Posts Tagged ‘Nenad Krstic’

France bounces back on Day 2


VIDEO: Mike Fratello talks about the depth of international competition

GRANADA, SPAIN – Entering Day 2 of competition in Group A at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, Serbia-France looked to be the game of the day. And it didn’t disappoint, as France came back from an 11-point deficit to pick up a much-needed 74-73 win in the final seconds.

Joffrey Lauvergne, acquired by the Nuggets in the 2013 Draft, hit the game-winning free throw with 1.1 seconds on the clock after drawing a foul on Serbia’s Miroslav Raduljica.

This was a much different performance for France than we saw in Saturday’s loss to Brazil. Nicolas Batum didn’t have a big game, Boris Diaw was saddled with foul trouble and Evan Fournier couldn’t make a shot, but their offense was much more efficient than it was the day before, scoring 74 points on just 67 possessions.

It was starting center Lauvergne and reserve guards Antoine Diot and Edwin Jackson who provided big lifts. Both scored 15 points and were a part of a huge 10-0 run that got France back in the game early in the third quarter. Jackson assisted Diot and then scored six straight (including a four-point play) on the run.

Lauvergne (19 points, six rebounds, 7-for-10 shooting) played as many minutes in the first quarter on Sunday (10) as he did against Brazil. He was matched up against and severely out-sized by Raduljica (21 points, seven boards, 8-for-13), but used his mobility to make it a pretty even matchup.

“Raduljica is big,” Batum said afterward. “He’s a problem on offense. But Joffrey’s more quicker than him. So, he moves a lot and did a great job for us.”

Lauvergne tied the game with 1:31 left on beautiful feed from Diaw and had a half a step on Raduljica on a broken-play drive from the foul line when the Serbian center was called for the game-deciding foul.

Lauvergne looked to be a little out of control and Raduljica was clearly upset about the call. But he held his tongue after the game. Serbian coach Sasha Djordjevic wasn’t afraid to voice his opinion, however.

“Every bad call that was called today,” Djordjevic said, “was called against us.”

He said he didn’t have a good look at the Raduljica foul, but was more unhappy with a no-call on the other end of the floor. After Diaw tied the game with a drive with 18 seconds left, Phoenix Suns draft pick Bogdan Bogdanovic drove into traffic off a screen from Raduljica and lost the ball out of bounds with 4.8 seconds left, leading to France’s final possession and Lauvergne’s free throw.

A French defender had reached in on Bogdanovic, and Djordjevic wanted a foul on the play.

“It was a tie game,” Djordjevic said. “There was four seconds left. We would have had two shots. It was definitely a foul. It was a bad call.”

Djordjevic wasn’t the coach four years ago, but this is the same team that felt it got hosed against hosts Turkey in the semifinals of the 2010 World Championship, a game Turkey won on a play in which Turkish point guard Kerem Tunceri appeared to step out of bounds.

With Egypt and Iran also in Group A, Serbia shouldn’t have any problem qualifying for the knockout round. But they’re now 0-1 in games between the four best teams in the group, with matchups against Brazil (Wednesday) and Spain (Thursday) still to come.

France, meanwhile, is 1-1. The European champs are missing Tony Parker, but look stronger after getting big games from some of their role players. And after the United States and Spain, this tournament appears to be wide open.

So, after Saturday’s loss, this was huge for both Group A placement and France’s prospects down the line.

“You never know,” Batum said about how far his team can go. “It’s basketball. You get a lot of surprises sometimes.”

More notes from France 74, Serbia 73…

  • Bogdanovic got off to a great start, scoring or assisting on Serbia’s first 13 points. There was a smooth-looking, catch-and-shoot 3, a runner in traffic, and a nice dime to a slipping Raduljica. But he shot 2-for-9 after that (missing a couple of open 3s late), with three turnovers and no assists over the final three periods.
  • So it was interesting to see Serbia put the ball in the hands of the 22 year old, instead of veteran Milos Teodosic (who was also on the floor) for the final possession. “He can finish the game,” Djordjevic said of Bogdanovic. “The other players believe in him. He believes in himself. I believe in him. That’s his job.”
  • Nenad Krstic has long been one of Serbia’s best players, so it was a bit startling to see the 31 year old not playing at all on Sunday. He’s recovering from knee surgery, but Djordjevic called it a “technical decision.” “The way Raduljica played, we didn’t need Krstic in this game.”

