Preview and Chat: The Toronto Raptors

Darius Soriano —  February 12, 2012

Records: Lakers 15-12 (7th in West), Raptors 9-19 (11th in East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 103.0 (14th in NBA), Raptors 97.3 (28th in NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 101.0 (11th in NBA), Raptors 103.6 (18th in NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Raptors: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Amir Johnson, Aaron Gray
Injuries: Lakers: none; Raptors: Andrea Bargnani (out), Jerryd Bayless (doubtful)

The Lakers Coming in: The long journey that started over a week ago comes to an end today. And, it’s just in time. The Lakers are coming off a tough loss to the Knicks where offensive struggles and defensive lapses weren’t helped by fatigued legs stemming from the previous night’s overtime win against the Celtics. The loss moved them to two and three on their grammy road trip and was indicative of their one step forward, one step backward approach to this season. The Lakers simply can’t find any traction in this campaign.

The Raptors Coming in: The Raptors have lost three of their last five but are coming off a win over the Celtics on Friday. That win, though, has been a rare occurrence this season – especially in games that franchise cornerstone Andrea Bargnani has missed. The former number one overall pick has only played in 13 games this year and in the games he’s missed the Raptors are 3-12. This isn’t a coincidence either. In previous seasons Bargnani has been much maligned for being a one dimensional player that couldn’t even really carry his team with that one dimension (his ability to score the ball). This season, though, was different. Bargs’ rebounding numbers still weren’t that great, but he’d become a more efficient scorer and was definitely playing like “the man” on that side of the ball. His defense had also improved and he was looking very much like a player that could lead a quality team, turning into the player that the Raptors thought he could be when he was drafted. The fact that he’s been out has really hurt this team.

This isn’t to say the Raptors aren’t still fighting hard each night, though. New coach Dwayne Casey (poached from the Mavericks’ coaching staff) has instilled a new mindset with this group, focusing on defense and bringing more structure to the offensive side of the ball. Some may look at the Raptors 18th ranked defense (in terms of points allowed per 100 possessions) but that’s a big step up from a defense that ranked dead last a season ago with essentially the same group of players. Getting this team completely turned around isn’t an easy task and Casey still has a long way to go but he’s well on his way in his first season. With some deft personnel moves and some improvement from players that they like (especially DeRozan – who has taken a step back this year) this team can take another step forward in the coming seasons and compete for a playoff spot within a season or two.

Raptors Blogs: Check out Raptors Republic for all your news and notes.

Keys to game: If there were ever a game where the Lakers simply need to come out and play hard, this is it. The last game of the road trip (and the first game back from a road trip) is often a difficult one because the team is sick and tired of all the travel and a sense of just wanting to go home can set in. The fact that this game is on at 10am west coast time only makes matters worse as the Lakers simply aren’t used to suiting up and playing competitive basketball at this hour. I mean, the Lakers are used to going through their shoot around at this time, not going full speed.

So, effort is key. So is offensive execution. Against the Knicks, the Lakers big men did little to earn the type of position that would have aided their cause in getting easier shots (especially Andrew Bynum). Today, the Lakers’ bigs must run hard, do their work before they catch the ball, and get deep into the post against a Raptors front line that isn’t that great defensively. The bigs also need to set better screens for the perimeter players to free up their mates and help set up the offense better. Too often this season the big men aren’t getting good picks on or off the ball and it’s led to passes being denied which then gums up the offense. The bigs need to better free Kobe off the ball and free up Blake and Goudelock in the P&R to get those guys into open space which will then force help and subsequently help them get open as well.

Defensively, the Lakers have fewer players to worry about with Bargnani out, but that doesn’t mean the Raps don’t have any threats. Jose Calderon is a good floor general and is the league leader in assist to turnover ratio. He’s precise in the half court, setting up his guys for good looks and running the P&R well as a dual threat that can either get off his own shot or collapse the defense and kick out to shooters. So, the Lakers must be prepared to deal with Calderon and try to force him into spots on the floor (to the wing, rather than the top of the key) where he can’t make effective passes to either side of the floor without having to skip the ball over the Lakers length. The Lakers must also play him to take the jumper so going under screens is a no-no and instead must chase him over the top of picks to make sure he can’t come off clean and shoot his mid-range jumper. By forcing him to drive into Pau and Bynum, they can limit his effecitveness.

