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 25

S14: NCAA Tournament Top Returning Scorers - Sweet 16 Friday

It is Sweet 16 Friday, and I can tell you all of my eyes and focus is on San Antonio, Texas, where the two colleges from Richmond, VA, could pull off upsets and actually meet each other in a Cinderella showdown to go to the Final Four. VCU is my alma mater, so I am all the fuck over this year's run. I am giddy, and honestly, after the past couple years taking my daughter to the CAA tourney and seeing Eric Maynor live and enjoying Larry Sanders dunking on bitches, I can say without a doubt that the #2 sports team on my personal allegiance scale. So I am thoroughly amped the fuck up, and have been ever since last Sunday when they destroyed Purdue. But here are today's top 14 returning scorers, balling it up today. Of course the games I want to see are not on CBS, being full of double digit seeded underdogs in the Southwest regionals, so I will be listening to internet radio play-by-play (far superior to any other form) while watching the shitty big boys play in high def on the big TV in my living room that I'm still not sure how we got or why we have it...
#1: DAVID LIGHTY (Ohio State Senior guard/forward; 94 points in NCAA tournaments, 33 this year) - I cannot pull ever for an Ohio State team. They seem so hodgepodge and pulled together by wonder freshmen (like Jared Sullinger). There's no real program to it, although I guess they are populated with upper classmen like Lighty, and there's dudes galore who were banking in 3-pointers and just generally dismantling George Mason on Sunday in terrible terrible ways. Still though, I hate them.
#2: MARCUS MORRIS (Kansas Junior forward; 87 total tourney points, 33 this year) - Previous years, Marcus has been the more potent half of Kansas' twin negro combo in the paint. But Markief has picked it up this year, and really it almost doesn't seem fair to have a pair of dudes this size with this much inside presence. I don't know, I really hope Kansas loses tonight and makes the Southwest regional a Virginia pride free-for-all, but it almost seems like Kansas is on a completely different level than the other three teams in San Antonio, and they will romp easily through this weekend to go to Houston for the Final Four. I really hope the fuck not, and you tend to have that Cinderella letdown a lot of times for underdog teams that get by on adrenaline and amplified energies the first week of the NCAA tourney. But once that settles in, and they get to the regionals, they realize they have already accomplished more than anybody thought they would, and perhaps are already the high watermark for their particular college basketball program, so don't feel that same energy the second weekend. Meanwhile, for Kansas, they want another fucking national title. Anything less is not necessarily bad, but it ain't what they came for.
#3: WILLIAM BUFORD (Ohio State Junior guard; 87 total tourney points, 36 this year) - Fucking white people and Ohio. You know, in my many travels, I have to say, Ohio has been one of my least favorite states. It's not over-the-top bad to the point you kinda love it but not really like Indiana, and it's not icky white like Maryland. So it really sucks, but still somehow manages to fly under the radar, so if someone was to say, "Name the shittiest midwestern state," you'd say Indiana or Iowa probably. But really, Ohio is a terrible shithole.
#4: JON DIEBLER (Ohio State Senior guard; 79 total tourney points, 27 this year) - Yeah. More Ohio State. I guess if you listen to commentators, Kentucky is one of the teams left that matches up well with Ohio State, which is good by me. I'd like to see the Buckeyes get dropped, and you know that John Calipari will never actually win a title, unless he can start recruiting referees too. (By the way, speaking of commentators, the NBA is boring as fuck so I never watch it, but man, I'd love to see Charles Barkley on pre-game/post-game/halftime shows for college basketball. Having him on the CBS coverage has made whatever those fucking vanilla douchebags they have at CBS regularly look paltry in comparison.)
#5: TYLER ZELLER (UNC Junior forward; 66 total tourney points, 55 this year) - Followed up his 32-point second round game by dropping 23 points on Washington. A seven-foot white dude will always be welcome in Chapel Hill, and really anywhere. Zeller is so goddamned goofy looking though. It's odd... when I was a kid, I hated UNC with a passion, having grown up a Virginia fan. But in recent years, I've come to not only tolerate them but actually pull for them. It happened after Dean Smith retired, because no red-blooded Virginian could ever pull for that weasel-voiced piece of shit. But once they brought in Roy Williams, I dug them. I like Williams, and I now have somebody from the ACC who actually wins regularly that I can pull for in March. Because nobody who has a soul can root for Duke.
#6: MARKIEF MORRIS (Kansas Junior forward; 57 total tourney points, 39 this year) - He is the other twin brother tearing shit up.
#7: DARIUS MILLER (Kentucky Junior guard; 56 total tourney points, 20 this year) - In his three years at Kentucky, he has seen four head coaches and nine other guys get drafted into the NBA.
#8: KEVIN ANDERSON (Richmond Senior guard; 55 total tourney points, 39 this year) - If you watch this Richmond team, and see Kevin Anderson in action, it is impossible not to like the dude. He oozes chill ass charisma. They have a huge (nearly impossible) task ahead of them, taking on the Jayhawks of Kansas. But if catches fire, they could pull it off. And it's not like Richmond doesn't have a long history of pulling off huge upsets; it's just they've never really done it this late in the tourney.
