forward. Down low, a post option needs to emerge. The leading candidates are Ernest Little and Brandon Tobias. UTEP won the automatic bid out of the WAC last season, but lose their two best players in point guard Filberto Rivera and forward Omar Thomas. The returning group is led by Jason Williams, a versatile forward. He is very athletic and is one of the best defenders in the league. Miguel Ayala is a good option on the wing whose numbers will improve as his minutes increase. Inside, John Tofi is a solid rebounder, while Will Kimble was a part-time starter a season ago. Replacing Rivera will be either Texas transfer Edgar Moreno or JC transfer Kevin Henderson. Oklahoma State transfer Tremaine Fuqua could make the biggest newcomer impact of anyone in the conference.

Rice loses one of the best players in the country in Michael Harris, but returns a solid forward duo in J.R. Harrison and Morris Almond. Harrison is a very good all-around player, while Almond is an excellent shooter and a good scorer. Patrick Britton will rejoin the aforementioned two in the froncourt. On the perimeter, Lorenzo Williams returns, as does Jamaal Moore. Williams is a very good distributor but needs to improve his scoring, while Moore is a good scorer going to the basket. Tulane is led by all-conference big man Quincy Davis. He is a very efficient low-post scorer that can also rebound and play defense. Forming a decent inside-outside combo with him is point guard Taylor Rochestie. He is a good passer and a solid scorer. Outside those two, however, the other three starting jobs are wide-open. There are no less than 6-8 players vying for minutes at those positions. Forward David Gomez should grab one of those starting nods, after increasing his production down the stretch. Donnie Stith and Matt Wheaton split starts last season on the wing, while Vytas Tatarunas and Vicent Campter will look to bounce back from disappointing seasons a year ago. Central Florida returns an all-conference performer in wing Josh Peppers. He is one of the best scorers in the conference, and should improve the rest of his game this season. Joining him on the perimeter are UNC-Wilmington transfer Dave Noel and North Carolina State transfer Mike O'Donnell. Noel is a physical wing that can play solid defense as well as score and distribute. O'Donnell was a part-time starter for the Wolfpack that should step in at the point for UCF. Justin Rose was productive last season for UCF, as was Troy Lindbeck. They will see extensive minutes on the perimeter. Down low, Anthony Williams retrns. He is a solid low-post option on offense and is a good rebounder. Marcus Johnson and Will Bakanowsky will compete for the other starting job on the baseline.

SMU returns a very good trio in all-conference guard Bryan Hopkins, wing Derrick Roberts, and forward Devon Pearson. Hopkins is one of the best scorers in C-USA, but he is also productive in nearly every aspect of the game. Roberts is athletic, and, if healthy, should have a big year. Pearson is an underrated low-post option. Kansas State transfer Dez Willingham should contribute in the backcourt, but the paint position besides Pearson needs work. Southern Miss is led by all-conference guard Rashaad Carruth. Carruth is a potentially dominant scorer. Jason Forte and Jarekus Singleton are two other solid players on the wing. Forte is a decent scorer, while Singleton is very quick going to the basket. The point guard spot is up for grabs. Freshman Craig Craft and JC transfer Travis Hall are the leading candidates. Up front, forwad Mildon Ambres leads the way, while freshman David Cornwell is also expected to start. East Carolina has one of the best big men in the conference, although he is vastly underrated nationally. Corey Rouse averaged a double-double a season ago, and is a very solid scorer as well. The likely starter in the frontcourt next to him is returning forward Mike Castro, although Tyronne Beale is a JC transfer that will see major minutes. In the backcourt, gunner Tom Hammonds and point guard Japhet McNeil return as starters. Hammonds needs to improve his accuract but is a good scorer, while McNeil is a good passer. Tulsa returns a possible all-conference performer in center Anthony Price. He is a very good scorer down low, but could stand to improve his rebounding if he wants to become an elite player in C-USA. Guard Brett McDade forms a nice inside-outside combo with Price. He is a very good perimeter scorer. Chris Wallace and Deion James also return in the backcourt, while JC transfer Roderick Earls will also see minutes. At the available starting forward spots, several newcomers are looking to step in. JC transfer Darold Crow could start, as could low-post option Ashton Hall. Marshall has several very solid players, but that amounted to a 6-22 record last season in the MAC. Underrated forward Mark Patton is a potential double-double threat that leads the way for the Thundering Herd. LaVar Carter will join him up front. Guards Tre Whitted and Joe Miles will start in the backcourt. Both are capable scorers. Several newcomers will have to play extensive minutes for the Herd.