The Raptors also have the ability to change the pace and push the ball so the Lakers must be aware in transition. Barbosa, DeRozan, and even Kleiza can all get out in the open court and can finish in a variety of ways. We’re all familiar with Barbosa’s game from his Suns days and while he may not have his top gear anymore (at one time he was probably the fastest player in the league going coast to coast) he can still push the ball and get into the paint to score when given the lane. The Lakers must build a wall against him and force him to shoot outside jumpers. The same is true of DeRozan, a player that’s tried to expand his game by shooting more jumpers but still hasn’t improved enough to be an all court threat. The Lakers need to try and keep him out of the paint and mark him in the open court to not give up easy baskets at the rim. Kleiza is a streak shooter that can get hot from behind the arc quickly (I still have visions of him nailing jumper after jumper from those Nuggets playoff series a few years ago) and he must be found in transition running to the three point line.

Ultimately, though, this is a game where the Lakers simply need to come out ready to play and match the effort of the home team. If they do so, their talent should win out. If they don’t, a loss may be on the horizon. Traditionally the Lakers have come out slow in this same early game scenario (this early game has become a tradition over the years) but today the Lakers can’t afford that. Their margin for error is slimmer than in season’s past and any hole dug is harder to get out of. Here’s hoping they’re ready.

Where you can watch: 10:00am start time on KCAL. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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113 responses to Preview and Chat: The Toronto Raptors

  1. Darius: Good write up. The 10:00 AM PST start is huge and must be overcome. I think we will win, however this is an absolute must win. I do not want to think about what the climate will be like if we lose this.

  2. Just look at these records:

    Records: Lakers 15-12 (7th in West), Raptors 9-19 (11th in East)
    Offensive ratings: Lakers 103.0 (14th in NBA), Raptors 97.3 (28th in NBA)
    Defensive ratings: Lakers 101.0 (11th in NBA), Raptors 103.6 (18th in NBA)

    ~~Without Bargnani and Bayless, if you are a betting man in Vegas why would you pick the Raftors? Nowadays, nothing is impossible until they reach the final second of the game.

    Therefore, we ask the Lakers – you should win this game easily. Go Lakers, show us that you still have the heart and pride.

  3. Since I’m doing the recap, I’ll be live-tweeting from @ZephidFB_G during the game.

  4. 1/2 Decaf @115 of prior. I obviously like ur 2nd paragraph. However I must agree with Ken on the 1st. MWP makes $8 per + has 2 yrs (his option). LW makes $6. Kmart was just signed for $2.5 to compare. Nobody wants these guys. Not even the Wizards. We could cut them, and some1 might pick them up for min, but we still need to cover most of their $. Amnesty of MWP is the only help here.

  5. I read last night van article written by a guy named Todd Jacobs last May. Wow!

    He says the Jim Buss hire if Brown is the worst decision in Laker history. He claims Brown’s offense in Cleveland was confused and stalled with players complaining. It just became James against the world doing what he wanted. He also said Cavs were a revolving door with no set line up and new players shuttled in off weaver wires.
    Sounding familiar?

    He finished by saying the Lakers were in huge trouble and might not even make the playoffs under Brown which was A Jim Buss hire.

    Wow is this guy Jacobs smart or is Brown just following his own script?

  6. Funny I woke up this morning and there is a replay of a Laker game from 2009. It’s funny to see Artest make a shot and even Fisher back then.

    Oh well ahhh what time does the real Laker game start?

  7. This is odd. A point guard scoring at will against Fisher?

    Perhaps Mike can bring in Larry Hughes or Mo Williams. Oh wrong year again. Sorry.

  8. Robert,

    No one wants Walton, but someone might take his deal so they can write it off the cap when it expires. He is a good clubhouse guy, etc. Martin was coming back mid-season, and no one wanted him except contenders, and he wanted to be on a contender.

  9. Decaf perhaps you should send Mike B some of your coffee so he can WAKE UP!

  10. I’ll take the bright side. Fish is 2-2 with two assists as I type this, and the Lakers are pummeling the Raptors.

  11. We’ve nearly doubled up our opponent’s score and people are still complaining about 1 player lighting it up. We’ve effectively shut the other four positions down. I’ll live with that against any team. Unfortunately, this is just the Raptors, and we’re not going to see them in the playoffs.

