Bobcats Outplayed by Depleted Bucks

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The Bobcats go into Milwaukee against a short handed Bucks team without core players Andrew Bogut and Corey Magette and manage to lose their tempers and the game 104-101 despite another excellent effort from D.J. Augustin (26 points, 6 assists) and a stellar performance from the bench. Bobcats fall to 6-11, Bucks improve to 6-10.

AP Recap | Box Score

OBSERVATIONS

  • Captain Jean Luc Richard Mbah a Moute frustrated Gerald Wallace all evening. Crash couldn’t get anything easy from the post or on the break as Richard was all over him. You won’t see it in the box score (6-12 for 19 points and 5 boards) but Wallace was simply a non-factor for most of the game.  Worse yet, Crash left the game at the :07 second mark with a hyper-extended elbow.  Great.
  • I’ve been writing about it for weeks and it finally happened Saturday night. The refs are openly baiting Stephen Jackson with egregious no-calls. It’s been going on since opening night and JAX finally bit at the 4 minute mark when Eli Roe tossed him. The incident in question was pretty blatant and Jackson was valid in arguing for it. Two Buck players made contact on a JAX post move while Roe stood just a few feet away. I don’t know what the answer is going forward but Larry Brown needs to make a call and send a tape to the League office about this issue pronto. This needs to be discussed.
  • It would be wrong to blame D.J. Augustin or his predecessor for their roles in the Brandon Jennings Explosion. The second year point guard has owned the Bobcats for most of his young career and did so again tonight, going for 32 on 10-21 from the field including 6-13 from deep. For one, Jennings is a very good player and he feasts on many outside of the orange and blue but secondly, Larry Brown’s strict man to man D opens the door for ultra-quick, unlimited range PGs like Jennings to wreak havoc. Fortunately for the Bobcats, there aren’t many human beings on the planet who fit that criteria. Fortunately for the Bucks, one of them is their starting point guard.
  • Big night for the Bobcats second unit as they combine to score 56 points in spite of an off night from Tyrus Thomas (3-7, 8 points). Both Shaun Livingston and Dominic McGuire log around 30 minutes each and notch 16 and 13 points respectively. McGuire was an absolute BEAST on the boards with 15. Between McGuire and Derrick Brown, the team is much better prepared to be without Gerald Wallace than Stephen Jackson as the dropoff from JAX to Matt Carroll is just too significant.
  • I tweeted a trade idea on Friday and I’ll elaborate on it here today: As Al Jefferson is fitting in with his new Utah team like jazz in Salt Lake City, why not send Boris Diaw and Eduardo Najera to Utah for Big Al? Utah could get out from under Jefferson’s lengthier deal and place a much better pick & role player like Diaw into the rotation with Paul Milsap. Meanwhile, Jefferson does for the Bobcats what Zach Randolph has done for Memphis: provide a bonafide post scorer (albeit of the black-hole variety) who opens up the three and demands a double team down low. I also can’t think of a better long term frontcourt mate for Tyrus Thomas than Al.

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

D.J. Wins the Battle but Raymond Wins the War in New York

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The Bobcats lose the Contrast of Styles, forsaking their own deliberate pacing in favor of Mike D’Antoni’s full court whirling dervish as the Knicks take the first of a home and home 110-107 in New York.

AP Recap | Box Score

OBSERVATIONS:

  • Say what you will about no-calls, missed layups, bad bounces,etc, the Bobcats insistence in playing the Knicks at their own up-tempo game was what did them in this evening.  Charlotte went into this game averaging just 95 points a contest while the Knicks have logged around 107 per.  This isn’t the type of game that Larry Brown wants to play and you could see it in the turnovers (combined 38) and mis-timed long rebounds.  It didn’t help that the Knicks dominated from the stripe, shooting 24-25 while limiting the Bobcats to just 13-18, this style just doesn’t suit a grind it out Bobcats team.  Here’s hoping that Larry Brown can control the pace when the Cats are back at home on Wednesday.
  • Big story of the night is Augustin’s (perhaps) finest performance as a pro.  Drives, Jumpers, Assists, Steals, Wow Moments.  D.J. did it all Tuesday night and looked like a real deal NBA starting point guard.  24 points, 7 assists, 5 boards and 4 steals is something to get excited about.  D.J. hit a few spectacular drive & acrobatic spin shots during the second half to spark the Bobcats fourth quarter run.  I’ve never seen him finish around the rim with this consistency.  On defense, he rarely got caught going underneath a screen (his major flaw early in the season) and played his man tight.  Augustin was the only Bobcats starter to finish with a positive plus minus (+4).
  • Stephen Jackson with another quiet night.  My Two Cents: For the Bobcats to have any success this year, JAX will need to wake up and realize that the refs are PURPOSEFULLY taking him out of the games.  Once he decides to stop griping at the obvious no-calls and focus on what he can do in the game itself, then he’ll be a much better player for it.  I’m sure Coach Brown has brought it up but if JAX doesn’t figure this out soon, he’ll continue to be a borderline liability when he’s out on the floor.
  • D’Antoni has so many young guys like Toney Douglas and Bill Walker who can slash and then step out for the three. Ganillari included.  Landry Fields was the find of the 2nd Round.  He’s a legitimate Trevor Ariza type wing player and really hurt the Bobcats on both ends of the court while containing Stephen Jackson.  Toney Douglas rained in 5 threes and notched 22 points in 24 minutes.  I really like the wings on this team.  Can only imagine what they’ll be able to do if they can get Anthony Randolph healthy and playing like he did in limited minutes with Golden State.  Knicks might be very good.  If they can recruit Chris Paul next year?  Maybe Contenders.
  • Raymond Felton.  He’s the John Fox School of PG: “He is what he is.”  Solid defensively, poor shooter (5-13), adequate distributor but nothing special.  He’s Derek Fisher and I’m still waiting for the day when the Lakers acquire him to run the team for the next five years or so.
  • Shaun Livingston playing some off guard tonight.  Not certain if that’s going to last though with Shaun’s shaky outside stroke but this evening it worked as Knee-Man went for 11 points and 5 boards, causing all sorts of matchup problems for the Knicks backcourt.  Perhaps a bigger “What If” than if Shaun had not been injured would be What If Livingston could ever develop a solid outside jumper.  He might be an All-Star.  Just shoot right over the top of the smaller guards while mixing it up with a post up or two.

Bobcats drop to 5-9 and will need to start notching some Ws before too much longer.  Seven teams are now tied for the 8th spot in the Conference with 8 wins a piece and if the ‘Cats don’t do something soon to separate themselves, the Playoffs could become out of reach as soon as the New Year.  The East has become much more formidable.

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Bobcats Weekend Preview and… James Johnson?

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With an away-home back-to-back in Detroit tonight and hosting Orlando Saturday night, it was already shaping up to be a busy weekend for the 1-3 Bobcats.  Now we can add a trade rumor to the mix.

Friday Night at Detroit

The Cats are in Detroit tonight looking to build on their first win of the season against the Pistons, who are making a nice case for being the worst team in the league.  The Pistons have been in all of their games except the loss to the Celtics, but are nonetheless winless at 0-5.

What’s worse is that the two biggest Pistons stories of the season are finger-pointing between players and coach over a lack of leadership and Charlie Villanueva’s tattling on Kevin Garnett’s over-the-line trash talk.

The latest scuttlebutt is that in Wednesday’s loss to the Hawks, coach John Kuester benched Rodney Stuckey.  Head over to Detroit Bad Boys for the latest on the Piston’s struggles.

Gametime is 7:30 PM ET and the game will be televised on SportSouth (in HD for Time Warner customers on channel 1510! — a quick check last night showed that 1510 had been added to my channel lineup!).

Saturday night vs Orlando

From one extreme to the other.  The Magic are 2-1, having only played three games because their Tuesday night tilt with the Knicks was postponed due to asbestos in the Garden (weird to type that), but are clearly one of the most dominant teams in the league.  Their loss was an ugly one to the Heat, but their two wins were both absolute throttlings of the Wizards and T-Wolves, by 29 and 42 points, respectively.

The Cats will be looking for a small measure of revenge after getting swept out of the first round of the playoffs last spring, but look no better equipped to combat Dwight Howard and company now than they were then.

