RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Saturday, April 2

S14: NCAA Tournament Top Returning Scorers - Final Four

Let me do this before I blow it off in adrenaline overdose for the game tonight. I have always been a sports fan, and always enthusiastically attached myself to teams that I have no control over whatsoever, and this is the most geeked up for a sporting contest that I've been in my adult life probably. I don't even want to do anything today, trying not to sidetrack myself. The wife was like, "Hey let's go do this thing this morning," and I was like, "Can't, game tonight." Motherfucking amped.
Anyways, here are the top 14 scorers coming at you live and in living color on the CBS Final Four spectacular out of H-Town tonight. I hope you will be abusing prescription codeine cough syrup in memory of DJ Screw while you watch the second game...
#1: SHELVIN MACK (Butler Junior guard; 195 total tournament points, 86 this year) - Star player for the starless team that had their star from last year in Gordon Heyward go pro early in a rare move for a goofy-looking white kid. I have no idea who even drafted that dude. Probably the Utah Jazz to guess off the top of my head because a lovable and unscary white kid would be huge in Mormonland. That's probably why Deron Williams got run off. Anyways, Butler is the only returning team from last year, and has more Final Four experience than anyone else here, which is odd considering they're from the Horizon League. They have been hyping up the idea that "If VCU is this year's Butler, then Butler is this year's Duke." Whatever. Hoosiers is a great movie to watch with your children, but this ain't 1953 and drunk Dennis Hopper cannot be redeemed by Jesus Basketball in the real world. Fuck you Butler. You are not playing in Indiana this year; it is Houston - the home of space travel and codeine cough syrup abuse, two things much more attuned to the Richmond, Virginia, VCU way of life. (Note, most of this thing today is going to be nonsense babble along these lines.)
#2: KEMBA WALKER (Connecticut Junior guard; 158 total tourney points, 107 this year) - Kemba Walker is the bonafide star of this Final Four, and the one single guy who scares me most as a fan, because he can just take over, which is funny, that was the knock against him before this year, that he didn't do that. UConn won five straight in the Big East tourney to win the automatic qualifier and boost their seeding going into the tourney, but you should remember that before that, they were slotted by pundits and experts to be like a #10 or #11 seed themselves. Three weeks later and they are the top seed left. Look for him to light up tonight, even though it may not be enough if Coach Calipari's Shady All-Stars can focus for a third week in a row.
#3: MATT HOWARD (Butler Senior forward; 148 total tourney points, 65 this year) - Howard is their go-to whiteface this year, and was the dude who made the last second shot to beat Old Dominion in the first round (which is now called the second round), and hit the free throws at the end to beat #1 seed Pitt in the second round (now called the third). He also is a sterile-assed white dude, you can see it in his eyes. Playing Duke was easier for them last year than playing VCU will be tonight. Duke is basically like Whiteboy All-Stars, so it was comfortable ground. VCU will be uncomfortable.
#4: BRADFORD BURGESS (VCU Junior forward/guard; 89 total tourney points, 79 this year) - Mr. Richmond, as he played high school south of Richmond, wasn't recruited anywhere that much, and went to VCU to become a school phenom. Called Big Shot Bradford in some circles (I heard it one time on the radio), and his younger brother, who plays at a Richmond private school with a storied basketball program, is now being recruited hard by VCU. That's the beauty of this shit - public school kid gets a scholarship to go to college, paves the way for balling ass younger brother to get private school hook-up into basketball machinery, and Big Bradford Burgess is enjoying this run this year, and probably has earned himself enough notoriety to go overseas and ball for the next five years as well. We harp on the AAU superstars who are one-and-done in college basketball all the time (and will be perfectly evident on the Kentucky roster tonight), but this shit really does open doors for some people that wouldn't have it opened up otherwise. And you kinda have to take the shitty dudes who ruin it to allow for all the other guys who are given access to a different life. (Now I'm speaking without knowledge on Mr. Burgess's life situation, and am not assuming he's some gully ass inner-city kid, because if memory serves me correctly, he went to Midlothian, which is suburban Richmond, but old suburbs. But the fact of the matter is, basketball opened opportunities to him, and shit I went to VCU, so if he got to go for free, he's starting out three steps ahead of many others. It's all about seizing opportunities in this world, not squandering them, regardless of how they fall your way.)