  12. I am the guy who said we would have a 3 and 3 trip. Peace is an embarrassment though. Are you all proud to see the guy bumble around on offense? Just asking.

  13. ROFL – Fish doing what he does best. Gets picked off, flails his arms and falls backwards, and one of the refs falls for it 😀

  14. Dude

    Funny that’s the exact same thing my 7 year old does when he plays me!

  15. Wow…is there a draft in the arena?…Kobe missed by a mile

  16. That is f’ing inexcusable! Stop the fricken ball!!!!!

  17. Toronto clearly has very little talent but also is clearly a much better coached team and actually runs a real offense.

    What a embarrassment to watch 5 guys standing and watching on that last play. They could lose this game because Toronto will play zone 2nd half and Brown will make zero adjustments and just pace up and down like a fan watching a game.

  18. Pathetic 2nd qtr and end to the half! So this is what fans consider “dominating” a game? An 8 pt lead at the half? Because no team in NBA history has ever had a whopping 8 pt lead at half? Good to know how low the standards of fans have become.

    Once again, we had an 18 pt lead and instead of building it into the twenties, we let the opponent right back into the game, as usual. Shocking. Maybe if we wouldn’t let a 90-yr old stiff like Magliore crawl out of his coffin to impact the game, our lead would be closer to 20. What a joke.

  19. Not impressed this is vs Raptors. Bynum 0 blocked shots protect the rim. Magloire is putting moves on Pau

  20. Ken/Zirk/Mojo/bob: You guys are spoiled/entitled Laker fans like me. We should all just sit back and enjoy the game and quit complaining. The Lakers are above 500 and we should not feel entitled to anything more. NOT : )

  21. Why do I have a feeling this game is going down to the wire. That doesn’t bode well for an old team at the end of a long road trip.

  22. Zirk

    Read my note at number 5 above about Brown and see why this team is so inconsistent and predictable to every coach in the league. No wonder we lose big leads. It called adjustments which our video coordinator coach has never learned.

  23. 18 pt lead sliced down to 8 heading to the half. Bad enough that the momentum swung right at the end of the 2nd quarter, now it’s a must that we come out n the 3rd and immediately give ourselves some breathing room … Unless they’re sending doubles, every shot should be from 15 feet and in. Even when they throw that weak-azz zone at us, work the ball inside and don’t settle for long J’s. After Friday’s debacle, definitely can’t afford to lose this one.

  24. All Kobe’s plays come off Iso’s. Brown should run some of Spoelstra’s sets for Wade. Get him the ball on the move instead of saying make a play all the time

  25. I think we will still win this game. That said, let’s not let the discussion swing wildly to one side or the other based on today’s game. All of r issues remain the same win or lose.

  26. Ken, I agree. The guy is clueless when it comes to making proper in-game adjustments. And when he does, it’s usually the wrong one, such as always bringing Fish back in the game at the end of 4th qtrs no matter how terribly he’s playing.

  27. I think the Raptors don’t broadcast in Hi-Def so that their fans will blame the TV when they don’t recognize any players.

  28. Please take Fisher out before another guy has a career high. Are you really this inept Mike Brown?

    If you lose this game you must be fired.

  29. @30, Zirk – not true, Blake has been playing over Fish during crunch time ever since his return. The problem is giving Fish some of Goudelock’s minutes. What I don’t understand is the scouting on Calderon. He is clearly a guy you want to go over the screens on because of his outside shot and lack of driving ability, and yet Fish continues to go under the screen and Calderon keeps burying jumpers.

  30. all of kobe’s shots are short…gotta be the old legs.

  31. I don’t think Rasheed Wallace would get punked like Pau & Drew are by Magliore.

  32. My god Brown take Fisher out! Bails out a guy with 2 seconds left.

    How can he not see this. He was a vidio coordinator wasn’t he.

  33. @ Dude

    Darius said as much in the preview. Perhaps Buss’ decision to get rid of a bunch of scouts….

  34. Great D by Blake defending Calderon on the pick and roll, going over the screen and forcing him to pass twice in one possession, with one of their wings having to shoot a contested jumper over MWP. It’s like night and day on defense with him in there.