Gametime is 7:00 PM ET at the Cable Box.

James Johnson

When Michael Jordan asserted in a recent interview that the “roster churn” was most likely over, we at Bobcats Baseline were skeptical.  The shaky 1-3 start has only reinforced that.

One of the main problems has been mediocre play from Nazr Mohammed (ahem), and a lack of depth behind him.  But with Kwame Brown and Dominic McGuire getting ready to return from injury, I figured Larry Brown and company would at least give those guys a run before making a move.

So I was a little surprised to wake up this morning and see the Bobcats once again leading off Hoopshype.com’s Rumors page.  Via Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Bobcats and Bulls have been talking about James Johnson.

Johnson is a big, tough 6’9″ 250 lb forward in his second year in the league.  He was drafted 16th overall by the Bulls in the 2009 draft out of Wake Forest and averaged almost 12 minutes per game last year.  He was decent as a rookie, but was looked at as somewhat expendable in the offseason after the Bulls acquisition of Carlos Boozer.

But with Boozer’s preseason boxer’s fracture putting him out for the first several weeks of the season, and Johnson coming into camp in fantastic condition, his future in Chicago was temporarily looking a little brighter.  Johnson’s 2011-12 option was recently picked up by the Bulls after a good preseason, and he had a nice 19 minute/8 point/9 rebound/4 assist/3 block/2 steal/+24 PER night against the Pistons last week.

But with Taj Gibson playing pretty well, Boozer’s return around the corner, and new Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau looking to make his mark on the team and take them deep into the playoffs, Johnson is apparently available again.

What would Larry Brown and the Bobcats be seeing in Johnson?  Probably George Lynch, or Dominic McGuire with a higher ceiling.  Here’s an excellent breakdown of Johnson’s game from Bulls Confidential.

A better question is: what would the Bulls be looking for in return?  They need upgrades at SG and backup PG, but I can’t see the Bobcats being able to accommodate that.  Any ideas, Baseliners?

-Dr. E

be sure to follow Dr. E, ASChin and Cardboard Gerald on Twitter


Cats Man Up for Ugly, Veteran Win in Jersey

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Bobcats win their first game of the season Wednesday night in New Jersey 85-83.  Cats improve to 1-3, Nets drop to 2-2.

AP Recap | Box Score

OBSERVATIONS:

  • Boris Diaw puts the knife and fork down long enough to play his first meaningful game of the season, dropping 24 points on 10-18 shooting, including a major momentum changing three pointer late.  Nice to see Boris focused and motivated.  Look forward to seeing it again in a few weeks.
  • Bobcats come back from 10 down with a little more than 6 minutes to go in this one, looking like a true veteran squad in the process.  They didn’t lose their focus and concentrated on finding good shots and getting to the line (23 to 15 advantage from the stripe) in order to negate the clock.  Nazr Mohammed, who picked up 3 fouls in the game’s first four minutes and looked atrocious in the first half, contributed six points late and played Brook Lopez as well as he ever has.
  • TURNOVER BONANZA! As is their stock in trade, Charlotte continues to both turn the ball over and force ‘em from the other end.  16 a piece in this game for a whopping total of 32.  Ugh.  When the Bobcats come to town, hide the women and children.
  • Both Geralds were beat up in this game. Wallace was lost for most of the third quarter with an ankle injury but returned in the fourth.  Henderson took a one two punch from Anthony Morrow in the third, sending him to the bench for good with a busted nose.
  • Crash’s ability to get to the line and convert is invaluable. Wallace earned eight freebies and made them all, going for 20 points, 11 boards in just 35 minutes. Bobcats had the best player on the court tonight and won for it.

