I can’t remember the last time I won anything 3-4 times in a row, much less 34 in a row, which makes what’s happening in the heartland of Kansas all that more amazing. The Wichita State Shockers are back, as guys like Fred VanVleet, Ron Baker, Mitchell Wiggins and Cleanthony Early have put the wood on all foes thus far this season. What’s been fascinating with Dubb State has been its mantra of “Play Angry,” as the phrase isn’t something usually related to what we used to define as a “mid-major” program. (Of note, this is the first time I’ve ever thought about using the phrase “mid-major.” The term just might be dying.)
However, for VanVleet and his Shockers, playing angry doesn’t mean that they’re antagonizing people on the basketball court; it means that their level of focus might be at an all-time high. Here’s the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year talking about his journey from Rockford, Illinois, and the adversity he had to overcome:
“I used to try to look for (negativity) as motivation and stuff like that, but I think that gets you to a point where you’re playing the game the wrong way. You’re playing the game filled with hate. That’s not a good way to play. It’s good to be motivated and things like that. But I think you can just as easily find motivation in trying to make people proud.” — Wichita State PG Fred VanVleet
Personally, I’d love to see Dubb State get the 1-seed in the Midwest Region, then have the NCAA selection committee slot the Kansas Jayhawks at the 2-seed, and maybe we can dream of a scenario where we see the battle of the Sunflower State take place on a neutral court in Indianapolis. (Sorry, Kansas State, but Marcus Foster is really good though.) One can only hope the brackets work out that way.
Here’s your pertinent reading material to get your week started off right. Happy Monday, everybody.
Gerald Green’s revival was a long time coming — SB Nation
Bun B Shares His Trillest SXSW Recs — Complex
Examining the Thunder’s defensive struggles since All-Star break — Welcome to Loud City
1% of Artists Earn 77% of All Recorded Music Income — Pigeons and Planes
NYCFC unveil two club badge designs, ask fans to vote — Soccer By Ives
Josh Smith and Rajon Rondo have had conversations about playing together again — No Guts, No Glory
Eddie Maisonet is the founder and editor emeritus of The Sports Fan Journal. Currently, he serves as an associate editor for ESPN.com. He is an unabashed Russell Westbrook and Barry Switzer apologist, owns over 100 fitteds and snapbacks, and lives by Reggie Jackson’s famous quote, “I am the straw that stirs the drink.”