  35. Lakers need to work on their fast break.

  36. for those not watching on KCAL, they just said MB made the adjustment to have the PG’s to over over the pick. Wow, it only took 2 1/2 quarters to figure that out? unbelievable

  37. I liked Bynum’s passes out of double teams in the first half, in creating in rhythm shots with passes that were threats instead of bailouts. Much different than some of his passes we’ve seen in the past, esp last game agains the Knicks.

    The general rhythm of the first half on offense was great, we’re just making some dumb plays and Fish is getting schooled by Calderon on D. We’re getting much better shots and if we keep playing smart we should come out with the win.

    MB played Pau some in the first with the bench, let’s see if he goes to him some again before handing over the shot creating, offensive initiation responsibilities to Bynum.

    Love Blake’s confidence. Missed a lot of shots last game and first half, but keeps taking them confidently without hesitation. Fish needs to do the same.

  38. @37 rred – Same thing defending Nash on the P&R. Blake goes over the screen and stays on Nash’s hip. Fish gets hung up on the screen and flails his arms, hoping for a whistle. I think Fish is incapable at this point of going over a screen and staying on his man’s hip, and that’s why he either goes under the screen or stops his forward progress and flails his arms when going over the screen. It really only comes into play when he’s defending a PG who has a reliable jumper, although Lin killed Fish no matter how Fish defended him and he isn’t supposed to have a reliable jumper.

  39. The thought if Caldron playing for us us so exciting!

    Oh waif, Brown would still start Fisher and then forget Caldron is on the roster for weeks like Eubanks and McRoberts.

    Never mind.

  40. @40 – I thought they said Brown reminded them to go over the screen, rather than changing the strategy. Blake consistently went over the screen in the first half.

  41. Drew’s jump hooks have no arc on them with either hand. They not only would have a better chance of dropping in if he put more arc on them, but they’d have a lesser chance of getting blocked.

  42. You genius Brown Troy has 3 fouls in2 minutes. I have never seen worse coaching in my life.

  43. Bynum looks like he’s running out of gas. Is he 24 or 34? Geez.

  44. Can someone explain to our video coordinator you are allowed to call time outs in the NBA.

    Also Drew is just standing letting small guys push him away under the bucket. Why?

  45. Come on Ken, Murphy’s 2-3 beyond the arc today. If he’s hitting his threes, there’s a strong argument to made to play him over McRoberts.

  46. Watch when Kobe comes in they run Iso’s. NO plays whatsoever

  47. Yes! I was hoping for a Blake Goudelock Kobe backcourt. Let’s see how this works

  48. you are too much Kobes !!!! yea !!!

  49. MB w/ immediate sub for Artest once Kleiza scores. Jumpy coaches do not inspire confidence – might be PJ’s greatest strength and MB’s weakness

  50. Maybe MB needs to REMIND glock to go over the pick instead of under.

  51. First time all game where Blake made a mistake on defense, needlessly packing the paint on the weak side and allowing Calderon to hit an open three.

  52. Really Dude? Are you that confused? He has put them in the penalty by his self with 7 minutes to go in the 4th quarter!

    Do you understand the damage that does?


  53. It’s disturbing watching Bynum stand behind the man that’s guarding him in the paint on defense. He does not bother to get in position for a pass or a rebound.

  54. Kobe taking every single shot ….live by kobe, die by kobe i guess….

  55. Don’t mind Kobe missing close ones, but don’t need the 3 there.
    Edit: or the long fallaway.

    I have defended him a lot, but Brown needs to get in his ear here and run some plays for him off the ball.

  56. Great, imaginative crunch-time offense from our coaching staff.

  57. This genius Brown called NO timeout! None just let’s it go. My god fire these guy please fire this guy.

  58. looks like its the same story down the stretch with Kobe. maybe at least today he’ll have enough energy to hit a few shots?

  59. Really Ken? Everyone’s aware there are trade-offs with Murphy. If the Lakers would have moved the ball more on offense, with Murphy setting up for three on the same side as Bynum, the court would be spread more properly on offense.

  60. At 53 I said Lakers will run Kobe Iso’s.

    How many plays has Brown called? NONE.