  • DJ wasn’t terrible (5pts/7asts/0TOs) but he’ll never be Brook Lopez.  I wonder what goes through Larry Brown’s mind when he faces off against the multi-dimensional big man four times a year, knowing that he passed on the elite center out of Stanford three drafts ago.  Brook dropped 17 points on the Bobcats and sent back 5 shots on the other end.  As well as Nazr closed the half and as well as Gana Diop defended in relief, Charlotte continues to get dismantled by opposing centers.
  • Derrick Favors = Beast*.  Once he figures out how to play the NBA game, he’s gonna be something special, he’s just a physical specimen at the four spot.  I can see how NJ has been reticent to include him in any Carmelo trade.  Favors has to the potential to be very good.
    *©2008-reggie-productions. all rights reserved.
  • For all the Devin Harris trade hype (I’d gladly welcome him to CLT if a deal transpires), watching him it makes sense why Jersey would consider trading him.  There’s something about Harris’s body language and his relationship to his teammates on the court that makes me think he’s not a natural born leader.  Thoughts?
  • Sherron Collins Sighting! I tweeted that he looks like a gene splice lab creation of Raymond Felton and DJ Augustin, @bobcatsbaseline followers were quick to add Boris Diaw and/or Sean May’s Pillsbury DNA to that mix.  Indeed.

Until Next Time, Enjoy the Win Bobcats Fans…

-ASChin

Bobcats Keep The Turnovers a Turnin’ in Brewtown

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The Bobcats lose their third straight to start the season against the heretofore winless Bucks, 98-88.

AP Recap | Box Score

OBSERVATIONS:

  • Well, I’m really glad that they used the summer to work out those turnover issues.  After leading the League last season in giveaways, the Bobcats continue their sloppy ways by handing the ball over 18 times to the Bucks.  Not counted amongst the eighteen where a baker’s dozen errant jump shots hoisted mostly by Nazr Mohammed, Gana Diop and the previously golden Tyrus Thomas.  Aside from having an otherwise strong game, D.J. Augustin did his best Emeka Okafor/Raymond Felton hybrid impersonation by repeatedly driving deep into the lane and getting swatted down by Son of Gondor Andrew Bogut.  If the Bobcats hope to sniff the Postseason again this year, they’ll need to start taking better shots and better care of the ball pronto.
  • Stellar games from the PGs in this one.  D.J. nailed 5 of his 6 threes to go for a total of 26 points with 5 assists and only a single documented turnover.  2nd year phenom Brandon Jennings celebrated his first career triple double, notching 20pts, 10rbs, 10asts.  Augustin’s shot looked as smooth as ever and he did a much better job of fighting through opposing high screens after being demolished by them a night ago.
  • Story of the game was Andrew Bogut.  He’s one of the handful of centers in the League who can influence a game at both ends and I dare say if he had the same crew as Mr. Howard down in O-Town, we might be talking about him as the League’s best.  14pts, 8rbs, 4blks in just 33 minutes of action.  I hope we’ll see Bogut and Superman matched up this spring.  Bobcats had no answer for him tonight as Nazr continued to regress from last year’s “Fluke Rule” season and Gana Diop continued to be Gana Diop.
  • Boris Diaw is officially sloppy fat.  My wife read a book titled, “French Women Don’t Get Fat.”  Apparently French Ballers do.  The weight is starting to effect his play.  He’s having a much harder time getting in defensive position and officially starts getting winded somewhere around “…and the Home of the Brave.
  • Three years in and I’d like to fancy myself a Larry Brown quasi-expert.  And judging from the look on his face and the body language, I think it’s safe to say that he’s not losing any sleep over an 0-3 start.  Let’s face it, his teams start slow every year and then around the late-November/early December mark the organization makes a big trade and they go on a run.  I’m not panicking until at least Thanksgiving.  Meanwhile, the team has some nice depth, a ton of athleticism and at least a handful of real deal NBA players on the roster for the first time in franchise history.

Until Next Time…

Enjoy the Loss Bobcats Fans,

-ASChin

5 Great Things About The New Bobcats Season

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The Bobcats Season Is Here!

The season will begin just hours from now and I’m super excited. Gerald, Jack, Tyrus, DJ, and Boris get ready for a showdown in Dallas against Dirk and his crew. Man, I can’t wait. It’s been a long off-season, so let’s just get down to the best things to look forward to in this new season of Bobcats basketball.

#1.  Defense!

We’re all aware that the ‘Cats don’t dominate anyone by outscoring them. This team had the best defense in the league, and with another year of cohesion in Larry Brown’s system they can only improve. How many blocks will Tyrus and Gerald combine for this year?