Other games of note…

Group B: Croatia 90, Argentina 85

Croatia barely squeaked by the Philippines on Saturday, while Argentina blew out Puerto Rico. So it was a bit of a surprise to see this result a day later.

Dario Saric continues to look like a fascinating NBA prospect, even without a pretty smile. Reportedly, Saric had six teeth knocked out by an elbow from Andres Nocioni (of course). But he continued playing and finished with 17 points and nine rebounds in just 25 minutes. He’s a big dude who moves well and has skills. And it’s a shame the Sixers won’t get him for another two years.

The Nets waited three years for Bojan Bogdanovic. The incoming rookie had another solid game, leading Croatia with 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting (3-for-6 from 3-point range).

Luis Scola led Argentina with 30 points. The guy who averaged 27.1 points in the 2010 World Championship is now averaging 27.0 after two games in Sevilla. #FIBAScola is a legend.

Group B: Senegal 82, Puerto Rico 75

Maybe Argentina’s Day 1 win wasn’t that impressive, because Puerto Rico is clearly the biggest disappointment of the World Cup so far. And now, with an injury to Carlos Arroyo, they look to be in danger of finishing fifth or sixth in their group and not qualifying for the knockout rounds.

After scoring 11 points in the first quarter, #FIBAArroyo sprained his right ankle in the first minute of the second and was sent to the hospital for testing. Puerto Rico won the first quarter, 29-21, but scored just 46 points after that, with J.J. Barea shooting 4-for-12.

Gorgui Dieng had another big game for Senegal, scoring 18 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, and blocking two shots. Senegal looks good for the knockout rounds if it can beat the Philippines on Thursday.

More Day 2 notes

  • Incoming Bulls rookie Cameron Bairstow shot 6-for-7 in Australia’s easy win over Korea. Restricted free agent Aron Baynes has totaled 34 points and 17 boards in two games.
  • The Dragic brothers combined to score 40 points on 14-for-16 shooting (5-for-6 from 3-point range) in Slovenia’s 89-68 win over Mexico. Slovenia’s effective field goal percentage through two games? A ridiculous 67.3 percent.

Big games on tap for Monday

Groups C (Bilbao) and D (Gran Canaria) have the day off. But there will be a couple of intriguing games wrapping up action in Sevilla and Granada.

  • Puerto Rico is now desperate for a win. They’ll face 2-0 Greece (2 p.m. ET, NBA TV) in Group B action.
  • Spain gets its first real test, facing Brazil in the Granada nightcap (4 p.m. ET).
  • NBA TV will also have #FIBAScola and Argentina vs. Andray Blatche and the Philippines at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Serbia Earns Final WCOB Automatic Berth

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Serbia grabbed Europe’s final automatic berth to next year’s World Cup of Basketball with a big win over Italy in the seventh place game at Eurobasket on Saturday.

Serbia took control with a 15-1 run spanning the first and second quarters and they were able to handle any run that Italy tried to make, cruising to a 12-point victory. Nenad Krstic led Serbia with 17 points, while Nemanja Bjelica contributed a double-double and the Warriors’ Nemanja Nedovic added 12 points, four rebounds and four assists.

It was a tough finish to the tournament for Italy, who got just eight points on 3-for-13 shooting from Marco Belinelli. They won all five of their first-round games and beat Spain in round 2, but they lost five of their last six games to finish eighth and out of the WCOB field. Now, they may have to compete with Brazil, Canada, China, Greece, Nigeria, Russia, Tunisia and Turkey for the four wild card spots to be chosen later this year.

