July 2013 Archives
That's right, the official kickoff of the football season happened last night. I wont' use this space to complain about how I've never actually taken part in this unique standard of UC's football conference, rather, to rejoice its arrival.
We are now less than one week from the first Bearcats practice (Aug. 5) and just over a month from the opening game against Purdue (Aug. 31). We can stop talking about conference juggling and Ryan Braun's urine samples.
The Bearcats sent Brendon Kay, Austen Bujnoch, Jordan Stepp and Greg Blair.
Our sterling media team sent Dan Hoard and Video Shane to document the festivities.
Unfortunately not lobster, but let's eat ...
--- The media poll came out with UC slotting second behind Louisville, the Bearcats were the only team besides the Cardinals to receive a first-place vote, they had two.
|Team (1st votes)||Points|
Not many surprises, most anticipated Louisville first with UC and Rutgers the top contenders to dethrone them. Of course, I'll give the same speech here I do every year at this time. Pay as little attention to these polls as possible. How many years when the Bearcats won four outright or shared titles were they ranked first in the preseason? None.
|Year||UC Poll Pick|
All that said, Memphis will be terrible. Believe that.
--- Dan spoke with Brendon about all things clambake and anticipation of today's Media Day questions. DH also points out Kay participated in the Manning passing academy this offseason. It's a collection of the top 30 QBs around the country. Amazing how much life has changed for Kay in less than a year. More than halfway through last season he was a backup quarterback riding out his senior year seemingly into a frustrating obscurity. Now, he's throwing with the top QBs in the country and being instructed by the Mannings.
Perhaps we've come across time to start thinking about Kay not as much as in a battle within his own team, but a battle among quarterbacks nationally. Unfair? Maybe.
How many returning quarterbacks reeled off four of five games to close last season with at least 61 percent completion, at least 240 yards per, 10 touchdowns and two or less interceptions?
- Tajh Boyd, Clemson? No. Seven picks.
- Teddy Bridgewater? No, tossed one pick in each of his last four games.
- Aaron Murray? No. Twice completion percentage less than 55 percent
- Marcus Mariota, Oregon? No. Twice under 175 and twice less than 57 percent.
- Brett Hundley, UCLA? No. Twice under 52 percent, three picks.
- AJ McCarron, Bama? No. Three picks, twice under 175 yards.
- Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M? Almost. Had three picks in last five games.
Debate however you'd like about difficulty of opponent or if stat-twisting is going on, we only have five games to weigh how Kay played and his numbers compared with the best in the country and his team only lost one game.
--- Because I love the word extrapolate and the calculator app on my phone, let's extrapolate Kay's numbers out over the course of a 13-game season.
Totals: 226 of 360 (63 percent), 3,375 yards, 26 touchdowns, 5 interceptions.
Who can claim hitting all those watermarks last year?
Colby Cameron (La. Tech). That's it.
Those numbers are rather unfair, particularly the five interceptions but you get what I am getting at here? In a game where the quality of your quarterback relates directly proportional to your success the Bearcats could have one of the best around.
--- Want to hear what Commish
Mike Aresco said Tuesday morning. Here you go.
Highlights worth earmarking: If the power five plans on attempting to break off from the rest of football, he fully expects The American to be a part of that.
"Whatever the highest level of football is, we expect to be a part of it."
--- Randomness ...
--- One of my favorite movie
scenes is from Barbershop when the women busts up a car with a baseball bat thinking its her cheating boyfriend's, only to be some old man getting a lined up for a cut. She just takes off running when she realizes. This isn't quite that
, but the whatever this dude did his lady wasn't real fond of it.
--- Going with The Who today and I shouldn't need a reason why.
On Monday morning before leaving for American
Football Media Days in Newport, RI, I joked on Twitter that I would not be
asking any questions about the topic that dominated the recent SEC Media Days.
That was before
I learned that UC quarterback Brendon Kay not only attended the Manning Passing
Academy, but he and roommate Jeff Driskel (Florida Gators) were suitemates with
Manziel and A.J. McCarron.
