Steven Pearl can smile about playing time

"Daddy's Boy, Daddy's Boy!"

LSU fans heckled Tennessee redshirt junior Steven Pearl from the time he entered the game in Baton Rouge, La., Thursday night.

Pearl smiled back at the fans and proceeded to hold star player Tasmin Mitchell without a basket for the 10 minutes he guarded him.

That smile was unmistakable; it's the same grin his father - UT coach Bruce Pearl - flashes at fund-raising events.

The good times on the floor, however, have been few and far between for the Vols' father-son combination over the past four years.

Steven Pearl struggled to find playing time on a UT team that has gotten more talented with each signing class. Heading into Tuesday's game (TV: ESPN, 7 p.m.) at Vanderbilt, he knows he'll get his minutes in the rotation.

"Steven's not looking over at the bench every time he makes a mistake because he knows he's going to get his minutes, and that makes a difference,'' Bruce Pearl said. "But he had a role before he had playing time, and it was to be the opponents' best player in our practices.

"He has played a part in our winning championships because he was always our best practice player, and he competed in practice every day; Those practices were his games.''

Steven Pearl admits it was difficult at times.

"Now that I'm getting into the games, playing for my dad is a lot easier,'' Steven Pearl said. "The first couple of years, always on the scout team, it could get really tough. In practice, he'd get on me all the time.''

Bruce Pearl knew he had to if his son was ever to see any meaningful minutes as a part of the perennial top 25 program he has built over the past 4 1/2 seasons.

It didn't make things any easier for Steven Pearl when many of the players in the class he came in with - Duke Crews, Marques Johnson, Ramar Smith and Josh Tabb - left the team for various reasons. Only senior Wayne Chism remains from that signing class.

"That has made it kind of tough, because those were all cool guys, even with some of the trouble they may have had,'' Steven Pearl said. "Me and Wayne have been through a lot together.''

Steven Pearl and Chism are still going through a lot together, battling shoulder to shoulder in SEC games.

After appearing in just six league games for a total of 10 minutes last season, Steven Pearl has played in all eight of UT's SEC games this season and averages 11 1/2 minutes an outing.

"Steven has his limitations, we know that,'' Bruce Pearl said. "But he does what he does, and when he goes in there, there's not a drop-off on the defensive end.''

It fits into the makeshift defensive identity the No. 14 Vols (18-4, 6-2 SEC) have formed since the dismissal of All-SEC forward Tyler Smith prior to conference play.

It has worked into the Vols' offensive chemistry, as well.

"It's another guy playing his role and maybe not looking for his shot so much,'' Bruce Pearl said. "Sometimes less is more.''

Steven Pearl's on-court maturation has been a process; he's hardly the same player who graduated from West High School four years ago.

When Steven Pearl came into the UT program as a freshman, he weighed 200 pounds and bench pressed 175.

After four years in the strength program under Troy Wills, Steven Pearl weighs 230 and ranks as the strongest member of the team, bench-pressing 350.

Still, he has had his walk-on moments this season, starting 1-for-9 shooting from the free-throw line and getting some of his first few shot attempts blocked .

"The free throws were all mental,'' Steven Pearl said, shaking his head and rolling his eyes. "It's like I know I can make them, because I make them all the time in practice. It was just a matter of getting more comfortable.

"You can tell when your teammates and coaches believe in you, and that's what has made me relax a little bit.''

Pearl dished a highlight-worthy, behind-the-head pass to Chism against South Carolina Saturday, and he's scoring more regularly with reverse layups, using the rim to shield his shots from potential blocks.

But defense is where he has really shined; at Georgia, Pearl drew three fouls on Georgia post Trey Thompkins, against Vanderbilt, he drew a foul that sent 7-2 post A.J. Ogilvy to the bench with his second foul early in the first half.

ESPN broke down Steven Pearl's solid defense against LSU, too, showing replays of his solid positioning.

"Crafty" is a good word to describe the coach's son, even if his contributions don't jump out in the boxscore.

"The last three or four games, I've really felt good out there,'' Steven Pearl said. "I realize I can't just go out there to log minutes, so I've got to make plays.''

Pearl had four steals in 12 minutes in the 61-60 win over Florida. And when he fouls shooters, he gets his money's worth, ensuring their shots rarely fall.