2014 World Cup of Basketball field

No. Team Qualified
1 Spain Host
2 USA 2012 Olympic champion
3 Iran FIBA Asia champion
4 Philippines FIBA Asia 2nd place
5 Korea FIBA Asia 3rd place
6 Australia FIBA Oceania champion
7 New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
8 Angola FIBA Africa champion
9 Egypt FIBA Africa 2nd place
10 Senegal FIBA Africa 3rd place
11 Mexico FIBA Americas champion
12 Puerto Rico FIBA Americas second place
13 Argentina FIBA Americas third place
14 Dominican Republic FIBA Americas fourth place
15 France Eurobasket finalist
16 Lithuania Eurobasket finalist
17 Croatia Eurobasket 3rd/4th place
18 Slovenia Eurobasket 5th/6th place
19 Ukraine Eurobasket 5th/6th place
20 Serbia Eurobasket 7th place
21 Wildcard
22 Wildcard
23 Wildcard
24 Wildcard

FIBA Update: Ukraine Advances With Help

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Group E wrapped up action at EuroBasket on Sunday, with Ukraine earning the group’s final spot in the quarterfinals.

Well, they didn’t actually earn it on Sunday, because Latvia’s loss to Belgium in the day’s first game is what got them there. It was an ugly game throughout and it was tied early in the fourth quarter. Belgium took control with a 7-0 run, but Latvia still had two chances to take the lead in the final minute. They missed them both, along with a three to tie in the closing seconds, sending them home.

Latvia had crushed Ukraine on Wednesday, but couldn’t beat anyone else in Group E, so Ukraine didn’t need to beat Lithuania in the day’s second game to reach the quarters. And they didn’t, with Linas Kleiza leading Lithuania to a 70-63 victory.

In the day’s final game, Serbia took Group E’s top seed with a win over France. Tony Parker and Nicolas Batum both shot poorly and Nenad Krstic led Serbia with 19 points.

So Serbia (4-1) is the No. 1 seed from Group E and will play the fourth-place team in Group F in the quarterfinals, which begin Wednesday. They’re followed by Lithuania (4-1), France (3-2) and Ukraine (2-3).

With one more day of action in Group F, we know that Croatia (3-1) and Slovenia (3-1) are in the quarterfinals. And we know the winner of Monday’s second game between Italy (2-2) and Spain (2-2) is also in.

If Spain wins, Italy is also in, because they beat both Greece (1-3) and Finland (1-3). Spain would lose a (head-to-head) tiebreaker with Greece, so a Croatia win over Greece in the day’s first game would help them in case they lose to Italy.

Eurobasket top offenses (points scored per 100 possessions) through Sunday:
1. France – 112.6
2. Greece – 112.2
3. Italy – 111.1
4. Spain – 108.7
5. Serbia – 107.6

Eurobasket top defenses (points allowed per 100 possessions) through Sunday:
1. Spain – 83.7
2. Czech Republic – 93.9
3. Lithuania – 94.6
4. Croatia – 96.8
5. Latvia – 99.7

2014 World Cup of Basketball field

No. Team Qualified
1 Spain Host
2 USA 2012 Olympic champion
3 Iran FIBA Asia champion
4 Philippines FIBA Asia 2nd place
5 Korea FIBA Asia 3rd place
6 Australia FIBA Oceania champion
7 New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
8 Angola FIBA Africa champion
9 Egypt FIBA Africa 2nd place
10 Senegal FIBA Africa 3rd place
11 Mexico FIBA Americas champion
12 Puerto Rico FIBA Americas second place
13 Argentina FIBA Americas third place
14 Dominican Republic FIBA Americas fourth place
15 Eurobasket champion*
16 Eurobasket 2nd place*
17 Eurobasket 3rd place*
18 Eurobasket 4th place*
19 Eurobasket 5th place*
20 Eurobasket 6th place*
21 Wildcard
22 Wildcard
23 Wildcard
24 Wildcard

* If Spain finishes in the top six, the seventh place team will qualify.

FIBA Update: Latvia, Lithuania Pick Up Big Wins At EuroBasket

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – EuroBasket’s second round tipped off with a couple of important games on Wednesday. We’ve got 12 teams playing for eight spots in the quarterfinals and then six or seven spots in next year’s World Cup of Basketball field.