"I got along well with all of those guys - they're
all great guys," Kay told me. "Some
stuff happened while we were down there that got most of the media (attention) about
While Brendon was not about to share any TMZ-worthy
material about Johnny Football, he was happy to discuss his trip to the Manning
invited at some point during spring ball," said Kay. "Coach Tuberville brought it up to me and
that week Archie Manning called. It was
"Overall, it was an incredible experience to meet
all of those NFL guys, the NFL Network guys, and the draft guys. There were probably 30 of the top quarterbacks
down there from all over the country. I was
a sponge when I was down there and tried to soak up as much knowledge as I
could from Peyton, Eli, and all of the NFL guys that were down there. It helped me this summer seeing how they did
their workouts and what they did with their receivers. I tried to use the same stuff when I got back
Aside from travel costs, expenses are taken care of
for the college quarterbacks and being invited provided a big boost to the 6th-year senior.
"It helps your confidence to go out and throw with
those guys and see that I can throw with any of the guys around the country,"
said Kay. "It's not that I needed any
extra confidence or anything, but it was definitely a confidence booster and
showed that my hard work is paying off."
This week, Brendon joined teammates Greg Blair,
Austen Bujnoch, and Jordan Stepp in representing the Bearcats at the American
Kickoff event in Rhode Island. Kay's
inclusion in the UC contingent provided the latest proof that he's the number
one quarterback going into UC's training camp.
But that's not how he's treating it.
"I'm just going to go out and try to get better
every day," Brendon told me. "Competition
is a good thing - it pushes me every day.
It never lets me settle and get too comfortable which is good. It's what I'm used to and allows me to keep
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Though players disappear from the radar of UC basketball fans upon graduating, the coaching of those who continue their basketball careers overseas only begins for Mick Cronin.
CINCINNATI -- Yancy Gates laughs and rolls his eyes simultaneously. All at the mere mention of the multitude of important decisions he needed to make in the months following the conclusion of his UC career and beginning of his professional journey.
The moment Ohio State put the finishing touches on his final NCAA tournament run in March of 2012, Gates faced an uncertain future.
Where should he play? Should the NBA be an option? Is riding the bench worth being in the league? What International leagues present the best opportunities? Do any offer health insurance? Who should be his agent? What will he do with an influx of income? When will he see his daughter and family? How must he alter his game for the next level?
Gates spent his life on the streets of hometown Cincinnati, as recognized as comfortable and caretaken. Eventually last year, he landed in Lithuania, only recognized by teammates and his work Visa. Decisions needed to be made and executed while processing a language out of the Rosetta Stone post-graduate program and culture adjustment only a sitcom writer could love.
Enduring the process alone would come as easy as personally calculating the currency conversion from American dollars to Lithuanian litas.
"You try to talk to a lot of different people," said Gates, who spent this summer in the Puerto Rico league. "It's a lot different than being in college where your house and room is paid for, all that stuff so, you got to be more responsible. Just because you're are overseas, I have a daughter. That doesn't take away from the responsibilities you have at home. You just try to stay focused and be able to budget all of it on an even level. You try to use all your sources."
That's where Mick Cronin enters the equation. He developed Gates in order to win 89 games during four years for UC. In Cronin's mind, though, with Gates and every other product of the Bearcats program, after the final game his coaching just begins.
"We got a lot of things to do with those guys," Cronin said. "Stuff we do with guys all the time. There are things people don't realize with these guys, they are graduated, their health insurance is gone. If you are getting it through the university or with your parents. There are things we talk about with these guys all the time are important. A lot of young people don't understand how important that is."
Little time exists for lag. Upon leaving school, Cronin immediately helps them find agents they can trust - as much as that is attainable. If the NBA doesn't come calling, which will be the case for 99 percent of college basketball players, a trusted guide through often rocky overseas waters stands essential.
Just ask John Williamson. He's played in eight different countries since graduating from UC in 2008. Williamson averaged 12.5 points and 6.8 rebounds during his two seasons as a JuCo transfer early in Cronin's rebuilding process.
Taking on a career overseas he endured a medical staff in Venezuela that incorrectly diagnosed what turned out to be a broken collarbone, nearly forcing career-threatening damage had he not decided to bolt the league after one game.
Every offseason he's forced to weigh options between leagues covering the globe, all while being discounted as as series of injuries stunted his progress. Cronin set Williamson up with an agent he could trust and even a financial planner to properly save his money. He sent out word to international coaches assisting Williamson finding teams.