"Steven is a totally different player than when he first came to Tennessee,'' said former UT player Ryan Childress. "He's confident and he's doing all the little things that may not show up in the boxscore.''

Steven Pearl's experience playing for his father's team that won the gold at the Maccabi Games in Israel over the summer has been another key in his development.

"Prior to playing this season, that was the most fun I'd had since high school,'' Steven Pearl said. "Sure, there were times earlier in my career I might have second-guessed playing for my dad.

"You go out to places, and you hear things, about how you're only on the team because of your last name,'' he said. "But that only motivated me to keep working hard.''

Now, when Steven Pearl is reminded - like at LSU, with the chant of "Daddy's Boy'' - he merely smiles.

After four years of struggling to find a role on the team, the taunts in rival arenas are music to his ears.

Tatum Sidelined: UT sophomore wing Cameron Tatum is not expected to travel with the team to Vanderbilt as a result of the ankle injury he suffered in the first half of Saturday's win over South Carolina.

Tatum has undergone a variety of diagnostic tests, the results of which have yet to be released.

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Comments » 67

TommyJack writes:

Good kid.

zigvol writes:

He really plays hard and his defense is pretty darn good. On offense not so good.

bobbytodd writes:

Had 4 steals in 9 min against UF. Then had 2 awesome assists on inbound passes against LSU. The guy doesn't always look pretty but he does is a productive team member. I would like to see him get more of Woolridge's minutes.

vol_4_fan writes:

He gets the better every outing,,,,it is a good story!Go Vols

rpenland21#231616 writes:

in response to marc_ash#231781:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Former Vol LB Marvin Mitchell plays for the Saints.

bigorange61 writes:

Steve has limitations, but there are times I wish he were in the game instead of Woolridge.

Alwaysavol writes:

He may be a role player, but he does his role well, and every team needs those kind of guys. He's improving with every game. I enjoy watching him play, and I'm happy for him that he is getting some minutes. Way to hang in there, Steven!

HtownVol writes:

I think we have enough players and do not need to see his no talent # out there as much as he has been lately. I am not saying he cant get some PT, but he is a liability when he is out there,.

Bottom Line, we are in no way a better team whet him on the floor. If you think we are youo are kidding yourself,

GO VOLS

Southland writes:

got to have role players to win games Hope he feels good about his career I do

Fryinpansvols writes:

in response to HtownVol:

I think we have enough players and do not need to see his no talent # out there as much as he has been lately. I am not saying he cant get some PT, but he is a liability when he is out there,.

Bottom Line, we are in no way a better team whet him on the floor. If you think we are youo are kidding yourself,

GO VOLS

HtownVol, did you not read the article? He has his limitations but is a good defensive player. And yeah we do need his minutes on the floor. He makes things happen on the defensive end. I wouldn't consider him a liabiltiy either! GBO!

nola_vol writes:

While admitting to his limitations on the offensive end, how many assists has he had this year? There have been several memorable passes, I know. Anybody got the numbers?

If he can keep a positive ratio of assists+steals to turnovers, and toss in 2-3 points per game, I say the team is getting 10 quality minutes from their bench. Also not to be dismissed, his defensive hustle appears to inspire the same from his teammates.

And speaking of defense... what's happened to Bone's minutes?

bspurlingcac#225603 writes:

in response to HtownVol:

I think we have enough players and do not need to see his no talent # out there as much as he has been lately. I am not saying he cant get some PT, but he is a liability when he is out there,.

Bottom Line, we are in no way a better team whet him on the floor. If you think we are youo are kidding yourself,

GO VOLS

It seems like every time he goes in the game the team picks up their effort level. I would like to know how many points the Vols score vs the other team when he is in the game. I bet the Vols would be on top during his playing time minutes. Is that stat kept anywhere?

1Volunteer writes:

in response to long_vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think Ryan had a serious injury in a car accident during the summer break, and that prevented him from playing much. I really loved seeing him play. His outside shots were beautiful, best form I ever saw.