(1) Memphis
(2) Houston
(3) UAB
(4) UTEP
(5) Rice
(6) Tulane
(7) Central Florida
(8) SMU
(9) Southern Miss
(10) East Carolina
(11) Tulsa
(12) Marshall


G - Darius Washington - Sophomore, Memphis
G - Bryan Hopkins - Senior, SMU
G - Lanny Smith - Junior, Houston
F - Rodney Carney - Senior, Memphis
F - DeMario Eddins - Senior, UAB
G - Rashaad Carruth - Senior, Southern Miss
G - Josh Peppers - Junior, Central Florida
F - Jason Williams - Senior, UTEP
F - Corey Rouse - Senior, East Carolina
C - Quincy Davis - Senior, Tulane


Player of the Year: Darius Washington, Memphis
Newcomer of the Year: Shawne Williams, Memphis
Most Underrated Player: Corey Rouse, F, East Carolina
Most Overrated Player: Rashaad Carruth, G, Southern Miss
Best Frontcourt: Memphis
Best Backcourt: UAB
Most Likely to Overachieve: UAB
Most Likely to Underachieve: Marshall
Best Coach: John Calipari, Memphis


NCAA: Memphis
NIT: Houston, UAB, UTEP


LEAGUE OVERVIEW One of the more disappointing conferences a season ago, the Mountain West Conference was salvaged by a 13-1 conference record from Utah and a great stretch run by New Mexico to get to 10-4 in the conference. Air Force finished one game back of the Lobos, but no one else finished above .500 in league play. Utah and New Mexico were the flag-bearers for the conference last year. In the conference tournament, New Mexico defeated Utah to win the automatic bid. Utah received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, and made a run to the Sweet Sixteen. New Mexico lost in the first round to Villanova. However, two first-round NBA Draft picks, Andrew Bogut and Danny Granger, are both gone. The Mountain West Conference is going to be wide-open this season in what will be a down year for the league. San Diego State returns the two best players in the league in Marcus Slaughter and Brandon Heath. Slaughter is a double-double threat everytime he steps in the court, and he dominates the paint for the Aztecs. With a few breaks here and there, he could be a deep sleeper choice for the Wooden Award list. His partner in one of the best inside-outside combos in the country is guard Brandon Heath. Heath contributes in all aspects of the game, and is the leading returning scorer in the conference. SDSU has more than just those two, though. Florida transfer Mohamed Akubar is expected to make a huge impact at center once he becomes eligbile in December. Guards Matt Thomas and John Sharper are solid contributors that return in the backcourt. Trimaine Davis had a never-ending motor at forward, while Mohamed Camara will keep the center spot warm for Akubar. The only reason that the Aztecs aren' the consensus top team? They went 11-18 last year with basically the same team, other than Akubar.

Utah loses #1 NBA Draft pick Andrew Bogut, as well as three other key players. They do return, however, an all-conference forward in Bryant Markson, He could have a huge season as the go-to-guy for the Utes. Point guard Tim Drisdom returns a starter. He is a steady leader, but he needs to improve his production if Utah is going to repeat as MWC Champions. Starting next to him in the backcourt will be newcomer Johnnie Bryant. He is going to be a candidate for conference Newcomer of the Year if he lives up to his expectations. Down low, three players 6-11 or taller will try to replace Bogut. Jonas Langvad is a good shooter that played important minutes last season at the power forward slot. Chris Jackson was Bogut's backup, and could start. Redshirt freshman Luke Nevill may be the best option, though. The 7-foot Australian (yes, Bogut was both of those too) can do a variety of things. Air Force returns two potential all-league first teamers in guard Antoine Hood and center Nick Welch. Hood is the team's leading returning scorer and provides perimeter offense, while Welch is probably the best passer on the team. He needs to improve his rebounding, though. Forward Jacob Burtschi also returns as a starter in the frontcourt. Guard Matt McGraw likes to push the ball, while wing Dan Nwaelele is a decent scoring option on the perimeter. The main potential problem with the Falcons is that they are going to be breaking in a new coach, Jeff Bzdelik. He will need to get acquainted with the classic Air Force, Princeton-like offensive system. They should be just fine, though, will all of the returning experience.