#2. The Youth

Larry kept Derrick Brown and Gerald Henderson on the bench last season. Now, we’re gonna see those rookies of last season team with third-year point guard D.J. Augustin to infuse some new energy into the team. We haven’t seen the peak of any of their abilities, so this season should be full of surprises. Let’s see what happens when they get those fresh legs to spell Jack and Crash.

#3. The Next Trade

C’mon, it’s inevitable. Trading is a big part of the Charlotte Bobcats culture. In-season trades seem to be even more appealing to Larry Brown. When and what can we expect with the next player swap – that’s the constant question with this team.

#4. Crash Continues

Gerald Wallace is hitting the pinnacle of his career. After last season’s break out performance, we should expect to see Crash take that final step and become a dominant player. His defense is irreplaceable, but what if he made another stride offensively? This guy would be just about as good as it gets.

#5. Tyrus’ Turn

Can Tyrus Thomas make his doubters just shut the hell up? Will Larry Brown mold this guy into an All-Star? He has the physical tools. With the proper guidance, Tyrus just might be an amazing player. At the least, he’s going to be a fan favorite this season.

Tip-off is just hours away!

2010-11 Bobcats Season Preview: The Next Move?

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Baseline contributors DR. E and ASChin discuss their thoughts on the Charlotte Bobcats roster.

DR. E-

The Larry Brown era in Charlotte has been marked by frequent and often dramatic shakeups of the roster. His “grass is always greener” approach to evaluating other players (and other coaching positions) around the league relative to his own is well documented. By and large, this tendency has been welcomed by a Bobcats front office in need of some expertise/direction/chutzpah. Meanwhile, the fanbase has been encouraged as the transactions have resulted in short-term improvement and the team’s first playoff berth thus far.

So it’s fair to ask, how long until the next roster shakeup? And what positions/players are most likely to be affected?

ASCHIN-

This is clearly a matter of when, not if. Larry Brown has nearly turned the entire roster over in his three seasons and we know he’ll kvetch until he can’ts kvetch no more in order to work fresh blood into the lineup.

I can see the next few months going in one of two ways:

PATH I:

D.J. is actually good.

In this scenario, D.J. proves that his Preseason numbers are for real (14ppg, 4apg, 55%FG, 63%3ptFG in 28 minutes per) and successfully leads the team as a score-first, defense-extending long range threat. Shaun Livingston comes back from the knee injury aggravation and gives the team another look for twenty minutes a night. Larry deems the PG situation as being acceptable and decides to stay put until a favorable deal for a starting center comes along.

PATH II:

D.J. is actually not good.

In this scenario, Augustin either struggles with his confidence (or his shot) during the Real Season and/or stagnates the offense with his lack of playmaking ability. Coach Brown decides that the team needs a veteran playmaker and starts working the phones. There are a few guys out there who could be had. I’ll let DR. E take the first stab. Who are your PG candidates?

DR. E-

Well, first let me say that I think a third scenario is more likely. I think DJ will be OK — not really good or really bad. I think the Bobcats could struggle a bit out of the gate (as Larry Brown teams usually do) and we’ll be debating how much of the blame can be laid on DJ. The result of this scenario is the same as your latter scenario, though. Larry’s eyes will start wandering.

So let’s just get the biggest, most ridiculous possibility out of the way first. Gilbert Arenas.

Arenas has the undisputed worst contract in the league at this point (4 more years, around $80 million total). No one is sure whether his knees are going to allow him to play at a high level any more. He continues to behave very irresponsibly. He’s positively radioactive at this point and the Wizards know it.

Yet, I refuse to rule him out. I’m still intrigued. What if he keeps his mouth shut (except for the harmless, kinda entertaining stuff), looks healthy and plays well to start off the season?

ASCHIN-

I agree that they’ll struggle early – Brown has a tendency to do that as he sacrifices wins in order to figure out his team during the first month. I just hope that they don’t dig themselves into last year’s massive hole again.