#5: JAMIE SKEEN (VCU Senior forward; 78 total tourney points, all of them this year) - Against Kansas and their bullying pair of twin towers in Marcus and Markief Morris, Jamie Skeen became one of my favorite college basketball players ever. Seriously. He handled them perfectly, was busting enough 3-pointers as a big man to make them uncomfortable, and those big blue-chip dudes looked rattled. After the game was over, camera close-up of Skeen and he just looks at the camera, then busts a big smile, not crazy not ecstatic, just calm and chill and happy. His demeanor in interviews is the same, and hearing him say he wants to follow Eric Maynor and Larry Sanders into the NBA (both were first round draft picks out of VCU the past two years), it makes me happy for Skeen, because he's got to have more chances to crack an NBA roster now than he did the first week of March.
#6: DARIUS MILLER (Kentucky Junior forward; 74 total tourney points, 38 this year) - A small-time contributor on last year's Kentucky team, and a big-time player this year, sort of by default, because it's about the one-and-doners for the most part. Weird to think about Coach Calipari's three Final Four teams he's had, because with UMass, there was Marcus Camby as the obvious star. And then Memphis had Derrick Rose, who has matured in the NBA into the superstar he didn't get a chance to do so as in college. Who's the guy in Kentucky? I'm not sure, and with Calipari the great recruiter and so-so coach in charge, that's a bad combo against Kemba Walker.
#7: JEREMY LAMB (Connecticut Freshman guard; 73 total tourney points, all of them this year) - Freshman bad ass to complement King Kemba. They will be a tough team to beat this weekend.
#8: BRANDON ROZZELL (VCU Senior guard; 73 total tourney points, 70 this year) - Mr. Chill, with a chill ass beard, and chill ass demeanor, handling point guard duties when Joey Rodriguez inevitably has that part of the game where he gets two fouls real quickly.
#9: BRANDON KNIGHT (Kentucky Freshman guard; 63 total tourney points, all of them this year) - Didn't this guy play for Washington a couple years ago? Another freshman superstar for Coach John Calipari. It's really sad to see Kentucky fans justify Calipari because, as crooked as you had to think Kentucky basketball already was, with Calipari as the figurehead of the program, they're not even pretending anymore. It's like Obama bombing Libya and admitting the CIA is checking out the rebels, who are suspected to have Al Qaeda ties, before they are given weapons to combat Gaddhafi. People don't even front anymore. We are America, we are big, we are fucked and corrupt, deal with it.
#10: JOSH HARRELSON (Kentucky Senior forward; 61 total tourney points, 59 this year) - And then there is Josh Harrelson, the redneck goofball who looks like Solomon Grundy's little sister might've been his mom. Somehow, through early departures of highly-touted, Harrelson is now a key contributor, especially on the boards. Plus, it's always great to see shots of his dad in the crowd, who looks like he's probably a huge Stone Cold Steve Austin fan.
#11: JOEY RODRIGUEZ (VCU Senior guard; 59 total tourney points, 51 this year) - VCU's success will (and has this year) depend entirely on Rodriguez's ability to handle the hype. When he plays well, they do well. When he becomes unraveled, they have to turn to Rozzell, which can work as well, but really they need Rodriguez, because he can hit threes and slash inside and dish the assists. He's a really underrated point guard, and I say this coming from my perspective, because he came after Eric Maynor, who's probably one of the best point guards I ever saw play live. So Rodriguez had a lot to live up to, and I think I held it against him partially he wasn't Maynor (which was proven last weekend against Kansas when J-Rod tried to go all Maynor and launch 25-foot 3-point shots, airballing them in very un-Maynor like fashion). But Rodriguez is fucking great man, fucking great, not only on the court but in how he's handled all the accompanying limelight. He's put it all back on VCU and Richmond, even after the win over Kansas, in the locker room story afterwards, instead of getting caught up in Final Four hysteria, he was showing teammates pictures of people taking to the streets back home in Richmond. And the great thing about VCU is they've been motivated by how people were hating on them from the beginning. My man Jon Bone put it best when he said that's straight up Richmond style right there, being fueled by negativity.
#12: DEANDRE LIGGINS (Kentucky Junior guard; 56 total tourney points, 38 this year) - All the tattoos and swagger of a Division I star, and there were some stupid stories about him on Yahoo yesterday, but I didn't read them because I don't care.
#13: RONALD NORED (Butler Junior guard; 54 total tourney points, 9 this year) - Hasn't really even contributed as much this year as he did last, and has a stupid name. Fuck Indiana. It is the worst state on Earth, and by Earth I mean America, and when I say worst, I am pretending Maryland doesn't exist.
#14: SHAWN VANZANT (Butler Senior guard; 52 total tourney points, 30 this year) - Were I at the game, I would just yell "FREEBIRD!" at this dude the whole game. My boy D-Mo had some tickets fall into his lap for this, so he is going, and said he was gonna dress up like Hunter S. Thompson. He better.

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