"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Preseason Roundtable: Feeling Blue?

The preseason roundtable continues! We're addressing some of the most important questions Buzz Williams and Marquette will face in the 2011-12 season. Now we turn our attention to the most prolific Buzz Williams recruit to suit up for the Warriors, Vander Blue.

Do you expect marked improvement from Vander Blue as a sophomore?

Alan: I do, though I also expect some teeth-gnashing. I think Blue is going to be more effective and aggressive getting to the hole, and while he hasn't necessarily bulked up, he looked more chiseled over the summer, and that lean muscle should help. I still don't think he'll be a great jump-shooter, but even if he can hit 40% from the field and is a danger when left wide open for a three, he'll keep defenses honest. Though most important is his defense. He showed flashes last year, now he needs to be consistent. The kid has a great nose for the ball, and a quicker, stronger Blue should be able to take advantage of that by creating turnovers and pushing transition.

Dr. Blackheart: Yes. Fans forget that Vander was a young freshman. His potential was shown against the low to mid-majors. He was exposed against the high-major big bodies at the rim. Fans are rightly concerned with his shot mechanics, but his value is as a "crease-finder", rebounder (led the guards with 6 per 40 minutes) and ball hawk (tied with Jae in steal percentage lead).

James: Yes. When you're at rock-bottom, you can only go up. I was surprised at how awkward Vander was most of the second half of the season. He seemed to lack any confidence offensively. I suspect his freshman year was an eye-opener for him and he realizes what a step up it is to play at this level. He can't just dominate guys athletically like he did in high school. My only concern is that his senior year in high school he hit a bit of a plateau. Was last year more of the same from his senior season or is he ready to make the next jump up? I'm going to say yes, he will take that step up.

John: Yes. In last year's preview, I wrote that Jae Crowder was clearly going to be the best newcomer on the team, not Vander. Five-stars rarely dominate as freshmen. Vander's season was a disappointment, but he showed he can play defense and get to the rim. He will improve, but the key will be whether or not he can hit free throws, because if he can do that he can still be a very good player even if his jumper is still weak.

Kevin: Man, I hope so. Last year, Buzz was clearly enamored with Vander's defense, so he'll see a lot of PT again. Vander looked like the same player he was last year during Haunted Hoops on the offensive end. Quick jumpers just off the mark.

Rob: I covered this on Friday. I definitely expect Vander to be much better this year. I wonder if he'll be around an average level (ORtg 100; usage 20%) or if he'll contribute at a higher level. I'm hopeful it's the latter.

Tim: Um, sure! Look, he's a freaky athlete who was miserable as a freshman. I think he was misused by Buzz a lot last year so my hope is that the coaching staff re-evaluated Vander's skills and will put him in a position where he will thrive.

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