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Monday, October 19, 2009

Officially Blueless

So Vander Blue committed to Marquette on Sunday ... surprised?

Of course not. All Badger fans should be disappointed, but this may have been inevitable. Blue's own comments since his latest commitment spelled out the bottom line: Blue is most comfortable at Marquette.

He will be able to continue playing with best friend Jeronne Maymon and run in a traditionally up-tempo offense. Anyone who has watched Memorial press and run opponents out of the gym know why Blue enjoys running with less structure -- it is what made him a national recruit in the first place. You cannot fault the kid for wanting to play in the Big East either. And best of all for mom, he get this within state borders.

For years, we have known that Wisconsin fights an uphill battle with recruits like Blue who (perhaps unknowingly) care more about pace than efficiency. After all, they just want to play. Defense might win championships, but rarely does it net you top recruiting classes. When you have to fly in Devin Harris to explain to a prospect how the offense might open up if he commits, you've already lost that particular battle.

Using Ken Pomeroy's statistics that go back to the 2003-04 season, Wisconsin's adjusted tempo has been noticeably lower than Marquette's in every year except one (2004-05). Furthermore, over the same span, the 2005-06 season was the only time the Badgers played at a faster pace than half of the BCS conference teams. You will remember that year's squad as the one which lost Marcus Landry and Greg Stiemsma midseason due to academic ineligibility and the only one on this list that failed to win 20 games.

Year /Record /Adj. Pace /BCS Rk /Teams Faster































Coincidence? Don't think so. This is how Bo wins games. Wisconsin ranked as the 24th-most efficient offense on average among BCS teams through those six years.

It doesn't hurt Marquette's cause that Buzz Williams and the Golden Eagles put on a flamboyant Midnight Madness show last weekend and Blue bonded immediately with all the guys on the team (maybe the school even threw the ex-baller cutie in as Blue's academic advisor on purpose). Conversely, Blue did not get along as well with current Badgers and Bo is known to be more laissez faire than many of his coaching counterparts.

Buzz and the Madison Memorial-to-Marquette pipeline worked hard to get this pledge from Blue. It was a priority. The Journal-Sentinel noted that Blue is Marquette's highest-rated recruit in almost 30 years.

Blue was only 15 years old when he verballed to UW; I know I was personally surprised at how fast that happened, so I don't blame him for reconsidering. So whether or not the Badgers took their "foot off the gas" after Blue initial commitment, this chapter of the saga seems to have ended.

Only time will tell if Blue's decision to stay in his comfort zone will pay off as he hopes.

: : :

I was also going to complain today about how any self-respecting basketball power could not hold some sort of Midnight Madness event. While it's true that the program has taken on the identity of it's no-frills coach, it seems Wisconsin is not the only one bypassing the contrived event this year. In the Big Ten alone, Ohio State, Purdue and Penn State did not hold such an spectacle this year either.

: : :

Removed the following prospects from the recruiting sidebar:
: : : Class of 2010
SG Vander Blue, Madison WI {Marquette}
: : : Class of 2011
PF Nnana Egwu, Chicago {Illinois}
SF Sam Thompson, Chicago

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