SEC__Headgear writes:

SP has paid his dues and has the strength and size to make an impact. His reverse layups are impressive and he should probably start to take some of those open jumpers. Defenses have to pay for keying on UT's two shooters no matter who is in the game.

zansdad writes:

in response to HtownVol:

I think we have enough players and do not need to see his no talent # out there as much as he has been lately. I am not saying he cant get some PT, but he is a liability when he is out there,.

Bottom Line, we are in no way a better team whet him on the floor. If you think we are youo are kidding yourself,

GO VOLS

Who else is going to go in and take those 11 minutes? Steven plays the PF postion basically because his strength allows him to play defense against a taller man. Until yesterday the front court players were Chism, Hall, Woolridge and Pearl. As Woolridge's play deminishes Steven's increases. Wayne and Kenny cannot play every minute of the game. When Williams is worked back into the rotation I expect to see Steven's minutes reduced accordingly. Steven has done a great job during the last nine games. My only complaint with him, is that he doesn't know when to give the ball up. About once a game he has visions of Dane Bradshaw. Steven is just as tough as Dane but with almost none of Dane's, albeit, limited offensive skills.

huntined#565710 writes:

Must be tough playing for your Dad. I think both of them know Steven is not a great player but he does run hard and plays pretty good D. I am sure he has to put up with a lot just by being on the team. He is not short on TRYING HARD..and I bet he will tell you his Dad is the best coach and Dad in the world.

FeelVol writes:

Sorry Griff but I'm not buying that part about Ogilvy being 7'2",more like 6'10" to 6'11" to me.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to marc_ash#231781:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Team offense consists of more than just scoring. In addition to all the other things he does, Steven sets the best screens on the team and he keeps the ball moving. That has value even beyond the assists he is credited with.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to HtownVol:

I think we have enough players and do not need to see his no talent # out there as much as he has been lately. I am not saying he cant get some PT, but he is a liability when he is out there,.

Bottom Line, we are in no way a better team whet him on the floor. If you think we are youo are kidding yourself,

GO VOLS

SS, DD, with you. I have asked you several times who you would play in his place but you have never responded. In case you choose to accept that assignment this time, you cannot just say "anybody"; who would you play and how would you use him? Don't just criticize; propose and justify a solution. CBP has to play the players he has, not the ones he might WISH he had.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to SEC__Headgear:

SP has paid his dues and has the strength and size to make an impact. His reverse layups are impressive and he should probably start to take some of those open jumpers. Defenses have to pay for keying on UT's two shooters no matter who is in the game.

I actually do think he overdoes it with the reverse layups. They are always nice when they go in, but on the one everybody commented on in the Florida game, he had a clear path to the basket but he still took it to the other side, and that is an inherently more difficult shot.

wayoutwill writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Good kid.

Not to disagree with you and not to be a complete a$%*ole;but I can't hardly let you get by with that comment "good kid" even though I know that your heart is in the right place;but this young man is what all young men should strive to become in their life,"the best that they can be";so excuse me for piping up and throwing my two cents in when I say "THIS YOUNG MAN IS THE BEST OF THE BEST"!GO BIG ORANGE!

AWOLVol writes:

in response to johnlg00:

Team offense consists of more than just scoring. In addition to all the other things he does, Steven sets the best screens on the team and he keeps the ball moving. That has value even beyond the assists he is credited with.

Excellent point! It seems like SportsCenter's obsession with dunks and 3-Pt shots has watered down most fans' appreciation of the more subtle aspects of the game.

Strap writes:

LSU fans have obviously forgotten the ultimate "Daddy's Boy", Pistol Pete. Would he have set the records he did playing for anyone but his dad? Pistol Pete was a great player and fun to watch, but what other coach would have allowed him to take 50 shots to score 40 points while his team was losing by 20?

vol88 writes:

Nice job Steven. Good solid player.

I remember when we used to chant at Tubby Smith's kid when he was at UK and they would play in Knoxville. That's just part of it.

Ironcity writes:

in response to long_vol:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Childress never recovered from that leg injury he had.

GerryOP writes:

Stevie P brings a needed enthusiasm to the game that at times our basketVols sorely need. Nothing wrong with contributing assists, rebounds, and creating turnovers!