Though this was the first day of the second round, each team brought two first-round results into the standings. That’s why the day’s first game between Latvia and Ukraine was critical. Mike Fratello’s Ukraine team came in at 1-2, in fourth place in Group E. Latvia was 0-2, in fifth place. And since four teams from each group make the quarterfinals, this game could be the one that ultimately makes the difference.

That’s good news for Latvia, who controlled the game from the tip, had a 42-22 lead by halftime, opened the game up even more in the third quarter, and cruised to a 34-point win. They shot less than 33 percent from 3-point range in the first round, but hit 15 of their 29 3s on Wednesday. Ukraine, meanwhile, couldn’t buy a bucket after finishing the first round with a top-five offense. To get back in the top four of Group E, they’ll have to upset either Serbia (Friday) or France (Sunday).

Though the second game was closer than it should have been, Serbia eventually took care of business against Belgium. Nenad Krstic led the way with 17 points and five assists and, at 3-0, Serbia is looking good for the quarterfinals.

So does Lithuania, who handed France its second loss of the tournament (and first in Group E) in Wednesday’s third game. Lithuania’s top-five defense bettered France’s top-five offense, as Tony Parker was held to just 11 points on 4-for-8 shooting and Nicolas Batum added just eight more.

Group F gets under way on Friday, with the Finland-Croatia game being another one that could ultimately determine who goes to the quarterfinals and who doesn’t.

2014 World Cup of Basketball field

No. Team Qualified
1 Spain Host
2 USA 2012 Olympic champion
3 Iran FIBA Asia champion
4 Philippines FIBA Asia 2nd place
5 Korea FIBA Asia 3rd place
6 Australia FIBA Oceania champion
7 New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
8 Angola FIBA Africa champion
9 Egypt FIBA Africa 2nd place
10 Senegal FIBA Africa 3rd place
11 Mexico FIBA Americas champion
12 Puerto Rico FIBA Americas second place
13 Argentina FIBA Americas third place
14 Dominican Republic FIBA Americas fourth place
15 Eurobasket champion*
16 Eurobasket 2nd place*
17 Eurobasket 3rd place*
18 Eurobasket 4th place*
19 Eurobasket 5th place*
20 Eurobasket 6th place*
21 Wildcard
22 Wildcard
23 Wildcard
24 Wildcard

* If Spain finishes in the top six, the seventh place team will qualify.

France, Russia Reach EuroBasket Semis

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Hometown and host-nation favorite Lithuania saved its Olympic qualifying bacon with a win over Slovenia in early action Thursday at EuroBasket 2011.

The crowd faves were just the warm up act, however, as France (as noted by my main man and NBA.com’s John Schuhmann) and Russia played their way into the semifinals with wins …

Russia 77, Serbia 67 (Box Score)

There is only one team still playing in EuroBasket that hasn’t tasted defeat in this competition. Russia has won nine straight games and will take that unblemished mark into a semifinal showdown against France. When you have the most versatile player in the competition, do-it-all swingman Andrei Kirilenko, leading the charge every night, it makes sense that Russia continues to wear down the competition. Kirilenko finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocks.

“Two years ago we played in the same phase against the same group of great players and the same great coach and we lost, as I said then, by a better team,” said Russia coach David Blatt. “We moved forward from there. We provided our players with the kind of teaching and culture it takes to build a successful national team. We got back two of our main players – Kirilenko and [Viktor] Khryapa, who didn’t play in 2009, and you saw tonight how important they are. But the story is the other players who matured and are now a higher level basketball players. It’s a sweet win, but the joy is short, because we play tomorrow in the semifinals. We’ve had a great run so far.”

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Shaq: An Incomplete Timeline

MIAMI – As Doc Rivers was talking to a throng of reporters before the Boston Celtics’ shootaround at AmericanAirlines Arena this morning, I turned around and saw Shaquille O’Neal walking toward the Celtics’ locker room. Except that he wasn’t walking.

I’m not sure how bad Shaq’s limp was before this series began, but I can definitely say it was very pronounced this morning.