Williamson leaned on both his biological family and UC family to make it through.
"You have to look at it as I am going to live abroad, going overseas for this x-amount of months and I am not going to see my family and stuff like that," Williamson said. "There's more of a mental state. You got to have that passion and have good people around you like Mick Cronin."
This past season he averaged 15.4 points and 5.6 rebounds playing in France. He's currently undecided if he will rejoin that team or move elsewhere as one of the top American free agents in the league.
He's not surprised by all the assistance Cronin and his staff offered once he couldn't help them win games anymore, that generosity drew him to UC in the first place.
"It's not a surprise because of how Mick is," Williamson said. "Even former players before us, I'd see how he treated them when I was here. If they needed anything as far as tickets or jobs or anything, he'll help you as much as he can. That's why I have no doubt if I needed anything as far as playing ball, a phone call to Mick and I'm sure he'd do the best he can to help me out. It's always good to have the relationship and the people I met over the years in Cincinnati is all good people, so it's a blessing."
Williamson thrives as a veteran of the European game and still hoping to work out for NBA scouts when given the opportunity. He hears from coaches, teammates and scouts repeatedly than his game can translate to the league. If that opportunity comes, he'll be grateful. If not, well, playing in Europe has been a different dream come true in itself.
Meanwhile, Gates still chases his dreams. He could have taken a camp tryout with the Boston Celtics last year, but passed so he could spend time playing instead of sitting. He hopes a few years in Europe will lead to a shot in the NBA. Where his path forks next remains to be determined. He only knows when the decisions pile up again, he knows what number to call.
"Anything I'd asked (the UC coaching staff) before they were willing to help me with," he said. "I could call any guy on the coaching staff, any trainer, anyone would help me even now still. I keep in contact with all of them."
I want to hear from you! Shoot me any comments, questions or suggestions about anything surrounding UC athletics to firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr.
The Tommy Tuberville era at Cincinnati is about to
begin. The Bearcats check-in for training
camp on Sunday, August 4 and hold their first practice the
following day. Fans can meet the players
and get autographs at the annual "Meet the Team" event at Kings Island on
Sunday, August 18.
I had the opportunity to interview Coach Tuberville
this week about some key topics going into camp:
has it that you were hanging out with the big stars at the ESPYS last week?
Every year I play in the V
Foundation Golf Classic to raise money to fight cancer. I've been going for many years. Sometimes I go to the ESPYS along with it,
but this year I didn't have time so I just played in the golf tournament to help
them raise money and then I flew back. I
played with actor Chris Tucker, and Bruce Jenner played right in front of
us. You get to meet a lot of people at
that tournament, but I'm always excited to get back home and get ready for the
been coaching for a long time, but when you're in your first year at a program
is training camp more challenging?
It's more challenging because we're still finding
out about our players and they're finding out about us. But I'm excited about our off-season. They've just gone through a very tough summer
workout program and I think we're in very good physical shape. They've gotten stronger and you're always
excited to get them back on the field to see where we've come since spring
practice in terms of their physical and mental abilities.
the quarterback job Brendon Kay's to lose at training camp?
Yes, because he had a very good spring and I thought
that Munchie (Legaux) hit the wall in about the 10th or 11th practice. The guy that really played
well and made a lot of headway was Bennie Coney. Bennie has a lot of talent - he can run, he
can throw, and do all of those things.
So we're going to have some options.
I tell you, it's going to be a battle.
I've told Brendon that we're going to start him out with the first
group, but anything can happen. We'll
have a couple of scrimmages and a lot of practices and remember, your
quarterback not only runs the offense - he's the leader of your entire
team. Brendon is probably a little bit
ahead, but that can change very quickly in two-a-days.
ran into a member of your staff this week who told me that a few of the junior
college additions are going to make an immediate impact this year. Can you tell us about a few of those guys?
