RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition. He does have an amazing PATREON, but also *normal* ARTIST WEBSITE too.

Friday, March 7

S14: CAA Tournament's Top Returning Scorers

The Colonial Athletic Association is my local area's mid-major basketball conference, home to my alma mater VCU, and the small-time hoops league that's made noise in the NCAA tourney the past couple years. George Mason had their wacky run to the Final Four two years ago, and then VCU upset Duke last year. Their conference tourney started today in Richmond, and hopefully if motherfuckers pay their bills to me, me and my man D-mo will ride up to catch the semifinals on Sunday.
Anyways, a theme I wanted to run with in the sporting 14 categories, is guys who have scored the most points the previous 3 seasons in conference tournaments. Traditional basketball lifetimes for a college player were four straight years, although with red-shirting and early exit for the NBA (which usually doesn't affect the CAA), that's all shot to hell. So what I did was go back through the previous three years' worth of CAA conference tournaments, and come up with a list of the top 14 scorers in those tournaments who are on a team again this year, returning to battle it out for a title that means nothing outside of the 12 schools involved, and is the only guaranteed way any of these teams have to getting into March Madness.
#1: Antoine Agudio (Hofstra guard, 106 previous CAA tournament points) - Agudio is Hofstra's all-time leading scorer and the CAA's leading scorer this year. A scrappy little sculpted-beard Puerto Rican dude, I imagine after his senior year runs it's course in the Richmond Coliseum this year (as Hofstra has it's worse regular season record in five years), he'll poke around minor league basketball for a number of years, because when you score tons of points, making little money playing basketball in little towns or overseas is far better than just going back home and using your business degree or whatever the fuck to run a construction company.
#2: Will Thomas (George Mason forward, 83 previous points) - Part of the Patriots' crazy appearance in the Final Four a couple years back, getting his last run. George Mason is a #2 seed, and has a couple of senior leaders who have more post-season experience than anybody after the previous couple years, so they should cause some damage. And even though I list him as a forward, at 6'7", and with his talent, he's about as imposing an inside threat as there is in the CAA, where the only 7-footers who ever come through usually have long Eastern European names lacking on vowels.
#3: T.J. Carter (UNC-Wilmington guard, 76 previous points) - Was CAA tourney player of the year two years ago when they beat George Mason for the conference title, but missed last year due to injury, which makes his placement this high on the list pretty impressive. The Seahawks are the #2 seed coming into the tournament, and if they fire on all cylinders behind Carter, stand a chance to walk away with nets hanging around their necks on Monday night.
#4: Folarin Campbell (George Mason guard, 70 previous points) - Another key roleplayer from that GMU Final Four team, now along with Thomas providing the senior leadership on this team. I think he was the dude that had the awesome afro then, but the press guide pics of this dude are close-cut standard respectable black guy hair, so I'm not sure. A guy named Folarin with a ragged fro is something I can get behind, but regular hair? Not so much. I support freak flags flying.
#5: Dre Smith (George Mason guard, 69 previous points) - Only a junior, and it's odd to realize that even with three of the top five returning scorers in this year's CAA tourney, George Mason has not won this thing in 7 years. But it also highlights the same thing that helped them get to the Final Four two years ago: that this is a team full of contributors who can all step in and take each other's places. It's not as deep in the respect as it was in '06, but it's a team trait nonetheless.
#6: Eric Maynor (VCU guard, 55 previous points) - CAA player of the year, and the guy who made all the headlines last year by single-handedly getting VCU the conference championship (he scored the final six points in the championship game against George Mason, in amazing fashion), and then by daggering Duke with a last second game-winner in the NCAA tournament, which as a fan, was the most heart-palpitating moment I've ever experienced. Being a graduate of VCU is nothing I'm proud of or anything, like I don't roll around with sweatshirts and shit, but I will always root for the basketball team, even though I know they are in all likelihood coddled thugs with four babies who attend less classes than I did in semesters where I disappeared after my financial aid check cleared the bank. Maynor is actually so good that there is talk he may declare for the NBA draft, even though he has one more year of eligibility. He is, at this point, prognosticated as one of the top five or so point guards, meaning he could be a high second round pick. Coming from the CAA, for someone to even to be considering leaving early is amazing. Anthony Grant, coach of the VCU Rams, who will be gone probably at the end of this season to a higher profile job, like he almost took last year before Billy Donovan decided to stay at Florida, and Eric Maynor lucked into each other, because although both have individual talents as a coach and player, they've helped make each other far more marketable at the next level.
#7: Brian Henderson (Old Dominion guard, 53 previous points) - The senior floorleader on a team that was struggling and now starts three freshmen. He is not an imposing gamebreaker so much as a guy who has contributed ever since his own freshman year.
#8: Leonard Mendez (Georgia State guard, 50 previous points) - Two of the most exciting points scored in last year's tournament were Mendez's well-beyond-the-arc buzzer beater to down William & Mary to end the first round last year. They meet again, and Mendez again is a merciless small college point scorer, not afraid to throw it up. Georgia State, however, has never been much more than an afterthought in their limited time in the CAA. This year will be no different.
#9: Frank Elegar (Drexel center, 49 previous points) - At 6'9", he is about as close to a true center the CAA has, and leads the league in rebounds and blocked shots. His presence should not be felt beyond the first day, with Drexel being a #10 seed, though.
#10: Todd Hendley (UNC-Wilmington forward, 45 previous points) - Solid starter for the Seahawks, who have a wave of interchangeable scorers after their immediate top threat of T.J. Carter. Another senior, like everybody on this list thus far except for Maynor and Dre Smith.
#11: Michael Anderson (VCU forward, 42 previous points) - Another senior, enjoying his best year to date at VCU. You figure in a mid-major conference tournament like this, him being a senior, and VCU only having to ride five minutes to the tournament site from campus, should all factor into him being ephedrined up for this weekend.
#12: Herb Courtney (Delaware forward, 38 previous points) - Solid player for a team not really in the hunt to win it all this weekend. Courtney comes in on a roll, but four games in four days seems impossible for Delaware, a #7 seed in this tourney. But I guess that's why they call it madness, because anything is possible.
#13: Deven Dickerson (Georgia State center, 33 previous points) - It's amazing a team with such little tournament presence as Georgia State could end up with two guys in the top 14, much less their low-scoring center, who must've had a game somewhere along the way the past two years where he went nuts, because him being here goes against all conventional logic, as he's probably not even considered a major threat in his first round game today, much less in the tournament as a whole.
#14: Darryl Monroe (George Mason guard, 32 previous points) - He is listed on their roster, but the capsule previews in the local papers make no mention of him, so he must be injured or some shit. But if he is on their stupid team roster, then he is eligible for my list of sports dorkery.

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