“There’s just nothing he can do,” Rivers said. “It’s not like he’s not trying. I told our team that yesterday. He’s done everything you possibly can do to get healthy. And unfortunately for him, he just hasn’t been able to do it.”

Obviously, with the possibility of Shaq’s season and career being over, a lot needs to be said and written. Here’s are some random thoughts that come to my mind… (more…)

Surveying Sunday’s Wounded

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Watching Shaquille O’Neal hobble to the locker room Sunday had to scare the shamrocks out of Celtics fans worldwide.

His return had been talked about for weeks, particularly since that trade deadline move that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City and left Shaq as the Celtics’ low-post savior for the playoffs. But now a strained calf has Celtics fans biting their nails, wondering when the Big Shamrock will be ready for action with the start of the playoffs just days away.

The calf strain O’Neal suffered has nothing to do with the Achilles injury that cost him the last two months, per Celtics coach Doc Rivers. Still, Rivers admitted that what went down Sunday was “scary,” and especially so for a team that’s already trying to get injured bigs (Jermaine O’Neal is back, Nenad Krstic is on the way) back into a groove.

How much longer with the Celtics be without Shaq? WEEI’s Paul Flannery says that’s just one of the questions the Celtics need answered this morning. Rivers tried:

“I don’t know, is the answer,” he said. “I don’t think very long honestly. That’s what [team doctor Brian] McKeon and [the medical staff] thought, that it’s very minor. Scary, more than anything. We’ll see.”

Will this affect your plans to play him if he can come back during the regular season?

“I don’t know what to do, honestly. My inclination is not because he needs to play and we have to play at full tilt in six games, so I don’t know the answer yet.”

Celtics fans weren’t the only ones gasping in horror over the weekend.

Lakers fans had a scare of their own when the linchpins to the low-post advantage that’s helped power them to back-to-back titles, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, both went down with knee injuries in their loss to the Nuggets.

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Will Ainge’s Latest Gamble Pay Off?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The final grades on the Celtics’ controversial trade deadline move that sent Kendrick Perkins to Oklahoma City aren’t in yet.

They aren’t due into the office for at least another month, or however long the Celtics’ playoff run lasts.

Celtics general manager Danny Ainge might not want to see those grades if the Celtics can’t get back into a groove. They’ve stumbled since the trade, going 10-8 since then and have lost seven of their last 12 games. Their chemistry is off and they just don’t look like the dominant team they were before the deal went down.

All that said, Ainge has gambled big before and hit the jackpot — most recently in the summer of 2008 when he blew up the roster to assemble the Big 3 of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.

With those three in the starting lineup, along with Perkins and All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo, the Celtics had never lost a playoff series. And now they never will, because Perkins is one of the 10 players and a draft pick that Ainge has moved since that championship season.

Like we said, Ainge has gambled before.

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StatsCube: Celtics’ Offense in a Funk


For the second straight season, the Boston Celtics are slumping down the stretch. They’ve lost six of their last 10 games, completely losing their grip on the top seed in the Eastern Conference in the process. Now, they’re just a game in the loss column ahead of the Miami Heat for second in the East, facing the prospect of starting a conference semifinals matchup in Miami, instead of at home.

When the Celtics traded Kendrick Perkins, the fear was that their defense would suffer. Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic are good players and should make Boston’s offense more potent, but neither is known for their prowess on the defensive end of the floor.

And yes, the Boston defense did give up 30 fourth-quarter points to the Charlotte Bobcats (the fifth worst offensive team in the league) on Friday, turning a 13-point lead into a two-point loss. But in general, it’s been the Celtics’ offense that has really struggled of late.

Celtics efficiency, 2010-11

Timeframe Rec. Pace Off. Eff. Def. Eff. Diff.
Pre-trade 41-14 93.0 105.2 97.4 +7.8
Post-trade 9-7 91.9 100.3 97.0 +3.3
Last 10 4-6 89.8 98.0 95.2 +2.9

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
Off. Eff. = Points scored per 100 possessions
Def. Eff. = Points allowed per 100 possessions

So, since the trade, the Celtics’ defense has basically been performing at the same level as it was before the deal. The numbers are a little skewed by a game in which they held the Bucks to 56 points, but they have held nine of their 16 opponents under a point per possession, and their only bad defensive game since the trade was a 108-103 loss to the Clippers on March 9.