We have on campus running backs Rod Moore and Hosea
Williams who will battle it out with Tion Green and Ralph Abernathy. Going into the season, you have got to have
two or three running backs that you can count on, so I think there is going to
be a lot of competition there. Jerrell Jordan
is a junior college defensive end that came in in January and broke his foot -
the fifth metatarsal - and had a screw put in it so he didn't get a lot of
practice time. He's in much better shape,
and Terrell Hartsfield is another junior college defensive end that has been on
campus for about two months and I think he is really going to help us. Those guys are going to be great additions to
our football team mentally and physically.
Then we have Howard Wilder, a junior college cornerback, that I really
think is going to help this team get better.
In those areas we need some help, and I think they're going to provide
it for us going into the opening game.
cornerback your biggest concern?
We have a lot of concerns. Every football team has concerns about
experience and depth, but I would say right now that it's the cornerback
position just because of depth. I think
we have some guys that can play, but you have to have six to eight guys on your
team, and we're going to have to count on a couple of high school players to
come in and give us some help, along with junior college players like Howard
Wilder. So corner has been a concern
since we got here. I think we've helped
ourselves in recruiting, but now we have to get them in shape and get them
ready to play mentally.
have read and heard about your Australian rugby player Lindsay Crook. Is he likely to redshirt in year one to learn
I think that's a big question mark. I know he's a good athlete and he can really
run. He had a setback - we had to scope
his knee about a month ago because he had some loose cartilage in there that
was giving him some pain. So we decided
to go ahead and clean that up. He was
down for about three weeks - he's just now started running again. But I think he'll be able to help us
some. I'm not sure what position or it
might just be on special teams, but you've got to remember that he's not your average
high school player. He'll be 21 years
old this year. He's got a lot to learn
about what we do and how we do it, but I think that he can pick it up. We'll have to see how far he can come in the
next few weeks. I'm not going to play
him just to play him, but I think he has the ability to help the team this
been the most pleasant surprise about the UC program since you arrived?
The enthusiasm of the players and the confidence
that they have. The thing about the UC
football program over the last six or seven years - it's probably been one of
the biggest surprises nationwide. For a
long time, UC was one of the doormats of college football, but with the
emergence of winning like UC has won over the past few years - every team has
some ups and downs - but they've had some consistency. They've been to two BCS Bowl games, and most
schools across the country haven't been to one.
I think the confidence that these players have in what they can do and
how they can do it gives us an edge. I'm
not here to change a whole lot; I just want to keep the ship going in the right
begin your tenure here in The American - the new American Athletic Conference. As a head coach, would you rather be in a
league where you potentially could dominate or a league like the Big 12 with
traditional powers like Oklahoma and Texas?
I think there's a fine line there. Everybody wants to win games and I think that's
a big question mark for where you want to be.
But for us to have an opportunity to win national championships,
something is eventually going to have to happen for us to get into the (power
five conferences). But I like the
conference we're in. I like the teams
that we're playing and I think we can compete and be one of the stronger teams
in the league year in and year out. That's
how we're going to treat it. We're going
to recruit harder every year, and we're going to try to beat whoever is on our
schedule. We really don't have control
over that right now, so we're just going to have to wait and see what happens.
I'd love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net
If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard
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And I haven't posted a photo of the handsome lad in
quite some time. Here is Sam getting
ready for a feast on a recent family vacation to Maine.
As a senior at Cosby HS near Richmond, VA last year,
Troy Caupain averaged 27 points and 15 rebounds. But when he joins the Bearcats this fall,
Caupain will be looking to pile up assists since he is expected to play point
guard at the college level.
"We were able to see Troy enough to realize that
this guy is a point guard," said UC head coach Mick Cronin. "He's 6'3" and he's still only 17; he won't
turn 18 until six or seven games into the season. But he's a natural point guard. It's the one position - kind of like
quarterback in football - where there are probably some things that you're just
born with. He's comfortable with the
ball in his hands and he sees the entire court."
Caupain says that Coach Cronin wasn't the first
person to see point guard potential in his future.
"My uncle realized it was time to be a guard because
I wasn't going to be 6'8" or taller," said Caupain. "So he worked with me to build up my ball
handling, my basketball IQ, and my court awareness. I took it to mean that I was going to be a
point guard and ever since then, I dedicated myself toward doing that every
time that I went to the gym."