  61. Bynum’s not getting the ball anyway. Its Kobe time, whether we like it or not, win or lose.

  62. Give Brown credit for the call out of the TO.

    Calderon gets season-high–28.

  63. Right, rred. That was a Pau-centric play that got the easy dunk.

  64. come on 24

  65. Die by the Mamba and live by the Mamba.

    Shouldn’t have taken the 3.

    MWP almost missed that.

  66. Who minds Kobe? No matter what he will give you his all!

  67. Kobe catch and shoot is way more effective than Kobe iso. Then great D by Blake to deny the pick and pop, great steal and assist to MWP to take the lead.

  68. right I think thats it, lets trade and rebuild, maybe a new coach as well

  69. WOW Kobe passes to MWP who makes the layup,

  70. Nice coaching Brown putting Kobe on The guy who was unstoppable. Nice job you are a Mensa!

  71. On this last play Kobe is going to be the decoy and pass the ball to Bynum or Pau.

  72. Calderon is 13/18 and 4/4 on 3s.

    Hope Kobe doesn’t force one here.

  73. What happened to the good old days when kobe guarded the opponents best players during crunch time? That’s right…he wants to save all his energy for taking all those shots. smh

  74. KOBE !!!!! Baseline jumper

  75. Now, can we play defense for 4 seconds?

  76. Well, there you go, Robert.

    4.2 left. Plenty of time for Calderon. Will see if they double him.

  77. Ok genius Brown Put Metta on Kobe on Caldron.

    Is this confusing for you.

  78. When you run your offense well in the first half instead of relying too much on Kobe to create then he’ll have the legs to hit tough shots like that. Also good D on Calderon in the fourth by Blake, but by that point he already was in such a Fish-induced rhythm he becomes hard to stop

  79. WOW 5 second count on the Raptors

  80. Great ball denial on that out of bounds play.

  81. Looks like there’s a team in this league that’s dumber than us.

  82. KOBE RULES !!!!!! Classic Close by KB

  83. KOBE RULES !!!!!! Typical awesome finish by KB

  84. Who wants to bring Calderon back to LA?

  85. Great D by MWP on DeRozan. We earned this game, as Fish’s poor D on Calderon allowed him to get going and he ended up hitting some tough contested shots in the 4th quarter.

  86. @ Dude

    Yep. Kobe did a good job on that play.

  87. There is no excuse for the game ever being that close with Toronto missing 2 of their best players. A pathetic win if I have ever seen one.

  88. Calderon + Lin both had career games against us. What position do they play again? : )

  89. Pau is playing like an All-Star! Good to see the dominant Pau back.

  90. Thank you Kobe. No help from Brown who becomes more clueless everyday.

    2nd game in a row that Andrew was pushed around.

    2nd in a row opposing point guard had career high.

  91. Mojo: I hear u, but there is no man who I would rather watch pulling the trigger on auto – than Kobe Bean Bryant. What a pleasure to watch !!!

  92. Lakers need to do everything to get Calderon.

    Kobe bailed us out.

  93. That win was huge but as Mojo is saying let’s not go for the fool’s gold (see @29)

  94. This was one game where MWP’s head was centered 😀
    He destroyed DeRozan’s offensive game (2-13 FG, 4 TOs) and was 3-4 from the field himself, with 2 steals. And while Drew didn’t play very well, he did have 14 pts, 9 rebs, and 2 blks.

  95. Get that Calderon and a pure shooter ( like Kapono was supposed to be) and we will make the Finals.Period

  96. I am somewhat up for Calderon. Not just based on today, but I like the possible rejuvination of Pau that this move could bring. Raptors are not going to gift him to us however, so I need to see the exact price before committing.

  97. Fisher does not play poor defense. He plays defense like a man who’s 37 frigg’n years of age. Like Charles Barkley and any NBA player that is no longer playing says, “Father time is undefeated.”

    ASG is this weekend, so by next Monday the Lakers should make trades that will allow the Lakers at least a chance this year, and players to build a contender next year.

  98. Only positive to take away is it’s a road win.

    Still no offense. Out of timeout the Pau to Drew play. Than all Kobe Iso’s. Brown has to call some plays

  99. Chearn: Father Time is and will be undefeated, however Kobe is taking the battle with Father Time into OT and beyond !!!!!!