#9: DARIUS JOHNSON-ODOM (Marquette Junior guard; 55 total tourney points, 36 this year) - Second best player left in the tourney from the Big East, which is my way of saying "Hahaha, fuck you Big East."
#10: BRADFORD BURGESS (VCU Junior guard; 54 total tourney points, 44 this year) - I could go on a three thousand word tangent about how amazing the VCU run is, not just this year but the past five, but I'm just gonna save that for the last blurb of this list. So see below if you can't wait.
#11: TYSHAWN TAYLOR (Kansas Junior guard; 50 total tourney points, 23 this year) - I honestly don't know anything about this dude and don't care to look it up to try and say something. Kansas is like Alternate Duke in my brain.
#12: TYREL REED (Kansas Senior guard; 49 total tourney points, 14 this year) - You may not know this from his name, but Tyrel Reed is a goofy looking white dude, who has chronically underachieved at Kansas, at least according to people who think everybody at Kansas should be awesome. Seriously though, this time of year there's plenty of white dudes who have grown far taller than the good lord could bless them with looks to match, so seeing an ugly ass whiteboy is nothing new. But goddamn, Tyrel Reed makes Kirk Hinrich look handsome.
#13: HARRISON BARNES (UNC Freshman forward; 46 total tourney points, all of them this year) - This would be the first sighting of a freshman on any of this year's daily lists, meaning Barnes is your super sensation. Him being here is why UNC has won so far, because once Barnes stepped up on the court this season was when the Tar Heels became a tough team to beat. They have tended to start slow the past couple weeks, and then get fired up pretty heavily, with Barnes and Tyler Zeller leading the charge. It is the regionals now though, and yeah they could probably afford one more sputtering take-off against Marquette, who will probably be outmatched, but they've got to get into do-or-die mode before Sunday, if they get there.
#14: JOEY RODRIGUEZ (VCU Senior guard; 45 total tourney points, 37 this year) - My man Boo Boo, who studied under Eric Maynor a few years back, and was a solid presence early on, who has turned into (at least last week) a point guard who will not turn the ball over and divvy it up nearly perfectly on the offensive end of things, and lead a punishing pressure-driven defense. Really, VCU's success the past five years has been wild, and all credit is due to Athletic Director Norwood Teague. Five years ago, Jeff Capel was the head coach, and he brought in Eric Maynor who was an ACC-quality kid from North Carolina who slipped through the cracks. After success at VCU, Capel - who was a hot coaching prospect when he took the Rams job - got the head coaching gig at Oklahoma, where he inherited Blake Griffin's dunky ass. Teague gets Anthony Grant from Billy Donovan's bench, who comes in and makes an immediate impact, installing a high-pressure defense, recruiting to match that (including bringing in Joey Rodriguez, who he had ties to down in Florida), and riding Eric Maynor into upsetting Duke in the first round of the NCAA tournament. After that first year, Grant was already a hot commodity, and had actually gotten on a plane to take the Florida job as Billy Donovan was gonna resign briefly, but Donovan changed his mind, so Grant stayed put. After a second year, not as successful as the first, but no slouch either, Grant was at the top of every major program list that pushed basketball success over academic bullshit. That's how he landed in Alabama, even though he didn't recruit Eric Maynor, who gave him his biggest success. He did recruit Larry Sanders though, who was the future NBA first round pick that Shaka Smart inherited, VCU's third coach in five years, and the second in a row to come off of Billy Donovan's bench. Shaka basically ran with what Anthony Grant set up, maybe even turning it up another notch, and although Rodriguez was about to transfer with the coaching change, he was convinced by Grant to stay on board. Last year, with Sanders on the way out, they underachieved and I think won the stupid CBI, whichever of the lesser Division I tournaments that plays a best-of-three series to crown a champion. This year though, they got it together at times, although they sputtered at the end of the regular season. Still, getting a shocking at-large bid into the tourney, they charged in a team possessed. They have beaten every opponent by double digits, including a pair of Top 25 teams in Georgetown and Purdue. I am very amped the fuck up that they could tear up Florida State, because the one thing that can break up a tenacious defense like State's is a relentlessly aggressive offense like VCU runs, that just puts you on your heels all night long. If Richmond can somehow pull off a win in the early game tonight in San Antonio, it would set up a City of Richmond showdown to get to the Final Four. And even if Kansas wins, VCU certainly has the hodgepodge mid-major roster to pull off another shocker like George Mason did five years ago, and sneak into the Final Four. Really, that would be great if they did, on the heels of Butler doing it last year as well. College basketball may seem worse to some, because of the major conferences not being able to keep superstar players for more than a year or two. But the mid-majors are better than ever, and the early entries into the NBA has been happening enough that the mid-majors recruit with that in mind. And shit, let's not forget that current Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders could have played his senior year and be playing for VCU right now, instead of in the NBA. Fucking scary man. This is a good fucking team, and #2 in my heart behind the stupid Washington Redskins. I am fucking amped, bros. Amped.


Neil said...

Fuck Ohio and everything in it.

LIgon said...

Just found this out, interesting connections between one of UConn's star players, Jeremy Lamb, and VCU...