UNLV loses three starters, but return a host of solid players. Guard Michael Umeh should have a huge season on the wing, after coming on strong down the stretch. He is capable of scoring in a variety of ways on offense. Ricky Morgan will join him in the backcourt, after starting the final 12 games of the season. Freshman Jo'Van Adams is expected to make an impact on the perimeter, while Curtis Terry will provide depth on the wing. Returning starter Louis Amundson is back in the frontcourt after having a very good all-around season. Returnees Dustin Villepigue and Joel Anthony need to play bigger roles this season. TCU looks to build upon their success of last season, when they made a run to the third round of the NIT. Wing Nile Murry is a very good scorer and shooter who provides most of the perimeter offense. Frontcourt players Femi Ibikunle and Chudi Chinweze anchor the low post. Chinweze missed the latter part of the season after tearing his ACL in December, but is one of the best players in the conference when healthy. Ibikunle is a solid inside player. Returning guard Brent Reese-Hackett and a plethora of newcomers will see extensive minutes and could even start. New Mexico loses first-round pick David Granger and two other starters, but all hope is not lost. A very good inside-outside combo returns in guard Mark Walters and David Chiotti. Walters is a solid all-around contributor that can score from the perimeter, while Chiotti could develop into a near-dominant inside player in the MWC. He is very efficient from the floor and will be the go-to-guy. Point guard Kris Collins should be healthy after injuring his foot midway through the season, and should start in the backcourt. Athletic Tony Danridge will start on the wing. Joining Chiotti down low will be one of two JC transfers, Joel Box and Kyle Prochaska.

Wyoming loses four starters from last season, but returns a potential all-league player in forward Justin Williams. He is good rebounder and scorer, and is one of the best interior defenders in the country. Joining him in the frontcourt will be part-time starter Derek Wabbington, who gives the Cowboys a body down low. Guards Steve Leven and Kevin Lewis are solid wing options. Lewis is a very good long-range shooter, while Leven is a good scorer. Freshman Brandon Ewing and JC transfer Brad Jones will compete for the starting point guard spot. Colorado State may have the best frontcourt in the MWC. Leading the way up front is Freshman of the Year Jason Smith. He can step out and hit the mid-range jumper, as well as get a few buckets inside. The 7-footer can play any frontcourt position and could develop into a double-double threat. Fellow 7-footer Stuart Creason returns as a part-time starter. He provides good defense and big man down low. 6-10 JC transfer Michael Harrison is another big man that will make an impact for the Rams. On the perimeter, Michael Morris leads the way. He is a decent distibutor for his size (6-4) and is very athletic. His brother, Sean Morris, could start next to him. He is extremely quick and is an excellent long-range shooter. BYU returns only two starters, but five players that had plenty of experience a season ago. Point guard Austin Ainge is one of the best in the league at his position. He is an excellent passer and will improve his scoring. Guards Jimmy Balderson and Mike Rose join him on the perimeter. Rose is an excellent three-point shooter, while Balderson is poised for a big season. Up front, Keena Young and Derek Dawes return. Young is a good rebounder and is a very active player, both on offense and defense. Dawes was a part-time starter last season that will have a bigger role down low this season.


(1) San Diego State
(2) Utah
(3) Air Force
(4) UNLV
(5) TCU
(6) New Mexico
(7) Wyoming
(8) Colorado State
(9) BYU


G - Brandon Heath - Junior, San Diego State
G - Antoine Hood - Senior, Air Force
F - Bryant Markson - Senior, Utah
F - Marcus Slaughter - Junior, San Diego State
F - Nick Welch - Senior, Air Force
G - Michael Umeh - Junior, UNLC
G - Mark Walters - Senior, New Mexico
F - Chudi Chinweze - Junior, TCU
F - David Chiotti - Senior, New Mexico
F - Justin Williams - Senior, Wyoming


Player of the Year: Marcus Slaughter, San Diego State
Newcomer of the Year: Mohamed Akubar, San Diego State
Most Underrated Player: Chudi Chinweze, F, TCU
Most Overrated Player: Tim Drisdom, G, Utah
Best Frontcourt: San Diego State
Best Backcourt: Air Force
Most Likely to Overachieve: Utah
Most Likely to Underachieve: San Diego State
Best Coach: Steve McClain, Wyoming


NCAA: San Diego State
NIT: Utah, Air Force

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