  100. So much drama and recycled insults over one game. Sheesh.

    Jerry is looking for a center. I wonder if he still likes Pau enough to give up a couple of good young players for him..

  101. The win really does nothing for the team.

    Kobe always believes every sht he takes is going in. Pau had a bad 2nd half missed easy shots. Drew didn’t have bounce in his legs. Bench played bad blew another big lead.

    No reason to feel good after this win.

  102. @110. After that timeout with two minutes left, the first play was a Pau-centric play where he caught the ball near the FT line and set up Drew for a dunk. The next play, Kobe got free after a screen for a catch and shoot three that hit bottom. And on Kobe’s game-winning shot, after the foul to give was taken, there were seven seconds left. Kobe got wide open on the ensuing inbounds play on the right wing, took one or two dribbles toward the right baseline, and elevated for the jumper (one of his favorite plays). I wouldn’t call that an iso-Kobe play. Agreed, before that timeout at the two-minute mark, our offense consisted of terrible Kobe isos for five or six straight possessions. Good thing the coaching staff realized this and got us out of that rut.

  103. @114. I saw some positive signs in this game, so I’m going to disagree. The first positive sign is that Fish only played 19:24, while Blake played 28:36. I added up Calderon’s stats with each primary defender, and his numbers actually were better with Fish guarding him (6-9 FG, 14 PT, 2 AST, 2 TO) than with Blake defending him (6-8 FG, 14 PT, 3 AST, 0 TO), although a strong argument could be made that Fish’s poor defense allowed Calderon to get going, so that he was feeling it during Toronto’s late run where he went 4-5 and scored 10 points on Blake, with every shot but one fairly strongly contested (none of his shots with Fisher guarding him were even remotely contested).

    The other two positive signs were MWP’s play at both ends, and the Laker’s offense after the timeout at the two-minute mark.

  104. 115) Those are after timeouts. Brown has to call plays during moments of crisis he sits back and stares at the game. And watches Kobe go Iso. We saw late game movement but no progress.

    Before Kobe’s last shot Raptors fouled with 7 secs. Brown didn;t call a timeout. Bad coaching

  105. 113. I ve seen Calderon play rock-solid basketball through Olympics and World Championship.
    He s not going to blow your mind but he is going to shoot 60%FG and give you 8/10 assists every night.
    A Calderon for Blake and Murphy or Barnes plus a draft pick would be a total win and still give us cap space to get a consistent shooter.

  106. @118 – the Lakers knew that Toronto had a foul to give, so they went early and Kobe got fouled with seven seconds left. Why waste a timeout there when you know that Toronto’s just going to foul?

    @119 – You need to add a bunch of guys to make that trade work. None of this off-season’s FA signings can be dealt yet.

  107. Kevin

    Just like in Cleveland Mike Brown can not make adjustments. He is clueless. Opposing coaches at half make adjustments. Brown makes lunch.

    By year two James and the team ignored Brown and ran their own offense because they realized he was over his head. That’s why he was FIRED.

    Steven A Smith at the time of the hiring called it the stupidest hire since Rudy T. As we know Jimmy B fought for the hire to remove everything from the Phil years. Allowing Jimmy to make that decision would be like hiring a car mechanic to be General of your Army because his dad was once one.

    Brown is costing Lakers at least 4 spots in the West because he is way over his head! We are Cleveland without the point guards, bench and a 23 year old super star.

  108. None of this off-season’s FA signings can be dealt yet.


    March 1 is when they can, I think.

  109. 120) The foul to give was made. No timeout and kobe had to bail him out. Point is Mike brown isn’t putting players in position to be successful.

    Look at Spoelstra he builds his offense around his players. You see battier open, haslem open on the baseline, chalmers open, bosh in his sweet spots. Laker players don’t know what there doing out there because there’s no OFFENSIVE IDENTITY.

    Ken, totally agree. It’s obvious LeBron made Mike Brown now. He gets credit for defense but he brought in 2 coaches who run offense and they look lost too.

  110. Look at a guy like Thibodeau he puts his players in spots to attack. Or even Frank Vogel in Indiana, Corbin in Utah. Van Gundy in Orlando.

    Elite coaches tailor their offense to their players strengths. Mike Brown said he’d do that I guess he’s just waiting for the right time to do so.