DancingOutlaw writes:

Have to agree with the observation that it's one less guy on the floor looking to jack up a 3. We STILL had that going on saturday, one pass and jack a 3 with 30 on the shot clock. It's unfortunate that it takes a player with less skills in that area to achieve a better balance, you'd like to think pearl could convince these kids to stop shooting every time the touch it.

Gumby#1381110 writes:

I went to the SC game, and I must admit, when Steven Pearl was put in, I'm like "oh no". My brother was with me and when he seen Pearl going in he loudly said, "oh no not Pearl" The man in front of us turned around and said," whats wrong with Pearl"? And my brother said "he sucks, Ive seen him play" *LOL* Pearl I believe might be up to 20% at the free throw line, so lets be honest, the guy is terrible! But on the positive side he does play good D.

vol_till_i_die writes:

in response to Gumby#1381110:

I went to the SC game, and I must admit, when Steven Pearl was put in, I'm like "oh no". My brother was with me and when he seen Pearl going in he loudly said, "oh no not Pearl" The man in front of us turned around and said," whats wrong with Pearl"? And my brother said "he sucks, Ive seen him play" *LOL* Pearl I believe might be up to 20% at the free throw line, so lets be honest, the guy is terrible! But on the positive side he does play good D.

Even if he isn't the best player, he still helps us win games. He brings enthusiasm to the games, and at the end of the day he's a huge part of our victories. Go Vols!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Gumby#1381110:

I went to the SC game, and I must admit, when Steven Pearl was put in, I'm like "oh no". My brother was with me and when he seen Pearl going in he loudly said, "oh no not Pearl" The man in front of us turned around and said," whats wrong with Pearl"? And my brother said "he sucks, Ive seen him play" *LOL* Pearl I believe might be up to 20% at the free throw line, so lets be honest, the guy is terrible! But on the positive side he does play good D.

I heard the announcers say during the SC game that Woolridge is shooting 18% from 3-point range. Steven may only shoot 20% from the line, but at least he got there by drawing a foul on an opposing player. Woolridge's silly heaves only hurt US, not to mention that he takes them with NO regard to the score or the shot-clock. Even when he doesn't score, Steven is more valuable on the floor than Woolridge, who was SUPPOSED to be a top-150 type player when he came here.

dvsvol writes:

in response to HtownVol:

I think we have enough players and do not need to see his no talent # out there as much as he has been lately. I am not saying he cant get some PT, but he is a liability when he is out there,.

Bottom Line, we are in no way a better team whet him on the floor. If you think we are youo are kidding yourself,

GO VOLS

I hate that you put "GO VOLS" at the end of you're post; I for one hate to be associated with such a jerk as you.

samvol writes:

Go Steven Pearl...your doing a great job!!!

midtown2399 writes:

Plays with his heart and head!Good job,relax on the line.You can do it!

Gumby#1381110 writes:

in response to johnlg00:

I heard the announcers say during the SC game that Woolridge is shooting 18% from 3-point range. Steven may only shoot 20% from the line, but at least he got there by drawing a foul on an opposing player. Woolridge's silly heaves only hurt US, not to mention that he takes them with NO regard to the score or the shot-clock. Even when he doesn't score, Steven is more valuable on the floor than Woolridge, who was SUPPOSED to be a top-150 type player when he came here.

Thats funny! Pearl isn't even close to having the talent Woolridge has, though I agree Woolridge isn't as good as advertised, but in time I think he will be. Hey don't get me wrong, I do believe Pearl has done some good things and has contributed and certainly the other players might learn a lesson from his hustle. But you and I both know if daddy wasn't the coach, no way he makes this team. He can't shoot, he misses free throws (because he cant shoot) and he runs funny (I know thats irrelevant) I understand everyone is just being encouraging because he hustles, but come on guys, this guy is a terrible basketball player by college standards.

usnavyvolfaninva_still_getting_paid writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Stevie P brings a needed enthusiasm to the game that at times our basketVols sorely need. Nothing wrong with contributing assists, rebounds, and creating turnovers!

I agree... not the most flattering picture for the article, though.

Gumby#1381110 writes:

in response to vol_till_i_die:

Even if he isn't the best player, he still helps us win games. He brings enthusiasm to the games, and at the end of the day he's a huge part of our victories. Go Vols!