"I remember recruiting Kenny Satterfield and a lot
of the services said that he wasn't a point guard because he was 6'2" and he
scored a lot of points in high school," said Cronin. "But when you watch a guy play, you can see
what he's comfortable with and it really wasn't a hard thing with Troy. When the ball is in his hands he's very comfortable
and he doesn't really feel pressure.
When some guys get pressured, they put their head down, they get
nervous, and they speed up. When Troy
sees pressure it doesn't rattle him. He
just makes a simple pass and is calm with the ball."
was named the Player of the Year in Richmond last year and finished his
career as his school's all-time leader in scoring average and rebounds. That led to comparisons to a former DePaul
star that spent 17 years in the NBA.
"People tell me that I remind them of Rod Strickland
back when he played for the Wizards," said Caupain. "He was a floor general on the court - he
could get a bucket when his team needed it, but he looked to involve his
teammates. I like to smile, be a leader,
and get my teammates involved in the game.
"When I was young, (Strickland's) son played on my
little cousin's AAU team, so I used to see him all the time and we used to go
to his house and play basketball and stuff."
Caupain's ability to find open teammates figures to
put him in the mix to replace Cashmere Wright as Cincinnati's starting point
Does Troy expect to win the job?
"That's not my call," Caupain told me. "But I'm working hard to try to earn that
spot - yes."
"I'm excited about him because he's going to make
other guys better," said Cronin. "That's
the key. He's going to get other guys a
lot of easy baskets."
I'd love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net
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Another week of dead period in the books, but fear not the first practice is around the corner. This becomes a bit of the silly season in college football as the scribes scratch and claw to manufacture storylines. Watch lists that can alter dramatically as the season unfolds, pre-rankings assured to look foolish by Week 2 and the best are the media talking about the media
(I'm looking at you SEC Media Days).
I will do my best to avoid those standard pitfalls, and maybe spend some time disproving a few of them. Of course, for UC the first practice will be Aug. 5 and we are 47 days away from the Aug. 31 opener against Purdue. So, soon we can start discussing real storylines.
This brings me to the blog question of the day: What storyline perks your interest the most this season?
Here's a few choices, place your vote.
Hope everyone enjoyed their July 4 holiday weekend. Yes, I know my readership, and I'm positive you all took off Friday and probably sneaking in an off day today to maximize laziness potential. Congrats.
Now, let's eat ...
--- Sean Kilpatrick and the USA WUG team not exactly challenged by basketball power United Arab Emirates. The USA team slaughtered the oil mavens, winning, 140-46.
Even more impressive, SK led all US scorers with 18 points in his 24 minutes. He hit four triples along with four boards and three assists.
He had this to say about his first official game:
"Everyone on this team can score, and that's an advantage," Kilpatrick said. "We have the best players in the USA as of right now, and it was good to come down here with these guys and play this game. Everyone on this team plays the game the right way. When you've got guys that share the ball this well, then it's very special."
--- Monday morning the US squad hit the floor again, this time trouncing the Czech Republic, 96-53.
SK chipped in with seven.
Here is a replay of the game on ESPN3, if you want to take it in. Kilpatrick not starting at this point, but coaches have repeatedly discussed his energy off the bench as the major asset he's brought to the team, both with his defensive pressure and shooting from 3.
--- As for the rest of the live schedule, you can also catch games on ESPNU tape delays:
--- Sadly, we mourn the death of the ESPN BIG EASTblog, which has apparently gone away as they restructured to add a Stanford only blog (wait, what?). Loved the work Andrea Adelson and Matt Fortuna did to cover the conference and they'll definitely be missed. No matter, you know you can always keep it locked here at GoBearcats.com for all you need to know about UC football in season.
--- Randomness ...
--- One of the best parts of often working from home is being able to often work from the road. I'll be doing that this week following the Reds in Milwaukee. Which prompts this lovely tune for today's drive.
Have a great day.
Good morning my fellow Americans. That's right, welcome to Day 1 of The American Athletic Conference. The transition from Big East to American officially occurred today. So, as a Civics lesson of sorts, which apparently they're still working on at UConn
, I will rundown for everyone the 10 teams that will be participating this season in the American conference.
Cincinnati, Connecticut, Houston, Louisville, Memphis, Rutgers, SMU, South Florida, Temple, UCF.
