Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Feeling Blue

By now most Badger fans have heard that Vander Blue has reopened his commitment. Not going to lie to you or try to deny how I'm feeling about this: very bummed. Vander is an exciting player, and a hometown player, maybe one of those transcendant Devin Harris- or Alando Tucker-type players.

Maybe hyperbole, but whatever. Last year was difficult to stomach at times, and Vander seems like the kind of kid who could get us over the rough spots we saw during our ugly losses.

Now it might not happen. Let's take a look at a few of the points.

1. The fact that this is happening should not be surprising. Any time a kid commits to a school that young (before his junior year), there's a lot of time for stuff to change. He can grow bigger or get much better. A coach can leave a program. A coach he likes better can land somewhere else. His buddy might go somewhere else.

It appears some of these things may have happened in Blue's case. If we're going to be in on high-ceiling recruits, this is going to happen. Win some, lose some.

Can't blame Vander for checking out his options. You can be a little miffed that he committed so early, but in his defense that's the way college coaches are playing the game nowadays. At the time he wasn't a top-tier recruit, and we're a top-tier local program, but the way he's improved, he might now be on the radar of the national name brand programs. As much as it would gall me to lose him to North Carolina or Kansas, can't blame him for looking.

2. And if we lose him to Marquette ... sweet Jesus, I'll be honest, that'll kill me and I'll be really upset. But all of the usual Internet sniping back in forth between Badger and Gold fans on message boards and comments on blogs is childish and unproductive, as usual. Please don't get into that here.

3. Much of the sniping stems from Rob Schultz's report in which an unnamed source says the sticking point is academics. First, shame on Schult'z source for going public with information that paints Vander is an unflattering light. If he's got the wrong attitude about or struggles with academics, so be it, but that should be a private matter. And of course, with the implication that Vander will follow Jeronne Maymon to Marquette, this has predictably devolved into a UW=hard, MU=easy discussion. Can't imagine it's this simple.

4. What really galls me, and what seems to have taken a back seat to this new academic-focused report, is the theory that Vander doesn't think he can thrive in Bo's system. Baloney. Look at Devin, a true guard, who was a prolific scorer and lottery pick. Look at Alando, an All-American and first-round pick. Hell, look at Kirk Penney, who found a way to score big in the system.

Sure, sometimes this system produces a bunch of guys averaging 9 to 12 points per game. We won 31 games two years ago with this setup. But special talent, NBA talent, shines through. Bo and the Swing don't keep that kind of talent bottled up.

5. Even though the prospect of Vander coming to Madison still exists, we'll still be a successful program even if he doesn't. Just maybe not as successful as if he ends up wearing red.

For what it's worth, Mark Stewart reported this afternoon that Vander had not formally decommitted, but I wouldn't read too much into that.

So far, Blue and his family aren't talking. You know what? They shouldn't. Vander's a high school boy in the midst of making a really important decision, respect his privacy.


Mr.Man said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mr.Man said...

Scott, I'm not sure why there's any reason to disbelieve Rob's report. He's been pretty accurate in the past. I agree that whoever leaked what went on in that Monday meeting did the wrong thing, but I cannot blame Rob at all. The (ridiculous) facebook thing caused a firestorm of interest, and there were apparently so many folks at that meeting that someone was bound to talk to the media.

Anyhow, if Blue is indeed having some academic struggles, I know we all wish him the best of luck pulling it together. And, as Badger fans, I think we'd all remind him that all those folks from UW met with him on Monday because they care about him and are excited about his future.

In any event, does it seem like lately the UW basketball team has ramped up its academic requirements? I mean, goodness knows, John Clay made it through the clearinghouse by the skin of his teeth. There seems to be a different admissions standard for football, I guess, or, at least, in some select cases.

Scott Tappa said...

To clear up any misunderstanding, I'm not questioning Rob's report, but criticizing the unnamed source he used to make public what should have been a private matter. Schultz is just doing his job trying to get someone to talk, good reporting by him.

ksagendorph said...


This is certainly news us Badger fans don't want to hear, but all we can do is hope things work out and Blue will be in a UW uniform. If he wants to be there, it's on him to take care of business. Otherwise if he feels he would be better off elsewhere, I wish him well. But I also sure hope he doesn't end up at Marquette, I'm with you there!

Did you read about the point guard from Ohio, Cameron Wright? Apparently Bo has him on radar if Blue doesn't end up at UW. Sounds like a decent player, but not on Blue's level.

Mr.Man said...

When I said "disbelieve," Scott, I meant there's no reason to believe that Blue formally decommitted yet. The reports from the credible outlets (Mark Stewart and Rob) say they've gotten no word he's decommitted.

Hopefully he puts in the hard work, gets his academic house back in order, and sticks with Wisconsin. If he eventually opts to go somewhere else, best of luck to him. But he sure could do a heck of a lot better academically and program-wise than Marquette.

ksagendorph said...

Latest update still has him going to UW:

Scott Tappa said...

Man -- I also believe the reports that Vander hasn't told anyone he's officially decommitted, but that doesn't mean he can't look around or be questioning things.

ksagendorph -- thanks for bringing the new report to our attention. I love what Maymon's dad said at the end, his quote about girls and prom was classic. That's what those kids should be talking about, right?

Bottom line: wait and see.