Hey a lot of our fans bring enthusiasm to the games but we shouldnt play them. And there isn't a game we've won that we still wouldn't have won without SP.

hueypilot writes:

in response to HtownVol:

I think we have enough players and do not need to see his no talent # out there as much as he has been lately. I am not saying he cant get some PT, but he is a liability when he is out there,.

Bottom Line, we are in no way a better team whet him on the floor. If you think we are youo are kidding yourself,

GO VOLS

He is an offensive liability, but so was Dennis Rodman. With Smith and Williams gone, Pearl gives Hall and Chism some breathing room and some minutes when they get into foul trouble. I think it is to Daddy's credit that he can use Pearl and not have the team go in the bag, but keep playing competitively. This might be Pearl's best coaching job ever, and certainly his best since his first year on the hill.

Gumby#1381110 writes:

in response to hueypilot:

He is an offensive liability, but so was Dennis Rodman. With Smith and Williams gone, Pearl gives Hall and Chism some breathing room and some minutes when they get into foul trouble. I think it is to Daddy's credit that he can use Pearl and not have the team go in the bag, but keep playing competitively. This might be Pearl's best coaching job ever, and certainly his best since his first year on the hill.

I think you hit on it right there, he is giving rest to the starters. IMO there are only 2 good things SP brings to the team, 1) Good D, and 2) Rest for the starters. But come NCAA tourney time, trust me, you guys will want Pearl on the bench.

Bellem13 writes:

Steven, Your Dad is PROUD of you,So am I! I have two sons, one is a UT Lum. You keep on doing it right, just as you are now.

Gumby#1381110 writes:

in response to KCHS_alum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm just keeping it real, I don't mean to belittle anyone, but facts are facts. SP is a good kid who plays good D and hustles, but come tourney time thats not good enough. Yet fans will be coming on here whining when we lose in the tourney. Fact is SP is not a good big time college basketball player and to say otherwise is a lie!

pj_ladyvolnMI writes:

Vols up to #12 in both polls today.

Volunatic writes:

in response to Gumby#1381110:

Hey a lot of our fans bring enthusiasm to the games but we shouldnt play them. And there isn't a game we've won that we still wouldn't have won without SP.

There's no way of knowing which games we would have won or would not have won without Stephen Pearl. I would guess that we would have lost against Kansas, uf, and LSU without him, though, because the other Vols would have been a little more tired at the end of the game if they had to play that much more.
Also, a strong player on defense tires out the opponents-- this is a big part of the reason why Brian Williams has been missed so much.

Gumby#1381110 writes:

in response to KCHS_alum:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Lets keep it real now KC, you know Pearl is not a good BB player, Ive seen elementary BB players with more talent, but yes he has made some good contributions, Im not blind to that, but at the end of the day his style of play will get us beat come tourney time if he plays too much. Bradshaw maybe didn't have the stats but he was a heck of a leader. I will say though that SP has improved greatly from last year, if he can continue to improve it can help us, but if we expect to be in a final 4 or even final 8, then SP will have to drastically improve, and I hope he does!

tan007 writes:

in response to Gumby#1381110:

Thats funny! Pearl isn't even close to having the talent Woolridge has, though I agree Woolridge isn't as good as advertised, but in time I think he will be. Hey don't get me wrong, I do believe Pearl has done some good things and has contributed and certainly the other players might learn a lesson from his hustle. But you and I both know if daddy wasn't the coach, no way he makes this team. He can't shoot, he misses free throws (because he cant shoot) and he runs funny (I know thats irrelevant) I understand everyone is just being encouraging because he hustles, but come on guys, this guy is a terrible basketball player by college standards.