Side note: In contrast, it was the Celtics’ defense that suffered more at the end of last season, allowing 104.3 points per 100 possessions after the All-Star break and 111.8 over their last nine games.

The Celtics are grabbing fewer offensive rebounds since the trade, but they’re also getting to the line more often and turning the ball over a little less. So they’re actually getting more shots per possession than they were before the trade. And they’re even shooting their free throws better.

Essentially, the Celtics’ offensive drop-off is completely a result of poor shooting from the field.

Celtics’ shooting

Timeframe 2P% 3P% EFG%
Pre-trade 0.522 0.374 0.530
Post-trade 0.479 0.330 0.482
Last 10 0.467 0.301 0.464

EFG% = (FGM + (.5*3PM)) / FGA

Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo are all shooting worse from the field since the trade, and the Celtics’ offense has suffered as a result. With the Big Four on the floor together, they’re scoring 105.8 points per 100 possessions since the trade (despite a hot start), as opposed to 111.8 before it.

But when the big four aren’t all on the floor is when the Celtics’ offense really struggles, scoring just 94.1 points per 100 possessions since the trade, which is downright dreadful.

Celtics’ efficiency since trade with player on floor

Player GP MIN Off. Eff.
Rajon Rondo 16 581 102.7
Ray Allen 16 575 103.1
Paul Pierce 16 535 102.9
Kevin Garnett 16 512 105.0
Nenad Krstic 15 384 106.4
Jeff Green 15 344 97.0
Glen Davis 12 340 95.2
Delonte West 8 150 92.1
Troy Murphy 11 114 82.1
Carlos Arroyo 8 102 96.2

Off. Eff. = Points scored per 100 possessions

You can see why Doc Rivers has gone to an eight-man rotation in a couple of those games.

For a veteran team that was able to flip the switch when the playoffs began last year, it’s easy to theorize that the Celtics’ problems stem from boredom, complacency or a broken ubuntu. And perhaps it’s just a matter of time for the new guys in the rotation to get going.

No matter what the underlying issue is, the shots aren’t falling.

***

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

Perkins, Rivers Still Recovering

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We all knew from the shock and immediate player and fan reaction that when Kendrick Perkins was traded from Boston to Oklahoma City on Feb. 24 that it must have a been an extremely difficult decision for the Celtics.

We just had no idea how truly difficult it was on both Perkins and Celtics coach Doc Rivers. They both opened up about it to Peter May of ESPNBoston.com. When is the last time you heard a coach talking about the decision to trade a player the way Rivers did here:

“It was the most difficult thing I have had to do since I’ve been in the league,” Rivers said. “It was like sending one of your kids [away]. It can be very hard to separate the basketball from the personal and this one was definitely that for me. Perk had great spirit. He had the intangibles you look for. We all decided to make the trade, but, for me, it hurt. It hurt a lot.”

The pain went both ways.

Perkins used words like “overwhelmed”  and “emotional” to describe his reaction, initially and to this day, about the deal that sent the Celtics’ low-post enforcer and Nate Robinson to Oklahoma City in an exchange for Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.

But unlike some other trades that leave scars that never heal, Perkins, Rivers and the organization are all healing from the whatever the initial surprise did to them all.

In fact, Perkins said he learned a few lessons about the business of basketball during the process. It can’t hurt that he went from one contender to another. The Thunder, fresh off of last night’s win in Miami, are 7-1 this month. And Perkins has already signed a contract extension with the Thunder. Still, the connection to Boston remains:

“Obviously, I am going to miss Boston a lot,” he said. “I talked to Danny [Ainge] on the phone the day the deal was done. It was hard for both of us. We go back a long way. But I understand that this is the business part of it. “I look back and I have to be pleased with everything they did for me, from bringing me there from high school. I am grateful for all the experiences, to be able to be a part of a championship team. It was all great. No complaints. I was blessed to be there for eight years.”