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Wisconsin Sport and Culture

Blue saga leaves many seeing red

Vander follows in the footsteps of Wes Matthews and becomes the latest Madison Memorial star to head downstate.

Vander follows in the footsteps of Wes Matthews and becomes the latest Madison Memorial star to head downstate.

Vander Blue has committed to play basketball at Marquette.  For many UW enthusiasts, this is similar to Brett Favre playing for the Vikings.  A decision that makes sense but one you still can’t stand.  Blue, initially committed to the Badgers after his sophomore year at Madison Memorial.  A local kid with a great rapport with the UW coaches, his recruitment looked like that of Michael Flowers.  One difference, Vander “Blue” up…sorry, he exploded onto the national scene after a historic state tournament run in which he looked like an NBA talent.  He opened up his recruitment and saw the Madison papers print a vicious review of his academic standing, clearly leaked by the UW staff.  Despite that article it was widely believed that Vander was headed back to Madison, where he and his mother developed a very strong relationship with asst. coach Howard Moore.  Even as he heads to Milwaukee, he still talks about his rapport with the “duck”, but he talks more about his rapport with MU’s head coach–Buzz Williams.  Vander also cited the Big East, style of play,his relationship with Buzz Williams and MU players (Jeronne Maymon) as key reasons for his exodus.

This commitment raises a few key questions about UW’s direction.

  • Blue clearly was wooed over by Marquette…with a budget ranking dead last in the big ten for recruiting, why do the Badgers continuously get out recruited and lose out on players?  They have relaxed in their recruiting and seem to fall back on kids who just want to be here…which can be a good strategy.  But kids who live 1/2 mile from your court and are top 20 talents, need to be there.  This is on Bo Ryan.
  • With Cam Wright committing to Pitt, UW is now short one guard.  After this year they will have some significant guard issues.  They will likely look to go the JUCO route and find a “stop-gap” to balance their classes.
  • UW has not had a “star” in several years, Vander would have been their next “go to” player.
  • The real issue could be with incoming HS Sophomore JP Tokoto.  A player so gifted he is potentially the top player in the country.  He holds offers from Duke and North Carolina, in addition to the regioinal schools you’d expect.  Vander would be forgotten if Tokoto is landed as he is a better talent.  But if he is not, expect the same backlash against UW’s recruiting style.  My bet is that Tokoto who also has a good relationship with UW, will be the subject of UW’s renewed recruiting strategy.  I’d venture a guess that Ryan will now get more involved and that we’ll see a full court focus on JP.  If not, UW’s program is in deep trouble.
  • One side note: reading this article on the first day of UW’s practice, it is clear that not everyone can be Badgers under Bo Ryan.  Not saying that Vander couldn’t, wish like heck he was…but rather he chose to go to a program where the coach “started crying and screaming” when told of his commitment.  Pretty sure Bo Ryan wouldn’t cry and scream.
Buzz yelling, not crying...

Buzz yelling, not crying...

Now to conclude…I’m not one to wish anyone ill will.  I hope Vander finds what he’s looking for.  It is time to move on from this and focus on badger basketball.  I wonder what Vander will think when Marquette polishes off their Big East season in winless fashion–which looks entirely likely.  Remember when Bo won the Big Ten with Charlie Wills and Travon Davis?  What does Buzz Williams do with that team and Bo Ryan with his?  We’ll never know.

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October 19, 2009 - Posted by | Badgers | ,

1 Comment »

  1. Vander blue came to Marquette because they have a better program that UW. And Buzz seems to be having a “winless”season……………..NOT

    Comment by Matt | March 5, 2010 | Reply


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