I don't think anyone could rightfully say Steven Pearl is a terrible basketball player. I have seen every game & I know there have been times when he had his problems but so have the other guys. I hope people will give him encouragement & praise when it is due instead of all this negative talk. He HAS contributed to this team & should get due credit. If the players are going to be picked to pieces about what they do or don't do correctly in each & every ballgame, I think you would find that the responsibility is pretty well on all of their shoulders. They know that & now we have a team that is playing well together & in the games with their heart playing AS a team. We don't need glory guys, just committed players who do their very best each & every game & I believe we are getting there. I am behind ALL of them, they have given us some very interesting & fun games. I have been to all of the home games & hope to not miss any of the rest.
GBO

Gumby#1381110 writes:

in response to tan007:

I don't think anyone could rightfully say Steven Pearl is a terrible basketball player. I have seen every game & I know there have been times when he had his problems but so have the other guys. I hope people will give him encouragement & praise when it is due instead of all this negative talk. He HAS contributed to this team & should get due credit. If the players are going to be picked to pieces about what they do or don't do correctly in each & every ballgame, I think you would find that the responsibility is pretty well on all of their shoulders. They know that & now we have a team that is playing well together & in the games with their heart playing AS a team. We don't need glory guys, just committed players who do their very best each & every game & I believe we are getting there. I am behind ALL of them, they have given us some very interesting & fun games. I have been to all of the home games & hope to not miss any of the rest.
GBO

Wow, Ive heard of the orange kool-aid drinkers but never the steven pearl kool-aid drinkers. I think its great to give encouragement, and steven pearl has improved, but to say he is a good BB player goes beyond drinking pearl kool-aid. You must be watching a different player than I have been.

GerryOP writes:

in response to Gumby#1381110:

I'm just keeping it real, I don't mean to belittle anyone, but facts are facts. SP is a good kid who plays good D and hustles, but come tourney time thats not good enough. Yet fans will be coming on here whining when we lose in the tourney. Fact is SP is not a good big time college basketball player and to say otherwise is a lie!

Several said the same thing about Dane Bradshaw. Pearl is not another Bradshaw, but he sure does contibute when called upon.

"I don't mean to belittle anyone, but facts are facts" Sorry dude, your "facts" are not necessarily facts ... they're only your opinions and that's what you should call them -- opinions. JMHO.

Gumby#1381110 writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Several said the same thing about Dane Bradshaw. Pearl is not another Bradshaw, but he sure does contibute when called upon.

"I don't mean to belittle anyone, but facts are facts" Sorry dude, your "facts" are not necessarily facts ... they're only your opinions and that's what you should call them -- opinions. JMHO.

Ok Mr kool-aid drinker, your right, facts are facts. Could you please look at the following stats for Steven Pearl and tell me in your most desired opinion which one has helped us the most? Is it the 1.4 points per game, or maybe its the 23% from the free throw line. Just curious most knowledgeable one!

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/teams/s...

coppercellarfoodisgreat writes:

ive had the pleasure of meeting steven on campus a few times on football weekends very good mannered and respectful guys you would ever meet always thanking me for attending games at the university of tenn continued sucess steven you will be a good mentor for kids one day.

GerryOP writes:

in response to Gumby#1381110:

Ok Mr kool-aid drinker, your right, facts are facts. Could you please look at the following stats for Steven Pearl and tell me in your most desired opinion which one has helped us the most? Is it the 1.4 points per game, or maybe its the 23% from the free throw line. Just curious most knowledgeable one!

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/teams/s...

Does team leadership and enthusiasm appear in the box score? Do those things matter? Of course they do.

Pearl's 52.6 FG% is third on the team. That's a fact. Sooooo, since all that matters to you are stats, at that rate of success he just needs to shoot more to raise his 1.4 PPG.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to Gumby#1381110:

Thats funny! Pearl isn't even close to having the talent Woolridge has, though I agree Woolridge isn't as good as advertised, but in time I think he will be. Hey don't get me wrong, I do believe Pearl has done some good things and has contributed and certainly the other players might learn a lesson from his hustle. But you and I both know if daddy wasn't the coach, no way he makes this team. He can't shoot, he misses free throws (because he cant shoot) and he runs funny (I know thats irrelevant) I understand everyone is just being encouraging because he hustles, but come on guys, this guy is a terrible basketball player by college standards.

"Talent" and "terrible" are relative terms; relative to productivity, that is. You say he wouldn't be on the team if not for Daddy. You may be right. The thing is, there are LOTS of teams that could use a hard-working, team-oriented guy who practices hard and doesn't mind doing the dirty work more than they need another "talented" but lazy gunner who pouts over minutes, shots, and pub, and is a headache off the court. If it was your team, you could turn your nose up at Steve, but if it is MY team, I would be darned glad to have him.

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