In 2014, Louisville and Rutgers will move out while East Carolina, Tulane and Tulsa will hop in. In 2015, Navy joins the fold in football only.
Got it? Got it.
Let's eat ...
--- Hope everyone enjoyed the countdown of the top 10 crucial developments for 2013. Wasn't the catchiest of titles, but an interesting look inside the storylines we'll be following when Higher Ground opens in about five weeks.
Maybe some surprise with Tion Green at the top spot, but the clear consensus from Tommy Tuberville in discussing his concern position group was the backfield needs to be solidified. Whether it be figuring out a plan for Ralph David Abernathy, seeking maturity from Green or Deionte Buckley or finding a gem among junior college transfers, a balance of carries needs to be established.
You never know how the rotation will play out, remember this time last year we were discussing the likelihood of a three-headed monster in the backfield -- then George Winn carried 243 times with nobody else lugging it more than 70.
--- The big news from last week came with the announcement of the renovation of Nippert Stadium. Here's the video and update from Whit Babcock.
Agreed. For me, the most impressive element was the amount of suites and boxes already sold. The 18 Founders suites, which run at $100k a year with a minimum 10-year commitment were already sold out. Wow. That's serious financial support before any public sale even begins. It solidifies the reality this was the right decision to make. There is too much money in expansive premium seating to pass on the opportunity to add these types of facilities that can flip the financial model of the department.
Without a dime taken from the general university fund this renovation will pay for itself. Plus, I believe most importantly, new press box for the us media heathens!
When talking to SK before he left, it was apparent how seriously he was taking this opportunity. He wanted to play for Team USA, this was not some offseason camp for fun. That was apparent as by all reports he played extremely well and making the 12-man team considering the talent comprised in the 30 players that showed up in Colorado Springs speaks for itself.
SK becomes the fourth UC player to play in the WUG for Team USA. The previous three: Pete Mickeal, Kenyon Martin and Eric Hicks.
First off, nice company. Second, take a look at the improvement of those three players between their junior and senior seasons when they played for the USA team.
|Player||Jr. Year Stats
||Sr. Year Stats|
|Pete Mickeal||13.5 pts, 6.5 rebs., 50.4% shot
||14.9 pts, 7.2 rebs., 58.3% shot|
|Kenyon Martin||10.1 pts, 6.9 rebs., 2.4 blcks
||18.9 pts, 9.7 rebs., 3.5 blcks|
|Eric Hicks||13.7 pts, 9,0 rebs., 2.3 blcks
||15.0 pts, 9.7 rebs., 3.3 blcks|
Kenyon's rise still goes down as one of the greatest jumps in production by any player in program history. To expect that of anybody else would be unfair, but clearly coming back from this experience didn't hurt either of these three. There's a confidence and osmosis improvement that comes from being around the best the world has to offer in collegiate athletics. Nobody should be surprised SK thrived in that competitive environment, they also shouldn't be surprised if he takes full advantage of it.
--- Was asked this question on Twitter,
and according to this story (which focuses on the swimming aspect) most hours of the games will be available in the US.
Here are the times when the USA team will play (I even converted it to EDT for you people. That's right, math. You're welcome):
Sunday, July 7, 10:30 AM: USA vs. United Arab Emirates
Monday, July 8, 3 AM: USA vs. Czech Republic
Wednesday, July 10, 1 PM: USA vs Sweden
Thursday, July 11, 10:30 AM: USA vs. Australia
Friday, July 12, 3 AM: USA vs. Canada
Playoffs run July 14-16
Mark your calendars.
--- SK wearing No. 9, not a bad number in USA basketball. Worn by Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
Vince Carter famously did this to Frederic Weis while wearing No. 9:
--- UC finished last basketball season ranked No. 30 in average TV rating
(fifth among those in old Big East). That may seem insignificant to you, but in the world of college basketball TV draw will get you everywhere. Nothing wrong with being a top 30 program in eyes of the national viewer.
--- The Deveroes League is happening.
As always, defense is not. It's taking a brief hiatus after games last night and will resume Wednesday, July 10 at Woodward if you'd like to attend. Schedule.
--- As always, shoot any questions, comments or dog-related crash videos to email@example.com or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr. Have a great day and here's this in honor of Canada on their day.