As for Arenas, you know me, I’ve been writing about this for months. I just don’t buy the fact that Orlando would take on Gilbert’s $80 million and only send Vince Carter’s expiring contract back in return (as it’s being reported). The Arenas contract is a HUGE risk and the only way the Bobcats do the trade is if they send a bunch of dead weight (Diop, Najera, Carroll) back. Agent Zero would take a great deal of the offensive load off of Captian Jack and extend the defense in a way the Bobcats have never seen before. I don’t absolutely love the move but if you could drop dead weight contracts, then do it.

Let me throw something else at you that I’ve yet to see mentioned anywhere. Derrick Brown has looked very, very good this preseason and in Summer League. Is there a chance that the Bobcats trade Gerald Wallace at some point during the season or next summer to hand the SF spot over to the youngster?

DR. E -

Whoa! Slow down there, turbo. We haven’t even resolved the PG issue and you’re talking about trading the cornerstone of the franchise. We’ve heard in the past that the Trailblazers covet(ed) Gerald Wallace, and this offseason, CBSsports.com’s Ken Berger has repeatedly mentioned that Wallace is on the Nuggets short list of players they’d like to fill their SF spot should they trade Carmelo away.

But we’ve also heard that the Bobcats have no interest in doing so. Presumably because goal #1 for the Cats again this year is to make the playoffs. So the only way I could see Gerald being traded is if the Bobcats start the season so badly that the playoffs are out of the question and the team starts looking ahead to the post-Larry Brown future. Maybe that would dovetail with the Nuggets getting around to trading Carmelo and the Cats would get involved in multi-team trade talks again.

In that case, the Cats would be looking for what all teams look for when they trade away a star and look to the future: a mix of cap relief, young talent and draft picks. So in short, I don’t think the Cats would be able to trade Wallace and retool on the fly/stay in playoff contention. It would be an admission that the season is a wash, Larry Brown is checked out, and we’re looking to rebuild. It would also be devastating for what fanbase the Bobcats do have.

ASCHIN-

Perhaps I’m approaching this from more of a NFL GM’s point of view but if at some point the Bobcats could get similar production from a guy who is making $4 or $5 million a year (after his extension) and get back either a prospect at a position of need or a high pick, wouldn’t you at least consider it?

DR. E-

Yes, that would be very Belichickian, and yes, the thought would cross my mind if Derrick Brown came on like a house afire this year. But (/begin bleeding heart fan rant) Gerald Wallace means a lot more to the Bobcats than just his statistics at this point. Not only would the fragile relationship this franchise has with its fans be severely damaged, the team would also lose its quiet, steady locker room leader.

ASCHIN-

Enough about trading away the face of the franchise, back to the PG issue. I believe one of the main reasons Larry hasn’t pulled the trigger on a deal yet is that there simply aren’t a lot of players in 2010 that can do what LB wants in his point guard. Coach wants a high percentage shooting, smart passing, strong defending team leader who knows how to manage the clock and who prevents his team from settling for bad shots. There just aren’t many players in the Association built like that these days. One guy who WE KNOW fits the criteria is Chauncey Billups and I have to think that once Carmelo is dealt the Nuggs will move towards getting younger and cheaper. If Ty Lawson comes out of the gate as strong as he did in his rookie season, I could see Denver working the phones at some point. Question is, what do the Bobcats give up for him?

DR. E-

I guess it depends on what Denver would be able to get first in a Carmelo trade, so it’s hard to say. It would also depend on what they were wanting to do; i.e. blow it up completely by taking back expirings and draft picks, or rebuild on the fly to maintain some competitiveness. At the very least, they’d probably want a PG back (Livingston or Augustin?) and an expiring (Mohammed?) as part of the deal.

Another question is whether Chauncey would accept such a trade. Remember, he’s a Denver native and was probably hoping to end his career there. He’s implied recently that if Denver rebuilds post-Carmelo, he’d have a hard time not “playing for something.” So would reuniting with Larry Brown and coming to Charlotte to play for the 7th or 8th seed in the East be enough to play for? And would having Chauncey convince Larry Brown to stick around in Charlotte a little longer?

ASCHIN-

Guess we’ll have to wait and see how this thing plays out. Jordan has just gone on record with Rick Bonnell about the roster churn, saying that it’s “less likely to continue” this season. As an experience gambler, MJ continues to put on a good poker face. Expect something to happen soon.